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Postsecondary Education

Postsecondary Enrollment Status of Youth From Rural Areas

Last Updated: October 2022
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This indicator also appears under Education Across America.
In 2013, the percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who reported neither taking nor planning to take postsecondary classes was higher for those who attended high schools in rural areas (23 percent) than for those who attended high schools in cities and suburban areas (18 percent each).
This indicator examines differences in postsecondary enrollment status by students’ high school locale (city, suburban, town, and rural)1 in three ways. First, it looks at differences in enrollment status immediately following students’ expected year of high school graduation. Then, this indicator looks at differences in the enrollment status of students 3 years after their expected year of high school graduation, to capture those who delayed entry into postsecondary education. Finally, this indicator examines the employment status of students 3 years after their expected year of high school graduation, with a focus on those who were neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor employed.
This indicator uses data from the High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS) of 2009,2 which followed students throughout their secondary and postsecondary years. The school locale information reported in this indicator is based on the high school the student attended in fall 2009 (the base year of the study) rather than the locale of the postsecondary institution that the student attended during the follow-up years. These longitudinal data thus provide information on the postsecondary outcomes of students from rural areas.

Select a subgroup characteristic from the drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Locale
Figure 1. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were and who were not taking or planning to take postsecondary classes in November 2013, by high school locale in 2009
Figure 1. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were and who were not taking or planning to take postsecondary classes in November 2013, by high school locale in 2009

NOTE: Data collection for the 2013 Update occurred in summer and fall of 2013. Some respondents were surveyed prior to November 2013; therefore, they were asked about their plans for November instead of their actual status. Respondents who were undecided about taking postsecondary classes are excluded from this figure. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding and missing data. Among fall 2009 ninth-graders, information about whether they were taking or planning to take postsecondary classes full time or part time in 2013 was missing for 0.2 percent of respondents.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), 2013 Update. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 302.46.

The typical year of high school graduation for those who were ninth-graders in fall 2009 is 2013. In this year, 68 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas reported taking or planning to take postsecondary classes.3 This percentage included 59 percent who reported taking or planning to take postsecondary classes full time, 5 percent who reported taking or planning to take classes part time, and 4 percent who reported they were undecided about whether to take classes full time or part time. The percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were taking or planning to take postsecondary classes was lower for those who attended high schools in rural areas than for those who attended high schools in suburban areas (68 vs. 74 percent).
In 2013, about 23 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas reported neither taking nor planning to take postsecondary classes.4 This percentage was higher than the percentages for those who attended high schools in cities and suburban areas (18 percent each). However, this percentage was not measurably different from the percentage for those who attended high schools in towns.
Figure 2. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who had never enrolled in postsecondary education as of February 2016, by high school locale in 2009
Figure 2. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who had never enrolled in postsecondary education as of February 2016, by high school locale in 2009

NOTE: Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), Second Follow-Up. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 302.46.

By 2016—some 3 years after the typical year of high school graduation for those who were ninth-graders in fall 2009—about 71 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas reported that they had ever enrolled in postsecondary education. Conversely, 29 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas had never enrolled in postsecondary education as of 2016; this percentage was higher than the percentage for those who attended high schools in suburban areas (24 percent) but lower than the percentage for those who attended high schools in towns (35 percent).
Figure 3. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor employed in February 2016, by high school locale in 2009
Figure 3. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor employed in February 2016, by high school locale in 2009

NOTE: Respondents who were not employed included those who were unemployed and those who were not in the labor force. Unemployed respondents are those who were not working but were actively looking for work. Respondents were not in the labor force if they were not working and were not actively looking for work. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), Second Follow-Up. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 302.46.

In 2016, about one-third (34 percent) of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas reported currently being enrolled in postsecondary education and employed at the same time, 15 percent reported currently being enrolled but not employed, 39 percent reported currently being employed but not enrolled, and the remaining 12 percent reported currently being neither enrolled nor employed. The percentage who reported currently being neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor employed was lower for those who attended high schools in rural areas (12 percent) than for those who attended high schools in cities (16 percent). However, there was no measurable difference between the percentages who reported currently being neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor employed for those who attended high schools in rural areas and for those who attended high schools in towns.

1 Please visit NCES’s Education Across America website for the definition of locale.

2 HSLS:09 follows a nationally representative sample of students who were ninth-graders in fall 2009 from high school into postsecondary education and the workforce. The most recent collection for this cohort of students, the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study and Student Financial Aid Records (PETS-SR) data collection, was conducted between spring 2017 and fall 2018, approximately 4 years after high school graduation. These data were released in August 2020.

3 Data collection for the 2013 Update occurred in the summer and fall of 2013. Some respondents were surveyed prior to November 2013; therefore, they were asked about their plans for November instead of their actual status. These respondents had the option to report that they were undecided about their plans. Responses in the 2013 Update for HSLS were provided by the students or their parents.

4 In 2013, about 10 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who attended high schools in rural areas reported being undecided about taking postsecondary classes.

Supplemental Information

College Enrollment Rates [Condition of Education]
Immediate College Enrollment Rate [Condition of Education]
Public High School Graduation Rates [Condition of Education]
Undergraduate Enrollment [Condition of Education]
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Table 302.46 (Digest 2018): Percentage distribution of fall 2009 ninth-graders, by high school locale in 2009, high school completion status, postsecondary enrollment and work status or plans, and postsecondary attainment status: 2013 and 2016
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Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Postsecondary Enrollment Status of Youth From Rural Areas. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/lbb.