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Missouri is increasing Community College enrollment among rural students, thanks to rootEd

April 1, 2022- Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, America's college enrollment has dropped a substantial amount. However a new strategy started by rootED has hit the scene in an attempt to boost rural area students to get enrolled in college or other training necessary to reach their career goals.


The U.S. now has about one million fewer students enrolled in college than before the pandemic. The declines have been especially steep at community colleges, where the majority of rural students enroll.


RootEd Alliance, is a philanthropic organization that funds, trains, and places college and career advisors in rural high schools. These counselors then help the rural students who often will be first generation college students create and execute a plan for what that student will do upon graduation, whether it’s attending a two-year or four-year college, joining the military, or finding a good job.


Along with the rootEd counslers helping students develop an individualized postsecondary plan, they also identify financial aid opportunities and assist students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Despite facing incredible headwinds throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, rootEd students are enrolling and persisting in college at rates significantly higher than national averages:

  • Postsecondary enrollment in rootEd schools has increased by 7%, compared with a national decline in postsecondary enrollment of 9%

  • rootEd students are staying in and persisting through college at a rate up to 10 percentage points higher than their peers

  • 25% of our college-bound students say they would not be going to college without having had the support of their rootEd advisor

“Students in rural settings have long faced unique barriers to postsecondary education and training. Research shows that not only are rural students less likely to enroll in college than their peers, but those who do enroll are less likely to finish,” said Noa Meyer, president of rootEd Alliance and head of philanthropy and social impact at BDT & Company, in a recent news release.


“As we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic on our workforce, now more than ever, it is critical to support our students to build a bridge from high school to lifelong success," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. "Placing dedicated college and career advisors in rural high schools provides students in rural communities exposure and access to a variety of postsecondary opportunities. RootEd Alliance offers an achievable, scalable solution.”


"Associated Industries of Missouri, through our Missouri Center for Manufacturing Excellence, is hosting conversations with education leaders to learn about various strategies to help students connect with the training they need for the careers they want," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "We are so proud of rootEd's groundbreaking work in this area and that they chose to help our Missouri rural schools, and we are happy Missouri education leaders are on board as well," he said.


No one can doubt the success that this rootEd program has had as they have served over 12,000 students since the start of their program and that number will only continue to grow. Forbes recently wrote more about the program in this article.


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