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About 30 prospective minority undergraduate students gathered at Assembly Hall in Rackham Monday afternoon to meet with current University of Michigan students and administrative members to explore the advantages of choosing to study at the University for their undergraduate career.
The luncheon was one of a series of events held by the Big House Program, which throughout the summer and academic year supports chosen underrepresented minority prospective students throughout the process of applying to the University. The program started in 2012.
Compared to the 26.5 percent acceptance rate for the University overall for fall 2017, program participants yielded an overall acceptance rate of 82 percent, with 27 out of 33 participants accepted to the University.
Reem Aburukba, Dearborn resident and Big House Program participant, said many who are often left in the dark when applying to college. The Big House Program seeks to amend this, she explained, by providing valuable resources to prospective students. This helped alleviate many of her concerns and fears around the college application process.
“When you’re searching things up online, they make it seem really impossible to get a really good personal essay,” Aburukba said. “But here they’re alleviating our fears and telling us like, ‘You need to expose enough of yourself to show them you’ve been through things and that you’re ready for Michigan and just want to make a change.’ It's a difference; it gives you ideas.”
LSA junior Antonio Gallegos, who went through the program three years ago, spoke on how, with the mentorship offered by the program, his dream of attending the University became a reality.
“I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the program,” Gallegos said. “I didn’t even really think Michigan was a possibility for me. I’m a first generation student so I didn’t know anything.”
He shared how, once the application process was over and he had received admission, the program continued to guide him throughout his college transition period.
“The Big House really gave me the resources necessary to apply and not only apply, but once I came here even at my orientation people within PILOT, the student organization, were reaching out to me,” he said.
Throughout the summer and academic year, members of PILOT, a student-based organization working towards fostering diverse leadership within the University community, mentor and guide the chosen prospective students throughout the application process with the Big House Program.
University Regent Shauna Diggs gave a brief speech at the event, attributing her own personal success to an experience similar to the Big House Program when she applied to college.
“I went to quite a few programs like this, and they are in large part the reason I am a physician in private practice today, a regent at the University of Michigan,” Diggs said.
She went on to describe the large amount of opportunities that the University has to offer that are not possible at other institutions.
“There are a couple things that a program like this can do,” Diggs said. “The first is to present to you all the opportunities, to see the possibilities. Sometimes in our small world we can’t really see all the things that we can do, but when you come to a place like the University of Michigan, campus of Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint, you can really start to see all the things that you can accomplish.”
Later this year, program participants will return to campus in the fall to shadow current University students and explore academic options, and again in 2018 to plan their collegiate transition and connect with University support services.