The Influences of Family and Place on Rural Adolescents’ Educational Aspirations and Post-secondary Enrollment

Charlotte Agger, Judith Meece, Soo yong Byun

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44 Scopus citations


Despite the large contingent of students living in rural areas, existing research on the processes that precede the college enrollment of rural adolescents is limited. With a particular focus on gender, this study investigated rural adolescents’ perceptions of family and place and how these perceptions related to their educational aspirations and subsequent college enrollment using a nationwide sample of rural adolescents (N = 3456; 52.5% female). Female adolescents reported higher academic achievement, educational aspirations, parental expectations, and family responsibility and enrolled in two-year and four-year institutions at greater rates compared to male adolescents, who reported significantly higher rural identity and perceptions of job opportunities in the rural community. Utilizing a multiple group moderated mediation approach, the results provided evidence that adolescents’ increased perceptions of their parents’ educational expectations were associated with increased educational aspirations and college enrollment and that adolescents’ increased perceptions of job opportunities in their rural community were associated with decreased educational aspirations. In addition, the results showed that gender moderated the relation between perceptions of job opportunities in the rural community and postsecondary enrollment. These findings highlight how the developmental resources of family and place relate to adolescents’ educational aspirations and subsequent postsecondary enrollment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2554-2568
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was supported by funding from the Spencer Foundation (Reference Number 201300107) and the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (Grant Number #R305A04056). Soo-yong Byun acknowledges assistance provided by the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, which is supported by an infrastructure grant by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD041025) as well as support by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2066878). This work was also supported by a Dissertation Completion Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill awarded to Charlotte Agger. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • College enrollment
  • Family and community
  • Gender
  • Rural adolescents


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