Preparing for College

Diversity Programs for Prospective Students

Question: I know many private colleges recruit minority students and invite them to "diversity weekends" with paid airfare, etc. How do students get on their radar to be invited? How would I find out which colleges might host these?

That's a good question. You're wise to realize that these opportunities exist ... and, in fact, they abound. In the past decade or so, the number of such programs has exploded, and most selective colleges now offer some sort of on-campus "diversity weekend."

Some schools also provide free transportation or a partial stipend, but the policies are all over the map. Many colleges, for example, only pay travel costs for ADMITTED students who are visiting for a last look before making a final college commitment. Other schools offer travel $ only to those who need it the most or to those whom they're most eagerly recruiting. Some colleges provide transportation via a free chartered bus to prospective students who live in specific geographic areas but don't offer travel reimbursement for those who make their own way to campus.

So, your best bet is to choose your target colleges based on the usual criteria ... academic programs, location, size, campus community, etc. Then contact all the schools on your list and express your interest in attending a campus diversity program (hopefully for free :-) ). The best way to do this is to go to each college's Web site and then to the "Admissions" or "Prospective Students" (etc.) page. Look for a link for Minority Students, Multicultural Events, Diversity, etc. If you find one, then it may give you access to additional information about on-campus programs and/or about making contact with the admission staff member who oversees diversity recruitment. If you CAN'T find such a link (and most of the time you WON'T) then try to find a "Contact Us" link. Send a message that looks something like this to each college :

I am a [name of minority group] student from [home city/town] who is interested in visiting campus. Could you please provide information about on-campus diversity events and transportation stipends, if available. Thank you very much.

It wouldn't hurt to add your prospective major and SAT or ACT scores, too. If you truly can't afford to get to campus without financial assistance, be sure to say so.

If you send this query out to every college that you're even vaguely considering, you should get some positive results. Note, however, that there's a new trend among some of the most selective colleges to screen recruitment-program candidates via a preliminary application. In other words, you may have to apply to attend!

If you are a Student of Color from a disadvantaged background, you might also want to check out the Questbridge program that can help you with college selection and financial assistance. Go to:

The Ventures Scholars Program is for high-achieving students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds who are aiming for careers in math and science.

Happy hunting!