New College Offers Support For Rural Students

The lack of resources in rural school districts can mean more than ragged facilities and crowded rooms. It can also limit the options that some rural students consider for their “next step”. Will it be technical college, will they apprentice or what about a four year college? If you don’t have someone in your family that’s already been down those paths, and your high school guidance counselor is stretched out over 150 more students with those questions – you may not know which way to go.

Now, let’s introduce the very new College For Rural Wisconsin(CFRW). Just over a year ago, the concept of creating a support mechanism to provide free resources to rural schools and help answer those questions was launched. Jennifer Blazek is the Program Director. She tells Pam Jahnke that CFRW is a part of the Stars College Network. That’s a group of 16 private and public universities from coast to coast that are all focused on reaching out to rural students to help make their decisions easier and better informed. Partnering universities include Yale, Northwestern and the University of Southern California.

Blazek is quick to point out that although they’re housed on the UW-Madison campus, they are purely promoting the UW. She acknowledges that some rural students might find a better fit elsewhere. She says high schools have a choice of a menu of options – all FREE. Blazek and her ambassadors will go to the rural school district requesting assistance and help their programs mesh with specific topics the school wants to address. Programs can be designed to meet the needs of students grades 9-12, and also for support to parents, families, school staff and local businesses. Blazek also has currently four “Rural Peer Ambassadors”. These are current college students that try to communicate with high school students about simple questions they may have like, “what’s the difference between a lecture and a discussion”. The Peers are available through a text line, so they’re able to respond almost immediately if questions come up.

Blazek has a plan to increase outreach to rural school districts through the course of a year. Any school that’s interested in pursuing some of their free resources can find some information on the College For Rural Wisconsin website, or contact Blazer directly. Email: Phone: 608.262.4480