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Rural America: underrepresented in college classrooms

February 6th, 2017

For many, college is the equal-opportunity stepping stone to the middle class. However, the opportunity might not come as readily as we’d think to those living in rural America.  Students in rural areas are often living in poverty, and in many cases may be the first within their family to go to college.  This can leave families feeling uneasy as they chart into unknown territory.

Because I live in Kentucky, the article posted below hits very close to home.  Luckily, many colleges have started to notice this underrepresented community and are strengthening efforts to reach and enroll rural students.  Journalists like Laura Pappano play an important role in heightening the profile of this issue.

We’re proud to note that a very talented Shrop Ed student was quoted in this NY Times article.  She is a leader of a student education advocacy group, and has a wealth of knowledge on this topic.  Also a great read is this set of companion profiles, Voices From Rural America on Why (or Why Not) to Go to College, which features another very talented Shrop Ed student now in her first year at Wellesley.  Both of these young women are outstanding role models for others and drive home the importance of encouraging all students, regardless of background, to pursue their dreams.

Article below published January 31, 2017

Written by:  Laura Pappano

On a late-autumn Sunday, a bus pulled out of El Paso at 3 a.m. carrying 52 sleepy students and parents from western Texas and New Mexico. A few had already driven several hours to get to El Paso. The bus arrived at Texas A&M 12 hours later, in time for a walking tour and dinner. After “Aggieland” information sessions, including a student panel and classroom visits, a stop at the Bonfire Memorial and an all-night drive, they arrived back in El Paso at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“People don’t realize that Texas is a huge state,” said Scott McDonald, director of admissions at Texas A&M who came up with the idea of bus trips upon realizing that students from remote areas would not visit on their own. “Sometimes colleges say, ‘We don’t get many of those students; it’s not worth our time.’ ” He disagrees. Rural students bring “a unique perspective” to campus, he said. “In terms of diversity, geography is just as important as racial and ethnic.”

Read more at NY Times >>

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