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What are Hispanic-Serving Institutions?

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Sally Ganga

Written by Sally Gangaon September 27th, 2022

I started my career as an assistant director of admission at Reed College, my alma mater, where I ran the transfer program. From there, I went to Whittier College as an associate director, and then moved on to The University of Chicago, again as associate director, where I was in charge of the application reading process and the awarding of our top merit scholarships. The diversity of my experience was very helpful when I transferred to the high school side, where I assisted students applying to colleges at all levels of selectivity.
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by Sally Ganga, former admissions officer at the University of Chicago Some readers may have heard of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), but most are not aware of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI): colleges and universities with student populations that are at least 25% Hispanic. While these institutions are in many states, California and Texas have the bulk of them. Institutions with just under 25% Hispanic students are designated as “emerging,” and they are more broadly spread throughout the country. Perhaps most compellingly, HSI and emerging HSI rank highly on The Third Way’s Economic Mobility Index. The Third Way is a Washington, DC-based think tank which, as part of its work on education, ranks colleges according to how many of their students are low or middle income, and how well colleges serve those students in terms of their resulting economic mobility. The institution at the top of the ranking,  Cal State Los Angeles, is an HSI, and HSI are overrepresented on this list. They do far more than their fair share of supporting economic mobility in this country. By contrast, the Ivies and other similarly selective institutions rank very low on the Economic Mobility Index. If you are interested in learning more about HSI, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) has a comprehensive list by state that includes both two year and four-year institutions. Below, we’ve highlighted some HSI and emerging HSI serving their students well. University of New Mexico I was lucky enough to talk with Pablo Torres, Associate Director of International Recruitment and Admissions, about UNM and what it offers in this episode of our college podcast, Getting In: A College Coach Conversation. UNM is New Mexico’s flagship university, located right in downtown Albuquerque near the historic Route 66. A university of almost 16,000 undergraduates, UNM offers a full complement of majors and is particularly well regarded for its anthropology department. Not only is UNM recognized as an HSI, it is also well-regarded as a supportive institution for students who are the first generation in their family to attend college, as well as for veterans. Mr. Torres stressed that attending an HSI is not only a positive experience for Hispanic students, but for all students—international and domestic—given the importance of global and cross-cultural fluency in the workplace. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus But not all HSI are large universities! Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus is located in Teaneck, NJ, and has an undergraduate enrollment of around 5,540. Similar to UNM, FDU is known as a supportive college for veterans continuing their education post-service. Another benefit of FDU is its many campuses. For a student who wants a more urban campus, FDU Metropolitan is ideal. Students who prefer a smaller, more intimate college and small town setting, will find the FDU Florham campus to be a wonderful option, with only around 2,300 undergraduates in the picturesque town of Madison, NJ. Both campuses are an easy commute to New York City, with all the benefits the city offers. For students who want to go abroad, there are FDU campuses in Vancouver, Canada and Wroxton, England. While FDU has many strong programs, it is perhaps best recognized for its International School of Hospitality, Sports, and Tourism Management. University of California, Davis It is worth looking at HACU’s list of emerging HSI as well. Among the many fine schools on that list, you’ll find multiple private and public institutions in California, including the University of California, Davis, with a Hispanic population of 24.1% of the student body of over 31,000. UC Davis has made it a goal to earn the title of HSI through its Avanza campaign. Davis recognizes that HSI designation will allow them to apply for additional funding to support student success, as well as close gaps in success between Hispanic and majority students. In addition, as with all HSI, Davis values the benefits of a diverse student body.

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