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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA engagement with new students brings most diverse class

Simon Asher

This year’s freshman class is said to be the most diverse at the UA yet.

The University of Arizona begins a new semester with its most diverse crop of students, welcoming more than 10,000 new undergraduate students.

When comparing ethnic diversity of freshmen on campus to the diversity of 2016, UA has seen four of its ethnic groups increase. The number of African American freshmen has risen from 5.9 percent to 6.4 percent, the number of Hispanic freshmen rose from 24.6 percent to 27.2 percent and the number of Pacific Islander and Asian American freshmen also increased their representation this semester.

Kasey Urquidez, vice president of management and student affairs advancement and dean of undergraduate admission, attributes the diversity to increased outreach to students.

“We definitely did a lot more outreach in terms of visits that we offered to the students to come see what’s on campus,” she said. “We did a lot more programming to provide students the opportunity to be on campus, that definitely helped.”

In addition to an influx of diversity, freshmen students have also brought their high GPAs and are being rewarded, Urquidez said.

“One of the things that I think we value is that students take the rigorous curriculum in high school, and so by taking a rigorous curriculum we know they’re going to be better prepared for the university,” she said. “So what we did last year, which was new, was that we offered students that were…taking a certain amount of AP or honors credit, we were rewarding them with an additional one-time $1,000 scholarship.” 

RELATED: UA boasts most diverse freshmen class in university history for Fall 2017

This money was added to any aid or scholarships those students had already received. 

However, the university also enrolled fewer freshmen than in years past.

“Across the country it varies, I think the biggest thing is that it’s a much more competitive market,” Urquidez said. “When speaking about the freshmen class there’s actually less freshmen than there used to be, and that’s just based on birth rates 18 years ago, so we’re kind of in a downward trend.”

Urquidez said that there was also an increase in students visiting and taking tours of the campus. The university sent messages through email, mail and social media and tried to make each visit appeal to each individual who participated in a university tour. 

Urquidez said in the future they will build upon their social media presence with students. 

When it comes to student engagement, Abra McAndrew assistant vice provost of student engagement said, “We’ve been working really closely with the academic departments and colleges and departments of student affairs to identify their signature experiences.”

One event that was created last spring is the Build the Skill: Collaboration.

RELATED: Hundreds of students partake in event to help find communities

“We piloted a program around specifically the skill of collaboration, which is a skill that a lot of employers look for,” McAndrew said. 

Twenty students participated in the event. The office has received feedback from alumni who said the experience and programs at the UA were very important. 

“Our alumni who have been very involved on campus are much more likely to indicate that the cost of their education was worth it,” McAndrew said. 

She also stated the alumni feel being at the UA prepared them for their career. 

McAndrew said it’s important for students to have a conversation about the opportunities that are on campus. 

“These enrollment and retention milestones are thanks to an unprecedented combination of campus-wide teamwork, innovation and strategic reinvestment in areas such as financial aid,” said Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs, enrollment management and strategic initiatives in an email.

Follow Shaq Davis on Twitter.

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