Thousands of college fairs each year try to recruit students. Attending a college fair can be a great way to get a feel for a school, talk to admissions officers, and chat with actual college students about what the school is really like. There are general college fairs, where every school from the Ivy Leagues to community colleges are present, and then there are more specific fairs, which can be directed towards a specific major or career path.
And now, there are college fairs that feature schools that want to recruit gay students.
One of the first college fairs that focused on recruiting gay students was recently held in Greenwich Village at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center. The goal of this fair was to help students find a school where they would feel comfortable and safe, according to Shane L. Windmeyer, the co-founder of Campus Pride, a national organization that promotes safe college environments for gay students and that sponsored the event.
In the past, being gay has been a deterrent for students who wanted to go to college because it was not socially acceptable, but now, “students are finding out that not only are they not being discriminated against for revealing their orientation in their applications, but it may be an extra,” said Rachel Pepper, a co-author of “The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life.”
Why is it an extra?
“Students who are out in high school and are comfortable enough to put this in their essay are probably leaders,” according to Pepper. And as we all know, colleges like students who display leadership skills.
Of course, schools are not admitting students solely based on their sexual orientation. The senior assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth College, S. Caroline Kerr, assures everyone that this is not the only reason students are admitted, but it is something the school uses to reach out and connect with students.
Scott McIntyre, an admissions officer at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, agrees with Kerr that these new recruiting programs are a way to help schools connect with students by providing “a welcoming environment.”
He went on to say that when students are deciding where to go to college, “it’s not, ‘What’s the best college I can get into?’ but rather, ‘What’s the best fit for me’?”
Here is a perfect example of this: McIntyre took his son, Anderson, on a tour of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-friendly colleges (LGBT). Anderson was glad the schools were LGBT-friendly, but his main question was whether the school had a photography program, which is the career path he wants to study.