Before they attended the Pre-College Residential Experience at Macalester (PRE@MAC) program in June, several local high school students had not really considered a college like Macalester and didn’t believe financial aid really existed.

By the time the program ended four days later, they had started to think about a different life for themselves after high school and what it would be like to attend a private liberal arts college now that they knew it was possible.

What changed their minds? The PRE@MAC program. It was new this year, and if the feedback the admissions staff received was any indicator, the program was a huge success.

“The point of this program is to show these students what options they have, and that small liberal arts colleges like Macalester have advantages for them,” said Luciano Guzman, a 2016 Mac graduate and someone who was a first-gen student in his family and participated at a similar program at St. Olaf. Guzman is now a Macalester Admissions Officer.

PRE@MAC is part of Macalester’s effort to bolster connections with students and schools in the Twin Cities. The program is for local high school students who come from backgrounds that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education. PRE@MAC is designed for rising high school juniors who have just completed their sophomore year.

It’s four days where 30 students experience life as a college student. They live on campus, sleep in the residence halls, and learn about finding and applying to the best school for them be it a big state school or a liberal arts college like Macalester. They find out how schools like Mac use financial aid to make college more affordable, sample real classes taught by Macalester professors and explore the campus and neighborhood. And, they connect with other students on their college journey who are also learning about the value of a liberal arts education.

There is no tuition or fee to participate in PRE@MAC.

Before coming here, about half the students had not considered a four-year education, but after the program they did, and in particular, they were thinking about private liberal arts colleges.

In a reflection circle at the end of their PRE@MAC time at Macalester, each student wrote a letter to their future self, a letter that Macalester will mail to them at the end of their junior year. And maybe by then they can think of themselves as members of the class of 2025.

August 6 2019

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