Learning Leaders and a small group of other NYC college advisors has been forging a relationship with a pair of small liberal arts colleges in Minnesota…one is all men, one all women, but they are five minutes apart and share all coursework…meaning all classes are co-ed. The men’s college is St. John’s University ( NOT affiliated with the one in Queens) and the women’s college is the College of St. Bennedict.
The admissions office has been flying out college advisors to visit and people have been impressed with the place with regard to academic quality, resources, and student advising. The schools are not at all diverse, which is something they are working on (hence our visit), but there is great potential. They seem to understand that providing strong financial aid packages to our students is going to be essential if they are to compete with colleges in our geographic region…and that they need to be willing to work with students who may not be the most academically accomplished members of our classes as those will have numerous options much closer to home. Students with solid B averages and good work ethics who are savvy enough to ask for help.
We began working with these schools because their admissions rep, Shana Clarke, is a former student of Sean Calloway who earned her undergrad degree from Gustavus Adoplhus in Minnesota. She is committed to bringing in more of our students and easing their transition process. As HEOP programs face stark economic realities and may soon become a thing of the past, we need to establish relationships with as many other private colleges that can accommodate our kids both academically and financially. Those of our students at the very top of our classes will still have options…but what about the rest? This is one place that may help us fill that void.
We know it isn’t easy to sell students on the idea of leaving the NY, Mass, PA, CT circuit but it isn’t impossible…there have been successes with places like Gustavus, St. Michael’s in Vermont, Beloit in Wisconsin, and a few others.
I know some of you have already met Shana through CACNY. She may reach out to you over the next few weeks/months; if not, I encourage you to reach out to her directly. Tell her you heard about these options on the College Planning Learning Leaders Blog.