Along with their overarching goals of improving racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, several Ivy League institutions have ramped up their efforts to recruit and support students from rural communities, especially those outside the Northeast region where they are located. The leaders of these programs cite the need to further expand geographic diversity within their student populations.

By leveraging relatively new holistic admissions processes, these schools are prioritizing the enrollment of students from a wide range of backgrounds, including those from low-income families and geographically isolated communities, while also making admissions and financial aid information clearer and readily available.

Yale University has been more intentional about enrolling rural and small-town students over the past several years. In 2017, virtual tours and information sessions were developed to make details about Yale and its enrollment process more accessible. Additionally, the school revived its Student Ambassadors program, which taps current students from rural areas to connect with high schoolers in their hometowns to help share information about campus life and financial aid. These initiatives feed into the Rural Students Alliance at Yale, a campus organization that encourages rural learners to form communities and share their experiences through various events.

“Geographic diversity is a complex topic, but one way to think of it is not just admitting students from all 50 states, but from diverse communities within and across those states,” Corinne Smith, Yale’s associate director of undergraduate admissions, told the Yale Daily News.

Other Ivy League schools, including Brown University and Columbia University, have implemented similar outreach programs. Brown, for example, launched a pilot program in 2019 that paid for high school students from rural areas around the country to travel to Providence, Rhode Island, and stay at the university to learn about its programs. In recent years, Columbia’s Teachers College created the Rural Education and Healthcare Coalition, which aims to support rural students attending the school while also studying the intersectionality of rural identities in education and health care.

This article was published in our March 2023 issue.