Nationally, 59 million people live in rural areas—9.7 million of them are high school students. Although 92 percent of these students think it is important to continue their education beyond high school, only 29 percent of 19-to-24-year-olds from rural areas are enrolled in college. In comparison, 42 percent of students in metro areas are enrolled in college. This disparity results in more than lost opportunities for students from rural communities. It also leads to a diminished exchange of ideas—drawn from diverse experiences—at top colleges and universities across the country.
The STARS College Network brings together sixteen of the nation’s most prominent universities and colleges who are dedicated to working together to help students from small-town and rural America enroll in, succeed at, and graduate from the undergraduate program of their choice. By teaming up and redoubling their own individual efforts, STARS College Network members also hope to inspire other institutions, alumni, philanthropists, and policymakers to increase their efforts to support students in rural areas and small towns, building a stronger and healthier ecosystem of opportunity that spans the nation.
While many colleges and universities recognize the importance of doing more to support rural America, fragmented, siloed efforts by individual institutions or organizations alone are not enough. By working together, through collaboration and sharing best practices, the STARS College Network can do more for rural and small-town students than any individual member institution can on its own.
The STARS (Small Town and Rural Students) College Network will build on efforts to create new pathways to college for students who might not otherwise recognize the full range of educational opportunities available to them. It is supported by a $20 million gift from Trott Family Philanthropies, the foundation of Byron and Tina Trott. Founding supporter Byron D. Trott, Chairman and Co-CEO of BDT & MSD Partners, was inspired by the ways in which college transformed his own journey, which began in small-town Union, Missouri and included undergraduate and MBA degrees at University of Chicago. Trott-affiliated philanthropic efforts have provided substantial support to students from small towns and rural communities, including through launching rootEd Alliance, which has convened philanthropists, as well as funding from Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and Idaho, to train and place dedicated college and career counselors in rural high schools.
STARS Press Release
Sixteen of the nation’s most prominent universities and colleges have teamed up in a new effort to help students from small-town and rural America enroll in, succeed at, and graduate from the undergraduate program of their choice. Download now »
STARS In the News
Bloomberg Radio: Janet Lorin on Byron Trott/STARS Network
Scripps News: Creating new pathways to college for students in rural America
USA Today: Many rural and small town students skip college or go local. A new effort aims to change that.
Forbes: $20 Million Gift Launches 16-College Network To Boost Enrollments From Rural America
Yahoo Finance: New college network builds support for students in rural and small-town America
Crain's Business Chicago: Northwestern, U of C join effort to boost enrollment from rural America
GlobeNewswire: New college network builds support for students in rural and small-town America
Inside Higher Ed: 16 Institutions Unite to Help Rural Students Attend College
Agenparl (Europe): Vanderbilt University joins effort to help students from small-town and rural America connect to higher education
Pasadena Now: Caltech Joins STARS College Network
Radio Iowa: U-I joins national network to create pathways for rural students to higher education
Insight Into Diversity: Top Colleges Form Network to Support Rural Students
WisBusiness: UW System president highlights strategies in ‘war for talent’; Interim chancellor named for UW-Parkside
Kiwa Radio: UI Joins Network Of Universities To Help Rural Students Enroll, Chase Dreams
Cedar Rapids Gazette: University of Iowa joins Ivy, Big Ten peers in helping rural students attend college