April 2017 Counselor News
Students and families can now register for the free event that runs June 26-30 this year. Sessions are held twice daily, from 9:30 to noon and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., on all 17 of our campuses. (Please note that these times are slightly different than last year.)
Minnesota Private College Week can serve as a great introductory campus visit to help students zero-in on what their looking for in a college, especially if they go to multiple campuses. Parents and students who’ve attended tell us how much they liked going on more than one visit. In fact, of those we surveyed, nearly half wished they had gone on more!
And if families have questions about the event, please direct them to our frequently asked questions.
Want to bring a group of students during Minnesota Private College Week? Check out the helpful advice from our last newsletter. We’ve even created a group visit registration spreadsheet to streamline the process if you’re planning to bring a large group. You can find it under “Registration is highly recommended” on our website.
There is time to sign up for this year’s Counselors' Breakfast, which will be held on May 4 in Woodbury. Ask admissions representatives from our member institutions questions and learn what’s happening on their campuses. And, yes, eat some breakfast while you’re at it. Both the event and the parking are free. Learn more and register.
There are countless ways to create an atmosphere in your school that promotes going to college for all your students. We gathered some ideas to do just that with the wonderful help of college and career counselors Jamie Shady (Harding High School) and Rebecca Schmitz (Washington Technology Magnet) who presented on the topic at the fall MACAC College Counseling Institute.
You don’t need to go the whole nine yards if you’re starting from scratch. Try creating a visual display in a hallway near the college center or counseling office or in a high traffic area. Here are a few examples of what you could display:
- College pennants (Some may have paper pennants available, which are less expensive.)
- College poster
- Photos of students holding acceptance letter (or the name of school they got into)
- Photo gallery of where seniors decided to go (not just those graduating at the top of the class)
- Calendar of important test dates, financial aid deadlines and common application timelines
- Posters about upcoming events or test dates in hallways, the library, the cafeteria and even bathrooms
Next, sing it from the hilltops! Tap into your school announcements for reminders about deadlines, events and other college-going tidbits. Look into adding something to the daily morning announcements, your school’s TV monitors (if you have them), the home page of your school’s website or any email that goes out to families. Check if you can include a college-going message at prep rallies, homecoming, spirit days, etc.
And don’t forget to make a regular appearance in students’ homerooms. This can be a good time to share broad college-going messages.
Recruit school staff to the cause
Teachers and staff can be great college ambassadors, since many of them will have gone to college themselves. One of the easiest ways to do this is to encourage them wear college gear from their alma maters on a specific day of each week. Another option would be to create a staff photo gallery or a map in a hallway showing where they went to college. You could even invite staff to share their favorite college experience — either in person during a meeting with students or on a hall display.
Don’t forget to enlist teachers!
Talk with them to find ways to incorporate a college-going message and exercises into their curriculum. (For example, you could ask an English teacher to add college essay writing as an assignment in their class.) You may even want to offer teachers a training workshop on how to write effective recommendation letters for their students.
Keep everyone informed
As you know, information and details about college are ever changing. Make sure staff and teachers are up to speed about admissions and graduation requirements, entrance exams and other college topics. You could do this by holding a workshop for staff or via a paper or electronic newsletter.
Add technology to the mix
There’s no escaping it: Technology makes it easier to reach people but also harder to grab their attention — especially students. Start by bookmarking college-related websites on all computers in your labs, including those for your local colleges.
Next, consider using outside technology resources to help you break through the noise. Here are a few examples:
- Remind is a free tool that allows you reach students and parents via email or text — while keeping that contact information private.
- Edmodo is a private social networking-like platform that use can used to connect with students as well as parents.
- Schoology offers a full suite learning management tools and allows you communicate with students via a private social networking-like platform only available to your students and/or parents.
Also consider reserving computer labs after school, in the evening, during parent conferences or as part of other event near and around FAFSA and college application deadlines. If possible, have someone on hand to offer assistance to student and parents who have questions.
Create opportunities for engagement
While technology is a handy communications tool, nothing really takes the place of face-to-face interaction with families. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
In the cafeteria over lunch:
- Have a college Q&A table if student have questions
- Have information sessions with admissions reps
- Have informal workshops on different parts of the college process (These would be good to repeat in the evening for parents.)
Take advantage of other scheduled events:
- Have a table with college-planning information at freshmen orientation
- Arrange groups visits during Minnesota Private College Week
- Pay for a bus to National College Fair. (A transportation grant may be available if your school has high populations of diverse, first generation, or economically disadvantaged students.)
Organize your own events:
- Offer a college fair at your school or host a Minnesota Education Fair.
