The rural Alberta advantage

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There is no doubt that schools in big cities and urban environments are capable of producing some incredible thinkers and achievers. These students have a lot of options, whether it is taking advanced placement or International Baccalaureate programs, or in participating in a broad range of extracurricular activities from soccer to rugby to debate club.

But as 2017 Loran Scholar Spencer Graling notes, being from a small town shouldn’t be seen as a liability by young people; in fact, such a background can be a young person’s greatest asset.

In Graling’s case, he makes note of a few different advantages: for one, a small community can be very supportive of students. Whether it’s getting behind their fundraising drives or providing sponsorship and support, businesses, organizations and individuals are invested in seeing our students succeed.

Being in a smaller school with students numbering in the hundreds rather than the thousands can also give teachers the opportunity to get to know each student better, and, in the case of smaller class sizes, provide more one-on-one attention to each student. Smaller class sizes are pivotal for teachers to help the one student not fall behind and to recognize the other student who could be pushed further.

Being from a rural area may mean an opportunity to see the world from a totally different lens. Many students growing up in this rural region get to see two major drivers of Alberta’s economy in action, in both the energy industry and the agriculture industry. Many who live on farms get a real-life education every day that they simply couldn’t get inside the walls of a classroom, yet another advantage to some of their urban counterparts.

And the opportunity exists for every rural student, if they so choose, to spearhead their own initiatives or activities, to launch a science club in their school, or participate in a Model United Nations or to be part of a new and growing sport like handball. Taking the initiative to create something new is far more impressive than just falling in line with something that already exists.

It’s our job as parents, teachers and the wider community, to support young students and give them the tools to make their dreams a reality; like Graling, they should know that being from a rural area is really no roadblock to achieving whatever they put their minds to.

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