Taking classes through Tri-College

It’s 6 a.m. on registration day. Luckily Banner opens right away, but one of the classes that fulfills a major requirement is no longer being offered. The class is only offered one semester a year, and the next time it is offered is after graduation. There is only one option left:  take the class through Tri-College University.

Any student enrolled at any one of the three area schools—North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, or Concordia College—can take part in a Tri-College program.

According to its website, Tri-College is a “partnership among the three higher education institutions in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn.” Tri-College began in the 1960’s as a cooperative effort to enhance higher education in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“By being a student and paying your tuition at your home campus, you are allowed to take a class not offered at your home institution,” said Sonia Mayo, Tri-College University’s communication coordinator.

Freshman Jacqueline Jeziorski is currently taking a survey course in speech, hearing, and learning sciences at MSUM. She is hoping to obtain a second degree through Tri-College.

“It’s what I want to do as a career and Concordia doesn’t offer that major,” Jeziorski said.

Jerziorski chooses to stay at Concordia, though, because she thinks it is a great school, and the scholarships she has makes being at Concordia cheaper than MSUM.

Tri-College isn’t all about taking classes at a different university. Tri-College also allows for students to take advantage of just about everything the other universities in the area offer.

“Other opportunities afforded to students from the cooperation are that students have access to libraries and their resources at the two partnering campuses,” Mayo said. “Students may attend speaker or cultural programs and seminars or other educational events.”

Some of the other options that Tri-College offers, and not many students know about, are the Gold Star Marching Band and Musical Theatre Troupe. Both of those programs are through NDSU.

Freshman Jaqueline Jeziorski says that taking advantage of these different programs is a great way to understand more about other colleges and their culture.

“The other opportunities are really cool,” Jeziorski said. “You get to see a different campus and meet different people. You get to see how they work things.”

One of the biggest reasons a student will take a class through one of the other Tri-College universities is when problems arise with a class that fulfills major requirements being offered at a certain time.

Senior Meagan McDougall ran into this problem with her final class to achieve her multimedia journalism degree.

“I was originally able to register, but they had to cancel the class due to low enrollment,” McDougall said.

A student can encounter more than just an educational experience through a Tri-College program; the opportunity can also be fun.

“You get to know other students and be in a different setting for classes,” Jeziorski said. “It’s refreshing.”

Although it may seem helpful to take more than one class through Tri-College a student is only allowed to take one at a time. Even if a student is working towards a minor, that doesn’t ensure he or she gets into the required class.

“Campuses do give preference to their own students first,” Mayo said. “Partnering campus students will then be admitted as a first-come, first-registered.”

Right now, Concordia has the lowest student population participating in Tri-College programs. According to Mayo, this has to do with the fact that Concordia’s population is much smaller than NDSU’s and MSUM’s. Concordia’s low participation also has been attributed to the fact that students don’t participate during the summer because most students go home.

Even with low Cobber participation, Tri-College has also seemed to bridge some of the gap between MSUM and Concordia since most Cobbers will take courses at MSUM rather than making the trek up north to NDSU.

“MSUM has the program that I was looking for,” Jeziorski said. “I would still choose MSUM over NDSU because it’s closer. It’s like a 10 minute walk away.”

Depending on a student’s situation, registering for Tri-College can be really simple or a lot of work. McDougall had a tougher time than most because she was trying to take a class that is normally only offered at Concordia and then had to deal with the class being cancelled.

McDougall had originally signed up for advanced reporting, but to her dismay under-enrollment got the class canceled. She then had to work with the registrar and the department head to find a class, either at Concordia or one of the two other area universities to fulfill the requirement.

The obstacles surrounding McDougall’s class didn’t deter her from trying to get what she needed to graduate. Faculty and the registrar finally decided that MSUM’s magazine writing class will be a good supplement to the advanced reporting class she was supposed to take.

“It was kind of a mucky process,” McDougall said

Jeziorski had a much simpler time working with the registrar and the department head at MSUM to take a class there. She simply met with her advisor and the department head at MSUM to talk about the class and what it could do for her. Then she got the paperwork from the registrar to make sure that she had everything taken care of to actually take the class and get the credits to transfer back.

There are a few things that each student should know when taking part in Tri-College. First, a student participating in Tri-College will get an ID number and an email from the school that they are taking classes from. McDougall said that having an extra email account from a different university to check is hard because she just isn’t used to having to do that.

While seminars and educational programs at the second university are both free, things like the wellness center are not. Because Concordia students aren’t paying NDSU or MSUM student fees, Cobbers can’t take advantage of their wellness centers.

One of the biggest difficulties that can arise from doing a Tri-College program is the fact that MSUM and NDSU, MSUM and Concordia all have major breaks starting at different times.

“It’s challenging coordinating the different schedules,” McDougall said.

To coordinate the schedules, McDougall attributes her success to creating an understanding with professors that when Concordia has breaks she will not be in class.

All of the challenges aside, McDougall has feels that Tri-College can enhance the college experience a student is already getting at Concordia.

“It’s a good experience to go to school with other students,” McDougall said. “It’s fun to learn about a different program and how they train their students to think and to work.”

Whether a student wants to take a class that doesn’t fit in their schedule, or he or she wants to add a little more fine arts into his or her life, Tri-College is one option that is easy for all Concordia students to be a part of.

“I think it’s too great of an opportunity to pass up,” Jeziorski said. “Even socially, getting to know some place other than Concordia is helpful.”

This article was submitted by Kelsey Drayton. She can be reached at kdrayton@cord.edu

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