November 2018 newsletter
Find out how one student is balancing the cost of college and hear from two students who reflect on the personal impact of an initiative supporting African-American men. Then think through the concept of college fit.
The ways students pay for college is as unique as their college experiences. Students often have several different ways they make paying for college work, and Monique Rondeau, a junior at St. Olaf College, is no different.
Rondeau grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota and always knew she wanted to go to college. Rondeau was the first person in her family to go to college and became interested in St. Olaf after researching liberal arts colleges in the Midwest. “I knew I wanted to go to a small liberal arts college,” Rondeau said. “We did some campus tours and after the St. Olaf tour I knew it was going to be a good fit.”
When Rondeau was looking at colleges, affordability was certainly a major consideration, but it wasn’t the only factor. “I looked at a couple other liberal arts colleges that I knew I could get a great education at, and they all gave me similar financial aid packages. I felt like I was going to be the most successful at St. Olaf,” she said.
Rondeau has received a diverse financial aid package all three years she’s been at St. Olaf. She was awarded a Minnesota State Grant, which is need-based, and she also received an institutional scholarship and work study. She was awarded an outside scholarship and has taken out a student loan.
“My parents match ever dollar I contribute to my education,” Rondeau said. “I’m very grateful for the support of my parents and the fact that I’m paying some of my own money makes me want to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Rondeau is a double major in psychology and economics and also keeps busy on campus. She is a captain for the women’s rugby team, is a leader of the Women in Business Club and works with young people at a church in Northfield.
Rondeau has a unique perspective on financial aid — her work-study job is in the financial aid office at St. Olaf. “I can relate to students who are applying for financial aid, and I think because just a couple years ago I was new to it I can help students,” Rondeau said. “There’s a lot that goes into financial aid and things can change every year. The financial aid office is here to help students make it work and they helped me make it work.”
“When students are looking at colleges they should know that they most likely will not be paying full tuition,” she said. “If you and your family need a little help paying for college liberal arts schools can offer it.”
By Tom Lancaster
Other paying for college profiles:
- Jacob Hanson, Concordia College
- Madi Nelson, Hamline University
- Ali Carlson, Concordia College
- Sam Figueroa, University of St. Thomas
- Chazz Robinson, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
- Tiana Danforth, St. Catherine University
- Haley Coller, Gustavus Adolphus College
- Delissa Hernandez, Augsburg University
A group of African-American men are finding support — and supporting each other — through a new initiative that is underway at six private colleges. Organized through the Minnesota Private College Fund, the program scholarships combine funds for students to use to cover tuition costs in their junior and senior years with a set of leadership and personal development opportunities.
Thirty students have taken part to-date, coming together in three groups over the last couple years. Depending on the cohort they’re in the students are referred to as Eddie Phillips Scholars and Ciresi Walburn Scholars, in recognition of the significant funding support that has come from two donors — the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota and Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children.
The aim is to help the men graduate ready to launch their post-baccalaureate careers. It starts over the summer before their junior years, when they complete a 12-week leadership course. During the next two years, their experiences include a paid summer internship, a retreat, a trip to a national leadership conference, regular cohort meetings, a writing course and networking sessions with prominent African-American businessmen. The focus on African-American men was chosen because of lower retention and completion rates for these students both nationally and in Minnesota.
As for why it matters, as always, students say it best. In September KMOJ’s Voices program featured two of the Ciresi Walburn Scholars — Andre Griffin, Augsburg University, and Amin Mahamoud, University of St. Thomas. Griffin is double majoring in secondary education and history and attended Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis; Mahamoud is majoring in economics and attended Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. They were joined by Abdul Omari, program coordinator, and interviewed by co-hosts Rashida Fisher and Samuel Simmons. What follows are just a few excerpts from the conversation; the full transcript is available as well.
I think the biggest thing for me personally is that I feel like I don't have to do it alone any more. But it's not that I had that mindset the whole time like I had to do it alone, but I feel like a lot of times people of color, when they make it into college, they're so used to doing things alone that they often don't ask for help. In situations where they need help, they won't say, "I need help." They'll think, I can do this alone. . . .
