Volunteer callers woo Latino prospective students

When Speech freshman Claudia Farfan was deciding between schools, both Northwestern and Dartmouth called her. Talking to the NU caller for almost two hours made her decision easier, she said.

“It was a really, really good way to get to know the campus and find out what to expect,” Farfan said.

On the other end of the phone this year, Farfan and about 30 other volunteers talked to about 300 students during a phoneathon this week to recruit Latino high school seniors who have been accepted to NU.

“At this point, they know everything that’s in the catalogues and view books,” said Margaret Miranda, assistant director of admissions and coordinator of Latino recruitment. “Now they just want to hear from students and get an idea of what the campus is really like.”

Farfan gave the high school students tips on choosing the best housing and reassured them the workload wasn’t too tough.

Weinberg freshman Steven Rodriguez said he also volunteered because he remembers when an NU student called him last year.

“I’ve enjoyed my experience thus far at Northwestern and I wanted to share that with the prospies,” he said. “But I know that it’s a very important decision and that NU’s not for everyone.”

Rodriguez said several students he talked to were an easy sell because NU already topped their lists. But he worked hard to give students who were weighing other schools a good impression of the campus, he said.

“Those were the students I was aggressive with because I knew I could switch them over,” Rodriguez said.

To tip the balance for indecisive students, Rodriguez emphasized NU’s location, placement opportunities and student groups.

“It’s a really important thing to do,” Rodriguez said. “We could definitely have more Latinos on campus (even though) the Latinos on campus now are very strong and active.”

Rodriguez talked to seniors across the country and one student in Puerto Rico.

“I was very excited to talk to him, because I’m Puerto Rican myself,” Rodriguez said. “So I was telling him that it would be great to have him as a part of the university.”

Miranda said many of the callers agreed to host the prospies they met over the phone when they visit campus April 16 and 17 for Day at NU.

The admissions office also contacts possible recruits during the fall to encourage them to apply and in the winter to answer questions about financial aid packages.

“This is probably one of the most important phoneathons of the year, because we really want to reach out to these students right now,” Miranda said.