NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Smaller colleges are stepping up their efforts to recruit in-state students to their campuses.

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga is becoming the college of choice for Midstate high school students while Middle Tennessee State University is getting a closer look from high school students in the east and west parts of the state, The Nashville Ledger reports.

Dr. Debra Sells, MTSU's vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic and enrollment services, said the school has increased staff in an effort to recruit students.

"We've added a number of new recruiting staff positions that will nearly double what we have had in the past to be able to help us focus on the east and west sides of the state," Sells says. "However, our bread & butter students still continue to come from Middle Tennessee."

Hillsboro High School student counselor Allie Bateman says MTSU and UTC are starting to come up more in her conversations with students. She says both schools have good programs. Their tuition rates are comparable, with MTSU charging $219 per in-state semester hour and UTC charging $225.

"The sense I get about MTSU is that it's a school that is up and coming, and the students know that," Bateman says. "They have a lot of friends there, and it seems like a good place to be in that they hear positive things about MTSU."

She said she's heard UTC "is kind of a diamond in the rough."

"It's not one that people considered as much before, but is a good medium-sized school that a lot of my students are applying to because they want somewhere that's kind of in the middle and one that is fairly close to home, but not so close that they are right next door. And we've heard that it has a lot of good programs."

UTC's associate vice chancellor for communications and marketing Chuck Cantrell said the school recruits heavily in Nashville due to the population growth in the region.

"As that area grows, frankly it's just more fertile ground for recruitment," Cantrell says.

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