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The Rural Higher-Ed Crisis

Rural institutions of higher learning are facing an existential crisis, and it’s bound to shape the face of higher education in rural areas for decades to come.

19 days ago

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Rural institutions of higher learning are facing an existential crisis, and it’s bound to shape the face of higher education in rural areas for decades to come. In my little corner of eastern New Mexico, rural education is a threatened species. Students have come to believe that education no longer serves a value to them and their movement toward sustainable and fulfilling careers. Students and educators alike believe that the old models of education—those of lecture and receive, writing papers and receiving feedback, and many other such activities—are doomed, but there are few, if any suitable replacements, especially in those rural communities where class sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, with little consideration for student or teacher or quality of education. To make matters worse, rural education doesn’t get the tender, loving care (TLC) it deserves from larger urban institutions of higher learning, nor do these rural institutions get the same pork-barreling that often ends up in the coffers of much larger urban schools. Rural education, despite the stereotypes, clichés, and problematic euphemisms, is a staple of American education culture, and it is the most important untapped asset this country has. If rural institutions are quick to the punch, they could offer innovative, hands-on educational experiences for students of all backgrounds. Rural education could be seen as a shining beacon of hope, in a market saturated with expensive (and exclusive) megaversities, for-profits, and large urban institutions.

G. Michael Rapp

Published 19 days ago

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