In Baltimore and in many other communities, it is common for people to identify and speak of food deserts – places where it is challenging for residents to purchase nutritious food. According to the Urban Institute, there are also education deserts – places that are many miles away from a community college or other places where one can obtain needed skills training.
As indicated by writer Josh Mitchell, the most vulnerable people are recent high school graduates who never took the SAT or the ACT and older workers who can’t move around because they have children or can’t afford to leave their current employment. Urban Institute researchers Kristin Blagg and Matthew Chingos use the term education desert to describe the circumstances of prospective students who live at least 25 miles away from an associate’s degree program in a desired field. The study’s authors looked at Virginia, which collects earnings data for majors at public and nonprofit colleges. Across all majors examined in the study, an average of 35 percent of students who never took the SAT or ACT lived in an education desert.