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What Counts as a Rural College?

About This Video

This video is part of a yearlong Chronicle visual series that highlights the challenges facing students from underrepresented and underserved communities. The series is part of the Different Voices of Student Success project, which is supported by the Ascendium Education Group.

The explanatory video was created and animated by Crudo Creative. The script was written by David Wheeler, and edited by Maura Mahoney. Erica Lusk, senior photo and media editor, directed the project. Carmen Mendoza, senior web producer, assisted with web production.

Weak educational achievement runs like a fault line through rural American economies. Eighty-five percent of American counties with low educational attainment are rural, and far fewer young adults in rural areas are enrolled in higher education than those in urban or suburban areas.

This educational disparity has far-reaching consequences, as the rural counties with the lowest levels of educational achievement have the highest levels of poverty, unemployment, and population loss.

Clearly, rural colleges — which include community colleges, religious and other private liberal-arts colleges, branch campuses of public universities, and tribally controlled colleges — are vital. And yet many grapple with shrinking funding and enrollments.

In order to best help these institutions, it’s important to have a better understanding of who they are. This is the story of what counts as a rural college.