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VISION students see Rice

By Nicole Zhao     2/15/12 6:00pm

Prospective students from around the country entered the hedges and sampled Rice University life from Sunday to Tuesday, when Rice hosted 221 minority applicants on campus for its annual VISION program.

Minority Interest Committee Chair Re'Sean Newton said this year's VISION was a great improvement from previous years' VISION programs.

"We had student [hosts] at every college on campus and a lot of students at each of them," Newton said. "[VISION participants] got a different feel for each of the residential colleges and saw how it all came together through the social events, so they got the best of both worlds."

According to Martel College senior Jessica Faber, VISION has grown immensely in the past few years. Faber said that when she attended VISION, it was a much smaller group of 40 to 60 students. She added that the increase in attendees could possibly be attributed to increased awareness of VISION.

"People know about it more, and it is easier to find hosts and volunteers and people who are interested," Faber said. "The more you do it, the more you understand what you need and how to get it done so that you can get the word out faster and better."

Newton cited the importance of a diverse student body as a reason for the importance of VISION to the Rice community.

"There are a lot of different people from all different backgrounds [at Rice], yet there are still times where some minority students feel there aren't a lot of [people] like themselves," Newton said. "We want minority students to see that there are a lot of people like [them] and also a lot of people different from [them]."

The admissions staff invited approximately 400 applicants to attend VISION this year. Admissions officers chose the students, in consultation with the Minority Recruitment team, based on their academic and extracurricular achievements, Siler said. According to Siler, the prospective students were predominantly of African- American, Hispanic or Native American ethnic backgrounds.

VISION Co-Coordinator and Coordinator of Minority Recruitment Tamara Siler said she thought the event was a success based on informal feedback from students as they departed campus as well as a members-only VISION Facebook page.

"I think some students came with very low expectations," Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission, said. "I think many left thinking about Rice as a much more serious contender in their college list."

VISION was coordinated by members of the admissions staff and student groups such as the Minority Interest Committee, Black Student Association, HACER and the Rice Native American Student Association.

Participants received reimbursements for their travel expenses of up to $200 for in-state students and up to $400 for out-of-state students.

The purpose of VISION is to showcase Rice's academic and campus life to highly recruited applicants representing underrepresented minorities, according to Siler. The program is timed to take place prior to April, when many students usually visit other universities they have been accepted to, Siler said.

"We anticipate that these students will have lots of college choices," Siler noted. "The majority of students who come are still actively engaged in the application process. [VISION] gives us a bit of a head start [.…] It has definitely added to the visibility of Rice in a very important recruitment demographic."

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