It's really having that support system and having peers to fall back on and having Dr. Omari, someone who's been through this college experience. His insights are really important, especially for me. I think I speak for the majority of the cohort as well. But just having someone to help navigate through that space, like Andre said, a predominately white institution and the ups and downs of being a person of color during your college career, just having that support system and peers to vent and communicate and go through the journey together has really been the best part and most beneficial part of this program.
STRENGTH OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN FOCUS
I think the program and the class in particular is really beneficial and influential because I've never been in a classroom with all black faces and all people who look like me. It's just such a great feeling to be able to take that exhale and that deep breath and to really be your authentic self in a room because you don't have to worry about what you say or worry about the looks that you're going to get . . . It's something that I feel like everybody should get the opportunity to experience, just being in a classroom that is kind of centered around your culture and people who look like you because that's something that people of color don't get. But that's something that Caucasian students get often.
I didn't get my first black teacher until my first year of college. All that time I was never looking at a face that looked like mine. So it feels so nice to look all around and see a face like mine, not just the teacher and not just the students.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS ACROSS DIFFERENCE
Speaking with some upperclassmen and seeing how they navigated through it and taking some information and some tips here and there, just approaching it with sincerity, I think, is one of the most important things. Just to elaborate on that, just assuming positive intention with people, it's easy to become pessimistic about outcomes when you see the statistics and you don't see people of color or your kind of ethnicity and religion on campus.
But just assuming that people are really doing it for the best, especially teachers in the higher ed and campus coordinators and such and speaking to that was really important to me.
There is a certain amount of luck to it. I'd love to say that there isn't, but there is. I don't know how much you could credit it to you building your own résumé and your own profile and then the chance of luck. But there are some components to that. But I think just really being sincere and opening to people who haven't shared those lived experiences and just assuming that positive intention in their understanding and their reaction goes a long way from the pessimistic view that can come when you're in a predominately white institution.
. . . Kind of bouncing off what Amin said, my ethics teacher my first year gave me some great advice. He said, "You make family wherever you can." You go into the campus with the mindset of everybody here is a networking tool and I'm going to make family where I can.
IMPORTANCE OF PERSEVERENCE
. . . I think a lot of people think that if you go to college that you either just do good off the bat or you do bad off the bat. But it's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of falling down and picking yourself up constantly. And it's a lot of correcting your own mistakes, being conscious of your own mistakes, noticing the imperfection, and trying to eliminate them one at a time.
When you want to just sit in your dorm and not do anything, you have to take that time and say, "You know what? The Black Student Union on campus is having an event, I'm going to go to that because that's an opportunity for me to better myself." It seems hard at 2 a.m. when you're studying for your essay. It seems hard to just keep going on and keep pushing, but what you have to keep doing is keep pushing because even if you may not be used to it, when you're studying that hard you're going to reap the fruits of your labor eventually.
. . . For me personally, just finishing up my sophomore year and being approached with this opportunity, I really did not have a clear sense on how to approach graduation and whether it's graduate school or it's just employment and the future beyond that. But having people like Dr. Omari and my other scholars and peers and going through this process helps me really understand all of these little details that help build a clear vision for myself.
There was an exercise in the class, in the leadership course this past summer, where we had to write a big statement, sort of a vision statement for us and how we're going to work to do that every single day to achieve that goal. I still look at that statement from time to time and just use that as a north star in terms of approaching how I approach academics and extracurriculars.
For more about these program scholarships, contact Carolyn Jones, director of development, Minnesota Private College Fund, at firstname.lastname@example.org. A press release about the Ciresi Walburn Scholars is available.
If you’ve been through the college admission process recently you probably have heard the term “fit.” Meant to describe how well a perspective student might connect to a college, what really is fit and how should students think about it?
The three important elements of fit are often thought of as academic, social and financial. And Chad Terry, counselor at Rosemount High School, agrees that these are important characteristics to focus on. “These are good starting points when thinking about fit. The idea of fit has changed and the financial fit is so important now,” Terry said. “Students really need to take into account financial aid before they can determine if it’s a good fit.”
Even before taking into account academic, social and financial fit, Terry says students first need to work to understand themselves. “We always try to meet the student where they are at. Often if a student is having a hard time getting started in the college search they might still need to figure out who they are,” Terry said. “Helping them better define what’s important to them, their values and goals is the very first thing we do.”
