University hopes Black Student Weekend attracts minority students

University hopes Black Student Weekend attracts minority students

When DeJuan Mitchell came home from school one day in early January, he found mail on his bed he was not expecting.

Mitchell, a high school senior from Indianapolis, had received an invitation to TCU’s first Black Senior Weekend.

The weekend event is intended to inform black high school seniors who have applied or been admitted to the university about TCU academics, financial aid, housing and student life.

Forty-nine local and out-of-state students checked in for the event Saturday, said Michael Marshall, admissions counselor and organizer of the event.

“If you look at our numbers, we’ve had a substantial number of African-Americans apply to TCU, and there are several who are admitted, but we’ve always faced the challenge of getting the students to enroll,” Marshall said.

Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said 94 black students enrolled last fall, a 20 percent increase in four years.

“The number of Hispanic students has jumped a great deal in the last few years here, but the number of black students has not,” Brown said. “We’ve been making small gains but nothing huge.”

Brown said he expected the number of black students to increase as a result of the program. He said more programs targeting other minorities may follow.

According to the 2007 Fact Book, there are 443 black students at TCU, accounting for 5.1 percent of the student body.

Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said Black Senior Weekend has two goals: to introduce black students to the university and to reaffirm TCU’s commitment to a diverse student body.

Erica Hayter, a student from DeSoto, said she wanted to see what college life is like at TCU.

“It’s one of the universities that is not so big that you don’t know anyone, but it’s not too small either,” Hayter said. “I want to see if this is the right place.”

The event launched Saturday with a dinner at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center. Throughout the weekend, prospective students toured the campus, attended a men’s basketball game and interacted with current students in small group sessions and a Super Bowl party. Current students provided accommodations for the student guests.

On Monday, prospective students had the opportunity to sit in class while parents attended sessions on academics and financial aid.

Tanya Dunlap, a parent from Round Rock, said she and her son visited the university to test the waters before making a decision about enrolling.

“We really want to get a feel of the culture of the university so he can get a good sense of whether this is a good fit for him,” Dunlap said.

Marshall said students from different organizations on campus were involved in the event.

Tiffany Willis, a junior psychology major and programming coordinator for the Black Student Association, said the program had an overwhelming response.

“By bringing this demographic to TCU and allowing them to relate to other African-American students and to feel the campus and experience Fort Worth, it’ll increase the likelihood of students picking TCU when making their college decision,” Willis said.