October 2019

woman at microscope

Many students are looking to enter the workforce after college, but others will continue their education. Minnesota Private Colleges prepare undergrads for success in their pursuit of an advanced degree – including by getting a jumpstart on research, often offering opportunities to students as early as their first year.

“Undergraduate research is important in two ways; the new knowledge or understanding that we create through the research as well as producing the next generation of scholars,” said Melissa Eblen-Zayas, director of the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching and physics professor at Carleton College. “If I have a student who engages in research and afterwards realizes they didn’t like the subject, I don’t consider that a failure. I actually consider that a success in helping the student determine their next steps.”

This undergraduate research is not only getting students ready for the academics of graduate school, it also prepares them for the graduate admissions process. Students looking into traditional Ph.D. programs go through a process of applying to specific departments at institutions as well as meeting with faculty members who have similar scholarly interests. Students who have had the opportunity to do in-depth research go into this process better understanding what topic they’d like to focus on and are better able to connect with the right program and mentor, Eblen-Zayas said.

With a faculty-student ratio of 12:1, Minnesota Private Colleges offer students personal connections with professors who have deep expertise in their fields. “The authentic one-on-one relationship students can get with faculty at a small liberal arts college is probably the most important thing for a student, especially those who are going to graduate school,” said Troy Abfalter, director of TRIO McNair Scholars program at The College of St. Scholastica.

“These types of relationships help students determine a path for what their success looks like,” Abfalter said. “Open dialogue with faculty mentors illuminates new horizons while providing a realistic appraisal of the challenges that must be met along the way.”

At Minnesota Private Colleges 16 percent of graduates pursue additional education within one year of graduation, along with 74 percent of students employed and 4 percent in service, mission or military work.

As well as preparing students for graduate school, many Minnesota Private Colleges offer graduate programs; check them out on our college finder.

By Tom Lancaster