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Lived Experiences of Second-Year Rural College Students

Matthew W Knight, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite the large number of rural students enrolled in public schools in the United States, there is little research on rural college students. Specifically, research pertaining to student persistence and first-year rural college students. This study will illuminate the first-year experiences of second-year rural college students and how they made meaning of their decision to persist from being involved in curricular and co-curricular activities. The methodology is a qualitative narrative inquiry approach to understand the participants’ lived experience. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews will be used for data collection combined with Polkinghorne’s (1995) narrative mode of analysis. This study is focused on understanding how second-year rural students made meaning of their decision to persist through being involved in curricular and co-curricular activities their first-year of college. Strayhorn’s (2012) sense of belonging concept was utilized to guide my study. If a student feels more connected to campus or a stronger sense of belonging, they are more likely to persist (Strayhorn, 2012). This study explored a student’s sense of belonging related to faculty interaction, classroom experience, living on campus, and involvement in co-curricular activities. The findings showed that when participants were making degree progress and felt supported, it internally motivated them to make the decision to return to campus. The main categories that contributed to the participant’s feeling supported and internally motivating them to persist included being satisfied with their grades, co-curricular activities, and the people they interacted with their first year of college. The findings from this study will educate higher education institutions similar to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on how to further support rural college students and help them reach graduation.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Knight, Matthew W, "Lived Experiences of Second-Year Rural College Students" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27830090.