Forty percent of adults in rural areas participated in some type of formal educational activity in 2005. A smaller percentage of rural adults than suburban adults took work-related courses or courses for personal interest and a smaller percentage of rural adults than adults in both cities and suburban areas participated in part-time college or university credential programs.
In 2005, 44 percent of persons nationwide age 16 and over participated in some form of adult educational activities (tables 2.8 and A-3.8). In rural areas, 40 percent of such persons participated in some form of adult educational activities (figure 2.8). Adult educational activities include all formal educational activities led by an instructor, excluding full-time participation for any part of the year in a postsecondary credential program. They include English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, basic skills or General Educational Development (GED) preparation classes, part-time postsecondary or vocational programs, apprenticeship programs, work-related courses, and personal interest courses. The percentage of adults participating in such educational activities in rural areas was less than the percentage participating in suburban areas (47 percent) and cities (46 percent), but was not measurably different from the percentage participating in towns (42 percent).
The most common adult educational activity was work-related coursework, with 27 percent of all adults participating in these courses (table 2.8). Nationally, adults also enrolled in personal interest courses (21 percent), college or university credential programs (5 percent), and other activities (3 percent). This "other activities" category includes activities such as basic skills training, ESL classes, and apprenticeships. Adults in rural areas followed participation patterns similar to those of the nation as a whole: work-related courses were the most common type of educational activity (24 percent), followed by personal interest courses (18 percent), part-time college or university credential programs (3 percent), and other activities (2 percent).
A lower percentage of adults in rural areas (3 percent) than in cities and suburban areas (both 6 percent) participated in part-time college or university credential programs (figure 2.8). In addition, a smaller proportion of adults in rural areas than in suburban areas participated in work-related courses (24 vs. 30 percent) or participated in courses for personal interest (18 vs. 23 percent). Also, a smaller percentage of adults in rural areas than adults in cities participated in other activities (2 vs. 5 percent). There were, however, no measurable differences between adults in rural areas and towns in terms of the percentages participating in any of the selected educational activities.