Rural Appalachia is presented in popular culture as a region lacking in resources, morals, education, and more. Consequently, Appalachians who speak in the nonstandard language variety representative of the region are often subject to harmful stereotypes. This work examines the impact of negative stereotypes on dialectal Appalachian college students during their pursuit of higher education. This research was conducted via an anonymous survey investigating how students from specified rural Appalachian counties in Kentucky perceived their academic experiences regarding stereotypes, speaking a stigmatized Appalachian dialect, and how these influence others’ perceptions of them when attending any college or university. Hypotheses included the following in relation to dialectal Appalachian students: popular culture perpetuates Appalachian stereotypes and reinforces negative assumptions about Appalachians; academic challenges are common during students’ academic experiences; and including dialect as a recognized aspect of diversity in the classroom would contribute to a more accepting academic environment. Survey results yielded support for all three hypotheses. This study is significant in acknowledging the detriment of Appalachian stereotypes and in providing methods to improve the academic experiences of dialectal Appalachian college students.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2023


Erin Presley

Mentor Department Affiliation


Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




IRB Approval Number (if applicable)