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UVM to encourage minority high school students to apply

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The University of Vermont wants to encourage local minority high school students to go to college. Hoping to diversify its own campus, UVM announced Wednesday that it will work with Burlington High School guidance counselors to get minority, refugee and immigrant students interested in pursuing college, and to show them that higher education can be affordable.

UVM will offer campus visits and financial aid workshops specifically for those whose parents didn't attend college. College counseling sessions will begin more intensively for students, starting in 9th grade.

UVM already works with Christopher Columbus High School and the High School for Environmental Studies -- both inner-city schools in New York whose populations are overwhelmingly black, Hispanic and immigrant.

Burlington High School's large minority, immigrant and refugee population, and its close proximity to UVM, made it logical for the university to extend its partnership role, UVM President Daniel Fogel said.

"Creating an increasingly diverse student body at UVM is a key goal of my administration," Fogel said.

Since beginning its association with Christopher Columbus in 1999, the university has enrolled 62 students of color from the Bronx high school. Also, UVM's overall minority population increased by 50 percent between 1999 and 2003.

Attracting a more diverse student population to UVM is only one goal of the partnership, said Don Honeman, UVM's director of admissions and financial aid.

"The idea is to use UVM as a testing ground for wherever they might want to attend college," Honeman said.

This year at Burlington High School, 14 percent of students are black, Native American, Latino or Asian American. The school also has a significant Bosnian population, at 4.5 percent.

Of the 65 percent to 70 percent of BHS seniors who plan to attend some type of college in the fall, about 15 percent are minorities, BHS Principal Amy Mellencamp said. Statistics on the Eastern European immigrant or refugee students who plan to attend college were not available, she said.

Ten years ago, BHS was 92.2 percent white. There were no Bosnians, and non-white students represented 7.8 percent of the student population. Today, the high school is 86 percent white.

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