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MCSG Overseer: Allen discusses QuestBridge, admissions practices

This week’s MCSG meeting began with a presentation from Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeff Allen on the changes in Macalester’s admissions processes over the last several years.

One of the new programs that Allen highlighted is its partnership with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit that helps colleges identify, recruit and enroll low-income and first-generation students from around the country. Macalester has enrolled roughly 50 QuestBridge students in each of the last two years.

“In many ways the partnership has helped us reach students in different parts of the country, especially rural areas who, in previous years, may not have been in our pipeline,” Allen said. “We can’t travel to [every] place, [and] QuestBridge as an organization helps us reach those students.”

Allen went on to discuss the admissions office’s own efforts to identify and recruit first-generation students from around the country.

“Next summer, we will pilot a new fly-in program for the new, low-income, first-generation students, which means that next summer we will be shooting towards bringing 40 to 50 students on campus for a week,” Allen said.

“During that week students will receive some guidance on how to apply to schools like Macalester,” he continued, “thinking about how to write college application essays, and going through the interview process with college admissions officers.”

The Legislative Body (LB) asked Allen several questions about the college’s admissions practices.

“You talked about QuestBridge and bringing students from rural communities you don’t normally go to,” MCSG President Malik Mays ’19 said. “Can you talk about how you decide what communities [admissions officers] go to?”

“There are a number of schools across the country who have a pretty strong pipeline that we visit, some public schools and private schools,” Allen responded. “The danger of that approach is you’re just fishing in the same pond, and you’re not really building Macalester awareness or reaching students that are also of great interest to Macalester.

“So as [a] staff,” he continued, “we try to leave about 20 percent of all visits, or all activities, to be experimental, to places where we can say, ‘okay, this is an area that doesn’t have a robust pipeline to Macalester, but it’s an area that if we spent some time, made some investments, and visited year after year, we could potentially reach some new students.’”

Community Engagement Officer Fatiya Kedir ’21 asked Allen about how the admissions office interacts with other departments and organizations at the college.

Allen told her that it’s an area of concern for his office.

“We’re so externally focused, that it unfortunately means that there is less time to connect with on-campus communities,” he said. “We’re definitely working on it. And if there are opportunities to connect with student groups to have conversations like this, rest assured that we’d love to show up and participate.”

At the end of the meeting, Mays touched on MCSG plans for resolution in the wake of the recent acts of hate speech on campus. The resolution is slated to acknowledge the impact of the incidents, state student concerns, and call on the administration to act.

Mays informed the LB that Diversity and Inclusion Officer Stacy Gerondelis ’19 will lead the subcommittee that will be responsible for writing the resolution. Along with Gerondelis, Vice President Blair Cha ’20 and Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) member Em Friedman ’21 will serve in advising roles in the subcommittee.

Members of the subcommittee will meet outside of LB meetings to discuss the resolution, before reporting back to the full LB about how they plan reach out to the student body for its thoughts.

Staff Writer

Margaret Moran (she/her/hers) is a sophomore from St. Louis, MO. She is currently a News Writer. She has been on the staff since first year. She loves talking about Handshake.

November 2, 2018

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