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rural youth, high school seniors, occupational aspirations, Iowa, educational aspirations, rural development


Research has suggested that rural youth have lower educational and occupational aspirations than their nonrural counterparts, and they may experience barriers to educational and occupational attainment. Discrepancies and barriers that may exist have implications for educational policy and educational planning.

Seventeen rural high schools in northwest Iowa were examined; thirteen public and four private schools. Rural high school students were studied to examine their perceptions concerning potential educational and occupational barriers. Student characteristics and qualities were examined based on where the student lived and the type of school they attended. Students who had been involved in the agricultural curricula in the high schools were described. Students in private and public schools were studied to examine differences and how the differences might affect community and agricultural development.

Significant differences were found based on where the student lived in their community, in town in a house or apartment or in the country on an acreage, small farm, or large farm. The educational aspirations were very high for all of the students, but the level of educational aspirations were higher for students residing town than the students residing in the country.

Significant differences existed between the students who attended private and public schools. More private school students resided on farms, had more positive perceptions of their communities, and expressed greater intentions of wanting to remain in their communities, but they had lower educational aspirations.

Students who took agriculture courses or who participated in FFA had significantly lower aspirations in the level of their educational aspirations and in their intentions to continue their education than their peers.

The study concluded that school planning should recognize that differences in aspirations and perceptions existed between students based on where they lived, and secondly, the students in private schools should be considered as policy and plans are made for community and rural development.


  • A dissertation submitted to the graduate faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY, Iowa State University
  • Dr. W. Wade Miller, Major Professor
  • © 1999 Duane Harold Bajema