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Indiana Studying Patterns of College Enrollment Among High School Grads

Indiana officials want to know more about the differences in college enrollment between rural and non-rural students, and they're in the midst of a study aimed at finding those answers.

This kind of information could be useful for communities nationwide that are struggling to figure out how to improve rural students' college-enrollment and -completion rates. Only 17 percent of rural adults 25 or older earn a college degree, which is about half the percentage of urban adults.

I recently reported on a study that found poverty appeared to have a bigger effect on students' college enrollment than their geographic location, but rural students still trail their urban peers in postsecondary enrollment and persistence.

The REL Midwest Rural Research Alliance and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education have been working to increase the number of residents with a postsecondary education by highlighting the differences between rural and non-rural students.

Their study should be completed by fall of next year, and it's focused on three questions:

1. Are there differences in whether and where rural versus non-rural Indiana high school graduates enroll in college?

2. How does travel distance to college vary for rural versus non-rural high school graduates in Indiana?

3. To what extent do rural students enroll in colleges that are less selective compared to those that they are presumed eligible?

They plan to use geographic information-system mapping and descriptive and inferential statistics to investigate their questions.

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