Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Drop in students seeking aid for college is greater in rural areas, where some college rolls have dropped signifcantly

"The isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic year is translating into more than teenage angst. 
It’s driving a dramatic drop in the proportion of students going on to college, threatening the already precarious economies of rural areas and widening their socioeconomic drift from urban and suburban America," reports Jon Marcus of The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education, in a story done with Maine Public Radio.

"The number of rural students filling out the federal application for financial aid, a sign of whether they’re even considering going to college, has plummeted by more than 18%, the National College Attainment Network reports. That’s worse than the also alarming nearly 16% drop among urban students," Marcus reports. "The numbers are down even more in . . . West Virginia (32%), Louisiana (30%), Mississippi (26%), Alaska (24%) and Arkansas and Oklahoma (23%)," states with large percentages of rural population.

The numbers come after enrollment drops at many universities and colleges in rural places. "In Idaho, for instance, which already has the lowest proportion in the country of high school graduates who go on to college (tied with Alaska at 44%), first-time undergraduate enrollment fell nearly 4% at the University of Idaho, nearly 8% at Idaho State University and more than 5% at Boise State University — with an even bigger slide among first-time in-state undergrads," Marcus reports.

In Maine, Bucksport High School Principal Josh Tripp told Maine Public Radio, “Their overall feeling toward education right now is that they’ve just been beaten down. Everything about this year has been harder. Certainly being an election year and seeing so much negativity around forecasts of our future, regardless of what political side you’re on — there’s just a lot of dim and dreary outlooks.”

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