Organization Addresses Rural College Concerns

If you are interested in the concerns of rural community colleges, an organization called the Rural Community College Alliance has conducted a conference in Oklahoma City, as reported by Ashley A. Smith, in Inside Higher Ed.

A recent TCCTA blog post focused on a study indicating lower rates of success by students in rural areas, and the various reasons why high school graduates from such areas sometimes choose not to go to college, even if they don’t fit an “at-risk” profile. This study is also discussed in the IHE piece, but the article gets into more issues regarding smaller schools—of which there are many in Texas, of course.

Low education attainment rates also reportedly correspond to higher poverty rates in rural areas. From 2011 to 2015, the average poverty rate for rural counties with low education was about 8 percent higher than other rural counties. Low education counties are those with 20 percent or more adults lacking a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the article reports. And funding decreases from state legislatures and little to no existing resources like public transportation, social services, or food pantries are more difficult to come by in rural areas.

Obviously in the urban areas on the Texas Gulf Coast, colleges are having their own set of problems right now. But at least we are aware of the situation with flooding, even though the national media has essentially moved on to the next crisis. Rural areas rarely get attention. However, collectively, they represent as signifiant slice of our population.

Reports indicate that, many times young individuals in rural areas simply don’t want to leave home, which they would probably have to do, once they receive a certificate or associates degree. As one commentator noted, educating people so they can leave is a tough proposition.