In general, students, faculty and staff at Metro State have a
positive impression of the College and its diversity outreach efforts,
according to a recent study.
As part of the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) initiative, the
College retained Xcelente Marketing, a local market research firm that
specializes in the Latino market, to conduct interviews, surveys and
focus groups to assess general perceptions of Metro State, specific
perceptions about the inclusiveness and diversity environment on
campus, the level of acceptance of the HSI initiative, and initiatives
that will attract and retain Latino students.
From mid-2007 through early 2008, Xcelente conducted 10 one-on-one
interviews with Latino community leaders and four focus groups (faculty
and staff, Latino alumni, prospective Latino students and parents of
prospective Latino students). They also conducted an online survey of
5,000 current students enrolled Spring 2008 and received 569 responses.
The sample was based on similar characteristics of all students in
regards to gender, ethnicity, age, and new vs. returning.
Excelente presented its findings July 14 at the HSI Task Force meeting (see http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/publish/hsi_twv6070908.shtml).
Of the current students surveyed, 94
percent say they made the “right decision” in choosing Metro State. In
the positive and somewhat positive categories, the College’s admissions
process earned 77 percent approval, followed by the availability of
support and tutoring at 64 percent. Scores regarding learning about and
applying for scholarships/financial aid, support in selecting courses
and deciding on a major were all in the low 50s. Advice on planning for
a career and further education ranked lowest at 40 percent.
Perceptions about inclusiveness and diversity
seven percent of students “believe Metro State is meeting its goal of
having a diverse student body;” 74 percent feel very strongly that
Metro State does a good job “creating an environment that is inclusive
and culturally sensitive;” and 86 percent are positive about “being
exposed to a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds.” A full
three-quarters of students surveyed believe it is important that Metro
State make attracting a diverse student body a priority.
Latino students surveyed generally believed that Metro State “could
do a better job on providing support with basic skills” and said they
do not like to ask for help. Faculty and staff from the focus group
affirmed that Latino students frequently need more support with writing
and communication skills, Excelente said.
On becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution
and focus groups revealed that Latino alumni generally have a positive
attitude about Metro State’s goal to become an HSI, but acknowledge
that achieving this won’t be easy given historic Latino education
levels. Faculty and staff expressed a general concern about not having
an adequate infrastructure in place to support the HSI initiative and a
possible increase in workload it might bring.
There was generally low awareness among those interviewed of the HSI
goal, with only 22 percent having heard about it. Of those who did know
about it, impressions were mixed, with 47 percent favorable or somewhat
favorable. However, after hearing more about it, reactions shifted
toward more approval, with only 27 percent unfavorable.
On attracting a more ethnically diverse student body
study found that prospective Latino parents had a general concern about
the cost of a college education and cited Latinos’ obligations to their
families as a reason for their requiring more and different kinds of
support. The parents had a lack of knowledge about the different kinds
of support available to send their kids to college. Further,
prospective Latino students did not know about Metro State’s range of
Based on its research, Xcelente made a number of recommendations to the College.
• Increase resources devoted to the time of student entry and exit from Metro State.
• Provide leveling courses for students, especially in communications skills.
• Work internally with faculty and staff to help them understand that Latino students often need help but do not ask for it.
• Communicate internally within the College to overcome barriers and clarify misunderstandings about becoming an HSI.
• Do not use HSI as a “label” to reach prospective Latino students.
• Provide more Latino courses and professors, financial support, mentoring plans, etc.
• Get closer to the Latino community by going to churches, fairs, etc.
• Go to middle schools and talk to kids and parents about the importance of going to college.
• Invite high school students to attend classes at Metro State.
Use nontraditional media, such as on-line marketing, viral marketing
(using students and teenagers as brand ambassadors), cell-phone
contests using text messages, etc., in addition to the more traditional
media of television and radio. Use both English and Spanish in outreach
College’s marketing efforts align with research results
to Associate Vice President of Communications and Advancement Cathy
Lucas, the HSI marketing efforts already underway align with
Excelente’s recommendations based on the study results.
“For instance, we have produced and will distribute bilingual
postcards to targeted Latino audiences,” Lucas said. “We’re also
partnering with CSU-Pueblo, which is an HSI institution, to produce a
bilingual poster that will be placed in all DPS middle schools and in
Pueblo middle schools. We have bilingual ads running on Univision as
Lucas added that the Urban Center for Civic Engagement Task Force’s
project to inventory all of the College’s community outreach programs
will help determine what grassroots efforts with the Latino community
are already being undertaken.
To see Xcelente’s PowerPoint presentation in full, go to msc_quantitative.pdf.
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