At college fair, Ritter calls for an end to ‘Colorado paradox’ | AspenTimes.com

At college fair, Ritter calls for an end to ‘Colorado paradox’

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Gov. Bill Ritter wants to change the “Colorado paradox.”

The state has the second-highest percentage of adults with college degrees, he said, but is 47th in the country when it comes to Colorado high school graduates going on to college.

“There are only three states that do a lousier job than we do,” he said at Sunday’s Western Slope College Fair held at Aspen High School.

Ritter said his administration is focusing on that paradox in three ways: by closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, raising the number of college counselors at Colorado high schools, and addressing Colorado’s 1-in-4 dropout rate.

Ritter also stumped for Amendment 58 while in Aspen. To widespread audience applause, he promised the amendment would triple the amount of state aid for Colorado students who go to in-state colleges.

“It removes tax credits from the oil and gas industry to get there,” he explained.

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State Sen. Gail Schwartz introduced the governor.

“How could I not be here?” she said. Schwartz’s three daughters attended Aspen High School, and she was once given the Aspen School District’s “Outstanding Service Award.” She has also served on the Colorado University Board of Regents and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

A breakout session titled “Admissions at highly selective colleges” drew a standing-room only crowd as admissions representatives from the likes of Harvard and Yale discussed what highly selective colleges look for.

Rebecca Munsterer, of Dartmouth, led off by explaining that the university believes in what it calls a “holistic reading” of college applications. In short, she said, that means “everything counts.”

Leonard Satterwhite argued that Duke University is primarily looking for students who will have an impact on campus.

Chad Faber, of Harvard University, said he likes “well-lopsided” students as well as “well-rounded kids.”

As for missteps, Munsterer noted several people in the Dartmouth admissions office are involved in every decision and asked people not to send her numerous e-mails, chocolate or flowers simply because she is their regional contact.

Satterwhite cautioned against an essay that has more input from the parent or counselor than the student.

“I think we can tell … if an essay has been overly edited,” he said.

Faber noted ” against conventional wisdom ” that he sometimes prefers a recommendation from a teacher who can highlight a student’s struggles, and how he or she learned to overcome them.

“Just because you got a ‘B+’ in the class doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask that teacher for a recommendation,” he said.

Meanwhile, in another breakout session, Dr. Alejandra Rincon, the author of “Undocumented Immigrants and Higher Educationa: Si se puede!” spoke to a largely Hispanic audience of parents and students. Rincon’s talk ranged from the importance of taking algebra in the eight grade to the difference between a junior college and a university.

kredding@aspentimes.com

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