Interpersonal Competence Configurations, Attachment to Community, and Residential Aspirations of Rural Adolescents

Robert A. Petrin, Thomas W. Farmer, Judith L. Meece, Soo yong Byun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Adolescents who grow-up in rural areas often experience a tension between their attachment to the rural lifestyle afforded by their home community and a competing desire to gain educational, social, and occupational experiences that are only available in metropolitan areas. While these diverging pressures are well-documented, there is little information about linkages between rural high school students' views of their communities, their postsecondary aspirations, and their school adjustment. To address this issue, this study examined perceptions of community and residential aspirations in an ethnically diverse sample of 8,754 rural adolescents (51. 5% female) in relationship to their competence and risk status in high school. Participants were from 73 rural high schools across 34 states. In addition, ratings on participants' school adjustment were provided by teachers (n = 667). High competence students (i. e., those in configurations of high positive and low negative teacher-rated characteristics) expressed positive perceptions of their rural lifestyle and many, particularly girls, indicated an interest in staying in or returning to their home community. Low competence youth (i. e., those in configurations of low positive and high negative teacher-rated characteristics) appeared to be less connected to their community and were more likely to express their intent to leave and not return. These results appear to qualify current concerns about "rural brain drain" and also suggest that the lack of attachment to the community may be a compounding risk factor for rural adolescents who have significant school adjustment problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1105
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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