Despite the large contingent of students living in rural areas, existing research on the processes that precede the college enrollment of rural adolescents is limited. With a particular focus on gender, this study investigated rural adolescents’ perceptions of family and place and how these perceptions related to their educational aspirations and subsequent college enrollment using a nationwide sample of rural adolescents (N = 3456; 52.5% female). Female adolescents reported higher academic achievement, educational aspirations, parental expectations, and family responsibility and enrolled in two-year and four-year institutions at greater rates compared to male adolescents, who reported significantly higher rural identity and perceptions of job opportunities in the rural community. Utilizing a multiple group moderated mediation approach, the results provided evidence that adolescents’ increased perceptions of their parents’ educational expectations were associated with increased educational aspirations and college enrollment and that adolescents’ increased perceptions of job opportunities in their rural community were associated with decreased educational aspirations. In addition, the results showed that gender moderated the relation between perceptions of job opportunities in the rural community and postsecondary enrollment. These findings highlight how the developmental resources of family and place relate to adolescents’ educational aspirations and subsequent postsecondary enrollment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)