Educational paths for Rural Students

Students in rural parts of the nation have many paths to consider after high school. Some enter straight into the workforce after graduating high school; for many working on the family farm or in a local community establishment is the best path, and still, others may be interested in furthering their knowledge in an academic setting.

Ag Educational Paths

For those rural students who would like to continue their ag industry education as opposed to entering straight into the workforce, read on to explore which options best suit you.


For aspiring ag leaders, college agricultural programs can be an excellent foundation for an exciting career. However, rural students can be at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for and attending college. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, 59 percent of rural high school graduates enter college as opposed to 62 percent of urban and 67 percent of their suburban counterparts.

Often rural schools are not able to provide students with the same access to academically rigorous courses as urban schools, which is a major predictor for earning a bachelor’s degree.

For students considering attending college after high school, you can be your own best advocate in the process. Participate in one-on-one opportunities with counselors and current college students to learn more about what college life is like.

Vocational Schools

College may not be the right path for every high schooler. Students in high school or beyond may be interested to know that there are many agriculture-related technical and trade programs available to them. Vocational programs typically take less time to complete than a four-year degree, so for students who want to begin their careers as soon as possible but still pursue further education, vocational schools may be a good option.

From managing a farm or ranch to professional agriculture careers or forestry occupations, many positions require at least a two-year degree or more. Look for programs that offer hands-on experiences so you can make the most of your training and truly get a feel for if a particular career is a good fit for you.

How Scholarships Make an Impact

College and other educational training programs can help give rural students a foundation for success, in whichever ag-related career they choose. Regardless of the path you choose, these options cost money. Scholarships, even small ones, add up and help pay for the miscellaneous expenses related to student life. Smaller scholarship awards like Grow Ag Leaders, sponsored by the Bayer Fund help you pay for the extras.

Each year, Grow Ag Leaders offers rural students more than $500,000 in farming scholarships. This year, 352 students received $1,500 scholarships to help them achieve their goals. Whether you’d like to major in an agricultural field in college or feel that a two-year training program is best, these scholarships can significantly reduce the stress of education costs and allow you to focus on your academics.

If you are a high school senior to a college junior who is looking to pursue an agricultural career, consider applying for a Grow Ag Leaders scholarship. The application period begins on November 15. Find more information about the program at

Farmers play a critical role in helping rural students pursue educational opportunities by endorsing students for scholarships. American farmers can read more about Grow Ag Leaders as well.