Students from rural communities face significant challenges due to low academic preparation, geographic isolation, and poor socioeconomic conditions (Byun, Meece, & Irvin, 2012). These challenges have the potential to hinder or deter rural students from entering four-year colleges or universities. With over nine million students living in rural communities or attending rural high schools (Johnson, Showalter, Klein, & Lester, 2014), research characterizing their college attainment process is necessary to better meet the needs of rural students aspiring to attend college. Using focus group interviews situated in Coleman's (1988) social capital theory, we examined the perspectives and experiences of 10 high-achieving students who attend a rural high school. Throughout the interviews, students expressed fears, worries, and concerns regarding their ability to attend and be successful in college. Additionally, the students reported having limited access to resources needed for attending and completing college. Study findings have important implications for college access preparation, programming, and research.
Perceived barriers, anxieties, and fears in prospective college students from rural high schools