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Rural High School Youth's Access to and Use of School-to-Work Programs


concerning this article should be addressed to Bryan C. Hutchins, Department of Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB 3500, Peabody Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500 (e-mail:


Rural youth face numerous barriers that may limit career exposure. School-to-work (STW) programs are one tool used to increase exposure and facilitate connections between school and work. Using a nationally representative data set, the authors investigated whether rurality relates to the availability of STW programs and rural youth's program use. Results indicate that most schools provide school-based services (e.g., career plans/career majors), but few schools offer work-based services (e.g., internships). Rural schools were more likely to offer vocational–technical prep programs and job shadowing but were less likely to offer school-based enterprise. After controlling for program availability, the authors found that rural students were less likely to take part in job shadowing and community service. Conclusions are offered for career development research, policy, and practice.