Following Donald Trump's election as president, "a sizable share of college admission directors say they have intensified efforts to recruit in rural areas and find more white students from low-income families," says the Washington Post, based on a survey by Inside Higher Ed. "His campaign capitalized on heavy support from rural America and from white voters without college degrees — sectors of the population many colleges historically have struggled to reach."
Poor children growing up in three out of four rural counties — especially in the Great Plains — are more likely to earn more than the national average by the age of 26 than their counterparts in cities, says a national study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty. Just 29 percent of kids in densely populated urban centers earn more than the national average as adults.
A proud refrain of American agriculture is "we feed the world" of many nations and cultures although U.S. farmers are overwhelmingly white men. Kendall Lamkey, chairman of the department of agronomy at Iowa State University, is trying to diversify the sector by attracting students "from a wider pool – from cities and suburbs, and from minority groups," says the NPR blog, The Salt.
Only 29 percent of college-age rural Americans are enrolled in college, far below the 47 percent rate of urban residents aged 18-24, says the New York Times, despite high graduation rates for rural high schools. "Given election results that turned up the volume on the concerns of rural Americans ... higher education leaders are now talking about how to reach the hard-to-get-to."
John Wooden High School, a so-called continuation school in the Los Angeles school system, is small, operating without a pool or a gym but it has a farm. And most days, Alex Snyder, 17, "eats lunch with a pot-bellied pig named Peanut," says the Los Angeles Times.
A hub of sustainability education since its founding in 1958, Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, will launch a program this summer "to help students not only deepen their focus on artisan food and organic agriculture but also turn them into viable businesses," says Civil Eats.
The new issue of Choices, the magazine of agricultural economists, discusses the possible role of higher education and the extension service as elements for rural renaissance. In the Farm Belt, the connection between university and farmer, facilitated by extension, is well-known for boosting agricultural productivity. Yet, agriculture no longer dominates the rural economy.