An Honest Letter to Prospective University of Minnesota Students

An all-access look at life as a Gopher

Kate Doyle

Kate Doyle

Dear Prospective Student,

Welcome to the University of Minnesota, where we pride ourselves on our excellent research opportunities, Division I athletics, and Minnesota “nice” attitude. But surely you have heard it all by now. From the tour groups and informational sessions to those promotional booklets that made you feel important for receiving something in the mail for once, you had the greatest qualities of this university presented to you in every form and phrasing imaginable. Instead of restating what you are tired of hearing, allow me to take you on an honest, all-access tour of this fine university, and you can decide for yourself what it means to be a Gopher.

When looking into colleges, location is undeniably important. If you don’t have a cool college town, it’s just your average educational institution. The University of Minnesota gets two whole cities, so it’s essentially twice as nice. Across the river and right down the street from the main campus is downtown Minneapolis, the second most hipster city in the country and the home of Prince, a fact of which we are very proud. There is a vibrant nightlife with extravagant clubs such as “The Gay 90s.” If you’re into a more artistic scene, Minneapolis boasts a number of experimental theaters that feature first-rate shows like “Human Centipede: the Musical.” Caffeine lovers out there are in luck; there are more coffee shops in Minneapolis than houses. Or so it seems, but seriously, there are a ton of coffee shops, each with their own unique theme: classic, European, homeless, the list goes on.

You meet the most interesting people while standing outside in the freezing Minnesota weather comparing the classes you are going to skip the next day.

Of course, you aren’t going to pick your college by the variety of coffee shops available, though I would commend you for including that criterion. The academics come first, and here they really are superb. Mind you, it’s not just because the professors are world-renowned, but because they are genuinely cool people who like to show their school spirit. My chemistry professor, for example, demonstrated his pride for the University of Minnesota by setting our rival’s mascot, Bucky Badger, on fire during a lesson on kinetics. I call that education at its finest.

I know from my own experience that one of the most concerning parts of preparing for your first year of college is figuring out where you will live. At the University of Minnesota, you can’t go wrong. There are Living Learning Communities in many of the residence halls, which makes it easy to meet like-minded people. No matter which hall you end up living in, everyone shares the same important first-year experiences, such as the middle-of-the-night fire alarms and, if you live in Middlebrook, the occasional surprise fire sprinkler shower. These events are a rite of passage, and believe me, you meet the most interesting people while standing outside in the freezing Minnesota weather comparing the classes you are going to skip the next day.

If you are dreading the inevitable “dorm food,” you can breathe a sigh of relief. The dining halls found in the dorms here serve a wide-variety of dishes, the highlight of which are those made at the Exhibition Station. There you will find some of the most unique dishes you have ever tried, like bleu cheese waffles and chili on a potato. The Coffman Union cafeteria features a number of chain food options, including the best Chick-Fil-A in the country and a Panda Express that is also quite acceptable. If you aren’t feeling any of these options, you need only walk down the street. Washington Avenue is home to so many restaurants serving so many different types of food that you will never lack a reminder of how broke you are.

Every weekend hosts numerous campus activities to keep you from your much-needed study sessions. Sporting events are big here, so get ready to cheer on your team by the fiercest, most bad-ass mascot that ever psyched up a crowd: Goldy Gopher.

Plot twist: he isn’t even a gopher! He’s a thirteen-lined ground squirrel. But “Goldy Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel” isn’t nearly as catchy.

If you missed Matthew McConaughey’s cry face on the big screen, you can see it for free in Coffman Union.

Aside from the sports, there are many weekend activities offered, such as the free movies in Coffman Theater. Each weekend, new movies recently out of theaters are shown, with select picks such as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Gone Girl,” and “Interstellar.” If you missed Matthew McConaughey’s cry face on the big screen, you can see it for free in Coffman Union. Other activities, such as Capture the Flag on the quad, which is as intense as it sounds, occur each week and are open to everyone.

Though you have heard it before, it really is true: you will be hard-pressed to find another school with such stellar academics at such an affordable price. With the wide range of experiences to be had, the University of Minnesota can be a best-fit for anyone. It was for me. Will it be for you?