The year before Sydney Anderson arrived at St. Catherine University last fall, she visited its St. Paul campus four times for events tailored to would-be transfer students like her. She stayed overnight in a dorm and scored an invite to the private college's Day of the Dead bash.
"I was involved in the St. Kate's community before I even came here," said Anderson, who attended Inver Hills Community College at the time.
In recent years, the state's private universities and colleges have made a major push to draw community college students to campus. Transfer students make up roughly a quarter of enrollment at the 17 campuses that are part of the Minnesota Private College Council. Half of those students come from two-year community colleges. For the first time Monday, private institutions across the state will host campus visits geared for such students, with more joining in for a follow-up event in February.
"Transfer students bring such rich and diverse backgrounds to our schools," said Jennifer Searles, the transfer programs coordinator at St. Catherine. "They bring so many great stories."
Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Bethel University in Arden Hills, Concordia College in Moorhead and St. Paul-based Hamline and the University of St. Thomas are also participating Monday. Colleges picked that day and Feb. 18 for the visits because community colleges are closed for Veteran's Day and Presidents' Day, respectively.
Private campuses have redoubled efforts to reach out to community college and other prospective transfer students. Admissions staffers crisscross the state together to host joint fairs at community colleges in Rochester, Duluth and elsewhere. Many have forged close relationships and pipelines for students.
Searles spends two or three days a week on community college campuses. She says many of her university's transfer students juggle studies with full-time jobs or family responsibilities and thus bring unique perspectives to the campus.
According to data from the Private College Council, 30 percent of transfer students at member institutions are first-generation students, compared to 20 percent of the student body as a whole. About 28 percent of new transfer students are minority; roughly a quarter of all freshmen are students of color.
Anderson was accepted at St. Catherine during her senior year of high school. But the Hudson native's ACT scores were not high enough to secure the financial aid she would need to afford it.
When she applied to transfer after a year, her GPA on that campus made her eligible for more scholarships. Anderson says both schools worked closely to make the transition smooth. St. Catherine, where she now majors in communication studies, accepted all 40 of her credits from Inver Hills.
The visits will feature campus tours and classroom visits, meetings with faculty and current transfer students, as well as opportunities to talk one-on-one about cost and credit transfers. At Concordia, participants will attend a sporting event and a choir concert, and stay in a residence hall overnight.
Students can learn more at tinyurl.com/y822fbh4 and sign up — or just show up on Monday.