A Major Surge in Black First-Year Enrollments at Bates College

In 2006 there were only nine black first-year students at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. They made up a mere 1.8 percent of the incoming class. Bates’ remote location far from major black population centers have made it difficult for the college to attract large numbers of black students.

But this year Bates reports tremendous progress. There are 21 black freshmen on campus this year, an increase of 133 percent from a year ago. Blacks are nearly 5 percent of this year’s freshman class.

JBHE asked Wylie Mitchell, dean of admissions at Bates College, how they were able to more than double the number of black first-year students. He told us, “Some of the strategies that contributed to our success included increased travel to more multicultural schools, greater participation in college fairs that serve more students of color, and creating partnerships with community-based organizations that serve students of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.” He also noted that the college conducted “proactive and assertive financial aid outreach, targeted phone-a-thons with a multicultural focus, postcard-writing campaigns, and on-campus open house programs.” The college also made a more pronounced effort to establish relationships with guidance counselors at high schools with large numbers of black students, and hosted more admitted student receptions.