January 2020 newsletter
Discover why it’s important that transfer planning begins in high school and learn what the College of Saint Benedict, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hamline University and Saint John’s University are doing to encourage student voter turnout. Then explore a new initiative at Bethel University to reduce or eliminate textbook costs.
There are several reasons some high school students go to community college before transferring to a four-year institution. Maybe they need to be better prepared academically or maybe they need to be closer to home. For students who know they want to earn a bachelor’s degree but will start off at a community college, navigating that path between two institutions can be tricky.
The earlier students can determine their plan, the better, said Kerri Carlson Anderson, director of transfer admissions at St. Catherine University and a former transfer student. “We’d love to see high school students reach out to both the community college and the private college if they know they want a four-year degree,” Carlson Anderson said. “We can work with the community college and the student to create a plan to help them transfer in and achieve their goals at St. Kate’s.”
It’s important for students to take the right courses that they’ll need not only for the community college but for their four-year major as well. And it’s important to figure this out early so the student doesn’t take unneeded courses.
“When talking to families and students we want to be sure the courses they are taking at a community college are not only fitting their current needs but also their future goals,” Carlson Anderson said. “We hate to see students who’ve taken great courses, but they don’t line up with what they need for their intended major.”
Erik Halvorson, academic advisor at Century College, agreed; the earlier students plan for the future, the better. “One of the first questions we ask students is ‘what are your long-term goals’, he said. “Knowing where they want to transfer to as early as possible is key to making sure the student is taking the appropriate classes.”
“It’s important to take into account time constraints and financial constraints when deciding what a student’s goals look like,” Halvorson said. “Maybe that’s staying at the community college for one year, maybe that’s completing an associate degree or finishing the Minnesota transfer curriculum. It’s different for each student.”
For students aiming to earn a bachelor’s degree, there are credit limits to state and federal grants, whether students attend the same institution or if they are starting at a community college and then transferring. So, determining a student’s goals and selecting courses that fit those goals not only impacts the length of a student’s education but also potentially the cost of that education. This is why figuring out that four-year plan early is so important.
Transfer students welcomed
Students who transfer in make up a sizable share of undergraduates at many Minnesota private colleges. The average share of new students earning bachelor’s degrees who transferred in is 22 percent. And while some of the students are transferring from other institutions that award bachelor’s degrees, a large share of transfer students are coming from community colleges. In fact, 42 percent of transfer students come from Minnesota State community and technical colleges alone. (The Council’s July 2019 Transfer Origins Report has more on this topic.)
Whether students start out at a community college knowing they want to finish up at a private college, or if that plan emerges later on, private colleges are eager to work with potential transfer students. The Minnesota Private College Council shares some general information for transfer students, along with a Transfer Guide resource. A new effort to encourage community college students to consider visiting private colleges has been started, with visit events held on some holidays when community colleges are closed, including Presidents Day on Feb. 17.
Several private colleges have plans in place to ensure students can finish an associate and then a bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible. St. Kate’s Complete, for example, provides students guidance and support on how to navigate both the community college and St. Kate’s — as well as offering financial aid to students.
“In the St. Kate’s Complete plan we have partnerships with four community colleges and if students complete either the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum or an associate degree with a GPA of 2.5 they will have met our liberal arts core requirements and receive a scholarship,” Carlson Anderson said. “The plan is really designed to connect with the student early on the journey so they get the advising and support to achieve their goals.”
By Tom Lancaster
At the age of 20, Ben Menke, a political science and statistics major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has yet to cast his first ballot in a presidential election. But when the general election rolls around in November, the Gustavus Adolphus junior is planning to bring as many classmates as possible along with him to the polls.
“Our goal is to get 85 percent of our students registered and then to get 90 percent of them to turn out on the day of the election,” said Menke, a member of Gustavus’ Voter Education Committee, a nonpartisan student group aimed at encouraging every student on campus to take up their civic duty this election year. Their goals, Menke said, are “pretty ambitious but actually possible” at a residential college like Gustavus.
