CHEE Receives Contract to Study Rural College Students in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH – The Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) has received funds to support a year-long, multiphase study titled, “Pathways to Success for Rural College Students,” using data from students in over 30 rural counties in the state of Ohio. This commissioned study is in partnership with the iBelieve Foundation, Battelle for Kids, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. This will be the first study of its kind conducted by CHEE and will help advance our collective knowledge, both locally and nationally, about rural college students’ access, issues of affordability, and factors related to their success.

Did you know that more than 3.4 million students attend rural high schools in the United States? Yet, one in every four will drop out before graduation. And we know from research that rural students who pursue higher education face myriad challenges ranging from lack of preparation for college-level work and limited financial resources to difficulty transitioning to college, among other issues. Thus, the need for this study is clear and compelling.

The research team will use surveys and interviews to produce a statistical profile of rural college students, and to elicit information and stories about their experiences, their hopes and fears, as well as insights about their pathways to success in higher education.

CHEE Policy Analyst, Royel Johnson shared: “We are committed to generating policy- and practice-relevant research that improves the experiences and conditions of all students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds such as rural college students. This study will help us move the needle on rural college student success both locally and nationally.”

CHEE Director, Terrell Strayhorn added: “This is an important study and I’m delighted that CHEE will work with our partners on- and off-campus to examine the college success of rural students—a sizeable, yet understudied, student population. Even when they do enroll in higher education, few rural students enroll in undergraduate programs and ever fewer graduate within 5 years. This study will help us learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to make things better for all.”

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