Texas A&M Uses Outreach, Not Race, to Draw Minority Students

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In a room festooned with school banners, inspirational slogans and eye-catching signs heralding the march to college, the three large Pizza Hut pies and the Capri Sun juice pouches were only part of the enticement.

The real lure for the nine students gathered in the Lee High School college center was Na'Taria Muse, a Texas A&M University admissions counselor who knows them all by name.

The students, listening intently to Muse as they nibbled on slices and sipped from straws, are cheerleaders and volleyball players, aspiring doctors and engineers, a portrait of diversity in ethnicity and experience.

Throughout the school year, it's Muse's job to encourage, inform, inspire and wheedle promising students like these to consider applying to A&M and to enroll if they're accepted.

"We don't want you to feel like a tiny tadpole in a big pond," Muse assured the students, who have been accepted to A&M but are weighing whether to attend. "We want you to feel like A&M is your home."

That message - spread to high schools across the state - is a central component of A&M's efforts to bolster its black and Latino enrollment.

Legal considerations

Unlike the University of Texas at Austin, which includes race in its admission criteria for students not in the top 10 percent of their high school class, A&M relies on aggressive outreach programs to draw students from underrepresented minorities. Both schools automatically admit students in the top 10 percent.

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