The sunrise in rural central Michigan reveals a landscape of neatly divided cornfields crossed by ditches and wooded creeks. But few of the sleepy teenagers on the school bus from Maple Valley Junior-Senior High School likely noticed this scene on their hour drive to Grand Rapids.
They set out from their tiny school district of about 1,000 students, heading to the closest big city for a college recruiting fair. About 151 colleges and universities were waiting.
The students, from Nashville and Vermontville, Mich., were going to the recruiters because few recruiters come to see them.
For urban and suburban students, it’s common to have college recruiters visit their schools — maybe they set up a booth in the lunchroom, or talk with students during an English class. But recruiters rarely go to small, rural schools like Maple Valley, which serves fewer than 450 seventh- through 12th-graders.
“When we think about an urban high school, a college recruiter can hit 1,500 students at a time,” says Andrew Koricich, a professor of education at Appalachian State University. “To do that in a rural area, you may have to go to 10 high schools.”