Monday, October 26, 2015

Cure to rural brain drain is sending more rural kids to college, promoting positives of rural areas

The main ways to eliminate rural brain drain—especially in the Midwest, Great Plains and South—is to send more rural high school students to college and find ways to make rural areas more attractive to college graduates, Christopher Chavis reports for the Bangor Daily News. A recent study published in the American Education Research Journal found that high achieving rural students actually want to return home but often choose metro areas because of the increased opportunities.

While loan forgiveness programs have been used to lure recent graduates to rural areas, a better strategy is for rural localities "to actively reach out to educated professionals by accentuating their positives," Chavis writes. "There is evidence to show that this is an effective strategy. An affordable cost of living and close knit and engaged communities are all hallmarks of rural living and are both great to emphasize."

"Also, if someone is into outdoor activities, there is no better place for that than Rural America," Chavis writes. "For example, I am a short drive away from the mountains and the many lakes that dot our landscape in Maine. Rural areas are also filled with history. After all, up until recently, most of our country’s inhabitants lived in rural areas. Much of our country’s history happened in Rural America. Our country is filled with small towns that can provide you with a better history lesson than most museums. For someone looking to start a family, they would also have the advantage of small class sizes, the ability to own a home at a much lower price, space for their children to run outside and play and relatively low crime."

Another method is to attract technology firms, encourage the growth of startups and increase telecommuting as broadband expands into rural areas, Chavis writes. Improving local education can also strengthen a rural area's draw. "If we can guarantee the same quality of education that children receive in other areas, the likelihood of attracting young professionals and their families will increase." (Read more) (Choices Magazine map)

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