Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Minnesota West center in Redwood Falls celebrates five years

  • In August 2009 a new center opened up in Redwood Falls that allowed students looking to further their education the chance to do so without the need to travel....
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  • In August 2009 a new center opened up in Redwood Falls that allowed students looking to further their education the chance to do so without the need to travel. The Minnesota West Community and Technical College center, which is located in the southeast corner of the county government center, celebrated the milestone of teaching five years of classes in May. While celebrating that milestone is significant, what provides even greater reason for celebration is the success the post-secondary center has had over the past five academic years. According to Michael Van Keulen, Redwood Falls center director, the numbers of students taking part in the program is on the rise, which is demonstrated in the fact that 22 students graduated from the program through the local center during the past year alone. “There were more graduates this year than in all of our past years,” said Van Keulen, adding he thinks the success of the program likely has to do with the economic struggles of the region. “There was a big influx of students in 2010-11 during the recession.” Van Keulen said the increased enrollment is made up of a mix of students, with a majority of them classified as non-traditional students who are in their 20s and 30s. “We are seeing more high school students doing PSEO classes,” said Van Keulen, adding for those students even getting in a couple of classes can make a big difference when those students continue in their post-secondary education. Many of the classes are done over the Internet, but there are classes which are held at the center, as well. Van Keulen said the Internet courses provide flexibility for students, especially those who are part-time students and are holding down a job while they continue to pursue some sort of degree. Van Keulen said he is confident the center is filling a niche in the community, adding he believes the center is providing a high level of service for students who are looking to enhance their education or to begin pursuit of a degree. Those who are interested in pursuing a degree may stop in at the center to talk with Van Keulen, and he said a career assessment is offered to those who are interested through the center for free. “I go over the results with them,” said Van Keulen. “It’s a nice way to help them think about what they want to do based on their interests.” Van Keulen said there are some discussions taking place to determine what the next five years are going to look like at the local center. He added summer is the perfect time to be thinking about singing up for fall classes. Those who would like more information, should contact Van Keulen, by calling (507) 637-6007. The center is open during the summer Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
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