by ALEXANDRA RETTER
As four-year colleges throughout the county have projected enrollment declines with some students taking a gap year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment has increased in Minnesota State College Southeast (MSC Southeast) transfer pathway programs, which allow students to begin their collegiate studies before attending a four-year university.
With transfer pathway programs, students may earn a certain associate’s degree at MSC Southeast. They then are able to transfer to a Minnesota State university to complete a bachelor’s degree while not losing credits or needing to finish additional coursework. Standing as a college junior and 60 college credits counting toward the bachelor’s degree are approved for students who complete a transfer pathway program and are admitted to a Minnesota State university. Some subjects in which students may begin to earn a degree through a transfer pathway program include accounting, business, English, history, exercise science and sociology.
Enrollment is up this fall in almost every transfer pathway major, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Josiah Litant.
“Based on credit registration reports comparing September 14, 2020, with the same date last year, transfer pathways are up 25 percent in credits enrolled,” Litant shared. “Some examples of majors with the greatest increase include the business transfer pathway, which is up 20 percent; the accounting transfer pathway, which is up 46 percent; and the pre-social work transfer pathway, which is up 31 percent.”
Ella Sutherland, who graduated from Red Wing High School earlier this year, attended MSC Southeast as a PSEO (postsecondary enrollment options) student while she was in high school. She was accepted at Winona State University (WSU), but after the pandemic resulted in WSU having many of its dorms be single-occupancy rooms and all of Sutherland’s classes being online, she decided to stay at MSC Southeast and pursue the sociology transfer pathway to try to save money and stay close to the town, home and family members she loves in Red Wing, she stated.
When she was a PSEO student, she took general education courses such as sociology, psychology and writing. She is now taking general education classes including multicultural America and environmental chemistry. Her classes, which are all online, are going well so far, she said.
“I think I’m learning just as much as I could in a classroom,” Sutherland noted. “But also, at the same time, online schooling isn’t for everybody.”
She said she is “100-percent happy” with her choice to study at MSC Southeast, and she is glad she is working toward having money set aside while exploring her interests.
She is thinking about studying business or entrepreneurship in the future. “Since I was little, I’ve wanted to open a wedding venue on a piece of land,” she shared.
She may continue her studies at MSC Southeast, she said. She may also tour other colleges to get a sense of different campuses’ atmospheres and which one she most enjoys, she stated.
With her classes being online currently, she is hoping that she will have an opportunity to travel to many national parks in a camper by herself this year, she noted.
Enrollment has stayed steady or increased this semester for some of MSC Southeast’s career and technical education (CTE) programs, according to Litant. He noted that programs such as auto body collision technology, network administration and radiography have steady enrollment, while other programs have increased enrollment.
“Examples include automotive technology, which is up 36 percent in enrollment as measured by credits registered on September 14; cosmetology, which is up eight percent; and truck driving, which is up 28 percent,” Litant said. “We are seeing strong interest in programs such as electronics technology, which is up 53 percent, and health sciences broad field, which has increased by 40 percent. Violin repair and mechatronics have more than doubled in enrolled credits compared with September of 2019.”
More information about MSC Southeast may be found at https://www.southeastmn.edu/index.aspx.