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Rochester, MN Has Quality Higher Education

Higher education programs, initiatives guide students to success

By Kevin Litwin on September 13, 2015

Rochester / Michael D. Tedesco

A new higher education initiative has many prospective college students in Rochester seeing purple.

Rochester Community & Technical College, a two-year higher education institution that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015, is located in the University Center Rochester and shares many of its facilities with Winona State University-Rochester, a four-year university. As a result of their co-location, the two schools have implemented a Path to Purple initiative (because WSU-Rochester school colors are purple and white), which allows students who earn certain AA or AS degrees at RCTC to make an easy transition to WSU-Rochester for their junior- and senior-year courses towards a B.A.

Some of the programs that can be transferred from RCTC to WSU-Rochester include nursing, elementary education, business administration and biotechnology.

Healthy Choice

Several other quality education options are available to students in Rochester, including a health-sciences-only curriculum at University of Minnesota Rochester.

“If you want to study health care, this is the place for you. We only teach health sciences,” says Jay Hesley, University of Minnesota Rochester chief of staff. “We started in 2009 and offer a four-year undergraduate program as part of the University of Minnesota system, and today we have about 800 students.”

Located a block east of the Mayo Clinic, UMR in downtown Rochester occupies space in three buildings, including the top two floors of University Square Mall.

“We purposely chose a downtown campus so students have to interact with many career professionals in the area,” Hesley says. “For example, we don’t have a recreation facility on campus, so several students exercise at the nearby downtown YMCA to be further engaged in the community.”

UMR offers two programs – a bachelor of science in health sciences, and a bachelor of science in health professions.

“Our graduates advance to careers as doctors, nurses and dozens of other medical careers that are in demand,” Hesley says. “We have our graduates in law school, chiropractic medicine, experimental psychology, public health, laboratory science and much more.”

Technically Speaking

Also making academic news in Rochester these days is C-TECH (Career & Technical Education Center at Heintz), a program launched by Rochester Public Schools to offer technically based courses to interested junior and senior high school students. C-TECH’s facility is scheduled to open in August 2016 on the campus of Rochester Technical & Career College.

“Seven important in-demand career pathways will be taught at C-TECH,” says Jayne Gibson, Rochester Public Schools executive director of curriculum and education. “They are agriculture, construction, engineering, health sciences, hospitality, IT and manufacturing.”

Gibson says any juniors and seniors will be able to enroll in the C-TECH initiative and earn a free one-year college certificate, all while taking their normal course loads in high school.

“It’s not a mandatory program, but it would be wise to enroll for students to broaden their career options,” she says. “It’s ideal for high school students who don’t want to attend traditional college, and also great for college-bound students to gain some real-world academic knowledge.”


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