Puerto Rican colleges recruit in Holyoke

Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2018 11:38:49 PM

HOLYOKE — Six colleges and universities looking to recruit students to transfer and earn their degree in Puerto Rico visited Holyoke Community College on Monday.

“We want to let them know we’re in Puerto Rico so if they’re interested in coming to Puerto Rico, they will find the same programs there as anywhere else,” said Ana Arraiza, admissions director of Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.

The conservatory’s programs have accreditations, she said, such as the National Association of Schools of Music.

Officials from University of Puerto Rico, Interamericana University, Carlos Albizu University, Ana G. Mendez University, and Politécnica University, as well as the conservatory, sat behind tables with pamphlets and pens at hand, ready to speak with potential students.

As part of an initiative called One Puerto Rico, the schools are on a six day tour of the Northeast — spending much of their time in New York, according to One Puerto Rico President Roberto Rampolla. The group’s sole stop in Massachusetts was Holyoke.

One Puerto Rico and HCC had worked together in the past, and the large Puerto Rican population in Holyoke was a draw.

“It’s an easier sell — there’s a connection between Holyoke and Puerto Rico,” One Puerto Rico’s Francisco Rampolla said.

Admissions counselors pointed out the draw for students living on the mainland to go to school and get their degree in Puerto Rico. Aside from the special programs at each school, they pointed to the opportunity to experience a different place and culture. They also highlighted the cost.

“The number one benefit will be the cost ... college in Puerto Rico is a lot less,” said Francisco Rampolla.

The average cost for public university in Puerto Rico is $5,000 per year, said Roberto Rampolla. For private schools, he said, “Maybe an expensive one would be $10,000.”

Rosa Belvis López, Carlos Albizu University dean of enrollment management, said the university charges about $175 per credit for undergraduate students. Arraiza said a credit at Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music runs about $105. Other schools had similar estimates.

Some colleges lost students when they left the island after Hurricane Maria last year.

Representatives from Universidad Politécnica said they had about 200 students leave after Maria, and they had to close for about a month. López said Carlos Albizu University, a small school specializing in psychology in San Juan, lost about 25 students.

HCC gained 24 students who came after Maria, said Harold Santiago, HCC senior admissions counselor. Most of them, he said, have stayed.

Samuel Arroyo, an HCC chemistry and environmental science double major and Holyoke resident, walked past the college’s displays. He calls himself a nontraditional student; in the 1980s he went to college in Puerto Rico, but didn’t finish.

He stopped to talk with some of the college representatives. “One of the things I wanted to know is if the scholarship money I got is transferable to there,” noting that he has National Science Foundation scholarship. He said he found out yes, that scholarship could transfer to college on the island.

He was born in New York but raised in Puerto Rico. “It’s my culture and my people,” he said of the island.

When asked if he’s going to transfer before he’s set to graduate in May, though, he said, “I gotta think about it.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.


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