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Shining a Light on Rural Colleges

February 1, 2022 1-minute read
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Inside Higher Ed article screen captureWhat is a rural college? And where can such institutions be found? The questions seem simple, but in higher education, the answers are surprisingly complex. Now two new reports aim to clarify them.

The first, released in December, comes from the University of Wisconsin and is titled “Mapping Rural Colleges and Their Communities.” Nicholas Hillman, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin who spearheaded the report, says the research was born out of the question “Where are rural colleges located?”

Hillman and his team combed through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System as well as the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to understand where colleges are located, then plugged their addresses into a data set and mapped those colleges. They turned up programs in far-flung corners of the U.S. as well as educational partnerships serving students in unexpected locations, such as hotels and conference centers.

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