From what I know....being that I've attended SERBA since prior to 2008 (with the exception of NOT traveling to the Nationals - one that was in Pittsburgh before my daughter was old enough to dance on stage, and the one in Montreal where my older DD did dance on stage) I have seen the scholarship class vary. There was a time that only 5 people were allowed to take the class from each company, to 8 dancers, and now as many as the AD sees fit, as I understand it. It has always been dictated by our AD as it should be I believe. I have seen many dancers get scholarships in the past, only to turn them down. Now there is strict wording on the scholarships awarded that says 'if you do not accept the scholarship you have been awarded, you are not allowed to apply for it next year'. It also states the only way you cannot accept and be considered in good standing is if you accept another scholarship offered from SERBA that is at the same time. They frown upon auditioning for something if you already have a commitment somewhere else. The new thing they have started - last year for us I think - was the scholarships for the NEXT year. Since our SERBA is always way after summer tour auditions, I think it's great they have opened that up. It was not in place when my older DD auditioned. I also think it is excellent that they have those rules in place so that those who are seriously going to attend can get that benefit. It has not always been so specific and organized, but I am thankful they have evolved to be this way. I do think though that the scholarships should not be available to someone who has previously been a professional dancer, although I would be very happy if there was a special category for those - say why not have an audition where companies come and watch you if you are in that category, or at least college age? Maybe that is an idea for RDA to consider moving forward.
As far as the college recruiting goes at SERBA, if you signed up for it (and my younger DD did) you wore the number to class so that the recruiters could watch you. They attended the performances and also tried to watch the candidates (albeit harder in a piece where they barely know them....). Still, DD introduced herself to both recruiters where she was interested in the school, and they came to her classes and watched for a bit - I know this because I saw them myself come in the rooms. There were about 6 schools in attendance at SERBA, and while they were not all schools she would consider, we did find 2 that fit her preferences and she is interested in. She is only a sophomore, so I did not expect them to pursue her actively - yet we have already heard from 1 to keep in touch. And we know much more about the schools than I would have ever hoped to learn on my own, including when to visit. I do think it's a very positive experience if your dancer is considering college, and a great place to get information!