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Rural Youth Education Project: Third Wave

Posted: January 20, 2011

Penn State University in conjunction with the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is conducting an ongoing study analyzing Pennsylvanian rural youth and their educational and career goals.

Rural Youth Education Project: Third Wave has been gathering data since 2004 and upon its completion in 2011 will have produced four studies documenting how such goals change over time and if they were ever fulfilled. 

With each consecutive wave more youth were added to the study. Therefore, during Wave 3 a comparison between the older cohort youth from Wave 1 and the younger cohort youth from Wave 2 was able to take place.  Most of the younger participants aspired to attend a four-year college and obtain a position in a professional field (30% in an area outside of rural Pennsylvania). Many of the participants added during Wave 3 liked where they lived, however, more than half felt they would have to move to obtain the educational and job opportunities they aspired to fulfill.  

The majority of those participants from Wave 1 went onto post-secondary schooling, achieving their educational goals predicted in 2004. The research found their educational goals stayed on target over the course of the three Waves although both their residential and occupational goals seemed to fluctuate with just over half of the participants still agreeing with their original responses. Despite the older youth being out of high school, they are still uncertain as to the future of their educational, occupational, and residential goals.

The study will conclude in 2011 with a fourth and final wave of research. Upon its publication researchers will then present policy suggestions that will continue to encourage rural youth to achieve and follow through with their aspirations.

This report can be read in its entirety at the Center for Rural Pennsylvania website.

Previous reports regarding Wave 1 and Wave 2 can be found at the Center for Rural Pennsylvania website.


Prepared by Addison Weinstein, research assistant to Dr. Theodore Alter