Office of Admission seeks to expand recruiting efforts

The top four represented states in Tulanes student body are New York, California, Louisiana and Illinois.

Tiana Watts | Staff Artist

The top four represented states in Tulane’s student body are New York, California, Louisiana and Illinois.

Tulane faces criticism for having a lack of geographic and economic diversity in the undergraduate student body, and many students have said they hope the Office of Undergraduate Admission will think critically about recruiting more diverse cohorts.

According to the Tulane University Registrar, 30.11 percent of the undergraduate student body came from the Northeastern region of the country, versus the 18.28 percent who came from the New Orleans Metro area and the 12.36 percent of students who come from the South Atlantic region. The top four represented states in Tulane’s student body are New York, California, Louisiana and Illinois.

“I have seen the recruitment efforts done in Chicago for both myself and my younger sister for this admission cycle,” Sonali Chadha, sophomore and director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, said. “I’ve seen far too much outreach in suburban and wealthier areas than in urban areas and public schools.”

White students comprise 74.15 percent of the undergraduate student body, while black and Hispanic students comprise 7.83 percent and 7.44 percent of the undergraduate student body, respectively.

Under Satyajit Dattagupta, Tulane’s new vice president and dean of undergraduate admission, however, changes are being made to recruit a student body that is more diverse and encompassing of students from a variety of backgrounds.

In a conversation with the admission team, Chadha discussed with admission counselors ways to increase diversity across campus.

“We had a really productive conversation in which students shared their experiences being a person of color on this campus and the way that Tulane advertises itself and who they recruit,” Chadha said. “We also talked about which types of white students are coming to Tulane and ensuring that they are coming from progressive and diverse backgrounds because that is what we want Tulane to be. I am definitely critical of the current recruitment of white students, just because it has tended to be a generally privileged group of students.”

Increased efforts to break out of this pattern have increased transparency to prospective students about available financial aid. Chadha said she believes increasing diversity on campus will require the admission team to think critically about how and to whom they are offering financial aid.

In addition, recruitment strategies have been adjusted to have a larger outreach across the country. According to Director of Admission Jeff Schiffman, the admission team reached 1,000 high schools and 17 community-based organizations in 40 states.

“In the USA, our biggest target right now is to visit an increasing number of public schools and community-based organizations,” Schiffman said. “While it’s important for us to visit private schools, it’s also imperative that our admission team reach out to students and schools who are not as well-resourced.”

Sophomore Pritika Sharma agreed that domestic recruitment could be more representative of the national demographic than it currently is.

“Now that our emphasis is more on increasing diversity, the kind of things that were done before to recruit students is being improved by using techniques where we are not just going to rich suburbs and talking to students who can pay the full tuition,” Sharma said.

A large part of Undergraduate Admission’s new efforts also aims to increase international recruitment.

Only 4.62 percent of the current undergraduate student body is international. Though there are four international recruitment officers as opposed to the 22 national officers, the number of international students has increased in recent years.

Sharma, who is an international student, an intern for Undergraduate Admission and a global ambassador, said she believes the presence of international students on campus has increased but that further efforts can be made to further increase this presence.

“Diversity is something that we all acknowledge that we need to increase,” Sharma said. “With me personally, we talk about international diversity more because we do need that, and I believe that over the last four years … our incoming freshman class was probably four times of what it was four years ago.”

According to Sharma, 77 percent of the Tulane undergraduate population is on some kind of financial aid. The financial aid she received encouraged her to choose to enroll at Tulane, and she said she believes that this makes the school more accessible to students from around the world.

Tulane has increased outreach to international students in other ways too, including expanding the new Global Ambassadors program and creating programs that will connect domestic and international students. According to Director of International Admission Paul Burgess, the admission team is actively recruiting from 30 countries.

“That’s something we’re very excited about, and a higher number than a few years ago,” Burgess said.

Though Undergraduate Admission has recognized a weakness in the recruitment strategies that have led to a student body lacking in diversity, it acknowledges there remains work to be done.

“It’s in its initial stages, that is all I would say,” Sharma said.

For more information and Tulane’s diversity and recruitment data, read Diversity Discrepancies: Admission data reveals missing numbers in Tulane’s most diverse class.

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