What is it Like to Attend University of Minnesota?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. David is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota studying Biochemistry and Finance. He is a Minneapolis tutor specializing in Chemistry tutoring, Biology tutoring, ACT prep tutoring, and several other subjects. See what he had to say about his school:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

David: The University of Minnesota campus is divided into three parts: the East Bank and West Bank in Minneapolis, and the St. Paul campus, a few miles east.  All three sections are relatively urban in nature. Campus is relatively safe, but spread out. Walking, busing, or biking between classes is common; driving a car is possible, but finding cheap or free parking can be frustrating. 

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

David: It really depends on the class. I have had lectures with 20 students, where every student has face time with the professor, and I have had lecture halls of 500, where no one knows the professor very well. Teaching assistants and academic advisers are usually available for larger classroom settings.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

David: We have lots of dorms on campus—Bailey Hall in St. Paul, Middlebrook Hall on the West Bank, and several more on the East Bank. Most residence halls have integrated dining centers; the ones that do not are near those that do. Most dorms are very social, with lounge-like areas for socializing and periodic group activities.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

David: The University of Minnesota has a broad range of well-represented majors and programs. Chemistry, business, law, and mathematics are especially strong. I am a biochemistry/finance double major, and though my position is unique, I am well supported by my academic advisers/counselors.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

David: I found meeting people at Middlebrook Hall on West Bank to be very easy. I ended up living with friends I made after I moved out, and the atmosphere is friendly and light. Greek life is its own little subculture; those who participate usually stick within Greek circles, and I have never been involved in it. Fraternities and sororities occasionally hold campus events, but for the most part, they stick to themselves.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

David: The career center and job fairs make finding potential employers a breeze. Lots of reputable companies hire students directly after graduation, and there are additional job offers and internship opportunities available on the University of Minnesota’s website.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

David: It really depends on the time you go. There are three main libraries: Wilson Library on West Bank, and Walter Library and the biomedical libraries on East Bank. During finals week, good luck finding an open table to study at. But most of the time, there is plenty of room to use. Wilson Library is probably the biggest and least crowded of the three.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

David: The downtown and uptown neighborhoods near campus make adventures to local restaurants and other establishments common. Many students spend time in Dinkytown, where there is food and entertainment in abundance.  

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

David: The student body is massive, all in all near 50,000. Class sizes really depend on the field of study and division of class. For example, an introductory calculus class may be a massive lecture, whereas a philosophy course I took last year had about 20 students. Generally, my class sizes average under 100—which keeps me engaged enough to do well.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

David: I enjoyed Organic Chemistry laboratory—it was hands-on, very challenging, and I had an excellent teaching assistant named David. In the beginning, the experiments were very simple, but as the semester continued on, the complexity increased. By the end, we were performing highly specialized copolymer synthesis reactions, and the sense of achievement was great. 

Check out David’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.