Conversations about closing the achievement gap for Hispanic students often center around reaching children as early as possible — in preschool, or even as toddlers.
More universities are embracing a similar mindset. They are seeking to reach students before they’ve even thought of applying to college. That means working with students and parents in high school, or even middle school.
An article in The New York Times proposes that these outreach efforts may be able to accomplish diverse universities in ways that traditional affirmative action policies cannot.
The story points to California as a case study, since it has a ban on affirmative action admissions.
“It is not enough, university administrators say, to change the way they select students; they must also change the students themselves, and begin to do so long before the time arrives to fill out applications,” says the article.
The story highlights 18-year-old Erick Ramirez, who attends Anaheim High School and was just accepted to San Francisco State University. He was able to do that through the help of representatives from the University of California, Irvine, working with him over a three-year period after school and on weekends. They focused on topics such as classwork, test prep and applying for financial aid.
According to the article, UC-Irvine spends more than $7 million a year on out reach. That includes working with low-income students. Part-time employees and college students often work with schools.
UC Irvine graduate and current employee Cristina Flores helps students attending Century High School in Santa Ana with tasks including filing out college applications. She worked with Jasmin Rodriguez, 17, who plans to attend UCLA next year.
“Without their guidance, I would have been so lost,” Jasmin told the Times. “There’s so many little things you don’t know unless someone tells you.”