PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University is experiencing a small
rebound in the numbers of multicultural students applying to the university
compared to a year ago, according to statistics from the WSU Office of
Institutional Research.

The number of applications from first-time freshmen multicultural students as
of April 24 is 1,215 compared to 1,054 last year at the same time, 1,141 in 1998
and 939 in 1997. Of these, a total of 888 have been offered admission, compared
to 811 last year, 912 in 1998 and 772 in 1997.

“These figures are encouraging, since we have several more months to go
during which high school students typically send in their application fees,”
said Steve Nakata, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services.

The passage in November 1998 of Initiative 200, which prevents state
agencies, including WSU, from giving preference to students of color,
impacted WSU multicultural admissions last fall. Even though the university
has never included race as a factor in admissions, new multicultural student
numbers declined, said Nakata.

Following the drop, Nakata said his staff took a “more aggressive approach to
recruiting.” In cooperation with other WSU student recruiters, his staff began
developing and implementing strategies to establish new community contacts,
identify new prospective students, and build trust with multicultural
communities.

WSU has centers and counselors for African American, Asian American and
Pacific Islander, Chicano/Latino and Native American students. “So, on
campus, we have good support for students of color. Our main goal this year
was to make WSU more visible to multicultural populations off campus. Our
recruiters have spent more time on the road this year meeting people and
conducting programs around Washington and Idaho. We placed advertising
in ethnic newspapers in urban areas and in tribal newspapers,” Nakata said.

An increasing number of applications from multicultural students is
encouraging, he said. “This means more multicultural students are learning
about WSU and are gaining enough interest to make WSU one of their college
options. The next challenging step is to convince them WSU is their best
choice. This is where our recruiters are currently putting most of their energy.
We are excited by the turnaround in applications from last year, but realize we
have a long way to go.”

The university’s early outreach efforts — including the “College Knowledge for
the Mind” seminar series — have also increased. Previously targeting high
school students, the series has expanded to serve younger students, some still
in middle school.

This spring, College Knowledge held seminars at eight schools in six days in
the Seattle-Tacoma area. “Entire school populations are receiving personal
encouragement to go to college. The payoff from some of these programs may
not be seen at WSU for several years,” Nakata said.

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