When the Class of 2011 graduates in May, it will earn the distinction of holding the largest number of degrees conferred to minority students since the University of Georgia’s founding in 1785.
In fact, nearly every year the university makes strides toward a more diverse student body and shows no signs of slowing down.
These kinds of increases are due in part to efforts to spread the word about UGA to underrepresented student populations-something that continues to be a priority for administrators.
“We want UGA to be as representative of Georgia’s population as it can,” said Patrick Winter, a senior associate director of admissions. “We make a concerted effort to make prospective students feel included and want to come to the university.
“Because they’re good students, they have lots of options, and the competition can be pretty fierce,” he added.
Although the university does not use race or ethnicity as criteria in admission decisions, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions actively targets students from minority populations through a series of events across the state and on campus.
The Graduate School Outreach and Diversity Office recruits students from underrepresented populations and supports first-year students by helping them adjust and set their expectations for graduate study.
The diversity office works to establish these relationships early on.
The Graduate Feeder and Summer Bridge programs provide newly admitted students with mentorship and guidance from current students, smoothing the students’ transition to graduate school.
The Future Scholars Visitation Program, one of the office’s main programs, allows prospective students to meet with faculty from various departments and begin early discussions on research ideas. UGA accepted more than 60 percent of prospective students who participated in the FSVP last year.
Individual schools and colleges, such as the Terry College of Business, also have their own recruitment and retention initiatives.
“We do a number of pre-collegiate programs where we bring students to campus for educational experiences and then track those students through the process as they apply to college,” said Randy Groomes, director of diversity relations and recruitment in the Terry College of Business
Oftentimes, though, the students sought by UGA are the same ones sought by other schools. When that happens, Groomes makes more tailored appeals.
“What I basically do is draw from the current student experience and my experience,” he said. “I share with them the amazing opportunities UGA has to offer in terms of student groups, exposure to speakers and international thinkers and the great network they’ll be a part of as alumni of the University of Georgia.”