By Cliff Foster
Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment services, called staff members together earlier this month to look at enrollment trends and reflect on their accomplishments.
It’s a pretty long list.
But first, some trends.
From fall 2006 to fall 2011, undergraduate enrollment grew 11 percent. Latino student enrollment climbed a stunning 56 percent and 23 percent for African American students—a reflection, Diaz Bonacquisti says, of strategic outreach efforts and a “laser-like focus on retention.”
Although spring 2012 undergraduate enrollment is down 630 students from a year ago, the percent of students of color is up 3 percent year over year. More Latino and African-American students attend Metro State than any other four-year institution of higher education in Colorado, according to state statistics.
And here’s another significant number. The fall 2011 Latino enrollment was 18.2 percent, a level the College didn’t expect to reach until fall 2012. That means it’s ahead of the pace 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.
Diaz Bonacquisti’s division is poised to move into the Student Success Building, which seemed to her like an appropriate time to provide her staff with an update about “where we stand and why we’re tired.”
“The big portion for me was to really express my gratitude to the 100 people who are in the division because we have accomplished so much,” she says.
As for those accomplishments, Diaz Bonacquisti’s PowerPoint listed 40 of them, from supporting the rollout of the master’s degree program to implementing a records retention and destruction plan.
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 exactly a formula for success.
“It was huge endeavor, like turning the Titanic, to change that campus culture,” she says. Now the application deadline is July 1 for the fall, and late registrants must pay a fee, which is meant to encourage them 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.
Changes in financial aid processes and a revision of higher education admissions requirements also proved challenging. “We had to work with our high school counselors and do a communications push so students understood the changes,” she says of the latter.
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.”
Top of Page