EXPLORING THE PATHWAY OF RURAL STUDENTS INTO THE ENGINEERING FIELD
As diversity continues to be promoted in engineering, one category of students has largely been forgotten. That is the rural student. While rural students make up 20% of all public-school students, college enrollment rates for these students are lower than those of other locales. Reasons for the lower enrollment rates are explored in this research by examining the pathway of rural students into the engineering field. As previous studies on rural students have used differing definitions of rural, this work uses a definition of rural set forth by the National Center of Education Statistics along with the U.S. Census Bureau, to provide more consistency for future research on the rural student. This work includes multiple related studies. The first study examines the characteristics of the rural student to identify differences between students from rural areas and other locales. A case study then illustrates the distribution among locales of students applying to, being admitted to, and attending an engineering program at a large mid-Atlantic public university. This research shows that students from rural distant and rural remote locales come from communities that contain fewer racial/ethnic minorities than all other locales. There is less availability of Advanced Placement courses in these locales, specifically for courses related to STEM fields, and the percentage of students from these locales who apply to university is lower than for all other locales.