There is a lot that goes into deciding where to go to college. “One mistake students make is that they listen to everyone else but themselves,” said Leslie Connelly, counselor at Cretin-Derham Hall. “It can be hard for students to push aside the noise and figure out what’s important.”
When thinking about fit, it’s really about what will help make a student successful in college, Connelly said. Success can be defined in multiple ways including four-year graduation rates, which are key data points to keep in mind when choosing a college. But success is complicated and looks different to different students. “Success in college is a lot of what you do on campus and most students can be successful at many places,” Connelly said. “If a student is happy on campus and about their decision they are more likely to be engaged, which often leads to success.”
Along with academic, social and financial fit, Connelly and Terry talked about the importance of other factors, including location, size and the opportunities available on campus when thinking about fit.
“When students are thinking about deciding where to go to college it has to feel good and also make sense,” Terry said. “A good fit will feel like the right place and when the student and family thinks about the decision critically it also makes sense — it’s important for it to be both.”
By Tom Lancaster
Although students at our 17 member institutions represent 30 percent of all baccalaureate graduates in the Minnesota, they benefit from a small share — just 3 percent — of public higher education spending.
If private colleges didn’t exist and our students enrolled instead in public institutions, it would cost the state of Minnesota more than $348 million each year in additional institutional subsidies.
Source: Minnesota Private College Council analysis of data provided by the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget and Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
Saint Mary's University begins recruiting for new PA program
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is now accepting applications for a 3+2 Physician Assistant program, being offered in collaboration with Mayo Clinic.
Three CSB/SJU faculty members part of LibreText Project
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University faculty are part of a nationwide project estimated to save students $50 million in textbook costs.
Augsburg celebrates a season of hope with Advent Vespers
Augsburg University ushers in the Advent and Christmas seasons with Advent Vespers, a magnificent experience of music and liturgy, in celebration of the Incarnation.
Carleton launches $400 million campaign with momentum from $50 million gift
Carleton College has embarked on a comprehensive campaign designed to sustain its academic excellence, safeguard its historic strengths, and further invest in a promising future.
Board of Regents announce national search for CSP’s 10th president
The search for the Concordia University, St. Paul’s 10th president will be overseen by the Board of Regents and follows Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod bylaws.
Student managed investment fund outperforms early benchmarks
Bethel University’s new Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) has invested over $1.2 million on behalf of Thrivent Financial and independent donors, with excellent returns.
St. Olaf receives nearly $1 million NSF grant for new dataSTEM project
St. Olaf College has been awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to support low-income STEM students as they gain advanced skills and expertise in data analysis.
Macalester professor quoted in Washington Post regarding new Minnesota Representative
Macalester College American Studies Professor Duchess Harris spoke about Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
St. Thomas welcomes home a Tommie to lead athletics
The University of St. Thomas introduced Phil Esten, 1995 alumnus who played NCAA Division III baseball, as the new vice president and director of athletics.
St. Scholastica moves to test-optional admissions policy
As part of a more holistic admissions approach, The College of St. Scholastica is no longer requiring ACT or SAT test scores.
2018 holiday event schedule released
Many of our member colleges hold holiday concerts, theater performances and even an art sale that are open to the public. Check out our list and make plans to attend.
Annual Kente Summit held at Macalester
More than 100 African-American men who are students at Minnesota Private Colleges met for the eighth annual Kente Summit, held this year at Macalester College on Nov. 2 and 3. Planned by campus staff and students with support from the Council’s Community Initiative, the event included a mix of breakout sessions, a service project and keynote speakers Dr. Marc LaMont Hill and Jai Winston.
College financial aid: Equity and efficiency
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Oct. 18, 2018
The practical humanities
Insider Higher Ed, Oct. 22, 2018
Practicing vigorous civility
Higher Education Today, Oct. 31, 2018
The value of independent colleges
The Hill, Nov. 8, 2018
How poverty and race affect who goes to college — in 5 charts
Washington Post, Nov. 8, 2018
‘Unprecedented’ turnout by college students in midterm elections
Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 9, 2018
Private colleges aim to draw community college students to campus
Star Tribune, Nov. 10, 2018