ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota high school students have spoken, two St. Cloud area higher education institutions have made it on the top 10 list for most popular colleges to attend out of high school.

Based on the Minnesota high school graduation class of 2014, St. Cloud State University ranks as  #4 and St. Cloud Technical and Community College ranks as #10 for number of recent in-state high school graduates attending each institution.

For St. Cloud Technical and Community College, they are one of four community/technical colleges to make it in the top 10. Jodi Elness is the Director of Enrollment Management at SCTCC. She says making the top 10 shows SCTCC is committed to helping area students achieve their goals.

"The quality of the programs that we offer, programs really match the employment opportunities that are available in central Minnesota. So when they look out and see the kinds of jobs that are out there, and they look out and they start looking at options for their education, St. Cloud Technical and Community College will often rise to the top of that list."

SCTCC can also be a good starting place for many new students. Elness says students often choose to go to community college and then transfer to a university to finish their degree.

"We have students that come to us and they want to straight out just start with their generals. A lot of times they'll come in and say I just want to start with my generals. We offer a nice starting point for them to just come in, an affordable price, take their general education courses and then transfer onto another institution."

Elness says another institution could be their sister school St. Cloud State or any other school. SCTCC has been working closely with SCSU to offer new programs such as dual enrollment to make the transfer process an almost seamless transition.

Among SCTCC, Normandale Community College comes in at #7, Anoka-Ramsey Community College at #8 and Century College takes the #9 spot.

For four-year institutions, Minnesota high school graduates decided the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (#1), University of Minnesota - Duluth (#2) and Minnesota State University Mankato (#3) are all better choices than #4 pick St. Cloud State University.

The university has seen primarily a down turn in admission rates over the past six years with the exception of a slight increase in 2015. The institution was formerly ranked as #2.

Dan Gregory is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SCSU. He says the decline in enrollment of in-state students coming straight out of high school can be due to the economy and students choosing different career paths.

"From our prospective, if a student starts a two-year [institution] and decides to stop with a two-year degree that's great. Because when we look at the economy and what the economy needs, we need degrees from all types of institutions to have a healthy economy."

To help increase Minnesota student enrollment at SCSU, Gregory says the university is working closely with local area businesses to know their employment needs as well as making central Minnesota students a priority.

"It's not only about working with our local high schools and talking about our opportunities but making sure that we are living true to those opportunities. It's really about talking to employers about what they're needing from a career prospective and talking to students to make sure they have the support structures they need."

St. Cloud State's total enrollment for last year was 15,092, which was down 2.4 percent from the year before.

The top 10 list was created by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and based on the Minnesota high school graduating class of 2014, of students who enrolled in fall 2014 at a Minnesota post-secondary institution. You can see the full list by clicking the link below.


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