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This report addresses issues related to the responsibility of public schools to prepare rural youth for life choices about careers, postsecondary education, and place of residence. A synthesis of current research literature, as well as the perceptions of rural educators and policymakers in the Northwest, explore some potential resolutions to the dilemmas. Background information is provided on the advantages and disadvantages of living in rural areas; the rural migration dilemma; rural student, parent, and counselor aspirations; demographic changes and their impact; financial and economic trends; and the importance of community ties to rural youth. A discussion of the role of rural schools focuses on their need to prepare students adequately both for being contributing citizens in their own communities and for leaving if they desire; schools must enable students to recognize that they have choices and empower them to make informed decisions. Special attention is directed towards the importance of developing practical programs for non-college-bound students. The report concludes that in rural areas, school issues are community issues, and urges that all components of the community be involved in adapting rural education systems to the changes occurring throughout the United States. An appendix delineates a range of community-based activities derived from rural education forums held in the northwestern United States. Contains 43 references. (RAH)

Descriptors: Aspiration, Education Work Relationship, Educational Attainment, High School Students, High Schools, Poverty, Quality of Life, Role of Education, Rural Education, Rural Schools, Rural to Urban Migration, Rural Urban Differences, School Community Relationship, School Role, Student Educational Objectives, Student Needs

Autor: Hull, Janis L.


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