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Rural Realities

Education, workforce and progress

People are growing more skeptical about the value of higher education. More rural residents are graduating from high school, but people in those communities remain less likely than their suburban and urban peers to continue their education.

This five-part series from the Rural News Network, made possible with support from Ascendium, explores how institutions and students are meeting their educational needs and the demands of today’s rural workforce.


Series highlights challenges of postsecondary education options and workforce needs in rural communities

On-the-ground reporting, coupled with national collaborators offering data and context, led to meaningful continuing coverage of the decisions students make in many of these often-tiny communities — choices emblematic of larger trends.

Across California, Data Gaps Related to Career Education May Contribute To Local Workforce Shortages
Shasta Scout May 16, 2024

Coordination is in progress, but no one knows yet how well the money being poured into career education statewide helping to fill labor needs for high priority fields, region by region.

Rural Oklahoma schools work to help English Language Learners attain higher education
KOSU April 15, 2024

Hundreds of Oklahoma high school seniors will graduate next month. On top of the end-of-year jitters and finals, prospective college students are completing FAFSA paperwork – but not always in English. Some students and their families need bilingual resources to take their next steps after graduation.

‘The stepchildren:’ Community colleges struggle to fund buildings for growing workforce programs
Mississippi Today April 5, 2024

For colleges tasked with shepherding the state’s ambitious workforce development programs, meager funding means they’re educating students in facilities that are falling behind the conditions of private industry.

Texas wind energy firms need more technicians. Can they drum up student interest without state support?
The Texas Tribune April 4, 2024

The wind industry promises attractive salaries. But a lack of training programs and waning political support make it difficult to find new recruits.

A lack of child care can be a barrier for community college students. Virginia is looking for answers.
Cardinal News March 28, 2024

Among the solutions: A handful of colleges offer on-campus child care, and a statewide pilot program is providing child care stipends for single parents. But the need remains great.

In Far Northern California, Educators Encourage Post-Secondary Education Amidst Critical Workforce Gaps
Shasta Scout December 8, 2023

Rebuilding Shasta County’s workforce will increase the quality of life for this generation, and those to come. But filling workforce gaps will require educators to overcome economic, informational, social and logistical barriers.

Oklahoma institutions offer bilingual services to boost workforce
KOSU December 7, 2023

The state’s Hispanic population and workforce have grown, requiring more programs to ensure job readiness.

These rural Texans opted out of a degree. The community college down the street wants them back.
The Texas Tribune December 7, 2023

To survive, Texas community colleges have to prove their worth. But residents of this rural north Texas town are questioning what’s right for them.

Community colleges are helping with housing, gas and food to keep students in class
Cardinal News December 5, 2023

Free tuition programs might entice students to enroll in community college, but they don’t cover gas or child care, or put food on the table.

In this shrinking Mississippi Delta county, getting a college degree means leaving home behind
Mississippi Today December 4, 2023

Inside Issaquena County, Mississippi, where just 42 adult residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.

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