March 2019 newsletter
Explore why employers want graduates from private nonprofit liberal arts colleges and which skills are paramount. Then dive into new national data on outcomes for low-income students and how Minnesota’s private and public sectors measure up.
From technical to social-emotional, employers are looking for a wide variety of skills in their potential new hires. These employers continue to rely on graduates from private nonprofit liberal arts colleges knowing they have the skills needed to succeed.
“Its communications, critical thinking, analytical skills, problem solving — these are the core skills that employers are looking for and not-so-coincidentally those are all skills we teach here at a liberal arts college,” said Jennifer Rogers, associate director, employer relations at the University of St. Thomas. “Most employers say they appreciate students who are well rounded and that’s exactly what we are producing.”
Last month’s job and internship fair for students at Minnesota Private Colleges was another reminder of what employers are seeking. Organized by the career development offices, more than 300 hiring organizations were present this year and over 2,000 students attended.
Beyond any set of skills, students working to land that first post-college job can be helped by having an ability to show their commitment: “Stand out students show passion for what we do, for what they do, their major, their interest area. This is something that really stands out to us,” said Daisy Hinding, JAMF Software, one of the fair participants.
Another key quality can be a spirit of inquiry. “We’re looking for curiosity in candidates,” said Alli Balgaard, recruiter at Bio-Techne, another fair participant. “We want someone to come into our company, learn the ropes a little bit and question why we do things.”
From her vantage point in the career development office, when Rogers reflects on what she sees showing up as priorities for new hires, it’s hard to beat the importance of communications. “Every employer will tell you communication skills are paramount,” Rogers said. “They are often defining communication skills broadly, including interpersonal communications and written communications.”
For many reasons, small private colleges are uniquely help students build high demand skills, from communications to critical thinking. “Students receive better instruction with small class sizes and professors who are focused on teaching,” Rogers said. “The ability to gather leadership skills is another important way students become desirable for employers. At larger institutions students are competing for leadership positions. At small private colleges there are many leadership opportunities.”
Looking for more on what employers are seeking and the role of liberal arts? View a 2018 employer survey sponsored by AAC&U.
By Tom Lancaster
The share of college students graduating within four years from the college where they started and attended full-time is a longstanding measure of how students are faring — and how institutions are performing. Now new federal data have been released that reveal these results for the first time for low-income students, measured by those who receive Pell Grants.
At our 17 nonprofit institutions, 54 percent of our first-time, full-time students who receive Pell Grants graduated in four years.
The share of Pell Grant recipients graduating in four years at Minnesota Private Colleges ranks first in the nation when we compare it to other states’ averages for private nonprofit colleges and their averages for public universities. And looking within Minnesota, the rate for Minnesota Private Colleges is the best in the state, above the University of Minnesota (40 percent) and Minnesota State (18 percent). That’s good news for low-income families — and our whole state.
But there is more to be done to support students receiving Pell Grants. There’s a significant gap between the rate for Pell Grant recipients and the rate for non-Pell Grant recipients — a difference of 16 points. A similar gap has existed for students of color and Native American students when compared to white students.
How students who receive Pell Grants are faring is important, given that they represent a large share of college students. Last year at Minnesota Private Colleges, 27 percent of first-time students received Pell Grants; that share is 17 percent at the U of M and 27 percent at Minnesota State universities.
Having students who receive Pell Grants move through college and complete their degrees in a timely way is also important given it impacts the costs they incur. If full-time students take longer than four years to earn a degree, they’re not only going to have additional tuition costs and larger student debt, they’ll also face an opportunity cost — the income they won’t be earning by being done and in the workforce full-time.
At the root of the concerns about students who receive Pell Grants is the question of equity. Even though our economy needs more skilled workers than ever, too many Minnesotans from lower-income families are not earning college degrees. This is a concern for students of color and Native American students as well, given our state’s sizable attainment gap tied to race and ethnicity.
“These attainment gaps need to be closed if we’re going to be the state we aspire to be,” said Paul Cerkvenik, president, Minnesota Private College Council. “Minnesota must reduce economic barriers to educational success for lower-income Minnesotans. When more students succeed, we’ll all win, with a stronger economy and stronger communities.”
