Rural Student Voices to Improve Educational Attainment Oriented Programs

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The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) strives to increase college-going and completion rates for students in West Virginia (USA), a state with low educational attainment and the second most rural state in the country. The positive impact of HSTA on student academic trajectories has been documented, but student voices have not been represented. This qualitative study using Bronfenbrenner's ecological perspective explores student experiences through HSTA, with an eye toward how similar programs serving rural populations might improve while understanding student participant perspectives. Participants were 706 incoming 9th -12th graders from rural West Virginia who provided survey responses across two years. We address the organizational and individual considerations that were instrumental in creating a supportive learning environment for rural youth.