Students in rural Oregon public schools are less likely to enroll in postsecondary institutions and less likely to persist to the second year of postsecondary education compared to their urban and suburban peers, according to a new report.
The federal Institute of Education Sciences commissioned the report, “Comparing postsecondary enrollment and persistence among rural and nonrural students in Oregon,” to examine the college-going and persistence rates of those students who started 9th grade between 2005 and 2007. According to the report, 55 percent of rural Oregon students included in the study enrolled in college, compared to 63 percent of nonrural students. Seventh-eight percent of rural students who enrolled in college returned for the second year, compared to 83 percent of nonrural students.
The report also found that enrollment and persistence rates were low regardless of how well a rural student performed on standardized tests, and whether they enrolled in a two- or four-year college, or an in-state or out-of-state school. Only rural Hispanic students had a slightly higher college enrollment rate than their nonrural peers.
About 30 percent of schools in Oregon are rural, and those schools have a high percentage of students who are learning English, as well as a high rate of student mobility. About 54 percent of rural students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Nationwide, rural students are less likely than their urban peers to attend four-year, private, or selective colleges. Some higher education officials have suggested ways to improve completion rates, such as improving Internet access for rural students to research colleges and financial aid, and strengthening relationships between high schools and colleges to help ease the transition.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.