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Kinsinger, Katherine (2018) FAMILY AND SCHOOL INFLUENCES ON RURAL YOUTH PERSISTENCE TO COLLEGE GRADUATION. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The literature presents conflicting views of the rural experience, with one perspective chronicling the deficits associated with growing up rural while the other reveals advantages to small-town community and schooling influences. Adding to the complexities of the rural narrative are the recent demographic and social changes in rural communities—and the increasing number of rural youth migrating out of rural regions in search of brighter futures. Despite an increasing number of rural students enrolling in college, little research exists on understanding their precollege characteristics and college experiences—and the influence on college persistence. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which rural youth perceive the influences of family and high school on their ability to persist to college graduation. To gain an understanding of the complexities contained with the experiences of participants, a qualitative approach was employed, using semi-structured interviews as the study method. Participants shared positive perceptions connected to school, highlighting the benefits derived from small school size and teacher encouragement and personalized attention. Participants were less satisfied with coursework rigor, dual enrollment access, and financial planning, and discussed how these aspects could have been more beneficial to their efforts to access and persist through college. Strong family connections emerged in participant stories. While consistent and informative messaging regarding accessing college was not as apparent within families as in school, participants clearly felt supported by parents to attend college—and, in most cases, to pursue other higher education and/or career paths if they chose to do so. Participants articulated a clear desire to return to home communities to live and work but expressed concern about finding viable job opportunities. This study’s findings could have important implications for rural youth and their families when considered in concert with the larger body of research related to rural youth persisting through college. Findings from this study could inform further research and practices designed to enhance college readiness and graduation rates of rural youth. In particular, participant stories highlighted the value of maximizing rural youth interactions with family, school, and community.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kinsinger, Katherinekinsing@pitt.eduKINSING0000-0002-4462-5243
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcClure, Maureenmmclure@pitt.edummcclure
Committee MemberKerr, Mary Margaretmmkerr@pitt.edmmkerr
Committee MemberZahorchak, Geraldjzahorch@pitt.edujzahorch
Date: 24 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 June 2018
Approval Date: 24 September 2018
Submission Date: 16 August 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 105
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rural youth; rural aspirations; rural family influences; rural school influences; rural persistence to college graduation; rural readiness for college
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 18:57
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 18:57


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