Harvard Considers Putting Out Admissions Materials in Spanish

Admissions materials will cater to growing pool of Hispanic applicants

In an effort to assist applicants from Spanish-speaking families during the admissions process, Harvard has recently begun offering informational materials in Spanish and may expand these offerings in the future, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67.

In light of the nation’s growing Latino population, the Harvard admissions staff is considering creating a Spanish version of the College’s main admissions brochure, Fitzsimmons said.

“This is something very important going forward,” he said in an interview Thursday. “In the next ten to 20 years, there’s going to be a very, very significant increase in Latino students as a proportion of high school seniors.”

At the moment, the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative offers an information page in Spanish to help parents understand Harvard’s aid policies. In addition, several admissions officers—as well as student volunteers who participate in the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program—communicate in Spanish with parents of potential applicants, Fitzsimmons said.

Similarly, other schools such as Bryn Mawr College, Smith College, and Wesleyan University offer Spanish pages on their admissions Web sites, and admissions officers at the University of Pennsylvania have conducted information sessions in Spanish during recruiting trips.

“It sends the right message about an institution,” said Karen Kristof, senior associate director of admissions at Smith. “We want to send the message that we think access is really important at Smith.”

“We want to send the message that we think access is really important at Smith.”

Several Harvard students who come from Spanish-speaking families expressed enthusiasm for these universities’ efforts and said that they would have found such materials helpful when applying as high school seniors.

Despite her parents’ desire to help in the admissions process, Maricruz Rodriguez ’12 said she found the procedure “frustrating” because her parents could not understand the application materials.

“It’s such an important decision in your child’s life,” said Rodriguez, the first in her family to go to college. “And you want to be a part of it.”

Nancy E. De Haro ’12 said that her parents were initially unsure about her decision to attend Harvard over a college in her home state of California. A promotional brochure about Harvard in Spanish would have been helpful in validating her college choice, she said.

“I wouldn’t have had to explain to my parents why Harvard, Yale, or MIT is far superior to USC,” De Haro said. “It would have been much easier.”

Upon learning his parents received a Parents’ Handbook for Harvard students, Jesse G. Sanchez ’13 said he was “really excited” for his mother to become more involved in his college life.

Sanchez said he promptly called to ask for a copy of the handbook in Spanish, only to be told that one did not exist.

“Because it was only provided in English, it was pretty much useless to her,” Sanchez said.

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at