Admissions’ multicultural fly-ins work to recruit a more diverse student body


Photo courtesy of Kennon Stewart

For many students of color, the factors that go into choosing a college go beyond the basics of “proximity to home” and “dining hall quality.” Gauging what the student experience is like is essential, especially because, for some students, predominantly white institutions like Tulane can be difficult environments to exist in.

This is why departments like the the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Academic Equity were created to supplement the unique academic, personal and social needs of underrepresented students. But for these institutions to address the issues of a diverse student body, the university must admit a diverse student body.

Over the past few years, the Tulane University Office of Undergraduate Admission has placed a special emphasis on intentionally creating a more diverse student body. In 2016, Satyajit Dattagupta became the vice president of enrollment management, based partly on his commitment to diversity.

There have also been increased efforts to prepare high school students from the New Orleans community for the college application process through programs like the College 101 Workshops and 8th Grade Blitz.

During the spring semester of 2017, Admission began collaborating with the “O” and CAE on their multicultural fly-in.

The fall fly-in has been named PreviewTU and is “designed for high-achieving high school seniors who are from first generation and/or underrepresented cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.” The spring fly-in is called BienvenueTU and is designed for students who have already been admitted to Tulane.

These semesterly programs give high school seniors from all around the country an opportunity to sit in on real classes, attend helpful workshops and learn more about departments like The Well and Newcomb Tulane Institute.

“I think a lot of students may look at pictures of campuses and videos of campuses and not realize that there are aspects of the experience that they don’t see until they’re on the ground in New Orleans, on the campus.” Sienna Abdulahad, the associate director for the “O,” said. “And so it makes Tulane more competitive for those students … and it makes Tulane feel more like a reality.”

Photo courtesy of Kennon Stewart

The coordinated effort between these offices aims to make prospective students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in PWIs feel like Tulane could be a place where their identifies will be celebrated.

Another expansion to Admission’s diversity initiatives is the creation of the Diversity Fellows position. This cohort consists of six Tulane sophomores who come from a variety of backgrounds and majors but are all interested in making Tulane a more diverse and inclusive community

“Being from an underrepresented population is my experience at Tulane,” Diversity Fellow Alicia Buenaventura said. “But still I have a very positive experience here, so I wanted to share with others what it is like navigating higher education with my identity.”

Many of the students attending the fly-in will be first-generation college students. First-generation students are generally defined as those who do not have a parent who attended college, which can be a disadvantage for some in the college admission process.

“I think that we tried to show them higher education in the most positive light possible,” Buenaventura said. “That it is accessible and that it’s really awesome and we’ve all grown a lot from this environment. They got to see us thriving, which I think is really good representation.”

In years prior, the multicultural fly-ins were mainly led by staff members. This semester, however, the new diversity fellows have played an instrumental role in shaping the students’ experience.

“I think it was really awesome in making that part of recruiting and admissions more student-centered,” Buenaventura said. “I think that it’s going in a good direction.”

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