- Host Minnesota College Goal workshop at your school to assist families with the financial aid process.
- Offer SAT/ACT prep workshops during the school day.
Include student and parent voices into the mix:
- Have soon-to-be graduating seniors mentor and share what they learned with lower classmen on the college planning process
- Invite high school graduates who recently graduated from college back to share their experiences. (You could also create a directory of your high school grads and where they attended college.)
- Invite parents of these recent college grads to share what they learned.
Boosting the college-going atmosphere at your school doesn’t have to be an onerous or overwhelming task. And remember that you’re not alone: reach out to other counselors to find out what they’re doing and what’s working.
By Lisa Thompson
By the time Sam Figueroa got to high school, he had already overcome a lot — including losing his father when he was young, which affected his academics. But he knew he needed to make a change and threw himself into it. His sights on a career in law, Sam is now wrapping up his sophomore year at the University of St. Thomas, where need-based aid is at the core of his financial aid package. Read more of Sam’s story.
We’ve compiled a list of key social media accounts for all our colleges so you don’t have to track them down yourself. You also can follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter for more general higher education and college prep information — along with resource and event announcements. Our Facebook page is geared to parents of high school students whereas our Twitter feed is a smattering of many higher ed topics.
Published four times a year, The Bridge: Parent News newsletter for parents of middle and high school students provides helpful information on the college planning process. Past issues along with a sign up can be found at mnprivatecolleges.org/parents. Please considering sharing this valuable resource with parents.
Augsburg becomes 'Augsburg University' effective September 1
The change reflects the reality that Augsburg College already offers nine graduate degree programs in addition to its more than 50 undergraduate degree programs.
Bethel’s elementary education program ranked no. 1 in the state
Bethel University's elementary education program earned national recognition with high rankings in an assessment from the National Council on Teacher Quality.
Carleton's alumni summit, student contest highlight entrepreneurial ventures
Carleton College’s recent “Entrepreneurs’ Summit” combines alumni mentoring to help burgeoning ideas, nine student teams vie for two $10,000 grants.
Two graduates earn five ‘Under 40 Awards’ from Times Media
College of Saint Benedict alumnae Emily Coborn ’08 and Hudda Ibrahim ’13 were selected for their work in the local community.
St. Scholastica leads in math teacher development
Faculty members at The College of St. Scholastica are reaching out to help elementary and middle school math teachers excel in the classroom.
Concordia receives NSF grant
Concordia College (Moorhead) received a $960,000 grant from the National Science Foundation through the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.
Concordia University, St. Paul moves to 120 credit hours
In a move that’s responsive to the competitive higher education marketplace, Concordia University, St. Paul is lowering minimum graduation requirements for all bachelors’ programs to 120 credit hours.
Gustavus among top Fulbright Scholar producers
Gustavus Adolphus College ranks highly on the annual list of liberal arts colleges that produce the most faculty Fulbright Scholars.
Hamline receives $1.4M gift for endowed professorship in computational science
Hamline University alumnus Robert Green’s ‘57, MALS ‘96, generous $1.4 million estate gift will establish the Robert E. Green Distinguished Professorship in Computational Science Fund.
Macalester alumna named WCCO-TV Excellent Educator
Macalester College grad Eliza Rasheed uses the theater program at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus Upper Campus to teach students how to deal with injustice.
Students tackle Skid Row in L.A. with giveaway
The Cause team of five from Saint John’s University helps distribute clothes, bags, food, health kits and haircuts in one of Los Angeles’ most impoverished neighborhoods.
Saint Mary’s offers graduate credits for concurrent enrollment instructors
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is offering 18 graduate-level content credits in English for concurrent enrollment instructors — which can count toward a master’s degree.
New York Times profiles St. Olaf hockey coach
The paper highlights what drew Mike Eaves, a former NHL player and Division I coach, to St. Olaf College.
University of St. Thomas School of Engineering adds civil engineering major
The new program will make the University of St. Thomas the only private school in Minnesota offering a B.S. in civil engineering.
Interested in more campus news? View past news items from all our campuses.
Here are some of the best recent articles that we’ve come across:
How Minnesota colleges are teaming up to give students a cheaper path to 4-year degrees
Minnesota Public Radio, Feb. 20, 2017
It’s not just about jobs. Colleges must help students find their passions.
The Washington Post, Mar. 10, 2017
A fumble on a key FAFSA tool, and a failure to communicate
The New York Times, Mar. 14, 2017
The skills gap is actually an awareness gap -- and it's easier to fix
Forbes, Mar. 17, 2017
Weighing college choices? Here are three factors to consider
Washington Post, Mar. 18, 2017