Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version

Spring 4-24-2015


Rezny, B. R. (2015). Rural Nebraska elementary students' aspirations to attend institutions of higher education. (MA thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Debra Mullen. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2015.

Copyright 2015, Brock Taylor Rezny.


Numerous studies exist on college and career readiness in the middle and high school grades, but these studies often exclude the elementary grades. Even less research has been done regarding this topic in rural education. With more research indicating a need for college readiness beginning in elementary school, this study adds to the literature by seeing if rural elementary students in Nebraska have aspirations for continued education and who influences those aspirations. The sample population of this quantitative study were fourth graders in five rural schools in an athletic conference in Nebraska. The survey was created with collaboration from two practicing elementary education professors and distributed to the schools in the mail. Seventy-one of the 152 fourth graders completed the survey with parental permission and the students’ teachers returned the surveys. Various SPSS tests were performed to look at a student’s aspirations and overall confidence in regards to institutions of higher education and how external factors including: parents, guardians, teachers, school counselors, peers and siblings influence those aspirations and a student’s overall confidence of higher education. The results of this study indicated that parents and guardians have the greatest influence on aspirations to attend an institution of higher education and only siblings significantly influenced overall confidence of higher education. Further discussion of these results and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Adviser: Debra Mullen