More than a thousand Denver Public Schools students received a warm University of Colorado Denver welcome on Friday as the annual Higher Education Expo at Auraria gave them an up-close look at what the university has to offer.
Raul Cardenas, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for student affairs, delivered a welcoming address to the mostly ninth-graders in the King Center. He listed some of the many fields of study available to them at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus and encouraged the high schoolers to start thinking long term.
“You’re the class of 2016? I think you’re the class of 2020,” he told the full auditorium. “Because in 2020 you’ll be graduating from our institution. We want you here. This is the place for you.”
The students spent their day visiting various classrooms and other facilities on the Auraria Campus. Volunteer university students guided the groups from building to building.
“It’s like College 101, so they can ask college students any questions they like,” said CU Denver student volunteer Stephanie Anderson. “Most of them have asked me about admissions — what they need to do to get in.”
Cardenas told the high school audience that the university admits about 900 freshmen a year. He filled them in on housing, academic programs, tuition costs and extra-curriculars. When a student asked about sports, Cardenas explained that CU Denver recently launched a club sports program and adopted a new mascot, the lynx.
The students also learned about Auraria’s other institutions — Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver — during their visit.
Participation in the Expo and other outreach efforts are part of the university’s strategy to interact with students well before they enroll. In his state of the university address on the Denver Campus last fall, Chancellor Don Elliman set a goal of developing a comprehensive strategy to enhance student access, increase enrollment, improve student satisfaction and increase student retention and graduation rates.
Bernard McCune, executive director of DPS’s Office of College & Career Readiness, called the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus a “tremendous partner” in ensuring that DPS students reach their full potential. He said that when students go to college they not only advance their education, but also expand their world view and meet a diverse group of people. “Another huge benefit is that students who graduate from college on average earn about $1 million more (in a lifetime) than students who just graduated from high school,” McCune said. “Who wants a million dollars?” Hands went up around the room.
Cardenas told the students that they’re lucky to have parents, teachers and other mentors in their lives providing knowledge and guidance. “They can only help you so much,” he said. “You have to be the one who wants it. We’re here to help you, so ask questions.”
He closed by giving out his phone number and encouraging the students to call him with any questions.
(Photo: Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Raul Cardenas addresses an audience of Denver Public Schools students during the DPS Expo on March 15.)