The percentage of high school students from Utah’s rural areas who attend college is much lower than that of their city and suburb dwelling counter parts. That’s according to a new study by the Utah Foundation that examined the challenges faced by Utah’s rural schools. Research Analyst Shawn Teigen says rural students are offered fewer advanced placement courses that would allow them to score higher on college entrance tests.
“The students in many of these rural schools have never taken a pre-calculus or a calculus class, they’ve not taken some of the higher more advanced classes in math or in science, which is possibly holding them back from really getting as much out of school and doing as well on the ACT, which is kind of holding them back from getting into college at the rates that non-rural kids are getting into college,” he says.
According to the study, 55 percent of rural high school seniors in the 2011-2012 school year went on to attend college compared to 66 percent of the state’s suburban students. However Teigen says while the percentage of students from rural areas attending college is lower, more of them are graduating from high school.
“If somebody starts to fail and is starting to not do very well in school the community can kind of see what is going on with this person. As a teacher I may have had that student in my class for the last 4-years. Why is that suddenly they are not doing so well? What’s going on? And they can kind of intervene more quickly than if you are in a high school with 2,500 kids in Salt Lake County and you just fall through the crack,” he says.
High School graduation rates among rural students are 79.3 percent compared to non-rural students at 75.9 percent. The complete Utah Foundation study can be found here.