Future Freshmen

Jim Forester tells Medina Valley High School seniors about student life at UTSA during a visit to Castroville.

Waking Up Future Freshmen

A UTSA recruiter crisscrosses Texas to educate high school seniors about life at UTSA

[ This article was originally published in the UTSA newsletter The Discourse in February 1976 ]

Like most public speakers, Jim Forester has faced his share of yawning audiences. He’s philosophical about it. Forester doesn’t entertain his audience of prospective UTSA students with jokes or grandiose promises. He simply tells the facts about a new school. That’s enough to make them sit up.

“We have no football teams, no school band, no fraternities, and no sororities,” UTSA’s director of Community and Student Affairs tells a droopy crowd.

His next remark is better than a punchline: “You will form the clubs, activities, and traditions at UTSA. You’ll make the difference.”

The likable UTSA administrator also is making a difference as the university’s only recruiter of both high school and junior college students.

Turning students on to a new university isn’t easy. At 6:30 a.m. Forester is often packing his car trunk with catalogs and a slide projector to get ready for a long day on the road. He hit the road the second day of his job at UTSA and has been traveling ever since. “I hardly had time to pack,” he notes with a laugh.

Since September, Forester has traveled 4,700 miles, telling prospective students about UTSA. During his journeys, he’s talked to 1,200 students from 76 high schools and 350 students from eight junior colleges.

His schedule sounds like a travel agency tour of Texas: Monday in Denton, Tuesday In Dallas, Wednesday in Waco, Thursday in San Antonio (only to refuel with more catalogs), and Friday in Brownsville.

As a former high school principal, Forester is on familiar ground when he visits high school students. “I realize that my attitude may make a difference whether a student chooses UTSA or not. I want to be very friendly but also professional,” he explains.

Students appreciate Forester’s easy-going manner. “I’m not embarrassed if I occasionally goof,” says Forester, referring to a misplaced slide in a recent speech.

It’s the one-to-one contact with students that Forester enjoys most about the job. “I always invite the students to come to the campus and look me up. Many of them do,” says the recruiter. (The Medina Valley students voted unanimously to visit the pioneer university.)

Forester reports that the most frequent question is whether UTSA will finally admit freshmen this September. “Now I can tell them we’re opening to freshmen and sophomores in June 1976—three months earlier than scheduled,” he explains with partial delight and hesitation (he’ll need to work even harder this spring).

Forester’s day often ends at 10 p.m. when he heads for a motel or midnight ride back to San Antonio. He admits, “I’m tired but the personal contact is paying off.”