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Lackluster academic advising barrier to institutional equity

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Lackluster academic advising barrier to institutional equity

University of Minnesota’s mascot Goldy Gopher stands outside Coffman Memorial Union. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

University of Minnesota’s mascot Goldy Gopher stands outside Coffman Memorial Union. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

University of Minnesota’s mascot Goldy Gopher stands outside Coffman Memorial Union. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

University of Minnesota’s mascot Goldy Gopher stands outside Coffman Memorial Union. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka


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MCTC students looking to transfer to the University of Minnesota are offered guaranteed admission under the Minnesota Cooperative Admissions Program (MnCAP) if they meet certain conditions. However, many don’t seem to be aware of this huge benefit that comes from being a student here.

MnCAP became a frequent topic of discussion in the newsroom during this semester because it is difficult to believe that MCTC would not aggressively promote it to the student body. There was only one advisor who mentioned it to students from CCN without being prompted.

Is this intentional policy? Poor training? The result of 13 overwhelmed advisors serving 13,000 students?

While the program doesn’t extend to all majors, there are many colleges where introductory courses and prerequisites can be taken at a school like MCTC, which is one of seven community colleges that participate.

These include majors in the colleges of Biological Sciences, Design, Education and Human Development, Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Science and Engineering.

If the college or major isn’t included in this list, University of Minnesota asks potential students to contact the Office of Admissions and inquire about criteria for other majors.

To qualify, students must complete the MnCAP Admissions Guarantee Form, complete an AA degree or the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher and meet priority application deadlines for the term.

Students may also need to meet additional requirements for individual colleges and majors. For instance, journalism requires a minimum 3.0 grade point average (according to the Office of Admissions the added requirement is because they receive too many applicants).

An editor at CCN found out about MnCAP by attending an informational session on transferring to a four-year college. There were only three students in attendance and the presenter, who is thankfully this person’s advisor, mentioned our school’s low acceptance rates to the University of Minnesota, implored them to complete the form and meet with their advisor about transferring.

CCN employs many inquisitive and high-performing students but none of them heard or were told of the program prior to the session. Members of the editorial board then met with their advisors to discuss MnCAP but the majority had to look it up before they could advise these students.

If there’s a characteristic most common among the student body, or at least in the CCN newsroom, it’s that they’re anxious about performing well enough to get into their planned programs and transfer successfully to a good four-year college.

Many students at community colleges already face a number of hurdles that prevent them from starting post-secondary education at a four-year university. While the pressure leads to higher performance for a few, those students are the exception at MCTC.

The majority of the student body struggle with burdens that students at those fancy four-year colleges don’t normally face. While it is imperative schools teach personal responsibility, dealing with these issues has the tendency to cultivate problems with esteem.

If a student does not think they are good enough to be accepted to the University of Minnesota, how likely is it that they sustain the effort needed to excel while struggling with tough personal issues?

In a more perfect world, the solution is to give everyone the basic necessities required to live so that everyone has the same opportunity to better themselves without the distraction of working a soul-crushing job and living paycheck to paycheck. It is especially difficult to focus on studying while troubled with problems outside of normal financial woes.

While basic income and education are not yet a social or political reality, higher education’s role is to build confident students capable of jumping those hurdles. There is evidence that MCTC strives for building an equitable and accessible institution, but it still falls short in this regard.

In addition to advisors not promoting MnCAP to students, their advising is too often inaccurate. Bad advice ranges from incorrect statements about language requirements, to wasting student money by recommending classes that count for an AA degree but not the transfer curriculum.

Depending on a major’s requirements, University of Minnesota also recommends transferring as soon as possible because students are more successful when major-specific courses are started early in their academic career, according to the Office of Admissions.

While it may not be in the immediate financial interest of MCTC to provide students information they need to transfer out early, being honest and supportive cultivates good will, which ultimately does more to meet the long-term goal of creating a financially sustainable, equitable institution that creates students capable of conquering tough social and political conditions.

Hopefully this omission is not official policy and is easily addressed with additional hires and training.

PLANNING TO TRANSFER?

Meet with MCTC advisors each semester to stay on top of academic goals. Arm yourself with information and ask plenty of questions during meetings. Follow-up with the admissions office of the transfer school to verify information. If there are discrepancies, report them to the advisor.

Students can schedule a 30-minute appointment with advisors through AgileGrad or walk-in for a 15-minute meeting during the open hours of their assigned advisor.

Visit minneapolismn.edu, Student Services and Academic Advising for additional information.

U of M Office of Admissions can be contacted at 612-625-2008 or 1-800-752-1000; TTY for hearing impaired at 612-625-9051.

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Lackluster academic advising barrier to institutional equity