Kaycie Bennett

Kaycie Bennett

2018 Undergraduate Fellow
Sociology

Thesis title and description:

High-Achieving Students' Post-Secondary Decisions in the Rural and Inner-City South

The 2016 Presidential election revealed America’s fault lines. One of those fault lines lies across the rural-urban divide. Rural educators have long lamented the disproportionate research attention granted to large urban areas and claimed that the rural schools that educate 12 million of our next generation are underrepresented in national education conversations. My research bridges the gap between rural and urban schools and communities by studying one commonality between the two Americas: youth out-migration. Rural and inner-city communities struggle to retain their talented youth. Following the age-old American Dream, young adults leave home to pursue higher education opportunities that are lacking in their own communities. This is a problem when these students do not return to reinvest their new human capital in their home communities, draining resources and capital away from rural and inner-city areas. This phenomenon has been researched in the Midwest, or “Middle America,” but research is needed in the South where education lags behind the rest of the nation and political divisions are stark. My project investigates how high-achieving high school students in Louisiana’s rural and urban areas make decisions to stay or leave home. I explore how schools, parents, and communities influence these students’ decisions. My project aims to shed light on the social processes behind the out-migration of talented youth in Louisiana as well as to better understand how we can incentivize return migration and revitalize these communities.