Thematically, the study examines decision-making process about studying and deciding on the type and place of higher education of students with different residential background. The basic interest of the study (broadly expressed as the influence of students‟ origin on educational outcomes) connects the disciplines of sociology of education and rural sociology. The main problem arises from research that indicates broader unfavorable economic and demographic trends in rural areas, associated with unfavorable educational trends of lower educational aspirations and results of rural students (Bracken 2007; Hu 2003; Koricich 2018). While education can be considered an important factor in improving personal life chances and social status, as well as significant territorial and social prosperity capital, it is also a significant motivating factor for emptying rural areas and worsening their development prospects. The assumption is that there are specifics of higher education choices for students growing up in rural areas, given that going to study means both geographical and (often) social mobility for them. The complex interactions of geographical and sociocultural factors influencing their decisions are examined. However, the question of whether and how rurality contributes to unequal educational opportunities remains open due to empirical difficulties in determining community impacts, an inadequate controls on variables of origin and living conditions and definitions of rural (Edington, Koehler, 1987; Khattri et al., 1997). The literature review (2.1) highlights the need for careful operationalization of the concept of rural, and the inclusion of a wider range of factors of student decision-making, related to socio-cultural and economic resources, but also symbolic elements (family, school, communal) because going to study has additional meaning for rural student and it is necessary to examine both perceptions and attachment to the place of growing up (Wiborg 2004; Geldens 2005). In the Croatian context (2.2) the study problem proves to be a prominent issue. The Croatian higher education system in the last 20 years has been marked by significant processes of change (Bologna process, nationwide high school exit exam) and massification of higher education, that are statistically shown as an increase in the number of studies, study programs and the student body. However, the body of research determined the neglect of the social dimension of higher education and the maintenance of educational inequalities (Doolan, 2009; Doolan, Puzić, Baranović 2017; Baranović, 2015). Some also point to elements of rural-urban educational inequalities (e.g. in the experiencing of studying), as well as the need for additional examinations of entry into higher education with regard to residential and / or regional determinants (Farnell et al. 2011). This is especially significant given the research that indicates a deeply hierarchical rural-urban Croatian space (Seferagić 2005), significant uneven socio-geographical development, large regional differences and negative demographic and development trends (Štambuk 2014), and that indicate education as a significant motivating factor for young people to leave rural areas (Ţutinić, Bokan 2008). Considering that the rural area in Croatia is not uniform (Lukić 2012), and research indicate regional educational (Klepaĉ 2016) and developmental inequalities (Šundalić, 2010), especially for the region of Slavonia that is marked by significant unfavorable socio-economic and development characteristics, Slavonia is set as an interesting research area. The main purpose of the study (2.3) is to identify and describe the elements of sociogeographical and cultural-symbolic barriers that make it difficult for students from rural areas to decide to continue their education and enter higher education. Four research questions guide the study: 1) Are there significant differences between students of different residential backgrounds in study intent, higher education choices, and certain structural and symbolic elements of their family, school, and community of growing up? 2) Is there an effect of students' residential background, with control of certain relevant factors of the family and school context, on higher education decisions? 3) What role does the emotional attachment to the place, a sense of belonging to the local community and a desire to stay in the Slavonia region play in explaining student choices? 4) What is the role of students' perceptions of their socio-spatial positions and feelings related to their rural environment in informing the decision-making process of higher education? The objectives are expressed as a number of working hypotheses, some of which are answered only nationally, while the more exploratory ones are tested regionally in Slavonia with a wider method usage. The theoretical lenses (2.4) are provided in Bourdieu's theory of practice (2013 ) and later adaptations of his concepts - social, economic and cultural capital, habitus and fields - through the "concept as a method" approach (Reay, 2004) in examining inequalities in education. In that, emphasis is placed on spatial aspects of students' origins (along with other theoretically prominent factors) under the influence of Halfacre's threefold model of the rural (2006) according to which the rural is a social construction, but also material and lived. Bourdieu's concepts are thus a heuristic tool with implications for research methodology as well. Both, the usability and adaptation of Bourdieu's concepts in spatially and temporally different contexts than the one they originated in, and the posibbility of expanding his theoretical framework in which space gains a more significant role, alongside the class ones are discussed. A significant contribution to the discussion is made by sociogeographic research by Corbett (2007, 2010) in