Monday, March 24, 2014

Fewer rural students are attending the University of Illinois; cost, readiness seem to be main issues

The number of rural students attending the University of Illinois keeps decreasing; some high-school graduates are looking for cheaper ways to get an education, some aren't prepared for college, and some want to avoid the big-city life of a school with more than 30,000 students, Christine Des Garennes reports for The News-Gazette in Champaign. (Gazette photo by Rick Danzl: Arminius Caldwell, left, and Billy Hatfield are two of three students from their high-school class of 37 to attend the university)

About 600 students from the state's 37 rural counties attend the school, down from 1,017 in 2003 and 1,048 in 1993. Over the past five years, 23 of those counties—mostly in the southern and western parts of the state—have sent an average of two or fewer students to any of the school's three campuses.

Des Garennes notes that "The sticker price for a year at the UI has reached $25,000 (including tuition, fees and room and board)," so many students opt for community colleges. Others fear making the switch from a school with a few hundred classmates to one with thousands, while some attend small high schools that don't properly prepare students for college. "Unlike at a large wealthy suburban high school, where students can enroll in numerous advanced placement and honors classes, students from some smaller schools may face challenges obtaining the coursework needed for college admission. For example, a student needs to complete a foreign-language class, but it's only offered at the same time as the math course needed." (Read more)

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