During the last presidential election, in fact, Gusties distinguished themselves as the most politically engaged college students in the state with 63 percent of the student body registered to vote — a rate that earned them top honors in the first-ever Minnesota College Ballot Bowl sponsored by the Secretary of State. But it’s not just the bragging rights that are inspiring students and faculty in St. Peter to pull out the stops with voter information tables, debate viewing parties and the occasional taco truck sign-up event — it’s also part of the school’s mission.
“Our institutional values of community, justice, excellence and service all come together in a meaningful way around being an engaged citizen,” said JoNes VanHecke, vice president of student life and dean of students at Gustavus Adolphus College. “We want our students to understand that they have a substantial role in building and engaging with their communities, and one of the best ways that young people can do that is by becoming informed and active voters.”
With its same-day voter registration, Minnesota often leads the country in voter engagement — a trend that’s playing out on many of the campuses of the state’s private colleges, too. During the 2018 mid-terms, for instance, the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph earned national recognition from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge for having the most improved undergraduate voting rate at a small liberal arts college. And Hamline University in St. Paul notched not only the highest voting rate for a campus of its size from All In, but also the highest overall voting rate at any private college in the country. The distinction earned Nur Mood, Hamline’s assistant director of social justice programs and strategic relations, a trip to Washington, D.C. in November to convene with other winners and share lessons learned from the last election cycle. “I was on a panel with representatives from Harvard and the University of Michigan, and yet, when it comes to getting students involved in voting, we’re all seeing many of the same challenges,” Mood said.
For instance, turn-out among black college students decreased by more than five percent between 2012 and 2016, according to figures from Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement. There are also significant differences among racial-ethnic groups nationally when it comes to average turn-out. In addition, the study found that college women vote in greater numbers than college men (52 vs. 44 in 2016), and that there are pronounced voting disparities among students from one campus major to the next. For example, 53 percent of students in the social sciences turn out to vote — a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than those enrolled in STEM programs.
With that kind of room for improvement, Minnesota private colleges are tweaking their turn-out strategies and taking advantage of Minnesota’s Super Tuesday primary on March 3 to bring attention to the election season timeline and to make sure that students from here and other states know their voting rights and responsibilities.
Hamline is taking an all-in approach in 2020, Mood said, with a student voter education coalition that’s enlisting everyone from athletic coaches to key professors in each department to talk to their students about the value of voting, while making sure they have the time and resources to do so. Hot cocoa and campus shuttle buses to the polls are part of the plan to mitigate the effect Minnesota weather can have on turn-out. Mood says Hamline’s faculty have also been supportive of a plan to make sure “that there are no exams on Election Day and that students won’t have anything due that day.”
While turn-out among 18- to 29-year-olds nearly doubled in 2018, voting among young people still lags far behind other age groups. Students at Gustavus are hoping to hack that problem with a plan to reach out to first-time high school voters in St. Peter and to remind recent alums to remember the lessons of civic engagement they learned in college and vote in their communities. “We’ve tried to think about it less as a generational issue for Millennials or Gen Z students and think about it more in terms of what information do our Gustavus students need to stay engaged,” VanHecke said. “When Gusties are involved in educating other Gusties, that’s where we see the most success.”
“We’ve found success by taking a multi-partisan, student-led approach and making clear that we’re not looking for the ‘right’ person to vote; we’re trying to make everyone aware of how to vote,” said Matt Lindstrom, a political science professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University and director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement. “We’ve also found that it’s important to meet the students where they’re at,” he said. “Rather than having separate, stand-alone events where you’re trying to drag people, our students did a lot of ‘dorm-storming,’ so to speak, and talked to classmates where they are.”
