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Colgate in Focus: A Diversity Open House

Each year we select a talented group of high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds to participate in an open house. This Colgate tradition is a special opportunity to experience campus life.
Academic quad in the fall

About the Open House

Colgate in Focus is our annual diversity open house which allows a select group of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to gain insight into the Colgate experience during their visit on Sunday, October 23–Monday, October 24.

We encourage current high school seniors who come from low-income, first-generation, or traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply. For many prospective students, the diversity fly-in program provides a greater understanding of the Colgate experience. You will meet current students, faculty, and staff, attend a class, tour the campus, and stay overnight in a residence hall, all while participating in activities sponsored by Colgate’s many diverse student organizations.

Colgate in Focus Keynote Speaker: Clarissa (Polk) Shah '10

Clarissa (Polk) Shah, Colgate in Focus Keynote Speaker.
Clarissa graduated from Colgate in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and a minor in Political Science. Immediately after graduating from Colgate, she began graduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis where she received a Juris Doctorate and Masters of Arts in East Asian Studies: Chinese Language and History.

Read more about Clarissa
Currently, Clarissa serves as the Supply Chain Counsel at Emerson, an American multinational corporation headquartered in Ferguson, Missouri. At Emerson, she helps manage a team of global supply chain attorneys and facilitates the procurement of goods and services between Emerson businesses and world-wide suppliers, ensuring that the transactions are legally compliant and in Emerson's best interest.

Clarissa remains passionate about Chinese Studies and considers herself to be a lifelong language student, insisting that there is always more to learn. She served as a speaker for the 2015 National Chinese Language Conference, is a contributor to the China Daily, and serves as a Chinese language and history resource for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She is also on the advisory board of Morningside PlayCare, a Chinese language immersion school in New York City. She is active in both the Chicago and St. Louis communities. She is a mentor at Chicago Scholars, a non-profit that provides academic support to first generation college students and college-bound students. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Cultural Leadership, a social justice non-profit that promotes pluralism, empathy, and peace in the St. Louis community and beyond.

In addition to these activities, Clarissa remains active in the Colgate community by participating in programs such as SophoMORE Connections (sponsored by Colgate's Center for Career Services) and the Alumni Admission Program.

Clarissa resides in Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Tushin ('10). She has been fortunate to share the Colgate experience with her brothers, Caden Polk ('12) and Charles Polk III ('16).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?
An application helps us select students who will take full advantage of their campus visit. Space is limited, and we are only able to invite students who are seniors in high school. We will review and provide decisions for open house applications on a rolling basis, so it is possible to receive earlier notification by submitting your application before the deadline. Registration for Colgate in Focus is now open.

Required application materials:
– Colgate in Focus application (submitted online)
– High school transcript (submitted by counselor, including grades 9-11)
– Colgate in Focus application essay: 
"On the first day of class at Colgate, your professor asks you to write an autobiography. What does the opening paragraph say?" (300 word maximum)
– Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT scores, sent from test agency or from counselor)

How do I get there?
Colgate University is located in Hamilton, N.Y., nestled in the gorgeous Chenango Valley. Because of our rural location, visitors often find it convenient to use our directions to campus.

Travel assistance is available for students who demonstrate a need. Priority will be given to those who would not otherwise have an opportunity to visit campus.
What will I do?
Students will have the opportunity to participate in a class, tour campus, meet members of the Colgate community, and spend the night in a residence hall with a student host. Previous events have also included panels on career and post-graduate preparation, application workshops, and evening activities.

View the 2015 diversity open house schedule.
How much free time will I have?
Your two days at Colgate will be full of activities including information sessions and panel discussions, campus tours, classes, and several events sponsored by Colgate’s diverse student groups. While the schedule will keep you busy, time can be made to pursue a specific interest.
Can my parent(s), family member, or guardian come?
We invite your parent(s), family member, or guardian to come and experience Colgate campus life as well. Special events are planned specifically for guests including a dinner, campus tour, and open visiting hours with our financial aid office.
Where will my parent(s), family member, or guardian stay?
There are a number of lodging options in the immediate and greater Hamilton area available for parents. Please visit our list of lodging options as a reference. Guests should make reservations ahead of time.

Resources are available to assist guests with their accommodations. Please call the Office of Admission for more information at 315-228-7401.
If I have already visited Colgate, should I come for the Colgate in Focus program?
Yes. While campus visits provide valuable information and an overview of the Colgate experience, our Colgate in Focus provides a unique opportunity to interact with diverse organizations within our university community and become familiar with many resources available to Colgate students. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to experience campus life. Try Colgate on for size and determine if it is a good fit for you!

For more information, please contact the Office of Admission at 315-228-7401 or via e-mail at