Document Type

Article

Abstract

On average, students from rural schools have lower aspirations, graduate at lower rates, and pursue four-year degrees at lower rates than students in urban and suburban areas. These differences have often been attributed to lower socioeconomic status and the lower levels of education obtained by parents in rural areas. This study attempts to add to this research by taking a qualitative look at the social norms and structures of rural high schools. How do rural high schools and communities encourage and/or discourage achievement and the pursuit of higher education? What effect does the rural context have on high achieving students with college aspirations? To better understand these questions, college students who attended rural high schools were interviewed about their high school experience and the transition to college. Findings show that these students often went against community norms and overcame structural objects in the pursuit of higher education. Effects varied according to the availability of advanced classes and the extent of information and support available to high aspiring students.

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