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The rite of fall: While teachers confer, MN colleges host prospective students

The Macalester campus looking like a highlight of the fall colors campus tour
The Macalester campus looking like a highlight of the fall colors campus tour

Is there a high-school student living at your house? If so, you probably still refer to the school-free interlude that takes place every year in mid-October as MEA weekend.

And I’m with you in solidarity on that. I mean, Education Minnesota Professional Conference sounds so … suffocating. I’ve perused the Oct. 20-21 schedule [PDF] and I know that when they flood into the Civic — er, RiverCentre in St. Paul on the 20th, our teachers many will attend such enigmatically titled panels as “The Essence of the Leech,” “Let’s Talk Scat,” and, this being the year where we put teachers in the crosshairs, “The Status of Your Pension.”

In fairness, they will also discuss a number of thorny classroom issues (gender identity, anyone?) and hear from Al Gore campaign leader, political strategist and all-around firecracker speaker Donna Brazile; a special-ed teacher who has Tourette Syndrome; and a professor of counselor education at Minnesota State University, Mankato by the name of Walter Roberts who is a leading authority on addressing bullying.

You’re still not swooning with envy? Well, then, better you and your college-bound darling take advantage of the Minnesota Private College Council’s annual fall colors campus tour. Some of the leafy campuses in question are right here in the Twin Cities, and some are in bucolic places like Collegeville, Northfield, St. Peter and the North Shore. All are lovely right about now.

The details vary by institution, but the gist is the same: All 17 of MPCC’s member colleges next week and weekend will offer a number of visitor events designed to give potential students a taste of what academics and campus life are like.

There are tours, financial aid counseling sessions, classroom visits, meals and personal interviews at some schools. There are sessions for athletes, for juniors just beginning to ponder the process and food–lots of food.

How do you know whether any of the schools are right for your blossoming scholar? MPCC’s website has a handy list of questions that should reveal a lot about each college. Many of them would never occur to those of us who got our higher ed back in the Mesozoic period when lectures and exams were the best most could expect.

Last year organizers at the college consortium even sent out link to a fall-colors map to further entice parents. This year the MEAs are threatening to fall just past-peak in a lot of places, but still.

If you’re thinking of going to any of the events, do spend some time on the MPCC site; advance registration is required for some activities.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2011 - 09:55 am.

    “you probably still refer to the school-free interlude that takes place every year in mid-October as MEA weekend.”

    Beth, why would we call it “MEA weekend” when it takes place during the week?

    While my kids were in k-12 we always called it “the 5th week of school”…but then they didn’t attend schools that ran on the MEA’s schedule.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2011 - 02:36 pm.

    BTW Beth, one cannot help but notice that the workshop schedule includes five (five) sessions which involve issues of interest to homosexual groups, but not 1 (one) that touches on the subject of our state’s apalling graduation and achievement gap.

    The most generous estimates put the homosexual population in metro area schools at 2%….while the minority population in those schools tops 35% and >40% of those students fail to graduate.

    Priorities; it’s all about priorities.

  3. Submitted by Beth Hawkins on 10/12/2011 - 05:46 pm.


    A careful reader has tweeted that my snark is misplaced today. The aforementioned workshop “The Essence of the Leech” will discuss cultural competency for those teaching Native American students. Clearly, I need to attend. My apologies.

    I’m going to hang up my journalistic hat entirely if “Let’s Talk Scat” turns out to be a musical workshop and not about wildlife droppings.

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