The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Skewed ACTC participation

By Emma WestRasmus

Dana Bloomquist seems like the typical Macalester sophomore. She can be found in Olin-Rice and the Humanities building most weekdays, where she takes classes for her linguistics and neuroscience double majors and classics minor. She dates a Macalester senior, prints off homework assignments from the Dewitt Wallace library and meets with Macalester professors for career advice.

The twist?

Bloomquist is a full-time student enrolled at St. Catherine University. She may be the only student this semester pursuing a major at Macalester through the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, or ACTC, but her situation embodies the opportunity ACTC students have to make use of Macalester resources.

For the past four or five semesters, students from local colleges have been taking more classes at Macalester than Macalester students have been taking at other institutions. In recent semesters Macalester has hosted nearly twice as many students from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities as Macalester students have taken ACTC classes.

The ACTC is a consortium of five area colleges and universities, which, according to the ACTC Web site, aims to “combine the community atmosphere of a small liberal arts college with the diversity of opportunities of a large university.” Full-time students enrolled at one institution are typically able to take one class per semester from another ACTC school, with some exceptions, particularly for students pursuing a major and minor from a different institution than they are enrolled at, and Macalester Registrar Jayne Niemi said that students are usually restricted to courses not offered at their own school.

Bloomquist started taking classes at Macalester last semester, and is taking 12 credits this semester toward her degrees, in addition to two general requirement classes at St. Kate’s. Though her situation is fairly unique, Bloomquist said she feels “very comfortable” at Macalester and cites a strong support system of advisors on both campuses, including Macalester faculty in her departments of study.

Bloomquist chose to attend St. Kate’s in part because she knew from early on that she wanted to take advantage of the ACTC. While she notes she notes that it is sometimes “a challenge” to take classes away from her campus, and there’s a lot of “negotiating between the two communities,” Bloomquist said, “I wanted a big school, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, so I felt okay going to St. Kate’s because I knew I could always have the opportunities that the ACTC offers.”

During spring 2009 semester, 65 Macalester students took classes through the ACTC, while 126 students from Augsburg College and Hamline, St. Catherine and St. Thomas universities took classes at Macalester. This fall Macalester sent 88 students to other campuses and 120 students are taking classes here. According to Niemi, most of Macalester’s exchanges are done with the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University, in part due to the close geographic proximity of the three schools.

“Mac students often take business courses at St. Thomas or go to St. Kate’s for photography classes that aren’t offered here,” Niemi said. “When students come to Macalester, they usually take courses in language, dance and geography, which is required for licensure in education programs.”

Niemi attributes the lower numbers of Macalester students participating in the ACTC in part to the transportation system which is “not terribly convenient,” and the academic calendars which vary between the five schools “especially in the spring, when the start and end dates of the semester can create housing and graduation issues,” Niemi said. “Also, students usually find what they need and want academically at Macalester.

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