For more on four-year graduation rates for Pell Grant students, see the Council’s new report.
By John Manning
The 17 members of the Council are more effective at graduating students in four years than the state’s public institutions.
Source: NCES IPEDS data, 2011 first-time, full-time cohort
St. Thomas launches awareness campaign
The University of St. Thomas has launched a new television, radio and social media awareness campaign that features stories of enterprising students.
Saint Ben’s a top producing school for Fulbright awards
For fourth time in five years, the College of Saint Benedict is recognized for achievement and tied for 33rd among bachelor’s institutions with five women winning Fulbright student awards for 2018-19.
Saint John’s Columba Stewart named Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar
Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, professor of theology at Saint John’s University’s School of Theology and Seminary was recently named a Phi Beta Kappa Society Visiting Scholar for 2019-20.
St. Olaf opens new, high-tech space for nursing program
The St. Olaf College Nursing Department’s new 5,500 square foot facility features two simulation labs, a simulation control room and a multi-bed skills lab.
Carleton's Food Recovery Network expands impact on the community
Carleton College volunteers recovered over 22,000 pounds of food from local businesses and Carleton’s dining halls in fall 2018.
Fred Swaniker is building the university of the future
The Macalester College alum is the founder and CEO of African Leadership University, listed by Fast Company as one of "The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies."
St. Scholastica grad students educate the public on heart health
Graduate students from The College of St. Scholastica’s Exercise Physiology master's program represented the College during the regional “Go Red for Women” heart health awareness conference.
CSP marketing students compete in National Grocers Association competition
Five Concordia University, St. Paul marketing seniors recently competed in the National Grocers Association (NGA) student marketing competition at the NGA national conference held in San Diego.
MCAD announces the first annual arts entrepreneurship competition
On April 5 the Minneapolis College of Art and Design will hold PITCHFEST, where current undergraduates combine creativity, professional practice and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Cokie Roberts to keynote Saint Mary's Hendrickson Forum
New York Times Bestselling Author and Political Commentator Cokie Roberts will give the keynote address April 16 at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Hendrickson Forum.
Mock trial team sees first tournament success
Bethany Lutheran College’s newly formed mock trial team travelled to Wheaton, Ill. in February to complete at the America Mock Trial Association regional meet.
Student documentary explores intersection of faith and the environment
Gustavus Adolphus College senior Alex Theship-Rosales uses spirituality as a vehicle to encourage environmental responsibility in his new documentary, To Walk Alongside.
Augsburg wrestling wins 13th NCAA Division III National Championship
Augsburg University's wrestling team claimed a 64-point victory at the NCAA Division III National Championships in Roanoke, Virginia, going 4 for 4 in individual national title matches.
Spring issue of parent newsletter now available
A new issue of our college planning e-newsletter for parents of a middle or high school student is now online. Please consider sharing this useful resource with parents you might know — or sign up yourself!
Counselors' Breakfast scheduled for May 8 in Bloomington
High school counselors and others who work with students on college planning are invited to a free informational breakfast. Meet with admission reps, learn what’s going on at our institutions and get answers to your questions.
New event launched for college access program staff
The Council invites the staff of college access programs to a free information breakfast on April 23 in Plymouth to learn more about our colleges by talking with admissions counselors. We’ll aim to have a tailored conversation that addresses the particular questions access program staff have.
Find summer enrichment programs
To help busy parents, the Council had compiled a quick list of summer offerings hosted by our colleges for middle and high school students.
New report on Minnesota private colleges graduation outcomes by Pell status
Using newly available federal data, the Council report provides four-year rates on bachelor’s degrees earned at our member institutions by students who were and were not Pell Grant recipients.
Modeling behavior and fostering a sense of well-being for first-generation college students
Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Feb. 14, 2019
What will you be? Who will you be?
St. Cloud Times, Feb. 23, 2019
How a college major might be minor
Forbes, Feb. 28, 2019
Despite high costs, new poll shows most young adults think a four-year degree is worth it
The Hechinger Report, March 11, 2019
College completion rates are up, but the numbers will still surprise you
National Public Radio, March 13, 2019
Trump order upholds free speech on campus; Minnesota colleges say they already comply
Star Tribune, March 22, 2019