Canada and by Rye (2003, 2004, 2007) in Norway, that use terms such as "rural-urban field" and "geographical habitus", derived from Bourdieu's theory and adapted to spatial research of social reproduction. Additionally, a wider range of rural youth research and identity building in contemporary “mobile” and “risk society” indicate that place and emotional elements of attachment to place still matter (Wiborg, 2006). Mixed methodology research design (2.5) was created guided by the research questions, and based on the methodological literature (Tashikori and Teddliea 2009, Creswell 2003). The use of several methods proved appropriate a) given the insufficient research of the issue in Croatian context, b) due to the starting point in Bourdieu's theory which relies on "dialectics of structures and microaspects", and "includes structuralist and constructivist moment", and c) given the interest in rural whose conceptual complexity is summarized by Halfacree (2005). These influences were reflected in the structure of the study (two phases at two levels (national and regional)), and in the ways in which aspects of (rural) origin are captured in the study (statistically and qualitatively). Two phases of data collection (survey and interviews) using different tools (questionnaire and protocol; in appendix), and data processing and analysis were done separately: statistically in the SPSS program (λ-square, ANOVA, t-test, logistic regression) and narrative coding in NVivo program and interpretive analysis using memo tools. The integration of the results took place in the final stages of data interpretation, which included triangulation techniques. The main variables (2.6) presented operationalized concepts in the quantitative part of the study: sociodemographic and sociogeographic indicators (gender, residential background, school location); individual educational and cultural characteristics and students‟ educational orientations (type of school, general school success, educational aspirations and expectations, studying as implied, length of decision making, value of learning, desire for social mobility, cultural, reading and extracurricular practices); family economic and cultural resources (parents‟ working status, property possession, assessment of financial situation, parents‟ education, number of books in the household, possession of cultural goods and parents‟ cultural practices); institutional characteristics of education (status, equipment and incentives of high school, and the importance of the status of the desired study); the symbolic value of the context of growing up and schooling (family incentive practices, family influence on the decision to study, the influence of significant others, the symbolic value of the community). The dependent variables of students' higher education choices were the intention to study (yes and no / don't know), the type of chosen study (professional or university) and the city of study (Zagreb or other). The basic independent variable of interest - residential background - was created by the process of coding the settlements in which students grew up. The variable was recoded in 2 ways to capture the specifics of plurality of rural in Croatia (Lukić, 2012); in the first case, settlements are categorized as urban, rural and metropolitan. In the second case, rural settlements are classified into 7 types of rural settlements in Croatia (Lukić 2012). Additionally, aspects of residential origin are measured (regionally) by a three-dimensional instrument of the symbolic significance of the community for the students (attachment, belonging, desire to stay). Perceptions of rural, relations with community and students' views on education with regard to their residential background were qualitatively examined in interviews. Data were collected as part of the national research project Social identities, higher education access and course choice. The project was funded by the Croatian Science Foundation and carried out by the research team of the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb. The survey was conducted (2.7) in the spring of 2014, when a 5% representative sample of high school graduates from three-year and four-year schools was surveyed in 98 schools (N=2106). Sample size of those students that intend to study was N=1258. In Slavonia representative subsample of N=439 high school graduates was surveyed. Regionally, additional 20 students were interviewed. Empirical research at the national level (3) presents the findings of statistical analysis of quantitative national data. The aim is to confirm the assumptions about the existence of differences between students of different residential backgrounds according to their intentions to study and choices of higher education, and other educational and cultural characteristics, economic and cultural family resources, school characteristics and symbolic dimensions of their community. ANOVA and hi-square tests confirmed that rural students are less likely to opt for postsecondary schooling, and those intending to study are less likely to enroll in university studies. No significant difference was found according to the choice of place of study. Additional educational differences were also confirmed, as well as differences according to the available economic, cultural and symbolic resources in their families, schools and communities. Students of rural residential origin, despite the fact that they equally value learning, express a desire for social mobility and equally receive incentives to study in schools, express statistically significantly lower educational aspirations and expectations, do not consider studying a "natural" continuation and consider it longer as an option. This is in line with the findings that rural students are more likely to have lower school performance and a lower level of cultural competences, as well as to attend