Dan Crosato, a guidance counselor at Crosman Alternative High School in Detroit, said he’s not sure why he hasn’t seen any admissions recruiters from the University of Michigan at his school this year.
In past years, he said, University of Michigan admissions recruiters came early and often to talk with his students about applying to the University.
Not this year.
“I guess us moving buildings could be a reason,” Crosato said. “But then again, I guess we get brochures and applications from them in the mail, so if they know our address, they must know where we are.”
Crosato is one of many guidance counselors at Detroit public high schools who claim the University hasn’t recruited as aggressively in their schools since last year’s passage of Proposal 2, which prohibited public institutions in Michigan from using race- or gender-based affirmative action.
As of Friday, officials at 10 of 17 public high schools in Detroit said they have seen University admissions recruiters less frequently than in the past. There are 29 public high schools in Detroit. Officials at 12 of those schools didn’t return calls for comment or refused to comment for this story. Seven reported that recruiters visited their schools at the same rate.
University administrators have repeatedly talked about the importance of strengthening outreach efforts to high schools with high underrepresented minority enrollments, which the Detroit high schools generally have.
After Proposal 2 passed, the University formed the Diversity Blueprints Task Force to come up with ways to maintain and encourage a diverse campus. One of the task force’s recommendations was to “expand engagement in targeted partnerships with underserved K-12 schools” and “on-campus high school counselor partnerships.”
Julie Deschryver, a guidance counselor at Pershing High School in Detroit, said she’s unhappy with the University’s admissions recruiters and their lack of engagement with her school. She said about 20 students there have qualifying grades and test scores to attend the University but this is the second straight year she hasn’t seen a recruiter from the University.
“We haven’t seen anyone here at all,” Deschryver said. “The only things we’ve seen over that time are a brochure and an application to show our students.”
University President Mary Sue Coleman said she was unaware that so many high schools in the Detroit area had not been visited by admissions recruiters yet this year.
“That surprises me,” she said in an interview last week. “Certainly it’s really critical for us to let prospective students know about their opportunities.”
Tyrone Winfrey, director of the University’s Detroit Admissions Office, said there was no way his staff of four recruiters could have visited each of the Detroit public high schools by this point in the year.
“Sometimes we can’t get to schools until November or December,” said Winfrey, who said Proposal 2 has not had a direct affect on his office’s level of recruitment. “But we try our best to get in to all the schools. My plan each year is to hit every school in Detroit along with all the other urban high schools.”
Although there are four recruiters for the Detroit area this year – one more than last year – Winfrey said there have been some rough spots in the recruiting process so far. He said two of the recruiters are new to their positions and that there is still a learning process involved for them. New recruiters, Winfrey said, sometimes have to build relationships in the high schools before they can make visits there. Winfrey said that’s why a recruiting visit hasn’t been made, for instance, to Pershing High School.
“It’s kind of difficult with two new staffers,” said Winfrey, who also serves on the Detroit Board of Education. “But if we haven’t been to a school yet this year, we will be.”
But by not hearing from University admissions officials until later in the year, some Detroit high school students might not be hearing about the different admissions options they have open to them – one of which is new this year.
High school students who applied under the Early Response program – an option that’s strongly encouraged for students who say that the University is their first choice – by Oct. 31 were guaranteed to receive an admissions decision from the University no later than Dec. 21.
One high school guidance counselor said she didn’t think the majority of her students would know that information, despite the fact that many of them have an overwhelming interest in the University.
Dee Carpenter, a second-year guidance counselor at Detroit City High School, said that aside from college fairs, University admissions officers have not talked with her students.
“We don’t have contact,” Carpenter said. “I cannot recall seeing any Michigan admissions officers coming here. It’s unfortunate because we have some students here that are dead set on going to schools like Michigan.”
Guidance counselors at Central High, Southwestern High, Trombly High, West Side Academy and Boykin Continuing Education Center, which serves teenage mothers, said they had seen no University recruiters this year, either.
Coleman said building relationships with guidance counselors is integral to improving outreach at the high schools.
“We want to make sure the guidance counselors in particular feel like they’re getting the right type of interaction with us,” Coleman said. “That’s step number one. If we don’t get information to the guidance counselors, then they won’t help us recruit the students.”
Guidance counselors at Western International and Renaissance High Schools, two of the University’s largest predominantly-minority feeder schools, said they have seen no change in the frequency of University recruiting visits and still think the University is committed to courting their students.
Counselors at Cody High, Detroit High School for Technology, Finney High, Mumford High and Southeastern High School all said they had seen no change in the level of recruitment from the University over the last year.
Joanne McClure, a guidance counselor at Finney High School, said she’s always been very appreciative of the University’s admissions recruiters.
“We hardly ever have anyone that goes there, and many of our students wouldn’t qualify to get in,” she said. “But still, they’ve always come out. They always come once, and sometimes they’ll come twice, just to let us know they care.”
At some Detroit high schools, though, counselors are concerned with the amount of in-school recruiting that other closer, more affordable colleges are doing compared to the University’s admissions recruiters.
Thomas Kastrzak, a career counselor at Denby High School, said this was the case at his school.
“U of M Dearborn recruiters are here all the time,” Kastrzak said. “They come every few weeks.”
Kastrzak said the University’s Ann Arbor recruiters have visited Denby once this year.
Among the schools that have been visited less this year is Detroit’s largest magnet school, Cass Technical High School. Cass Tech, which has a 95 percent black student enrollment, sends about 40 underrepresented minority students to the University each year. Of the high schools where minorities are the majority of the student body, Cass Tech sends the most students to the University.
Doris Taylor Walls, a guidance counselor at Cass Tech for the past 34 years, said University admissions recruiters have only been out to meet with students once this year.
She said that the University has come to Cass Tech less frequently each year since the University’s admissions recruiters stopped doing on-site admissions trips, which allowed recruiters to meet with prospective students on a given day and admit students that same day before the recruiter left the school.
Winfrey said his staff stopped doing on-site admissions visits back in 2003 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the University’s system of making admissions decisions based on a point system was unconstitutional if it took race into account.
“We adjusted ourselves because we decided that there was no way we could use a more holistic approach if we were doing on-sites,” Winfrey said.
But even though she’s seen fewer University recruiters at Cass Tech this year, Walls said she’s not bothered by the University’s trend.
“I don’t think them (the recruiters) being here less has been detrimental to our students wanting to go there,” Walls said. “Yes, there are colleges that still do on-sites here. But I don’t necessarily think that having a recruiter here all the time is the answer.”
Winfrey emphasized the other programs that the Detroit Admissions Office has set up for high school students in Detroit, too.
Winfrey said that University admissions officers participate in anywhere from 25 to 30 college fairs in September and October alone. In addition to those, Winfrey said his Detroit Admissions Office hosts five to 10 fairs during those two months.
Winfrey also said that each Tuesday, his office hosts a program that allows high school students to visit the Detroit Admissions Office and talk with University faculty to learn more about prospective majors. Each week, a faculty member from a different major talks to the students.
“It really helps,” Winfrey said. “You’ve got a lot of kids who don’t know they can’t major in pre-med until after they talk with University faculty.”
The outreach in Detroit, Winfrey said, has involved more than just his staff of four. Winfrey said Ted Spencer, the University’s director of undergraduate admissions, has visited some of the high schools personally.
Winfrey said admissions officers who recruit from other parts of the state sometimes take visits to Detroit high schools too.
“If anything, I think we’ve stepped things up,” Winfrey said. “We’re in the middle schools, we’re in the churches, we’re everywhere. We’re doing more than before.”