University of Delaware's Jose Aviles Answers Six Questions

Delaware became the "First State" in 1787. But the University of Delaware can trace its roots to a small private academy founded 44 years earlier, in 1743, by the Reverend Francis Alison. The first class of Alison's "Free School" would include three individuals who later became signers of the Declaration of Independence -- George Read, Thomas McKean and James Smith. Today, the University of Delaware is a Land Grant, Sea Grant, Space Grant, Carnegie Research University, located in the suburban community of Newark, midway between Philadelphia and Baltimore. The Declaration of Independence signers are memorialized on residence halls on the UD campus, described by the Washington Post, as "a stunning landscape of Georgian Colonial red-brick, white columned architecture to rival anything conceived by Thomas Jefferson."

The 2,011-acre main campus is home to 17,400 undergraduates who can choose from 4 associate’s and 130 bachelor’s programs, through UD's seven colleges: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Sciences; Business and Economics; Earth, Ocean, and Environment; Education and Human Development; Engineering; and Health Sciences. The student-faculty ratio is 15:1 and 34.5 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors?  Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Social Sciences; Education; Health Professions and Related Programs; and Engineering.  

In addition to the Newark campus and satellite campuses throughout Delaware, UD has a sea-faring research facility located in Lewes, Delaware, with a state-of-the-art 146-foot research vessel, the Hugh R. Sharp, and the world's only tiltable Wind-Wave-Current tank. There are also UD teaching facilities in Paris, London and China, which is to be expected of the university that offered the first study-abroad program in the world in 1923. Today, more than one in three of UD's undergraduates study abroad with programs in nearly 50 countries.

When they're not in the classroom, UD students can choose among the more than 280 student organizations on campus, including an orchestra - 8-Bit Orchestra -- that promotes video game music as an art form; Swing Dance; TedXUD; the nonprofit Best Buddies dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement; DE Dance Evolution; the a capella group Vocal Point; Board Game Club; Fife and Drums Corp.; Gospel Choir; Indian Student Association; the online newspaper UDaily; Reel Productions Film Society; and the Chocolate Club which advertises itself as ALL ABOUT CHOCOLATE. There is also an active Greek life on campus with 25 fraternities and 20 sororities.

The Fightin' Blue Hens compete in NCAA Division-I and the Colonial Athletic Association, with eight men's teams including football, baseball, lacrosse and golf; and fourteen women's teams including basketball, field hockey, tennis and rowing. Named after a military battalion known for its cockfights with the Kent County Blue Hen breed, the school mascot is a costumed bird named YoUDee and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains a breeding group of live Blue Hen chickens on the campus farm.

Prominent University of Delaware alumni include Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Tony Award- winning Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman, Gore-Tex inventor Robert Gore, Nobel Prize-winning biologist Daniel Nathans, journalist and author Jancee Dunn, and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.

Please join Jose Aviles, Director of Admissions, to learn what kind of student thrives at University of Delaware, how the school makes admission decisions, and his best advice for students about applying to college.

Like many public universities, University of Delaware serves the students of Delaware while also bringing in students from around the country and around the world. Can you address this issue?

From an historical perspective, University of Delaware is unusual in this regard.  While we are proud to serve many Delaware residents, 60% of first year students are drawn from outside our state, including students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.  Each year, two-thirds of our admitted class comes from non-resident students.  As a result, the educational benefit of diversity is optimized for all students who will learn from and make friends with others from across the country and the world.

You have worked in admissions at Swarthmore College and Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Overall, what advice do you have for students about options when creating their college lists or contemplating their decision?

It is important to know that there is a place for everyone.  The options are quite varied, and from a student perspective, it is important to step away from the broad assumptions that are made by simply reading marketing pieces from each institution.  It is critical that a student understands who they are, what they are looking for, and the vision one has for life’s journey.  By understanding who you are, you can determine where you believe you will fit best.  That might mean applying to a college that is very different from institutions where your peers are submitting applications. 

What are the college admission-related issues that you have been thinking about lately?

Diversity continues to be an important issue in higher education.  Achieving diversity for institutions of higher education has been a persistent challenge, particularly since the fastest growing populations in the pipeline for higher education are not those who have traditionally been served.  We must prepare to attract, welcome and support students from more modest economic circumstances as well as students of color.  It is an obligation and a challenge that personally resonates with my interests and passion to serve students.  We know that the students who we are currently serving on our campus, and the ones yet to come will be living in the most diverse society in our country’s history.  In order to be an institution of distinction, diversity is essential.  As undergraduates, our students should be provided the opportunity to be educated in the most diverse community possible.  We should strive to create the environments that our students will live in once they graduate.  That experience will allow our students to understand the complexities that exist in a diverse society.  Without having a diverse learning environment, the education students receive is truly limited.  One can argue that their potential to lead in a global market place is greatly compromised by attending an institution that does not have a diverse undergraduate community.   All institutions of higher education must address this challenge.   While some may approach it with concern, this is a challenge I embrace and one to which I have devoted much of my professional career.

What kind of student does well at University of Delaware? How would you describe the student body?

Since 1743, the University of Delaware has served top students from across the country and around the world. Our students are intellectually curious and globally aware, have diverse perspectives and embrace being part of our spirited Blue Hen community. As the creators of study abroad, we prepare students for a global marketplace that is both dynamic and complex. We create the leaders who find the solutions for the big questions.  The University of Delaware is well resourced by virtue of being a major research university, so the student who does well here is one who takes full advantage of everything we offer and subsequently carries that knowledge and those connections into the next phase of his or her life.

How does University of Delaware read applications?

We read everything. As a public institution, we proudly believe in holistic evaluation. Each application is read at least twice. The first read is completed by the regional counselor who is responsible for knowing the individual high schools in the region. The second read is completed by a team captain, and, in many cases, moves forward to the entire Admissions Committee. The Admissions team is quite diverse.  We are passionate educators comprising first-generation college goers as well as grandchildren of college graduates.  We range in age from 20-omething to 50-something.  We have graduates of UD as well as graduates from the top publics and privates in the world. Our goal is to make an impact by serving students.

What would you most want an applicant -- in-state and out-of-state -- to know?  And what is your best application advice for students?

We are committed to our home state students. Through our Commitment to Delawareans, we provide direct access and pledge to meet the full demonstrated financial need, up to the cost of full in-state tuition, fees, a stipend for books and on-campus room and board. For Delawareans, we understand how important it is to leave college with as little debt as possible; our goal is that no Delawarean will have loans in excess of 25% of the cost of a 4-year education.  For non-residents, we continue to attract talented students from our region, our country and around the world. Whether an in-state or out-of-state student, we continue to be recognized as a best buy that combines outstanding education with economic value. The best advice is to accept the challenge and be persistent.  Continue working hard through your senior year and build the strongest possible foundation for the future.




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