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'Future Mavericks' Program Helps Students Transition

South Central College, Minnesota State Mankato team up for new program.

Jessica Bies, Mankato Free Press, 3-5-2015

Samantha Miller and Harley Ries may still be students at South Central College, but they already feel like Mavericks.

Though they won’t transfer to Minnesota State University, Mankato until they earn their associate’s degrees, they both have their “Mav Cards,” which are Minnesota State Mankato student ID cards. They can go the recreation center, check books out from the library, attend student events and even take advantage of student health services.

They are members of the newly announced “Future Maverick” program, they said Wednesday. The new partnership between SCC and Minnesota State Mankato not only guarantees community college students are admitted into the university, but that they succeed once they get there.

“I think a lot of students are going to benefit from this,” said Miller, who is 19 and recently graduated from Mankato East. “Especially with the smoother transition.”

As part of the new program, a Minnesota State Mankato adviser now visits SCC twice a month to work with transfer students. Students who complete their two-year associate in arts degree at SCC’s North Mankato and Faribault campuses and meet certain academic requirements will now be able to transfer seamlessly to Minnesota State Mankato to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Some students will be able to enroll in both institutions simultaneously, concurrently enrolling in classes and gaining access to major-specific advising and services.

Both SCC and Minnesota State Mankato will start recruiting students specifically for the Future Maverick program. Minnesota State Mankato admissions staff say they will start encouraging students who apply and do not meet the university’s admission requirements to start their college careers at SCC instead.

SCC President Annette Parker says the new program will make the transition between institutions — which is already possible — easier. Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport said the same, adding that the transfer rates between the two institutions are already increasing.

“I remember six or seven years ago, maybe a little bit longer than that, when South Central College became a comprehensive community college, all of a sudden things spiked, in a positive way,” he said.

During the past five years, 740 SCC students have transferred to Minnesota State Mankato. The top programs they pursue include social work, management, corrections and psychology, he said.

Of SCC students who transfer to MSU, 59 percent graduate within six years from the time they start their post-secondary education. That’s higher than the university’s average graduation rate of about 51 percent, Davenport said.

Brian Jones, director of admissions at Minnesota State Mankato, said SCC is the university’s second largest feeder institution, coming in behind only Normandale Community College in Bloomington.

The Future Maverick program will make Minnesota State Mankato and SCC’s “ability to target and communicate with students more effective,” he said. Minnesota State Mankato advisers will be able to share application deadlines and course information directly with SCC students.

“Higher ed can be difficult to navigate,” Jones said. “This gives students more support.”

Susan Tarnowski, vice president of student and academic affairs at SCC, said the new program also has the potential to attract more students to both institutions. It opens a new pathway for not only recent high school graduates, but non-traditional students, immigrant students, students of colors and veterans. It could also benefit students who don’t meet application requirements at Minnesota State Mankato.

“The original implication was ‘If you’re not yet ready for MSU, let us help you,’” she said.

Marilyn Wells, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Minnesota State Mankato, said community colleges do a good job preparing those students and that she was looking forward to the partnership. It also has the potential to reduce student debt — potentially, fewer students will lose credits while transferring or be forced to take additional classes.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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