Oh, UMD. I am not sure how to go about this. I have to say many of the previous reviews are mostly valid, at least in my mind.
I think this university was just not right for me. A previous review mentioned how UMD was "just like high school," and I found that to be a very astute observation. If you are a Minnesota kid who isn't too adventurous, is ok with mediocrity, and isn't over the whole high school mentality of cliques and exclusivity regarding your friend groups (or you aren't bothered by this kind of atmosphere), you will might like UMD.
Cost. UMD tuition and fees is really out of line of what it should be for what the academic quality is. If you have to bother taking out private loans to go to UMD (unless you are an engineering major), just don't. It's really not worth it. UMD has one of the highest student debt levels for colleges in MN, the average is right around $30,000.
The academics weren't horrible, but they were not up to my standards on what I believe a college education should be. The main drawbacks I saw was a lack of innovation and creativity, which I believe defines higher education and what college should be about. As a student, I finished the busywork they gave me and moved on. Busywork. There seemed to be an abundance of it. I honestly feel that the academic work I am doing is not meaningful and I don't feel like it will prepare me for the workforce after graduation. That said, there were a few classes and professors that were gems. I took some great criminology, anthropology, music, and random gen-eds that really influenced me and changed my perspective on a lot of different topics. Don't shy away from taking random, quirky gen-eds; they can be a diamond in the rough that can really make your college experience.
Dorms. I lived in the brand new dorms in Griggs (Ianni Hall) and I am very glad I ended up living here. It was like living in the Hiltons compared to the rest of the dorms. I probably would have went crazy if I lived anywhere else. They very nice study lounges that overlook Lake Superior, with many windows and good lighting. The dorms are pretty spacious and carpeted, and it's new and nice. TIP: If you want to live in Ianni, write it on your housing application as a side note. That's what I did, figuring I've got nothing to lose...and I ended up getting assigned Ianni. I lucked out, dorm-wise.
If you are a science/engineering major, UMD might be a good school for you. They are well respected in those areas.
UMD did not appeal to me aesthetically. The new renovations give it a very modern feel (the new Swenson Science Building is pretty nice), but there are many areas on campus that have not been renovated since the 1960's, giving some areas of the school a delapidated and run-down atmosphere. There also isn't a central, hang-out, student union type of place (not counting Griggs Beach, which isn't really a beach at all. It's just the grassy/pavement area behind Griggs). I am someone who loves old brick historic buildings, lots of green space, and central common area. But that's just me a my opinion.
My review is getting lengthier than I had intended. If you like hockey, like the outdoors, and don't mind college feeling a bit like high school, you might love UMD. A lot of people do.
MY #1 tip to prospective students: Give it a FULL YEAR. You really need a full year to decide if a college s really for you or not. I was miserable my first semester at UMD. 2nd semester was a big turn-around and it felt more like home. You need to stay a full year to get the full impression of a place. It can take a while to make friends, get into classes you enjoy, get involved, and generally get in your groove. But definitely stick it out the whole year. Believe me.Definitely get to know your professors and advisors right away, and don't shy away from getting involved in extracurriculars and clubs. Advocate for yourself and start padding your resume now, and don't be afraid to start thinking about undergrad research opportunities, if that's what you're interested in. That's my best advice: Be adventurous and give everything a try once. Don't just sit around and think about getting involved, just dive in and do it.