By SASHA HART
This past weekend was the first funded campus visit (FCV) of the year at Colorado College. The FCV program tries to attract students who self-identify as students of color, students who are eligible for a Pell Grant, and students who qualify for free/reduced lunch, by providing an all-expenses-paid visit to the CC campus.
The program started in 2003 as a way to attract students who wouldn’t otherwise know about or apply to CC. Carlos Jimenez, Director of Admission Outreach and Recruitment, noted that the program helps to build relationships between current students of color and prospective students of color and helps students to understand the financial aid offerings at CC. Junior Padah Vang, one of the current Outreach and Access Interns who attended an FCV as a prospective student, believes that “these students may not have the social and cultural capital to help them in their college process, and the FCVs, although they don’t solve the inequality gap completely, are an important first step for providing access.”
For the program, the college budgets around $400-450 per plane ticket for students and their parent or guardian to fly to Colorado Springs, in addition to paying for lodging at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. The rest of the money budgeted for the program goes to flying admitted students out for FCVs in the spring.
Getting invited to partake in the program is a competitive process. The college gets between 300 and 350 applications each fall, they invite around 110 people, and generally 90 to 100 come to campus. The college tries to invite students who they will most likely accept—around 85 percent of FCV students are accepted into CC. As such, the standards for being admitted into the program are arguably higher than through the regular admissions process. Out of those who are admitted, about 45 to 50 percent of the students decide to attend CC, which is only slightly higher than CC’s overall yield. However, the FCVs are only a small part of what needs to be done to cater to and attract these students. Once these students do apply and enroll at CC, Vang noted that the college “does not retain and support these students, [which is] something that CC needs to continue to work on together.”
While the college doesn’t lack applications from students who need financial aid, it lacks the money to accept many of those students. The college wants to be able to maintain their status as an institution and provide competitive salaries for faculty, among other things, while increasing diversity on campus. Jimenez described this as the higher education paradox: colleges want to diversify, but haven’t found the most sustainable economic model through which to accomplish that. As CC becomes more and more selective, many of the students who are invited for FCVs are also courted by other universities. The program helps in this regard, because, as senior Nick Carpenter, an admissions fellow, noted, it “demonstrates to the students that CC is actively invested in and interested in them, which is a really important piece—especially at a highly selective, majority-white school such as CC.”
Jimenez has found that a lot of qualified applicants to CC lack the preparation, knowledge, and resources to be a competitive applicant to CC. The college, he says, could do more in this area. His ultimate goal would be to create a program in which faculty and students could get involved in preparing high school students for CC. With that in mind, President Jill Tiefenthaler, has formed a committee of faculty and staff to discuss and think about the best way to help prepare those students for being successful applicants to CC. While the committee is still in the very early stages, the ideas that they come up with may help to create a program that is even more effective than the current FCV model in achieving greater diversity on campus in the future.