Across Minnesota, school is traditionally out on Thursday and Friday during the third week of October. The long weekend is typically known as the MEA holiday when school is canceled so the state’s teachers can gather for meetings and conferences.
It’s also the weekend when most colleges and universities across Minnesota open their doors for tours and visits by high school students who have days off from class.
On Friday, October 20, Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas will offer juniors and seniors and their families a chance to see this unique private college option up close.
“We want students to know they don’t have to leave town or leave the state to have a great, culturally affirming, rigorous, diverse college experience. You can have that experience and more right here,” said Dr. Buffy Smith, dean of Dougherty Family College.
Since 2017, Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas has offered an affordable two-year associate degree program. It’s designed to prepare students to seamlessly transition to a four-year institution to continue their studies towards a bachelor’s degree, at St. Thomas or another college or university.
Dougherty Family College students get a range of valuable freebies: free laptops, tutoring, books, a free bus pass and even free breakfast and lunch. That allows most students to graduate with very low or no student debt.
The Experience DFC event over MEA break takes place from 10 am to 1 pm at the St. Thomas campus in downtown Minneapolis. The day will include a campus tour and a free lunch for students and their families.
“We’ll start with an admissions presentation to highlight what makes DFC special and unique. They will get to meet professors and our students to hear what it’s really like,” said Dr. Smith.
Students enrolled at Dougherty Family College learn in small classes where they develop relationships with their professors and mentors as well as their fellow students, who are called scholars. Ninety percent of DFC students identify as BIPOC; 80 percent are first-generation college students.
Part of the curriculum at DFC includes paid internships, with students earning between $16 and $22 an hour.
“We address the issue of finances. We are very intentional about making sure the services we provide our scholars are free or very affordable. Last year, 70 percent of graduating scholars came away with a private school education form the University of St Thomas and zero student loan debt,” added Dr Smith.
While the open house is geared at prospective students, Dr. Smith assures parents and other caregivers who attend that they, too, will have the chance to have their questions answered.
“They can talk to our faculty and staff; they are the engine of Dougherty Family College. We want families to know who will be taking care of their son and daughter,” she said.
The Oct. 20 DFC tour and luncheon are free for all, but participants are asked to register ahead of time. You can do that online at dfc.stthomas.edu/admissions-tuition/visit-us.