The middle of somewhere: an exploration of rural women, communities of place, and college-going

Gillon, Kathleen
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It has been well documented that rural students attend college at a rate lower than urban students as well as below the national average, despite the fact that rural students tend to graduate from high school at a higher rate than students in urban schools. Previous scholarship has attributed this post-secondary educational pattern to individual factors such as student aspirations and attainment as well as cultural and social capital at the familial level. Less attention has been given to the role of community context and the capital present at the community level in shaping rural student’s college-going practices and behaviors.

This study utilized life history methodology to explore how two White women from rural areas understood how their home communities shaped their college-going practices and behaviors. Findings suggest that rural women’s college-going is heavily influenced by rural community capital and its interaction with larger systems and structures such as gender/patriarchy and urbanormativity. Implications for research recommend further exploration of the roles of natural and built capital in understanding college-going, especially for rural students. Implications for policy focus on the role of dual enrollment programs and broadband internet access in shaping college-going practices and behaviors in rural communities.

Education (Educational Leadership), Education, Educational Leadership, college access, community capital, higher education, rural, women