From The Atlantic:
When it comes to college enrollment, students in Middle America—many of them white—face an uphill battle against economic and cultural deterrents.Caroline Hoxby of Stanford discovered a half decade ago that the largest group of high school students with 90th percentile test scores who are unambitious about college tend to be white guys in nowheresville.
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… Variations of this mindset, among many other reasons, have given rise to a reality that’s gotten lost in the impassioned debate over who gets to go to college, which often focuses on low-income people of color: The high-school graduates who head off to campus in the lowest proportions in America are the ones from rural places. …
It’s not that rural students aren’t academically prepared. They score better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than urban students and graduate from high school at a higher percentage than the national average, the U.S. Department of Education reports. At the regional high school Gordon attended in Lenox, Iowa, the graduation rate is typically at or near an impressive 100 percent.
Yet even the highest-income white students from rural areas are less likely to go to college right from high school than their well-off white city and suburban counterparts, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks this data: 61 percent, compared to 72 percent from urban schools and 74 percent from suburban ones.
Overall, 59 percent of rural high-school grads—white and nonwhite, at every income level—go to college the subsequent fall, a lower proportion than the 62 percent of urban and 67 percent of suburban graduates who do, the clearinghouse says. Forty-two percent of people ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in all of higher education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but only 29 percent come from rural areas, compared to nearly 48 percent from cities.
Whether this Disparate Impact is due to active discrimination against the victims or merely due to active discrimination in favor of others is, in some ways, an academic question. On the other hand, it’s also not the kind of question of much interest to academics, other than a few independent minded ones like Hoxby.