ACUM Presents: Rural Students’ Unique Experiences on Campus

What are the unique stories of rural students on our campus? Research shows that students from rural and small town communities have both unique strengths and challenges as they prepare for, apply to, and transition into college. In this virtual session, a panel of both professional staff members who serve students from rural communities and students with rural identities will speak on their experiences on campus. 

When University of Michigan President Mark Schissel visited Marquette High School on Monday, March 20th, 2017, it was the first time in more than thirty years that a University of Michigan President visited the Upper Peninsula. With 443 miles spanning between Marquette and the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, the nearly seven-hour drive challenges the relationship between the University of Michigan and residents in the Upper Peninsula, nicknamed the Yoopers. While more than 20% of students in Michigan attend a rural school, only 8.7% of in-state students at UM are from a rural county. Furthermore, rural students are more likely to be low-income and the first in their families to go to college. The increasing prevalence of poverty and the geographic isolation of many rural communities creates unique challenges for rural students as they prepare for college and determine their plans for life after high school. Increasing the percentage of rural students attending college and creating initiatives designed to intentionally support rural students will require a strong understanding of the unique strengths and challenges that rurality creates for students as they prepare for and transition to college.

Even moreso toward the end of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King turned his attention to class inequality, poverty and making opportunities equally available to all. Given the roles that institutions of higher education play in social mobility, ensuring that we are creating equitable and inclusive pathways to college graduation for our students from rural communities is aligned with Dr. King’s vision for a just and equitable world. Further, as we look towards the future of our country, we must resist the rural-urban divide narrative and instead thoughtfully recognize how we can value geographic diversity and seek unity. 

Note: If you have any questions or technical issues the day of the event, please contact Jill Hoppenjans at

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Student & Staff Panel
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