Creating College-going Culture in Rural Communities


The higher education community and businesses must work together to create a college-going culture in across rural America.

The Hechinger Report found that rural communities often face a mindset problem when it comes to higher education.

For generations, rural Americans were able to get good jobs with only a high school diploma. Now many of the jobs available require a more specialized skill set.

“In a lot of rural communities, we still have a lot of work to do to get people to understand” that, Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State Community College in rural Tennessee, said.

Joe Garcia, a former Colorado lieutenant governor and leader of his state’s community college system, said businesses and colleges need to work together to combat this mindset and close the skills gap.

Colleges should work to attract adults who don’t yet have the skills employers need, but businesses need to tell colleges what those skills are.

“Colleges and the way we market need to change,” Garcia said. “We need to realize we’re not seeking the students we had 40 years ago.”

Learn more at The Hechinger Report and check out NACAC research on the factors that constrain and promote college access and enrollment for rural students, and read an article from The Journal of College Admission on supporting rural students.

Admission professionals committed to the admission, matriculation, and success of rural and small town students are invited to join NACAC’s Rural and Small Town SIG.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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