Foreign language resources make CSU application easier

Ceci Taylor

609,944 citizens of Colorado speak Spanish, making it the most commonly spoken foreign language in the state. To compensate for the growing population of Spanish speakers, Colorado State University has been offering translations and interpretations of critical materials to parents who may not understand English. 

Mary Ontiveros, the vice president for diversity, said the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion at CSU has the Translation and Interpretation Committee to provide resources for parents who speak other languages.

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“We know that we have students who are applying for admissions, and their parents may not understand the application process,” Ontiveros said. “They may not understand the financial aid process, and they may come to orientation and not understand what is being said, so there are offices on campus that have already hired individuals who are bilingual for that purpose.”

Heather Daniels, the director for admissions, said admissions is one of the offices on campus that provides options for parents who don’t speak English. 

“We want to make sure that our information is reaching as many people as possible,” Daniels wrote in an email to The Collegian. “For our Spanish-speaking families, it is important that language is not a barrier to receiving information. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to provide this for students and families.”

Daniels wrote that Spanish-speaking information sessions are offered daily, including during weekends, and all of the content is the same as English information sessions. Students can also request translated material via email. 

Ontiveros said the University already provides translated information for financial aid, admissions and orientations, but it’s always working to add more. 

“Students (who attend CSU) do have to have proficiency in English, but the parents don’t, and the parents are often the ones making decisions.” -Mary Ontiveros, vice president for diversity

“We recognize that that needs to be done in other areas as well,” Ontiveros said. “If an office can not hire a bilingual person, then we recommend the University to make available a bilingual applicant that can help with both translations and interpretations.”

Ontiveros said the University has been trying to extend the number of resources it provides as demand goes up. 

Ontiveros gave one example in which the Community for Excellence, a group of students on campus who have received academic recognition, attend orientation in Spanish with their parents. 

“A couple of years ago, we would have somebody translate everything that was being said,” Ontiveros said. “Now we use earphones so that people can sit there and listen to the translations as they are occurring. Those are the kinds of things I think we should continue to do.” 

Ontiveros said these programs are used fairly frequently, as applying to college can be a process that’s difficult without help from parents. 

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“Students (who attend CSU) do have to have proficiency in English,” Ontiveros said. “But the parents don’t, and the parents are often the ones making decisions.” 

Ontiveros said the Translation and Interpretation Committee at CSU does mainly focus on Spanish speakers but works to provide information in other languages as well. 

Christina Jalali, a CSU senior and biological science major, said her parents speak Farsi, and they had not heard of or used the resources CSU provides for parents who don’t speak English.

“I think in the U.S., oftentimes, translated documents only translate to more common languages such as Spanish or French,” Jalali wrote. “It’s really uncommon to find Farsi translated documents. I think they’ve had to learn to find other means of translation and would’ve assumed CSU didn’t have their language.”

Ontiveros said CSU is working toward providing more resources for parents who don’t speak English or Spanish. 

“We do have students in Fort Collins whose parents are not Spanish speakers, but they speak other languages,” Ontiveros said. “We need to have at least the critical information translated for them.” 

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.