Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

...3,000 and Counting

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

...3,000 and Counting

Article excerpt

...3,000 And Counting.

Several years ago, a number of educators, after deciding there were not enough Latinos enrolled in graduate schools around the country, created a program called "Helping 500 U.S. Hispanic Students into Graduate Schools."

To keep apace of success, the program has undergone several name changes to keep up with the escalating numbers of students who are being helped. In fact, the group's expanded scope is encompassed by its new name: Project 1000 -- Moving Toward 5000 Underrepresented Graduate Students.

Project 1000, as it is popularly known, is based at Arizona State University in Tempe, now includes other minorities -- in addition to Hispanics -- who are considered "underrepresented."

Since its founding in 1989, the program, whatever its name at the time, has helped nearly 3,000 students to prepare for and enroll in graduate schools around the country. The program's new goal is to enroll 5,000 students as quickly as possible. This past academic year alone, 400 of 500 students helped by the program gained admission to graduate school.

`State of Affairs Worsening'

Although there is still a massive shortage of underrepresented students at the graduate school level, particularly Latinos, observers believe the project has had an appreciable impact in opening up opportunities for this population.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Education reports that Latinos make up approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population, but less than 4 percent of the nation's graduate students. Similarly, African Americans are approximately 13 percent of the population, yet less than 7 percent of graduate students. People of color are close to 30 percent of the U.S. population, but less than 15 percent of graduate students.

According to an evaluation report by Project 1000's Executive Director Gary Keller, and Director Michael Sullivan, "U.S. Hispanics are scarcely represented in graduate education, and the state of affairs has been worsening."

Traditionally, all Latinos, except Cuban Americans, have been severely underrepresented in graduate schools. Cubans have been less underrepresented because many of the early immigrants came from higher social backgrounds and higher levels of education than other Latinos. The same has not been true for the later immigrants from Cuba.

Principal Objective

The principal objective of Project 1000 is to recruit, admit and graduate Latino and other underrepresented students. With one application, students are able to apply to seven of the more than 80 participating colleges and universities. Participation is free of charge to both students and the institutions. In total, the project works with more than 200 educational institutions.

The primary features of the project are:

- bilingual (English/Spanish) academic advisors that answer questions regarding the application process and give advice to ensure turning in the best application possible;

- on-site recruitment visits;

- financial aid advice;

- free GRE (Graduate Record Examination) workshops throughout the country; and

- A toll-free telephone number (1-800-327-4893) with four bilingual advisors available during work hours.

Busy Number

The students that Project 1000 targets are Latinos from poor backgrounds, says Sullivan, and from all fields -- except law, medicine and business. Currently, Project 1000 has a large pool of students who are not yet seniors, but who will soon become eligible for graduate school. …

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