Indigenous students in rural Alaska hold high educational aspirations and yet few students realize their educational goals (Hamilton & Seyfrit, 1993; Kleinfeld & McDiarmid, 1986; McDiarmid & Kleinfeld, 1981). Our purpose in this study was tounderstand why so many Alaska Native students from small, isolated communities “drift” after high school, neither entering the postsecondary programs they aspire to, nor engaging in paid work. The contribution of this study is to clarify the reasons for the “educational aspirations-achievement gap,” in other words, why so many Alaska Native rural students have high educational expectations, and yet remain directionless in adult life. This is an issue on which virtually no research has been done. This paper also suggests ways that rural schools and postsecondary institutions can assist Alaska Native students in obtaining the postsecondary education to which they aspire.

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