Admissions program unclear to incoming freshmen

Students said the program’s purpose and requirements were confusing.

by Roy Aker

When some University of Minnesota freshmen received acceptance letters to the President’s Emerging Scholars Program this fall, they weren’t sure what the notices meant.

The program, formally known as Access to Success, is designed to admit and give scholarships to students who may not normally fit the University’s criteria. But some students said they’re confused about the program and its requirements.

Freshman Jenni Carnel said she didn’t know why she was chosen for the program until three weeks into fall semester.

“It’s unclear and confusing as to why I’m there,” she said. “No one gives us answers.”

Students admitted to the PES program may not have grades or test scores typical of admitted applicants, but their records show they’re likely to succeed in the program, according to its Office of Admissions website.

PES director Steven Cisneros said the program was reformatted for this school year and 481 students are enrolled.

To stay at the University, PES students must take two courses specifically designed for them.

Jazlyn Gramer, a freshman in the PES program, said some of her peers in “Introduction to Liberal Arts Learning,” the first required class, weren’t sure what it was for.

“A lot of students were asking, ‘Why am I here and what class this is for?’ and they wouldn’t tell us,” she said.

Carnel said the class discussed topics like racism, gender roles and diversity. The University’s course description says students in “Introduction to Liberal Arts Learning” set goals for themselves and learn responsibility, accountability, self-awareness and other personal skills through a variety of projects.

When deciding who’s admitted to the program, the Office of Admissions gives preference to applicants with “diverse backgrounds and characteristics,” which includes rural or urban students, first-generation students and students of color.

PES students also receive a $1,000 scholarship for their first year and an additional $1,000 during their senior year if they continue to meet the program’s requirements.

“This is a prestigious award, and it’s a prestigious program,
Cisneros said.

Carnel said PES officials told her because the University is becoming more prestigious every year, the University needed the program to satisfy its requirements as a land-grant university.

“They said they need to make the University more easily accessible to more Minnesotans,”
Carnel said.

With the PES program, Cisneros said, University officials are looking to help students who may not otherwise have access to the school.

“We’re here to support the type of student who digs deep, overcomes, and shows perseverance and determination,” Cisneros said. “There’s more to every student than a test score.”