U-M Web site goes bilingual with launch of En Español
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan is launching a new Spanish-language site designed to open the University's door more widely to Latino Americans, the nation's fastest-growing population group.
"We recruit a number of Latino students, whose families and schools are bilingual or, in some cases, predominantly Spanish-speaking," said Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs and senior counselor to the president for the arts, diversity and undergraduate affairs.
"This new site will help families and high school counselors advise their students about opportunities at Michigan and the haeducational choices available to them. Research demonstrates that language is a major obstacle to access to higher education for many Latino students. This site will help to remove that obstacle."
Informally known as the En Español Project, the site was designed in recognition of the growing numbers of Latino students entering college. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Latino baccalaureates have risen in the United States since 1980 from 2.3 percent of total granted to 6.2 percent.
"Latinos are assuming a major presence, and Spanish is becoming a key language in parts of the U.S., and we have to accommodate that," Monts said. "Effective communication is an important part of our efforts to be inclusive."
Unique among U-M's peer institutions, the site will offer more than 100 pages of comprehensive resources. Initially it will focus on information of importance to prospective undergraduate students—such as such admissions, tuition and other costs, housing, financial aid, student life, and more. Later this year, the project will grow to offer information for accepted students and prospective graduate students.
The application itself will be provided only in English, and all applicants will be required to complete the application in English.
Biology senior Ana-Marie Rojas says the site will help families like hers. Her family in Puerto Rico is bilingual, but the availability of a Spanish-language site would have facilitated the work of her school's academic counselors and helped to make her parents—who are fluent in English—feel more at ease about sending their daughter to college.
"Latin families are really close," she said. "Parents would feel a lot more comfortable letting their children go to an institution that is trying to relate to them."
Harlyn Pacheco, a senior in political science and Latina/o studies originally from Colombia, thinks the site will make more people aware of college and financial aid opportunities.
"Back when I was entering U-M, it would have been a lot of help. My parents are fluent in English, but they would have felt more at ease with Spanish," he said. "Across the board there is an under-representation of Latino students higher education in the United States. I hope now that people will find out more about college and financial aid, and that more people are afforded the opportunity to attend college."
Support for the En Español Project comes from the Ford Foundation, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Communications and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Contact: Deborah Greene