Mar 28, 2022
In this first of our four-part series, Designing Postsecondary Alternatives for Rural Learners, produced in collaboration with and supported by PelotonU, Michelle chats with three terrific guests about the latest trends and statistics pertaining to rural learners and rural education, best practices for engaging student support, and actual rural learner experiences: Dr. Van Davis, chief strategy officer with WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies); Matt Newlin, who has 15 years' experience creating equitable pathways for low-income, first-generation students and is currently on the leadership team of the NACAC Rural & Small Town Special Interest Group, and host of the Rural College Student Experience podcast; and Cyndi Gonzalez, a recent rural graduate, who has faced challenges involving paying for community college and lack of accessibility to internet services. Davis describes the importance of geography in shaping higher education opportunity in the United States, the role played by rural-serving institutions, the vexing problem of “higher education deserts,” how online higher education affects rural learners, and the importance of equity in the rural space. Newlin talks about what institutions are missing about the rural student experience in college, such as isolation, and provides several examples of institutions doing a good job of supporting rural students, and the strengths that rural students bring to campus and their peers; Gonzales discusses both her positive and negative experiences as a rural learner, and why she chose PelotonU. This episode and the entire series is sponsored by PelotonU, whose innovative and regionally accredited degree options flip the script on higher education and allow learners to fit college around their lives rather than fitting their lives around college. Learners can try it for six weeks risk-free with no money down. Visit PelotonU.org to get started.