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The University of Minnesota - Duluth

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Honestly speaking, I didn't expect to come toQuite BrightGenetics
Honestly speaking, I didn't expect to come to the U until the last minute. Financial aid fell through at my school of choice, and I rather not be buried in loans before I start Grad school. Because of my haste, I didn't READ that Biomedical Engineering is in IT, not CBS. I found that out soon enough. But being said, I felt lucky to have landed in CBS. Students are more friendly in my opinion, and classes are smaller, well compared to IT classes (I ended up doing a double major with Biomedical Engineering in IT and Genetics...(GCD) in CBS, so I know what I am talking about when I say friendlier). I was in the CBS Honors program, so the advising part was superb. My adviser knew so much about me and was an excellent resource. I found the classes to be very, very easy. I take 20 credits a semester, but I normally don't have to study outside of going to lectures, doing HW (if it needs to be handed in), and cramming for exams. Very manageable except for a few crazy weeks of the year when everything is due at the same time when I have to apply to Med schools. It is hard to meet and retain friends here since people move around so much, and it is hard to meet in classes, but if you are active and join clubs, that's a solvable problem. It does take efforts, but quite like high school. Do get involved in research though. I got into a lab in Fall of Sophomore year, best decision ever. It really spice things up a great deal. I learned so, so much in lab, and it helped A LOT to get into good schools. I have learned that Profs like young students, READ:Sophomores. It is hard to get into anywhere as a freshman, but the searching and email should start already. Don't frat about not knowing enough. Even starting seniors make very stupid mistakes and know essentially nothing. It is relatively hard to get into a lab because so many people are trying, but if you email enough and keep your grades up, your chance will be close to 100%. I am kind of dorky and prefer writing this blog over partying, so no advices there. But I do love the different ethnic restaurants, very, very cute city in terms of food. But if Chinese food is what you are after, you better like spicy food. Non-spicy Chinese Cuisine here is just crap in my opinion. Don't have enough Northerners apparently.
4th Year Female -- Class 2010
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I'm beginning my senior year here at theQuite BrightGenetics
I'm beginning my senior year here at the U, but I actually transferred to the U from a much smaller school, so I really have a basis for comparison on what I talk about. I'm in the Genetics, Cell Bio and Development program here, in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS). CBS is, in my opinion, the best college at the U. The faculty is helpful and friendly, and the students are all dedicated and motivated. This is to be expected, as the last that I heard; it is the most difficult school to get into on campus.

So, I make this distinction: I love CBS. I _hate_ the University of Minnesota. CBS doesn't feel like a part of the U. It's even on a different campus. For those that aren't familiar, the U is split into three sections: East Bank (the central hub of the U, home to general classes and the CLA), West Bank (closest to downtown, home to fine arts, the social sciences and the law school) and St. Paul (a 15-20 minute, 5 mile bus ride from east bank on the U's campus connector. The St. Paul Campus is home to Agronomy, CBS and the Veterinary School. It's also the most laid back campus, and feels like an actual college, not a megalithic institute of higher Ed.)I like St. Paul. It has the quietest libraries, the coolest people, and the most untapped resources. If you go here and you need quiet to study, look no further than St. Paul. Magrath (pronounced MaGraw) library is always empty, and has a local tutoring center and computers out the wazoo. CBS rocks. St. Paul rocks. The U sucks, for the most part.

I'll explain my dislike of the U now. I transferred from a small school with an average class size of 25, and as few as 15 in the upper level science courses. I chose the U because it is close to my home, enjoys a good (but ill-founded) reputation and is affordable. (Make that WAS affordable. They really do jack tuition close to $100 each semester. And books are obscene, but don't get me started on that.) My biggest complaints with the U all come from its size. You are nothing more than a number at the U. I'm serious, and I'm not exaggerating. The Profs are usually good, but the actual system could care less about who you are. I actually filled out a fin. Aid form last semester that only asked for my student ID number. They have since changed it to ask for your name as well. Bureaucracy has sunken in to a huge degree at the U. This is to be expected, as how else would you manage a school with 60,000 people on campus on a given day? It does take away from the experience though. My Organic Chemistry 1 class had an enrollment of just shy of 400 students. There was, and still is, a cap on the number of questions that can be asked. This is a typical experience at the U. My senior level biology classes still have over 100 students. This is sick, and prevents you from making the connections with TAs, Profs and other students that are so crucial to the college experience. Some people enjoy the anonymity. My best friend loves it. I don't. It all depends on what you like, but you owe to yourself to ask these questions before you start there. The U has a phenomenally poor graduation rate for incoming freshman. It's in the low 60's. Most of the loss comes from transfers. Lots of kids get out in their sophomore year. In addition, Minnesota winters are harsh. It sounds lame, but I know some people who came here from CA, and they hate it. Last year we had two weeks where the wind-chill pushed the temperature to -40 degrees. That's NEGATIVE 40. I actually got mild frostbite on my ears walking down the mall. It's nothing that can't be dealt with; just make sure that you are prepared for it. Minnesota is a beautiful state, and there are some great natural places even close to campus, but it's not for everyone. Also, Academics play second fiddle to sports here. Most of the tax hikes are due to funding the various programs. Some of its good, most of it's bad. All the players on the football teams got PS3s last year, which I helped pay for. They're building a new stadium that they don't need. Again, I'm paying for it. This is bound to be the case at a public school, but the U takes it too far. This will probably change soon; they're really catching hell over it from the public and the government.

These are the things that are wrong at the U. Here's what's good. The night life is great. There are always things to do. The U even has free movies four or more times a week. The student centers are awesome places to hang out and meet friends, and all have full fledged game rooms with bowling alleys, pool, darts and arcades. There are hundreds of student organizations, of every flavor you can imagine. It really is a beautiful campus. The Northrop Mall is what I always envisioned a college to look like. There are tons of people, which is great for making friends or the dating scene. Transit options are affordable if you live off campus, especially busing. $65 gets you unlimited bus rides on Metro Transit. This includes the Light Rail, which will soon stop on campus. There are tons of bars, clubs, movie theaters, restaurants and specialty shops within walking distance of any campus. And it's only a five minute bus ride to downtown Minneapolis, which is loaded with stuff to do. Tuition, while always going up, is still affordable. It’s really a fun place. Just don't let it distract you from your studies. I have more than a few friends who have flunked out, and most of them are pretty sharp.

I know this is a lot to digest, but these are the things that I wish someone would have told me before I started at the U. Whatever you chose to do, I wish you luck.

3rd Year Male -- Class 2008
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