March 23, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Metro State surges ahead of schedule on reaching Hispanic Serving Institution goal
From fall 2006 to fall 2011, undergraduate enrollment grew 11 percent. At the same time Latino student enrollment climbed a stunning 56 percent, while African-American student enrollment jumped 23 percent. The numbers are a reflection, says Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment services, of strategic outreach efforts and a “laser-like focus on retention.”
Although spring 2012 undergraduate enrollment dropped 630 students from a year ago, the percent of students of color grew 3 percent over last year. According to state statistics, more Latino and African-American students attend Metro State than any other four-year institution of higher education in Colorado.
Latino enrollment outstrips projections
Latino enrollments have reached historic highs at Metro State. Fall 2011 Latino enrollment reached 18.2 percent, a level the College didn’t expect to reach until fall 2012. That means it’s ahead of schedule to reach the 25 percent mark to become eligible for the federal designation of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), a status that would bring Metro State additional funding benefitting all students and faculty.
Contributing to the College’s success in enrolling and retaining diverse students, Diaz Bonacquisti explains, are new processes and programs. For example, as recently as fall 2006, the College had no real deadline to apply or register, so procrastinators had to scramble to line up classes and financial aid—not a formula for success.
Now the application deadline is July 1 for the fall, and late registrants must pay a fee. The new rules are meant to encourage students to get moving earlier on the courses they need.
Another big change came with the overhaul of student orientation.
Orientation and advising/registration used to be separate. So after orientation, students would line up by the dozens, waiting to see an adviser and register for classes. Now, the Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program—SOAR—puts it all together in one session. “It was a significant change for the betterment of our students,” Diaz Bonacquisti says.
So what’s next?
"We absolutely have to continue to increase student success.” But she noted that Metro State is second in the state in the number of Latino graduates. “That’s significant. Now, does that mean we’ve done as well as we can? Absolutely not. We need to focus on ways to improve so that our students can benefit from the changes we’re doing here.”