What works to help rural students succeed in higher education? In fall 2020, MDRC partnered with Rural Matters and Ascendium Education Group to produce a four-part podcast series called “Rural Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities.” The series gathered experts from across the country to examine the realities of rural life and to address the educational challenges facing rural communities, such as low college enrollment rates, inadequate access to broadband internet, and lack of funding for rural education.
This report summarizes the podcast series and focuses on four main issues: How are rural colleges adapting to the coronavirus pandemic? How are states approaching public-private partnerships to improve educational outcomes? What is the impact of racial diversity in rural America? How are communities and colleges pursuing economic development and preparing students for jobs in the modern economy?
The ideas presented here offer jumping-off points for rural education professionals and policymakers as they strive to boost enrollment as well as local economies for a more sustainable future. The four reports include: