Giving Compass' Take:

Kristen Blagg explains discusses the combination of factors that lead to education deserts where people lack access to appropriate higher education opportunities. 

• How can we help the commuter population feel more connected to schools? What other barriers come with living in an education desert? 

• Read about ways to help young people get out of education deserts

Access to higher education is the first step toward earning a degree. While some students move to enroll in college, the farther prospective students live from a college or university, the less likely they are to enroll.

In a recent report, we found that 3 million American adults live in “education deserts,” areas that lack access to higher education via either nearby physical campuses or a high-speed internet connection.

But how you define an “education desert” can depend on the type of higher education an individual or a community might need or value. In this follow-up post, we look at how changing the definition of a physical education desert changes the boundaries of our education deserts.

Considering the needs of different communities and different students, we look at four alternate definitions of a physical education desert:

  • No nearby access to either a two-year or a four-year, broad-access public institution
  • No nearby access to a two-year, broad-access public institution
  • No nearby access to a four-year, broad-access public institution
  • No nearby access to both a four-year and a two-year, broad-access public institution

This increased distance to school might bring additional challenges. Students traveling this far might experience higher transportation costs and could sacrifice work and family time. In addition, students with long commutes may feel less connected to the school because the distance could make activities like attending professor office hours or participating in clubs more difficult.

Read the full article about education deserts by Kristen Blagg at The Urban Institute.