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Minnesota's Public, Private Colleges Team Up to Urge Students to Get Set for College




Statewide communications effort to help expand the pool of college-ready students

Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
(651) 259-3902

Minnesota's public and private universities and colleges, which often compete with one another for students, have joined forces in an unprecedented effort to encourage students to start thinking about and planning for postsecondary education. A new marketing campaign titled Make it Happen targets low-income middle school students to convince them that college is possible if they make the right choices now.

"The state is doing its part to raise expectations, increase rigor and hold out incentives for students to do well academically," Governor Tim Pawlenty said. "It's also important that students plan ahead to reach their goals. This initiative sends the message that we expect great things from all our kids and provides some tools to help turn their dreams into reality."

The initiative includes a television spot, print ads and posters. Students are directed to a Web site that provides information appropriate for the age group and encourages students to dream, prepare and ask for help. The pilot project is financially supported by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Private College Council and the Minnesota Career College Association. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is supporting and coordinating the effort. The Minnesota Department of Education is also a financial sponsor.

Other partners in the effort are the Minnesota Campus Compact, the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership and the Get Ready program. NorthStar Education Finance, Inc., has awarded the initiative a grant to develop an online academic counseling function for students as well.

The campaign theme, "Don't Just Doodle. Make it Happen," was developed based on the premise that most middle school students have dreams and aspirations for their future. However, often those dreams start to fade, particularly for low-income students, as various academic, financial and social challenges emerge when the student reaches high school. The campaign was developed by Riley Hayes Advertising, which contributed, pro-bono, to the effort. It will run in the spring and fall of 2007.

To view the ad campaign and the Web site, visit

"There are concrete steps that sixth- through ninth-graders can take now that will make it easier for them to succeed later in college," said James H. McCormick, Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. "We want students to be thinking about college earlier than they have in the past."

"The University of Minnesota is doing a lot to work with schools to enhance students' Academic preparation for college," said Robert Bruininks, President of the University of Minnesota. "This effort helps us address another key factor, which is motivation."

"Encouraging more middle school students to plan for college is vital to Minnesota's future," said David B. Laird, Jr., President, Minnesota Private College Council. "We need all students in the state to realize their fullest potential."

"Minnesota's career colleges are thrilled to be part of this joint effort to encourage middle school students to begin thinking about going to college," said Michelle Ernst, Chair of the Minnesota Career College Association.

"We are grateful for the tremendous collaboration and hope we can expand and improve upon this initial effort to inspire young students who may not think college is within their reach," said Susan Heegaard, director of the Office of Higher Education, the agency coordinating the campaign.

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