MINNEAPOLIS – The price of higher education can deter even the brightest students from pursuing a degree. according to March 2023 Business Scholarship Report83 percent of the more than 9,000 high school and college-age students surveyed said current economic conditions have affected their ability to pay for college.
In Minnesota, University of St. Thomas Dougherty Family College It makes higher education more accessible to students from disadvantaged communities. Since 2017, the school has been offering a two-year associate degree program designed to prepare students for a smooth transition to four-year colleges.
When KARE 11 stopped by an art history class in late March, there were just five students and their professor there, using clay to replicate a javelina skull.
“I definitely like hands-on activities better than textbooks, definitely,” said sophomore Jalen Hall.
Each student attended a different high school in Minnesota: Hopkins, Irondale, Rogers, White Bear Lake and Washburn. Growing up, Hall believed that high school would be the final step in her education.
“I am a first-generation undergraduate,” explained the Irondale graduate. “I didn’t think I could excel in college. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle the coursework.”
Hall attributes her success so far at Dougherty Family College to its structure. Students all take the same classes together and are each given individual mentoring. Support is part of the plan.
“Well, we have public speaking and psychology and justice and peace,” Hall recalls of her group schedule.
There are 12 groups in total: six for freshmen and six for freshmen. Another big advantage of the school, Hall says, is its relatively low cost of attendance.
according to National Center for Education StatisticsTuition for a two-year college averages over $3,000 per year. At Dougherty Family College, many students pay just over $1,000 a year.
“Approximately half of our students who file for the FAFSA paid $1,030 annually for tuition and fees in 2020-21,” according to the school’s website.
Last year, 92 percent of graduates earned an associate’s degree because they had no student loan debt. Students also get books, laptops, transportation, and 10 meals a week — for free.
“That’s the main reason I came here,” said Hall, “because I knew I wouldn’t have to suffer.”
Students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher receive automatic admission to the University of St. Thomas.
“Seventy-five percent of our scholars, our alumni, are either currently enrolled in a four-year program or have graduated with a bachelor’s degree,” said Dean Buffy-Smith.
Just ask graduate student Khaled Mohamed, who works the front desk in the dean’s suite.
“I am studying at the University of St. Thomas now and studying computer science with the hope of becoming a data analyst or programmer in the future,” said Mohamed.
In addition, 13 students are currently receiving full scholarships to the University of St. Thomas this year, including Hall.
“She’s one of our stars,” said Smith. “We can’t remove the challenges and some of the dark moments our researchers face but we promise they will not go on that journey alone.”
Students also attend training sessions once a week. Hall is currently based at U.S. Bank’s downtown headquarters on the bank’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. Plan to major in social work and a minor in criminal justice when you head to St. Thomas this fall.
Dougherty Family College is currently accepting applications for Fall 2023.
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