In an attempt to recruit more students from underserved communities, University of California officials are doubling their visits to schools that graduate high numbers of qualified students but send relatively few to the university.
The nine undergraduate U.C. campuses have scheduled 100 events this fall in a five-year old program called Achieve U.C. Events are scheduled on Monday in Riverside and next week in San Diego. U.C. says it organized half as many events last spring.
For its outreach event last week, U.C. Irvine arrived at Compton High School with balloons, informational pamphlets, pins, and pens, and about a dozen staff, including university mascot Peter the Anteater and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Parham.
“We are acutely aware that there are some corners of our state where people are not accessing the opportunities within the University of California,” Parham said.
U.C. Irvine came to Compton H.S. because the number of applications from high schools in this area have been low in the past. Recent outreach efforts have led to more applications from qualified students and higher enrollment of African American and Latino students this year.
“We have an message for you: that U.C. is affordable, and that we are a place that can help you realize your dreams and aspirations with respect to a college education,” he said.
Before an assembly attended by several hundreds students, Parham held a more personal chat with 41 students in the campus music room.
Some of these students want to attend a University of California but have big fears.
“My mom doesn’t work at all, my stepdad works in a ranch, barely makes the minimum wage,” said Anthony Ibarra, a 12th grader who wants to become a teacher and return to this school to work.
Ibarra heard Parham pitch U.C.’s Blue and Gold program that pays students’ tuition if their families make less than $80,000 yearly.
Parham the Compton students they won’t be alone at a University of California campus.
“You have lots of support who are white and Latino and black and Asian, and international, there’s everybody working as part of a U.C. family,”
Last year, African Americans made up three percent of UC Irvine’s undergraduate class, Latinos about one fourth and officials say this outreach is increasing those numbers.
Yet Latino and black student enrollment is significantly lower at campuses such as U.C. Irvine, UCLA, and U.C. Berkeley compared to U.C. Riverside and U.C. Merced.