While some colleges and universities court high school guidance
counselors with ski trips and spa packages in order to get more top
students to apply, the University chooses to instruct counselors.
University officials say the strategy hasn’t had a negative
impact on enrollment.
Dempsey Scott, the guidance director at Okemos High School, said
he and his family were once offered an expense paid weekend visit
to a private college in Michigan in order to persuade him to tell
more students to apply to that school.
The Supreme Court and various federal courts have ruled that it
is legal for universities to offer such perks to high school
counselors, said Jonathan Alger, University assistant general
counsel. But these cases leave the specific details on how to
follow the rulings to the interpretation of the specific
university, Alger said.
The University’s decision not to offer benefits to
counselors does not appear to have a negative impact on its
enrollment, said Associate Director of Admissions Christopher
Lucier. “I don’t think those programs are orienting
students away from Michigan,” Lucier said.
The University wants to be responsible because the money comes
from taxpayers and tuition, Lucier said. Instead of courting high
school counselors with expensive perks, the University maintains
contact with counselors and students through representatives who
visit most high schools in the state of Michigan.
The University also uses brochures, flyers and two annual
conferences to increase visibility among high school students. With
these the University provides news and information to answer
questions and inform both the counselors and the students on
policies, admission requirements, the acceptance process and how
the counselors can help the students prepare in high school before
attending the University, Lucier added.
The University’s annual Fall Counselor Workshop, gathering
high school counselors from across Michigan, will take place
tomorrow in Lansing. Here the counselors will be provided with
breakfast and lunch and will do a case study about admissions,
where they will be given fake student files and asked to go through
and select the students they believe would make good applicants for
The second conference is only for the Detroit Public Schools and
is known as the Urban Counselors Conference. Here high school
counselors from Detroit discuss issues such as the urban outreach
effort to recruit minority students and changes on campus or in
admissions that would affect these students, Lucier said.
At the conference, counselors discuss various issues ranging
from the SAT to changes made on the application because of the
Supreme Court’s affirmative action rulings, said Lucinda
Kanczuzewski, a counselor for Kettering High School near Detroit.
She said that each year the discussions are appropriate for the
students of her high school, a majority of whom are black.
By providing updated information to the counselors, the
University can answer student questions and concerns with regard to
applying to the University and the current atmosphere on campus.
The University has recently been criticized for the diminishing
number of applications from black students, dropping 25 percent
this year. University President Mary Sue Coleman has discussed ways
in which the University can increase its image among black
students, including personal appearances at high school events