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Factors Influencing College Aspirations of Rural West Virginia High School Students

Author(s): Chenoweth, E. | Galliher, R. V.

Journal: Journal of Research in Rural Education
ISSN 1551-0670

Volume: 19;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: rural schools | rural education | college aspirations

In the current study, we examined factors that influence rural West Virginia high school studentsÂ’ college attendance decisions. Using BronfenbrennerÂ’s ecological systems theory of human development as a theoretical basis, we studied direct and indirect influences of environmental factors upon the academic aspirations of rural Appalachian youth. Individual adolescent characteristics; family, peer, and school contexts; and broader cultural influences were all implicated in predicting rural Appalachian studentsÂ’ academic aspirations. In addition, interesting differences emerged in patterns of prediction for males and females. Family and peer contexts emerged as more salient predictors of college aspirations for males, while variables associated with individual academic preparation and external barriers to college attendance were most salient for females. Considerations of cultural and economic conditions fairly unique to rural Appalachia and implications of the results for educators and policymakers working with Appalachian youth are discussed.
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