Saint Ben’s senior Tessa Pichotta, a McCarthy Center student coordinator, said that this season, those conversations have helped call attention to national efforts to suppress student voting and the importance of knowing how local election laws work. “It is a topic we talk about regularly, and we have some push back; even in this community, there are still people who think students only live here partially and they shouldn’t have as much of a say. That doesn’t make sense to me. With that kind of misinformation, it’s important for students to know their rights to vote and to make sure they’re not turned away on election day.”
Just days away from the Iowa caucuses, it’s too soon to say which candidates could inspire this generation of college voters, but there’s one prediction that political scientists are confident making. “Scholarship shows that the more someone is involved in civic engagement early in their lives, the more it will increase their sense of political efficacy and their interest in being a life-long active citizen,” Lindstrom said. “That’s a good lesson to get during your college years.”
by Laura Billings Coleman
Excerpted with permission from Bethel University. View original article.
A new initiative to reduce or eliminate textbook costs has quickly taken off in Bethel’s College of Adult & Professional Studies, improving educational accessibility and affordability for hundreds of students. Initially a collaboration between the Bethel University Library and the Office of Academic Affairs, the Zero Cost Course Resources Initiative aligns with a national trend in higher education to help make courses more affordable.
Funded by a two-year Strategic Growth Award grant from the Bethel University Foundation, the initiative replaces traditional textbooks with Open Educational Resources (OER) and eResources from the Bethel University Library. Faculty and staff launched a pilot run with the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in summer 2018, and the B.A. in Human Services, B.A. in Psychology, Bethel Distinctives courses, and the graduate-level International Baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching and Learning have since followed suit. All are set to offer entirely free course resources by spring 2020, saving students approximately $1,300 per year in textbook costs.
“Every week, students would come to the research assistance desk and ask whether their required text was available at the library or one of our affiliated libraries,” says Earleen Warner, research and instruction librarian and initiative coordinator. “Sometimes they’d look at the price of the book and say, ‘Well, I guess I won’t be able to take that class.’ This initiative helps to solve that dilemma by promoting the use of OER and the library’s fantastic eResources.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of college textbooks increased by 88% from 2006 to 2016 and has become a significant barrier to student success. Nationally, about 40% of college students don’t buy all of their course materials because of ballooning prices, making them more likely to earn poor grades or drop out. For Dean of Education, Christian Ministries, and Associate Programs Judi Landrum, enhancing educational equity is a chief goal of the Zero Cost Course Resources Initiative—and early data suggests it’s working.
In a recent survey, 98% of students said using free course resources improved their learning and made it easier to begin or complete their degree. Besides cost savings, respondents also cited resource accessibility, ease of reading, and environmental friendliness as strengths of the initiative. While achieving zero-cost status is unrealistic for some programs, faculty and staff continue to undergo training to locate robust academic resources—and many professors and program directors have committed to using OER or library eResources whenever possible to further reduce costs for students.
“One of the beautiful things about this initiative is that it is a vehicle for collaboration among many departments at Bethel,” Landrum says. “It’s a way for us to come together and support our students.”
By Jenny Hudalla
In the 2017‐18 academic year, our member institutions awarded 9,788 bachelor’s degrees. That’s 30 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the state, compared to 33 percent at Minnesota State universities and another 33 percent at the University of Minnesota. What’s more, our members awarded a higher share of bachelor’s degrees in several key areas:
- 45% in physical sciences (chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy)
- 43% in foreign languages
- 38% in social sciences
- 35% in health professions
2019 Fowler Business Concept Challenge awards $84,000 in scholarships
The University of St. Thomas awarded $84,000 in scholarships at the annual Fowler Business Concept Challenge, where undergraduate and graduate students pitch their business ideas.
CSP welcomes the Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich
The Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich officially began his tenure as the 10th president of Concordia University, St. Paul on Jan. 1, 2020.
St. Olaf professors develop "Race Matters" learning community
As part of the To Include is To Excel initiative at St. Olaf College, faculty members have developed a new learning community for first-year students.
