UMN looking to keep students in Minnesota for college

A University taskforce is looking to combat the trend of more students leaving the state for college than are coming into it.

Katrina Pross

The University of Minnesota is considering how to fight an enrollment trend and bolster admissions to its system campuses.

At the June Board of Regents Meeting, the University’s Systemwide Enrollment Planning Taskforce presented potential ways to curb a decades-long trend of Minnesota losing more high school graduates to colleges in neighboring states than it attracts.

The task force aims to increase University enrollment systemwide by 3,000 students, including 2,000 Minnesota residents and 1,000 non-residents, by 2024. Minnesota has seen more and more students leave the state for college than come into it from neighboring states since the 1980s, according to data provided by the Office of Undergraduate Education. In 2016, the state had a total deficit of 4,930 students to Wisconsin, Iowa and both Dakotas.

“We get our pockets picked every year from states and universities from across the nation,” said Bob McMaster, the vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. 

To fight this, the task force is considering ways to encourage students to apply to other University campuses if they are not admitted to the campus of their choice in an attempt to keep students in the University system, said Barbara Keinath, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the Crookston campus. 

By offering students enrollment at other campuses, the University aims to highlight and promote the specialities of each campus, Keinath said. For example, the Morris campus specializes in liberal arts, the Rochester campus specializes in health sciences and the Crookston campus has a small-college feel and a popular veterinary medicine program.

“What [the task force is] working on right now is creating a marketing communication plan so we can better articulate to students in Minnesota the quality of each of the [campuses],” McMaster said. 

Baylee Mathsen, a University sophomore from Wausau, Wisconsin said she decided to come to the University of Minnesota because she was directly admitted into the Carlson School of Management. 

“I knew I wanted to major in business, but a lot of [Wisconsin] schools won’t allow you to apply to their business school until your junior year,” Mathsen said. 

Having to wait two years with no guarantee of being admitted into the business school was too concerning, she said. Wisconsin has reciprocity with Minnesota, so Mathsen still pays resident tuition. 

While some students come to Minnesota for select benefits, others leave the state is because of opportunities elsewhere. 

“I really wanted to go to a place that I didn’t see myself living in for the rest of my life. [I wanted] to see what it’s like to live in a smaller town… The [University] was too familiar to me,” said Gillian Holte, a senior journalism student at Iowa State University from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. 

McMaster said that many Minnesota students choose to go to colleges in Iowa despite the lack of in-state reciprocity tuition because these universities offer large amounts of financial aid to Minnesota students to compensate.

Zophia Raleigh, a University senior from Blaine majoring in agricultural and food business management, said she decided to stay in Minnesota and attend the University to stay close to her family and take diverse courses but considered going out-of-state for college. 

“I liked the idea of going somewhere new where I could learn more about myself in the process,” Raleigh said. “[At the University] I’m able to take classes that aren’t specifically related to my major but still don’t negatively impact my graduation date.”