Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Frankie S. Laanan

Second Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


The purposes of this mixed method study were (a) to gain an understanding of how background and educational experiences affect the college decision-making process of rural high school students, and (b) to identify barriers rural Latinos encounter when formulating their post-high school plans. A survey was used to collect data concerning high school experiences. A purposive sample of rural Latino high-school graduates was interviewed to gather perceptions of their educational and background experiences.;The researcher employed a hypothetical logic model based on the college choice literature. The hypothesized model was used to examine how selected variables: background (mothers' educational attainment, residency, parents' view of education), educational environment (rigorous curriculum, gpa, students' perceptions of high school environment, engagement), and perceived barriers (work, financial aid information) affect students' college aspirations and enrollments, in particular, if there is a difference between Whites and Latinos. Descriptive statistics, logistic regression, and narrative inquiry were used to analyze the data.;The results of this study suggested several factors which influence rural Latinos' aspirations and enrollments in college. Among the findings: (a) students' command of English affects whether or not they enroll and complete a rigorous high school curriculum; (b) U.S. residency status influences Latinos' decisions to enroll in college; and (c) teacher validation and encouragement has a positive affect on aspiration and college enrollment.;The study should be replicated in other small rural communities with large ethnic growth. In addition, policy-making entities need to review legislative initiatives to make certain that they address the findings offered in this study.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Laurie A. Wolf



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

296 pages