MCADian's graphic novel named one of the best of 2019
Minneapolis College of Art and Design alum Rosemary Valero-O’Connell's graphic novel has received this impressive accolade from The Washington Post.
Bethel's healthcare endorsement grows at a healthy pace
Bethel University's Center for Healthcare Excellence takes advantage of the university’s unique location in the center of one of the largest clusters of healthcare organizations in the world.
CSB receives grant to fund women in STEM
Grant will fund eight undergraduate research scholars in STEM fields at the College of Saint Benedict.
SJU graduate and Okee Dokee Brothers nominated for fourth Grammy Award
Saint John’s University alumnus Joe Mailander and group honored for latest album ‘Winterland’ and hoped to duplicate 2012 Grammy win.
Renowned Civil War historian creates endowed professorship at Gustavus
Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian and 1958 Gustavus Adolphus College alumnus Dr. James McPherson recently endowed a new professorship in American History at the College.
Students named to Governor’s Young Women’s Cabinet
Hamline University students Calonna Carlisle, Mariana Cervantes and Evelyn Humphrey are the latest Pipers to be named to Governor Walz’s Young Women’s Cabinet.
Cooke Foundation awards partnership grant to Carleton College Summer Liberal Arts Institute
This partnership will provide support for up to 15 full summer program scholarships in the first year, enabling talented high school students to attend Carleton College’s summer programs.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota announces new coach
Paul Jennison will be taking over the helm of the Cardinal women’s soccer team at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota after spending three seasons with Northwestern (Ill.) University women's soccer team.
Bethany students get high profile experience
Bethany Lutheran College’s award-winning, student-run production studio will be producing two live college hockey games for Fox Sports North in the coming weeks.
St. Scholastica announces two major grants
The College of St. Scholastica has received the largest public and private grants in school history. Both grants will primarily support nursing students.
St. Catherine University announces founding cohort of KARE scholars
St. Catherine University announced its founding cohort of KARE Scholars: six students dedicated to advancing health equity in the broad field of longevity and aging.
Macalester theater and dance building receives 2019 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects Minnesota
The Macalester College building, one of seven recipients, was by St. Paul/HGA Architects and Engineers, Mpls.; jury comments: "The attention to detail throughout the project was exquisite."
Star Tribune features Augsburg's efforts to attract students
Augsburg University President Paul Pribbenow discussed how Augsburg is working to attract the diverse students who will be the workforce of the future as population growth is to slow.
Students interested in transferring invited to Feb. 17 campus visits
Many private colleges are hosting Transfer Campus Visits on President’s Day when community colleges are closed. Visits will include time to talk to admission staff and see what campus life is like.
Job and Internship Fair scheduled for Feb. 27
Undergraduates students from our member institutions will have the opportunity to meet and interview with employers at the 44th annual Minnesota Private Colleges’ Job and Internship Fair.
Scholars at the Capitol scheduled for March 11
Students from our colleges will be on hand in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda to talk one-on-one with visitors about recent research efforts. This is a public event so make plans to stop on by.
Enrollment report released
The Council’s annual enrollment report is now available online for fall 2019. The report also includes comparisons to Minnesota public institutions.
Federal higher ed budget deal announced
The U.S. Senate and House reached a deal on the higher education budget bill, one that will increase the Pell Grant maximum award and increase funding for Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study. Also notable is the repeal of the parking tax as well as the “kiddie" tax, which resulted in students who received scholarships and grants for room and board to be taxed at high rates. The “kiddie” tax also impacted students who are members of Gold Star military families.
Talent is America’s most precious resource—it’s time economic development organizations focus more on developing it
The Brookings Institution, Dec. 11, 2019
‘Happy Hour’ course teaches positive psychology skills to college students
MinnPost, Dec. 16, 2019
Cuts averted in budget deal
Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 18, 2019
A not-so-tidy narrative
Inside Higher Ed, Jan. 6, 2020
Liberal arts pay off in the long run
Inside Higher Ed, Jan. 14, 2020