Mount St. Joseph University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 11-19
ISBN: 978-84-09-49026-4
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2023.0004
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
College enrollment rates in rural areas are often far lower than those in urban areas. Rural disadvantaged students face the same economic obstacles as urban disadvantaged students, but rural students often have few academic and social resources in tangible proximity. Moreover, owing to their location away from major urban research centers, rural students receive substantively less study and consideration than their urban counterparts. Even fewer studies have been conducted on rural students and their choices not to pursue higher education. Rural students' personal accounts on their decisions to not attend a post-secondary institution could provide further understanding of why rural students were not able to further their education and could aid universities in breaking down barriers to access for an underserved, sizeable, population.

In this qualitative phenomenological study, a current rural college student and an academic researcher seek to uncover why many rural individuals chose not to pursue higher education. Not surprisingly, finances and necessity played a role in many individuals' decisions to pursue employment over education. However, what was noteworthy, was that a sense of isolation itself seemed to prevent would-be students from pursuing higher education. It was also found that familial support may encourage students to pursue higher education, although, without tangible aid, this may become challenging. Furthermore, the access to feasible alternative options apart from a post-secondary education may lead prospective students away from continuing education. There is also evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic had a tangible impact on student decisions as well. The strength of this paper is that one of the researchers is from the context setting that is examined and possesses connections with the interviewees. This paper may help rural secondary school educators and college administrators so they may be able to better understand their students' perceptions so that they can effectively support rural students in obtaining a higher education.
Post-secondary education, rural, students, enrolment, barriers, perceptions, qualitative phenomenological study.