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Column: Take care to be a critical consumer of higher education

WORTHINGTON -- Fall is upon us and we are excited to welcome our talented students to Minnesota West Community and Technical College! Fall represents the "spring-time" of educational careers -- a time where students emerge and flourish in a chall...

WORTHINGTON -- Fall is upon us and we are excited to welcome our talented students to Minnesota West Community and Technical College! Fall represents the “spring-time” of educational careers -- a time where students emerge and flourish in a challenging, supportive, learning-focused environment.  

 

Recently, news has abounded about the failure of substandard providers in higher education. These substandard providers have very aggressive marketing and enrollment strategies, they promise and assure job placement, appear to offer great levels of financial assistance (cleverly disguised debt) and tout close affiliations with major employers. They employ high-pressure sales tactics, telling prospective students that “time is of the essence” and “if you make a decision today we can get you started on your new career tomorrow.” They quickly provide a financial aid package and a readily available enrollment form with classes (a one-size fits-all approach without consideration for your unique gifts and aspirations).

 

Substandard providers may tout some form of accreditation, but savvy consumers must dig deeper. Is the provider affiliated with a well-respected agency such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or one in danger of being terminated by a federal panel such as the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)? Does the provider have a non-profit foundation working to assist students? Substandard providers deliver empty promises, significant student debt, and limited potential for gainful employment. The result is undue financial hardship without a useful credential.

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This fall, parents and students will be inundated with marketing materials and opportunities to visit many different higher education providers with varying missions and varying levels of student success. Please take the time to critically examine the colleges and programs in detail before choosing to invest precious time and resources on your future career. Take the time to seek answers relative to graduation rates, persistence rates, debt levels, and gainful employment. Take the time to properly research the college, its mission, related accreditations and its proven success in achieving such. There are many good choices in the public, private and for-profit sectors of high education, but the missions and personalities of colleges vary greatly.  

 

At Minnesota West Community, and at every one of the 30 state colleges and seven universities throughout the Minnesota State system, our motivation is student success. Minnesota West takes great pride in serving our students and such is evident in our success measures. Our graduation rate is 17 percent higher than our peers; the persistence rate (a widely used higher education measure of how well students finish what they start) of full-time students and part-time students is a full 12 percent and 24 percent (respectively) higher than our peers. Additionally, over 80 percent of our graduates live, work, raise families and contribute to their communities right here in this great state!

 

The faculty, staff and administration of Minnesota West stand ready to serve with five regional campuses, two learning centers, an award-winning online program, gifted faculty, committed staff and great student success! We encourage you to find that place where you can flourish and receive the true benefit of going to college -- Learn with Purpose.

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Dr. Terry Gaalswyk serves as president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, a member of Minnesota State.  

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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