About the College Collaborative

An IMPACT 20/20 Project

The College Collaborative is a collective effort of IMPACT 20/20 and the region's four post-secondary institutions - Bemidji State University, Northland Community and Technical College, Northwest Technical College, and University of Minnesota Crookston.

Primary Goals

  1. 1). Increase the college- and career-readiness of the region's high school students; and
  2. 2). Educate high school students on regional career opportunities.

The project was initiated by the presidents and chancellor of the four institutions, who agreed to support this collaborative effort to improve high school and college graduation rates, college retention, and meet the talent needs of the region's employers. The leaders of all four institutions are members of the IMPACT 20/20 Leadership Council, a group of senior executives from across the region who focus on growing the economy.

Why It Matters

  • Growing need for post-secondary education – 70% of Minnesota jobs will require some post-secondary education by 2018

Minnesota is facing a growing skills gap due to increasing educational demand among employers, retirement of many baby boomers, and projected declines in education levels.  Currently, 40% of working-age adults have a post-secondary degree, but by 2018, 70% of Minnesota jobs will require some education beyond high school, the highest projected percentage in all fifty states, much higher than the national average of 63%, and second only to the District of Columbia.

  • High percentage of first-generation college students that need more information about post-secondary options.

The percentage of first-generation students is as high as 40% for some of the region’s post-secondary institutions.  The road to college is difficult to navigate for anyone, but even more so for first-generation college students and their families.  Young people need to know what electives they should be taking, how to prepare for ACT testing, which college will be the best fit, and how they can secure financial aid. 

  • The level of accountability on colleges and universities to recruit, retain and graduate more post-secondary students is continuing to increase.

Graduation rates are among the most-watched metrics at Minnesota colleges and universities. Increasingly, based on these numbers, the Legislature allots funding; governing boards evaluate administrators; rating services rank institutions, and parents and students decide where to enroll. The six-year graduation rate for all of Minnesota in 2010 was 56.4%. In northwest Minnesota, the percentages are lower – about 46%. There are many contributing factors, but simply stated, the region must do a better job of retaining and graduating post-secondary school students.