UGA Hosts National Rural unConference
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Ranked third in the nation for the number of K-12 rural students, the University of
Georgia steers the conversation on rural student success in higher education.
UGA’s inaugural Redefining Rural Students’ Success and Wellbeing: An unConference on Practice, Research, and Innovation, held March 19-20, was the first national convening to discuss rural student access into and through American higher education. The virtual event boasted 152 registrants with representation from 30 states and 72 organizations and institutions. Over two days, attendees listened to three keynote speakers, UGA students from rural areas, and a panel discussion moderated by Beckie Supiano of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Rural students make up nearly 20% of public high schools in the U.S and almost a quarter of students in Georgia, and while their high school completion rates are high, they are less likely to graduate from a four-year college/university compared to their urban peers.
Why? Preparation and access to information such as Advanced Placement classes play a role, as do varying attitudes about higher education and different degrees of opportunity in the rural economy. Once they arrive on campus, rural students navigate distinct cultural differences such as living in residential halls larger than their high school and transit systems that simply do not exist in their hometown.
The state of Georgia ranks third in the nation for the number of K-12 rural students, and in 2018, UGA prioritized rural student success by launching the ALL Georgia program. ALL Georgia provides a network of resources and support for incoming and current students from rural Georgia and annually serves more than 4,000 students.
Now considered a leader in the rural student success space, UGA invited researchers, practitioners, policymakers, students, and the community to join together in a national conversation.
“We understand the inherent value that rural students bring to the university and want nothing more than to cultivate and encourage their academic success and wellbeing,” says Naomi J. Norman, associate vice president for instruction. “We are certain that this national conversation will pave the way in establishing meaningful improvements for rural students in the years ahead at UGA and across the country.”
The Redefining Rural Students’ Success and Wellbeing unConference was supported by a State-of-the-Art Conference Grant from the UGA Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.