The admission process of the Puerta al Futuro program at FDU is in dire need of improvement. There are rampant issues in the facilities provided to the students, the classes and the faculty who teach them. More issues involve the marketing of the program itself, and the process by which students can get financial aid. By improving these issues, the program can be made to be more appealing to the average Hispanic student looking for an effective way to receive an education from a university.
- Current situation
The students of the Puerta al Futuro program are not informed of the services that the university facilities provide them. Therefore, there exist a number of programs (sports clubs, arts and politics clubs, etc.) that are being woefully ignored, and do not provide their services to quite as many people as they could.
The library at the Petrocelli College, which is where Puerta al Futuro program is located, is extremely small, and its facilities are not as good as it could be. The books are filthy and unappealing to read, the staff is sparse and unhelpful, and it is only open in the morning. Due to the nature of the Puerta al Futuro program, this is not ideal for them; many learners are already working full time jobs, and therefore can only study in the evening hours (approximately 5-10 pm). This makes the library unavailable to them.
Not only that, there are further problems with the conditions of the library that present substantial quality issues with the facility. For one, the classrooms and the building do not have handicapped access, making it difficult for those differently abled to use the library facilities. The classrooms themselves are without air conditioning or central heating, preventing those facilities from being comfortable in the warmer or cooler months. This makes them far from ideal study spaces. Much of the furniture is damaged, either from water, stains, or rips. The bathrooms are consistently poorly maintained, and are sincerely lacking in cleaning supplies.
- How to Resolve Them
The best way to resolve this program is to shut down the Petrocelli library and set aside a computer lab for Puerta al Futuro students, one which provides ESL-friendly services. A more high-quality, consistent cleaning service is required in order to improve the condition of the bathrooms. The cafeteria could also use improvements in the food choices, a healthier menu, and more sanitary conditions, staff, and equipment. What’s more, the hours should be altered so that Puerta al Futuro students are able to use the main library.
- Current situation
As it stands now, the academic situation ESL and Puerta students face is quite dire. The quality of education they receive is being diminished due to the inadequate facilities and the behavior of the faculty. What’s more, the classes and curriculum are not structured to guarantee that students receive proper ESL training and practice, and their abilities are not assessed properly.
The ESL classes of the program could use dramatic improvements; they are not quite up to snuff with the other classes provided by the primary university. The quality of the education received is lacking, due to the lack of resources allotted to the program compared to the rest of the university. Due to the often secondary level of concern with which the university affords the Puerta al Futuro program,
Furthermore, the quality of the professors needs to improve. There have been many instances where professors would show up continually late to class, stray far from their syllabi and teach material the students were not prepared for, and they would cancel classes constantly for flimsy reasons. This results in a learning shortfall that puts the teacher’s whims above the student body’s needs.
- How to Resolve Them
In order to graduate, students must be given the Toefel exam before they can receive their Bachelor’s degree – this will demonstrate their ability to write and speak proficient English, which is the point of these ESL classes. In order to correctly gauge the capability of an ESL student, the placement exam has to be made as accurate as possible. In order to ready the students for this assessment exam, a greater number of specialized classes must be created. Subjects including grammar, vocabulary, composition and the like are specializations that the typical ESL student could use in their curriculum, and these programs are currently missing.
Stricter accountability for professors must be implemented. When professors are continually misbehaving or acting not in the best interests of their class, the students should have an outlet to implement for informing the upper faculty and staff (deans, administrators), so as to facilitate the kind of change required to keep quality teachers in the Puerta al Futuro program. This would create a culture of participative management, where the students play a part in making sure their own education is being taken care of (Bennis and Thomas, p. 98). This would require an open mind on the administrator’s part, as they would be forced to trust the word of their students over their faculty. However, given that the students would want a quality education, it is up to the administrator to trust their judgment (Collins, p. 115).
Computer classes would also be very useful for these students – ESL students must learn how to run English-based computer programs and operating systems. Computer knowledge is very important, both in the classroom and in the real world; as a result, ESL computer classes can provide a needed skill to non-native speakers, such as those who enter the Puerta al Futuro program.
Currently, the only way to learn about the Puerta al Futuro program is through word of mouth; this is an extremely ineffective way to gain new students. In order to find out details regarding the program, it is necessary to find someone who is in the program and interview them. All that can be gleaned from the FDU web site is that the program exists, as well as some basic contact information. The staffers working for the program are far from communicative, and there are barely any marketing materials to speak of.
The largest problem with the marketing program is sheer lack of exposure; the word is not getting out about the Puerta al Futuro program, leaving many students who are qualified, and who could benefit from the program, out of the loop. There needs to be a greater media presence within the FDU marketing machine for the Puerta al Futuro program.
How to Resolve Them
A media campaign for the program would be very well suited for it at this juncture, and could provide a window for many to apply for it. Television ads could be aired (TV spots and interviews on news programs); newspaper articles could be written about it, and ads could be taken out in the newspapers. Companies that heavily feature Hispanic workers and executives, as well as Hispanic consulates, could be given advertisements and promotional materials for the program in order to grab those who work there. Promotional materials can also be sent to towns with larger Hispanic populations in order to attract their interest.
FINANCIAL AID SERVICES
- Current situation
Right now, financial aid for Puerta al Futuro students is a logistical nightmare, and nearly impossible to get. The Spanish-English language barrier between program students and the financial aid staff is a major hurdle in getting progress made. As a result, many Puerta students do not get the financial aid they need to remain in the school. This turns away quite a few potential students and prevents them from getting an education.
The financial aid documents are only in English – there are no Spanish language financial aid documents to speak of. If an ESL student is early enough in their education, they do not know enough English to fill in the blanks correctly, and this misfiled paperwork will lead to no aid for them. Due to this lack of proper communication, the process by which students receive their financial aid is at an impasse.
- How to Resolve Them
The simplest solution to the financial aid language barrier is to assign a full-time bilingual (or exclusively Spanish) staff member to the financial aid office. This person could help ESL and Puerta students with their paperwork, and allow them to get the financial aid they are working to get. This would still leave the responsibility of filing the paperwork in the students’ hands, but at least they would have the resources to combat this unfortunate situation. This falls in the hands of the administrator of the financial aid office, as they must recognize problems that exist and fix them (Brooke and Torbert, p. 144).
In conclusion, a number of major changes have to be made to the program and the university in order to both draw in more students and give them a higher quality education. First, the facilities must be made and maintained to a higher standard, and made more available to adult learners. Next, teachers must be held accountable for their curriculum, and proper ESL assessment must be implemented to ensure students are learning English. Also, the marketing for the Puerta al Futuro program must be made more prevalent and widespread, as it currently is practically nonexistent. Finally, the financial aid program must be made bilingual or Spanish-friendly, in order to facilitate Puerta students’ loan paperwork.
Bennis, Warren and Robert Thomas. “Crucibles of Leadership.” On Leadership, 1990. Pp. 97-
Collins, Jim. “Level 5 Leadership: the Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.” On
Leadership, 1990. Pp. 115-119.
Rooke, David and William Torbert. “Seven Transformations of Leadership.” On
Leadership,1990. Pp. 137-145.