Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, v, 213 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jason E Lane

Committee Members

Kevin Kinser, Alan P Wagner


college, community college, county, higher education, quality of life, rural, Community and college, Community colleges, College attendance, Community college students

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Leadership


An ex post quasi-experiment was conducted to compare the quality of life in counties where community colleges were established to the quality of life in similar counties where no colleges had been established. Twenty-eight pairs of rural counties were studied. The first county in each pair was chosen such that the only institution of higher education there between 1960 and 2010 was a community college that was founded in the 1960s. The second county in each pair was chosen as a control from the same geographic region, with similar population and similar per capita income in 1960 and no institution of higher education between 1960 and 2010. In the decades after the community colleges were established, the counties with a community college evolved differently than the counties with no college. The population grew much faster, sub-baccalaureate educational attainment rates were higher and, for a time, per capita income was significantly higher. Mortality rates diverged in the last two decades; however, neither mortality nor baccalaureate attainment rates were significantly different for any of the five decades studied.