Univision.com  > La Huella Digital

College Essentials

Previous Next

Having a good grade point average (GPA) is very important when applying to universities. But it doesn't do much for those students who are “invisible” to the admission screeners at the universities.

In an higher education system as competitive as the one in the U.S., the universities want to admit the best students. The problem is that the traditional recruitment channels are insufficient to reach them all.

Having a good grade point average (GPA) is very important when applying to universities. But it doesn't do much for those students who are “invisible” to the admission screeners at the universities. The traditional recruitment channels are insufficient to reach them all.

In an attempt to fill that void and to secure racial diversity on campus, policies such as “affirmative action” were enacted several years ago. This allowed thousands of Hispanics to make their way into the universities.

But “affirmative action” has been limited in scope. There are thousands of Hispanics who have been left out of the most prestigious universities, particularly the private ones, for non-ethnic reasons.

According to Fernando Reimers, besides a good GPA, students need to know “why is it important to go to college, how to build their academic portfolio, how to pick a university, how to apply and how to secure financing.”

Universities like Harvard look for a very special type of student. Not just academic high-performers, but also those with personal ambition and those who are highly involved in their communities.

NOBODY knows better than Lucerito Ortiz the criteria applied by universities to select prospective students among thousands of applicants. Here are the top three.

A good high school usually has one or more counselors to help the students prepare for college. But there are many schools that lack the resources to offer counselors, and their students do not have access to that type of information.

Trying to bridge that gap, many universities offer enrichment classes, usually over the summer, that give the students an opportunity to visit college campuses and get acquainted with the programs that the university offers.

In addition to some of the courses that are offered through the university's extension programs, and for which there is also financial aid available, students can also receive academic credit that counts towards their college degree (See the College Toolkit section).

In recent years, many institutions have emerged with programs to help students prepare for college. Some are general in scope, while other focus specifically on Hispanic students.

There are all kinds of organizations: those that offer leadership courses and personal advice, up to those that specialize in scouting the best students to get them in touch with elite universities.

Among the first are are some well-known organizations such as Breakthrough, College Track, College Match, and College Summit, just to mention a few. Among the latter are QuestBridge and Posse, which play a critical role facilitating access to elite universities.

Questbridge connects low-income students with a select group of universities and entities offering financial assistance. Since 2007, it has secured admission for more than 7,500 students at the best universities in the U.S. Last year, more than a third of all applicants were Hispanic students.

The Posse Foundation has sent 4,884 students to different top-notch universities. The most recent graduation statistics show that 28.5% of those graduated were Hispanic student. There is plenty of information about these programs online (See the College Toolkit section).

In the case of Posse, students are nominated by their schools or community organizations. In the case of Questbridge, the organization scouts previously identified high-performing, low-income students via mail or email.

The core of the Questbridge campaign is information. The program emphasizes the opportunities that are available at the most prestigious universities, and provides plenty of information about the different steps that a student must take to get accepted.

In the College Toolkit section, we have included an extensive list of suggestions for students who aspire to enter a top-tier college.