Not all college students in America are focusing on having the quintessential college experience far away from home. Overwhelmingly, college students are choosing to go to school closer to home. According to the Brookings Institute, nearly 80% of community college students and 53% of public four-year college students enroll in a school less than 20 miles from home.
Students are increasingly grounded in their communities be it for their work, for their parents, for their dependents. Therefore students who are farther from local colleges have less opportunity to maintain their lives while trying to earn a degree. Typically they just choose not to start or continue a college education.
Education deserts are pockets, measured at the county-level, within and among states where there is either no college or university located nearby or a single community college is the only public broad-access institution nearby. The former represents that most isolated of educational markets for students who reside in these communities, while the later reflect a prioritization on public broad-access institutions that provide the most robust and intentional post-secondary options for local communities and students. Local areas are typically measured by either commuting zones or by metropolitan/micropolitan statistical areas, so even within these areas there could be pockets of isolation. Nevertheless, education deserts are present in every state, comprised of urban, suburban, and rural counties. These deserts affect all types of students, and are home to nearly 13 million adults.