vocational schools, for which they assess lower status. Findings also indicated a less favorable structure of cultural and economic resources available to rural students in their families and schools. Finally, the symbolic influence on the rural students‟ decision to study was confirmed as weaker incentives from parents, but also as a stronger influence of people outside the family: neighbors and professional associates and professional development counselors. Less pronounced differences with regard to the educational characteristics of students were shown between students of different residential backgrounds who intend to study. Nevertheless, a motivational difference was highlighted whereby rural students who intend to study more strongly express a tendency to ascend the social ladder. Also, among students who intend to study, the most unfavorable structure of family economic and cultural capital was shown for rural students, and it becomes more favorable as the level of "urbanity" of settlements grows. At the same time, the resources of parents are of the greatest importance for metropolitan students, along with the geographical availability of other resources in the capital. Students of nonmetropolitan residential backgrounds who intend to study find a significant source of influence, support, and resources in other family members with study experiences and people from the institutional settings outside the family. For the purposes of the explanation of the students‟ intention to study and higher education choices, and to determine the effect of residential background on these decisions, two 5-step regression models were constructed, in which the main predictor variable of students‟ residential background was introduced in the final step. The robustness of the model was also tested on subsamples of students of different residential backgrounds. The results confirmed that the students‟ residential background, although minimaly (about 1%), significantly contributes, along with some other individual and contextual variables, to the explanation of students' intention to study. The rural students‟ intention to study is largely explained by the individual valuing of learning, the desire for social mobility and the cultural characteristics of the family, but also by the status and location of their schools. An exploratory analysis with a variable of residential background that operationally distinguishes 4 types of rural settlements indicates that there are higher prospects of studying for rural students from settlements with a more differentiated economic base, and from more easily accessible settlements (compared to students from more agricultural settlements). Regression analyzes for explanation of the the higher education choices of university studies, and Zagreb as a place of study, mostly confirmed the connection of these choices with the individual educational and cultural competencies of students (that is, these are more likely choices for the most successful students). It was confirmed that residential origin statistically significantly (1%) contributes to the explanation of both choices; the choice of university study is more likely for students with more developed educational and cultural competencies, with greater availability of family cultural resources and for those who grow up and are going to school in an urban environment (compared to those who study in a small town and grow up in a rural area). Choosing Zagreb for study is more likely for more successful students with greater availability of economic resources in their families, who attend status schools in the capital or small towns and who grow up in Zagreb. The likelihood of rural students choosing university study is increased by more developed cultural practices and schooling in large cities (i.e. the availability of cultural and urban environment), while better school success, more developed cultural practices, more stable family incomes and schooling in small towns have predictive value for rural students‟ choice of Zagreb as a place of study. Regional analysis of mixed data: Higher education choices of Slavonian students (4.2), presents a lowering of the level of analysis regionally, but also a deepening of the analysis methodologically. The findings achieved by triangulating statistical and narrative data, give a more nuanced insight into the different educational pathways of students of different social backgrounds, and into educational inequalities with regards to the students residential background. The interpretation is also related to the findings of foreign research on similar issues (eg Corbett 2000, 2007; Cairnis 2011; Rye, 2006, 2007, 2011; Wiborg 2004, 2006). Quantitative analyzes (4.2) indicate different general educational orientations of Slavonian students with regard to their residential origin; earlier, more confident and unquestionable decisions about studying are more pronounced by urban students, while rural students tend to have a stronger orientation towards acquiring a vocation, decisions not to study, and perceive greater obstacles for achieving higher education. These findings are related to their school characteristics; students do point out the differences and are aware of the implications of enrolling certain schools. It turns out that vocational schools, even with excellent results, are a "weaker" path to higher education, which vocational students who intend to study express with the attitude about the wrong choice of high school and feelings of insecurity about future educational success. Mixed data connect students‟ different educational orientations with their family socialization environment, that is realized in earlier decisions about the high school (22.214.171.124). Prominent are determinants of cultural and economic capital of the family, with students of more educated parents more often choose gymnasiums