A student pool goes untapped

'Job growth is not a magic bullet," writes President Ellen-Earle Chaffee, Valley City (N.D.) State University in her commentary, "What kind of state do we want?" (Jan. 6).

'Job growth is not a magic bullet," writes President Ellen-Earle Chaffee, Valley City (N.D.) State University in her commentary, "What kind of state do we want?" (Jan. 6).

Chaffee aptly points out that many of the traditional pools of employees such as rural out-migration is waning as a job-growth source. In addition, as stated, not only is our youth population declining and many leaving the area upon graduation, but also job skills and qualifications are increasing exponentially. What are we to do?

Not all is lost in the employment battle. There is a pool of potential employees that is being overlooked as an economic development component. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Cass/Clay counties have 112,557 individuals over the age of 25, and 50 percent of them have no college education. That equates to more than 56,000 individuals in our communities who with a little help could fill the many positions that employers so desperately need filled.

As the executive director of the Minnesota State Community and Technical College Foundation, I am very aware of this group of individuals. The foundation helps students from this pool of 56,000 afford their education and thus helps to build the work force one scholarship at a time. I refer to the students needing a helping hand the most as renaissance students: mid-20s or so, working for a few years in a job with little or no forward potential. One day they awake and discover that Mom and Dad were right after all - if they are going to achieve success, college is a must.

Who are these students?


- Generally from North Dakota and Minnesota.

- Non-traditional student (age 24 and older).

- Little or no college experience.

- From a working-class family.

- First generation college student.

- Working full time or at least part time.

- Balancing family and employment responsibilities.

- Single parent.


- Financial hardships.

Why do they need help? Financial aid for these students is problematic because as they are working, they do not always qualify for the Federal Pell Grant Program that provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduates. Stafford loans with income levels are not available for part-time students. Private loans are possibilities except if the students have debt such as a mortgage, but high interest rates are attached.

The local work force shortage of registered nurses, dental hygienists, diesel and auto technicians, just to name a few, could be filled from the pool of nontraditional students. However, they need a helping hand that only the community can provide. When you help the MSCTC Foundation, you are making a difference.

Chadwick is director of advancement, MSCTC-Moorhead and a former member of The Forum's Readers Board.


A student pool goes untapped By Chuck Chadwick 20080111

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