Family, faith, and career: Where and why more rural students are matriculating

September 2, 2018
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Admissions and Recruitment
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  • rural students
Collection of backpacks, binders, notebooks, and other school supplies laid out in a green field with blue skies above.

An increasing number of rural students are matriculating at colleges and universities, according to Ashely Stone, Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University. Higher education stakeholders working to meet enrollment goals are focusing more on this unique population, Stone said, but additional research is needed to guide recruitment and retention efforts.

In her recent C&U feature, she shares the findings of an exploratory multiple-case study that intends to fill the gap in the literature.  

“Understanding the values of rural students who leave their communities to pursue postsecondary degrees, how those values are formed, and how they inform students’ higher education choices could serve as a launching point for implementing more effective outreach efforts in rural areas,” she said.

Stone collected data on rural students in Texas who had recently graduated from high school and were headed to college away from their community. For each participant, she collected documents, interviews, physical artifacts, and archival records. Data on the communities in which the participants lived were also gathered.  

“Each of the seven participants came from a different rural community and represented a distinct case within the study,” Stone wrote. “Diverse students and rural communities were represented…This diversity was critical to the study because it helped to counteract narratives that portray rural spaces as monolithic and to locate experiences common to students across a variety of rural contexts.”

In her article, Stone outlines her findings around the common themes that emerged: family, faith, and career.  

This edition of C&U also includes features by Blaire Moody Rideout; and Claudia Rodriguez, Rodney Parks, and Jesse Parrish. Topics include: variance and inter-rater reliability in holistic admissions review; authentic engagement in students’ short-term study abroad programs; retention; global education programs; and transfer.   

For more information, or to submit an article, please contact Managing Editor Heather Zimar at


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