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Higher education can help remove barriers to access, says Means

Because of inequities in the college application process, as well as a prevailing rhetoric about rural students, a large number of America's students are becoming invisible.

This is according to an article in the winter 2018 edition of the Journal of College Admission, which quoted assistant professor Darris Means on his knowledge of college access among rural and black high school students. Means says it's critical for higher education to understand what supports or hinders rural students' pathways to college, as well as what determines their college choices.

The article explored the experience of one student from rural North Carolina and the barriers he faced in applying to college. While he ended up accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was one of about 20 percent of his classmates to attend college after graduation.

Means says colleges and universities should increase their outreach to rural communities in order to gain ground in this area.

"As I've talked to students, it's very clear they have tremendous support from teachers, from counselors, from family members to go to college. The challenge of this is having that road map to understand how to get there," he says. "when we think about rural schools, a lot of them are smaller—not all of them, but a lot of them. But even if they are smaller, having one school counselor in a high school can make it really challenging for everyone to get the information they need to prepare for college. I would say one of the challenges is trying to provide more resources to schools and communities that can help students on their pathway to college."

Read more in the latest issue of The Journal of College Admission.