as a path to higher education, while other students choose vocational schools with a more pragmatic attitude towards education. For those with a weaker family resource structure, choosing a gymnasium appears to be a risky choice, and for those from rural areas who choose to do so, it means making additional choices (relocation / travel) and the "suffering" of gymnasium "difficult" schooling, for the advantages of a wider range of preparation for study and for life, even in spite of poorer grades. Statistically, rural students also show lower levels of personal cultural capital developed outside the school context. For them this means an additional disadvantage if their families are not the socialization framework for the transfer of cultural capital and school remains their only source of cultural resources. This is significant because, statistically, students value learning equally and strive for social mobility regardless of residency. Declaratively, students value education highly, but with more skeptical attitudes about employment opportunities in their rural / regional context. The most ambitious therefore see education as a mechanism for leaving, and other students' doubts about employment opportunities affect the decisionmaking process in which the cost-effectiveness of education is constantly negotiated. The more unfavorable structure of family resources of rural students (126.96.36.199; 188.8.131.52) was also regionally confirmed. For their parents lower working, material, financial and educational status, as well as less cultural goods and activities, are more likely. Qualitative analysis further highlighted the Slavonian problem of unemployment or underemployment. And symbolically, the influence of parents in their orientation towards higher education is less pronounced among students from rural areas, although in general the incentives for education are above average for all students. The difference is shown in the more pragmatic educational orientation of rural students towards employment, and for those who intend to study, the higher education orientation is based more on "learning from parental experience" who failed / could not study, which does not always mean gymansium enrollment. In general, students agree on the key role of parental incentives and support, especially financial, for the decision to study, and parental influence also appears as support for students' independent decision making, as encouragement to realize their own desires, and in counseling. Institutionally (4.2.4), it is more likely for urban students to attribute higher status to their schools, so rural students attending lower-grade schools can be seen as an “obstacle” in orienting towards higher education. Also, people with whom students come into contact in a school context can symbolically be an important social resource for rural students who intend to study. Higher education-oriented rural students emphasize the importance of their social networks in empowering their intentions. This is especially noticeable with gymnasium students who develop a "gymnasium identity". For those who attend schools in big cities or away from their parents' home, and especially in high-status schools, schooling is a kind of "urbanization of the mind" and an element of disembedding from the rural. The students emphasized the elements of the institutional habitus of certain schools in shaping educational aspirations. Relationships among students when most of the class expresses an intention to study and open communication with teachers develop ones understanding of social spaces, and that understanding enables imagining oneself outside the local context (Corbett 2009). In line with the prevailing educational orientations of students, the emotional attachment to the community of growing up as well as the desire to stay is more strongly expressed by rural students. Interviews showed that students simultaneously delineate their settlements in accordance with the image of rural idyll (nature, help, neighborhood, tranquility), and with the image of rural dull (backwardness, boredom, gossip, lack of opportunities, hillbilly), similar to foreign research (e.g. Rye 2007). Hierarchized rural-urban images with regard to geographical, cultural and educational characteristics are also visible in students' statements. Basically, students' stories depict the desire for a "good life", the realization of which is often seen through connected social and geographical mobility, and metaphorically expresses in the process of "higher and further". Sometimes this connection is further encouraged in students who, in pursuit of education and good employment, feel they have to leave. For some students, education is habitually emphasized and aligned with their own self-image and the way they follow their parents, while for others, education is a choice that is largely the only known "normative" path in a limited context. The image of “learning to leave” often appears as a norm for Slavonian high school graduates in accordance with the notion that succeeding in life means leaving. The whole process of education is perceived as "climbing the stairs" or "taking steps on the road" socially and geographically. In this context, the topic of leaving also arises due to the impossibility of imagining the future of staying (locally, regionally and / or nationally), with or without a diploma. The way in which Slavonian students align their goals with education decisions always involves a certain significant level of “disembedding” for the most ambitious or simply a “desire to dislocate” with different perspectives of success. These students are more likely to assess their local area as unfavorable in the context of general socio-spatial dynamics and specifically understood “rurality”: the diploma takes on the meaning of escaping from places perceived as “provincial”, “uneducated” and “backward”. The images of Slavonia "in crisis", "burdened by war", "backward thinking" and "primitive people" stand out, reflecting the images of the "passivized region" (Šundalić 2010) from which education is the exit strategy. Only one student demonstrated the ability to imagine himself in his community, by linking experiences of growing up with study plans and a positive view to his “rural future” in which a diploma means staying and working in the countryside. The idea of returning also appears as gendered in narratives of the girls who see the possibility of raising a family in an environment that they consider more pleasant and safe. In conclusion (5), study as a whole is a significant source of information on educational aspects on the rural-urban dimension as well as family and school element that describe "urban-rural field" in the Croatian context. The assumptions were confirmed that rural students are less likely to choose post-secondary education, and that those who decide to study are more likely to choose vocational studies, while Slavonian rural students are less likely to choose institutions in Zagreb. Differences in educational orientations on the rural-urban dimension can be related to the structure of family capital (which is far less favorable for rural students), and specific educational paths of students (for rural students more prominent towards vocational education). Choosing a high school is a turning point, and affects later educational decisions that are much more uncertain for vocational students. With the dual hierarchical structure of distinguishing between general and vocational education, the Croatian education system is a significant mechanism for supporting educational inequalities that puts high school students in a more favorable position (Baranović, 2015; Klepaĉ, 2016). Schools still can be a significant source of information and social support through the role of professional advisors, communication with teachers, and general academic orientation. Statistically, residential background confirmed a unique contribution (1%) to the explanation of students' higher education decisions. Possible obstacles for rural students in making a decision to study are poorer valuation of learning, growing up in families with lower levels of family cultural and economic capital, and attending lower status schools. Those rural students who, in addition to having higher education aspirations, grow up in more economically developed villages or villages better connected to urban centers, and in families with a more favorable structure of cultural resources, have a better chance of overcoming these obstacles. In Slavonia, the statistical intention to study is predicted by a stronger social mobility desires as a basic motivational mechanism, more favorable economic and cultural resources of the family (stability of income and possession of cultural objects) and schooling in a big city. Interviews with students who intend to study indicated that students enrolled in gymnasiums or schools in large cities, which are contexts in where they develop educationally significant capital, are more likely to decide to study. Nevertheless, such choices pose a higher risk to rural students and mean dissembeddiment from the local with implications for rural areas. In Slavonia, "rurality" takes on negative meanings as part of the process of answering the question of whether students can imagine themselves locally in the future. Thus, in general, education for those with the greatest aspirations is shown to be a mechanism of disembedding and / or relocation in the social and geographical dimension. The question of the role of education for specific categories of students as well as in specific spaces is raised. In according with findings of foreign research (Corbett, 2000; 2005; Cuervo, 2016; Wiborg, 2004), in the narratives of young Slavonians, education appears as “learning to leave”, and students' attitude about the need to relocate and the impossibility of imagining the future in local / regional spaces is noticeable, regardless of whether they strive for higher education or not; most students do not see high school qualifications, or a diploma, in line with local opportunities for achieving a “good life”. Education is thus either an exit strategy for leaving undesirable circumstances and / or a driving force from local / regional areas. Authors such as Cuerva (2016) and Zipin et al (2015) emphasize the need for empowering the idea that “a degree transcends spatial constraints”, whereby the role of education becomes to enable young people to imagine themselves in different spaces, with and without a degree. This may mean, for those who do not have the ability or desire to leave, the development of aspirations that define success with staying and actively engaging in problem solving in a local context. Theoretically relying on Bourdieu's conceptual framework, the study analyzes it with regard to the confirmed influences of family and school environment determinants on students' educational outcomes and, adapting it, deepens it in the spatial dimension. The spatial dimension is captured both statistically, by examining the impact of students 'residential background on two levels (regionally and nationally), and semantically, by analyzing students' stories about their educational paths and decisions. The set framework of the study makes a step forward from the prevailing urban-centric perspective and revives interest in sociological spatial studies. By elaborating a mixed methods design, the study, in addition to collecting qualitative and quantitative data on a neglected topic in the Croatian context, is a significant presentation of a possible approach to the study of social phenomena. The prominence of the issue of socio-spatial justice in the education makes a significant contribution to general social dialogue.