Archive for Saturday, April 30, 2005

KU steps up efforts to recruit Hispanic students

April 30, 2005


For Victor Aguilar, deciding where to go to college was a little intimidating.

His parents, like many other Spanish-speakers in western Kansas, didn't go to college and couldn't provide a lot of guidance for how to pick a university.

"A lot of students who want to go to school are scared off because of the reality of not knowing what to do," said Aguilar, now a sophomore at Kansas University. "Many of them are afraid to ask."

KU officials are giving students and their families in Dodge City and Garden City a chance to ask those questions today -- in their native language.

For the first time, KU is hosting two college information sessions entirely in Spanish. The sessions are not primarily a recruiting tool for KU, said Robert Page, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The main goal is to address issues such as preparing for college, getting connected on campus and how to pay for college.

If those generalized classes convince students to attend KU, Page said, "no one's going to block the door."

KU has made recruiting Hispanic students, especially those in western Kansas, a recruiting priority in recent years, and the university saw a 20 percent increase in incoming Hispanic freshmen last fall.

"In some sense, that's K-State's territory," Page said of western Kansas. "My goal is to change that culture out there, especially among the Latino population. We want to let the Latino population or any population know we're welcoming for them."

Offering information sessions in Spanish, Page said, will allow parents to be more involved in their children's college decisions.

"I've found there seems to be some difficulties from non-English speaking families on college preparation," Page said, "so I thought why don't we go out there and involve the entire family by presenting in Spanish."

The sessions are called "Mi Familia, Mi Futuro: Del Colegio," or "College: My Family, My Future." Several KU departments are participating, as well as Garden City Community College and Dodge City Community College.

KU hopes to start making the presentations on a regular basis, Page said. Fifty people are signed up for each the Dodge City and the Garden City sessions today.

Aguilar, who is from Dodge City, said the sessions could have been helpful as his family pondered his college decision.

"My dad isn't very fluent in English, so it was tough explaining some of the things, especially the things I really didn't know what they were talking about," Aguilar said. "It really helps families understand what's going on and gives you an idea that people care and the school cares about you."

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