The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M officials recruit low-income students

High-ranking Texas A&M officials visited three Houston high schools Friday to recruit potential Aggies who come from low-income families and who would be first-generation college students and minority students.
Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates, Vice President and Associate Provost of Institutional Assessment and Diversity James A. Anderson and other University officials visited Madison High School of Houston Independent School District, Taylor High School of Alief I.S.D. and Hightower High of Fort Bend I.S.D. to attract juniors and seniors to A&M.
Anderson said this trip is just one of many planned this year to recruit diverse students from urban areas. Anderson said all of the students that officials met with were in the top 25 percent of their class.
“We are really trying to sell A&M to them because we know a lot of schools are after these students as well,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the students were receptive to the A&M representatives and asked questions about classes and admission deadlines. None of the students asked questions about the social climate at A&M.
“Most questions were straightforward questions you would expect from students,” he said. “It really helped that each school we visited we brought along current A&M students that had graduated from that high school … I think that made students feel really welcome.”
Anderson said the officials emphasized that the high school students could afford tuition and fees at A&M.
“Our principle selling point was that they could afford college through grants, work study and scholarships,” he said. “If (they are) accepted at A&M, finances would not be an issue.”
Anderson said they encouraged students to visit the campus because potential students are usually won over meeting A&M students, exploring available classes and meeting advisers. Anderson said that although A&M has a historical reputation of an unwelcoming environment to diversity, the recent drastic increases in minority students have helped the University market itself better.
“The increases in underrepresented students at the undergraduate and graduate level are higher at A&M than at any other large research institution in the country,” Anderson said. “Everyone predicted it would be the opposite since we took race out of admissions … Many students have said to us that they are glad the perception is that they are being admitted on merit and not race.”
Anderson said A&M officials are also actively recruiting students who are also being recruited by elite or Ivy League universities.
“We have a concentrated effort to bring in the cream of the crop,” Anderson said. “Sometimes our biggest difficulty is putting together packages to compete with other schools.”
John Barnett, executive director of the A&M chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas and a junior industrial engineering major, said they appreciate Gates’ move to not include race in admissions because diversity should not just be based on race.
“YCT believes in diversity; diversity is a good thing,” Barnett said. “But, whenever you take diversity, you must take into account all of its different facets. When you say all we want is diversity of race or religion, what that says, is that if you are a white, Christian heterosexual male, you are not valuable to this school because you are a dime a dozen.”
Barnett said students should question efforts by A&M aimed at low-income, first-generation students.
“The way the University is portraying these efforts seems to be just a linguistic twist to recruit solely on race,” Barnett said.
Anderson said half of the students who receive scholarships based on their first-generation college student status are white.
“If we happen to get minorities from that, that’s great,” Anderson said. “But we also get a significant number of white students.”
Fallon Faires, a freshman biomedical sciences major and a white student who received a scholarship for low-income, first-generation college students, said the scholarship is the only reason she was able to attend A&M.
“It was a pretty cool thing,” Faires said. “My parents left it up to me to figure out if I would be able to go to college. I wouldn’t be able to go to A&M if I didn’t get that money.”
Faires said that recruiting low-income, first generation college students does not necessarily mean minorities.
“A person is a person,” Faires said. “It doesn’t matter what skin color they are. If they have that financial need they should get some help. I thank God every day that I got money to go to school.”

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