Created in 1987 by the Legislature of Minnesota, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has undergone continuing improvements and has become the special and unique institution that stands today. Set in the midst of Cloquet, Minnesota, the school is located on 38 acres of land dotted with majestic red pines.
Sitting on top of a bluff, the building of the campus was carefully orchestrated by community members, students and educators. The campus ring road is even shaped like a bear paw and a circle, said to represent “strength and protection.” The main campus has four main wings, representing the four directions, and the four colors of the Fond du Lac Reservation of red, black, white, and yellow, as represented on the building to represent diversity. Additional works of art and architecture are spread across every corner of campus, creating a natural and harmonic blend with the natural Minnesota landscape. Fond du Lac was designated as a federal Land Grant institution, as outlined in the federal Equity in Educational Land Grant Status Act of 1994.
Students are offered small class sizes, with excellent faculty to student ratios. Class schedules are flexible, and class times fall on days, evenings, and weekends, making it possible for students to coordinate around previously existing family, employment, or other commitments. The school participates in a Weekend College scheme, to make earning a degree as accessible as possible to busy students. Recently, exciting new degree programs have been added like environmental science, e-crime and computer security, geographic information systems, nutrition, electric utility technology and early childhood development.
As part of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium of Tribal Colleges, the school aims to provide Native Americans with an educational environment that respects their tribal cultures. Students may enroll in programs awarding associate of arts, associate of fine arts, associate of applied science, or associate of science degrees. Students may also enroll in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, or certificate programs. The most popular programs of study are law enforcement, business, liberal arts, computer science, human services, American Indian studies, and environmental science. Special programs help students get ahead like the Center of Excellence, the Museum and Cultural Learning Center, Intercollegiate Athletics, the Environmental Institute, the St. Louis River-River Watch Project, and Tribal Earth Science & Technology Education.
The liberal arts and sciences transfer program is specifically geared towards students intending to transfer to a four-year institution after earning an associate’s degree, however, only certain areas of concentration apply. Career and technical education programs are designed for students entering the job market directly after graduation, and provide essential training. Certificate programs are designed as short courses that help students get ahead in their continuing careers or educations, and bachelors degree cooperative programs work in conjunction with regional colleges and universities. Cooperative programs generally offer all or most classes at the Cloquet campus, or remotely via online study. Participating post-secondary institutions include Bemidji State University, the College of St. Scholastica, and the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Most Popular Fields of Study
The school participates in the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act, or PSEO. This allows 11th and 12th grade secondary students to enroll in college level courses and/or programs on a full- or part-time basis. Students may qualify by merit or recommendation. Credits may apply to high school graduation, may be accepted as college credits, or both. Interested students should meet with their guidance counselor.
College in High Schools, or concurrent enrollment, is a partnership between Fond du Lac and participating local high schools. Students may attend college-level courses if they are qualified high school students. Credits earned are accredited and transferable at the collegiate level, while simultaneously applying towards the student’s high school requirements.
All qualifying applicants who have graduated from high school or have passed the GED test are eligible for open-door admission. Students may also qualify for admission under Ability to Benefit, should they not have a high school diploma or equivalent, by taking the Accuplacer test.
First year, weekend college, and part-time students must complete an application, provide placement test results (ACT, SAT or Accuplacer), an official high school transcript, pay the non-refundable application fee, and supply documentation of immunizations against mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, and tetanus. Transfer students must also supply official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions, and attend an orientation session. Non-residents students, from outside Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, must meet certain merit requirements, and must have completed at least 15 college credits with an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
International applicants will be considered, and must demonstrate English language proficiency.
Each student wishing to receive financial aid must complete the FAFSA. Financial aid may be received in the form of grants, work-study, and loans. Students may seek assistance from the Office of Financial Aid at any time during the application process. American Indian students may also be available for a variety of scholarships, such as Foundation Scholarships, Tribal Scholarships, private scholarships, and the Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program.
Student Financial Aid Details
The school enrolls over 2,000 students per year, and all students study at the undergraduate level. As a tribal college, the vast majority of students are of Native American origin. Many students choose to live in campus housing residence halls. Affordably priced and conveniently located, the residences supply students with amenities like basic cable TV, local phone service, high-speed internet, air conditioning, and utilities. There is an adjoining parking lot reserved for student residents. Student apartments come in two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and quad dorm room layouts, and bedrooms are shared generally between two students. Residence halls enjoy a wide range of social and athletic events and activities.
All students may choose to participate in campus activities and Student Life Activities, such as clubs, organizations, intercollegiate athletics, and intramural activities. Some of the campus clubs and organizations include the American Indian Business Leaders, the Human Services Club, the Law Enforcement Club, the Outdoor Recreation Club, the Student Senate, Phi Theta Kappa, and others. Regular intramural activities are softball, volleyball, basketball, bowling, chess, cribbage, pool, and more. Special campus events include the Bibboon Fest, the Campus Rummage Sale, the Pumpkin Run and Walk, and Hot Summer Nights Concert Series.
Students on campus receive a range of student services like disability services, career services, the PROP providing resources opportunities and possibilities program, and counseling services.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The school fields competitive intercollegiate sports teams in the Minnesota Community College Conference. Student athletes may compete in football, women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and softball. The Thunder compete at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III level, meaning no athletic scholarships are awarded. Home games are played at the Lester Jack Briggs Cultural Center, including a gymnasium, locker rooms, a weight room and fitness center.
Accreditation is provided by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Law Enforcement Program is certified by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, and the Nursing Program is approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.
Justine Ventimiglia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Currently residing in a 1950’s modest ranch in Metro Detroit, she enjoys researching and writing about Mid Century Modern furniture and decor as she works on restoring her home and documenting the process.