Recently, I took my roommate home with me. We drove the five hours across North Carolina, through curvy mountain roads to my hometown in the western part of our state. I spent the weekend driving on back roads, showing her my rural hometown. At one point on my tour she remarked, “So, it was a big deal freshman year when you came to Chapel Hill.”
That statement could not be more spot-on. For many, Chapel Hill is a not a “real city,” and for others, UNC was a second choice. But for me and many students from my area, UNC was a seemingly unreachable goal. Anyone who was outside the top 10 of our class or didn’t take all six of our AP classes figured they wouldn’t even have a chance.
But I was accepted. There are currently four of us from my high school enrolled at UNC. It was not an unreachable goal — we worked hard just like everyone else accepted here. However, we were not afforded many of the opportunities that urban high schools offer their students.
Our state ranks in the bottom 10 for per pupil funding, according to the N.C. State Board of Education. This means that rural areas do not have the funding that exists in metropolitan areas.
For rural students, this disparity in funding and fewer extracurricular activities is an obstacle for applying to college. How can rural students compete for well-roundedness when they lack the variety of programs that is offered to urban students?