University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Lucas

Academics seem to be a big deal at the University of Minnesota; a few students even started to have intellectual conversations at my College of Science and Engineering orientation. Professors strongly encourage students to meet with them regularly, providing office hours where students can stop in and a lunch with a professor program where both the professor and a few students get a free meal. As for starting your job search, you will be starting early, as there are job fairs every semester, and you are highly encouraged, if not required, to go to them. I will be required to go to one the fall semester of my Freshman year to start exploring the job market.

Nicholas

It would be hard for professors to remember everyone's name, especially in the big lecture halls, but I was surprised when a couple of my professors attempted to. They did a pretty good job, too. Students study as much as they want to. Class participation increases over the course of each semester.

Kristin

I am a second year student in the School of Nursing. Because I am only taking courses related to my major, my classes are much more personal that classes taken in the first or second year of college. The majority of my professors know my name and are easy to approach whether after class or during office hours. I spend about 6-7 hours every weekday studying and/or in class. But as a junior, my schedule is more demanding. My freshman/sophomore year was closer to 3-4 hours every weekday. The requirements for my nursing major are very realistic. Because this field of study is related to health care, the standards need to be high, as we will be dealing with patients and essentially will be responsible for their health. As far as I know, other majors also have acceptable standards. If you are able to meet the academic requirements to graduate from the U of M, you will be ready to enter the work force in the real world. My least favorite class that I have taken is and introductory music class which was taken my freshman year. I was completely unprepared for the amount of work it would require and severely underestimated the difficulty of the class. It was also a class taken the first semester of my freshman year and I was expecting an “easy A”. This class was also the most unique class I’ve taken. We played foreign instruments, had performers of many ethnicities come to class and listened to a handful of new music I would have never experienced were it not for this class. Class participation is more common as students progress further into their college years. Some classes have over 100 students and this can be intimidating. But these classes often have small group time to talk about the topic being taught. I believe the farther you get into your major, the more competitive student will get. Often the class sizes are smaller and more personable, so competition may arise. Many majors gear the education toward getting a job but also research. The U of M is known for putting out a lot of research and many classes emphasize the importance of research but do an excellent job of preparing you for the “real world”.

Eric

The administration has claimed that we're going to be one of the "Top 3 Public Research Universities" by 20something. I really hope it happens, but I sort of doubt it. The engineering department is very good, though I'd avoid Biomed for a few years until they come up with a solid curriculum. I'm really enjoying Chem E even though (or maybe because) the department is constantly trying to break the students, and most of the professors are excellent. The CEMS department is focused on grad school, and there are plenty of opportunities to do research. It's almost hard not to get a UROP grant.

Casey

By far the best classes I took were language classes. The class size is small in comparison to most others. The classes are interactive. I love them. The Chinese teachers in particular are hilarious. For almost other courses the class size is going to be huge and questions should be saved to ask your teacher one-on-one. You have to make an effort to stay in touch with your professor because they are usually here for research and have there own things. A lot of work has to be done on your own. The IT students are almost guranteed a job straight out of college. Many are recruited while still in school. Carlson school of Management also produces amazing business students who usually don't have a problem finding well paying jobs all over the world. The Nursing school is extremely hard to get into but with the growing health industry there is a 100% chance of them finding a good job. CLA is a bit different. Students here will most likely double if not triple in majors. They will get a taste of all other fields through their liberal education requirements. The jobs they get will probably not be related to there major. For me this is a college for learnings sake. Here you take classes that you want to not because you have to. All University of Minnesota graduates have a little prestige attached to their degree and will have an easier time finding a job then someone who is not from a big ten school

Andrew

Although there were quite a few instructors in the lower-division "BIG" classes that knew me by name, once you get to the upper division classes in the institute of technology, the class sizes drop significantly and you can really get to know instructors. They have frequent office hours, and even when they aren't holding office hours they will help you if you run into them in the building or if they are in their office and the door just happens to be open. I have emailed professors at ungodly hours of night and received responses right away. I have received guidance from professors in extracurriculars, job searches, etc. that is beyond their job description. This may not be true for all majors in the institute of technology, but the civil engineering faculty was amazing.

Jamie

People are often concerned about the size and having classes be too overwhelming. No matter which college you attend, classes are going to be more difficult and challenge you. I know I definitely had a rude awakening first semester of my freshman year. I tried to get by doing what I did in high school. That's impossible with UMN's science and math classes. They are very difficult and you must be ready to deal with the difficult curriculum and competitive students.

Sarah

There are so many classes to take that I can always find something that I would love to learn about. I am a Spanish Major and we have so many different classes to chose from because our department is quite large. We have professors from all over the world and also native English speakers. There are so many faculty members on campus that if you find one you don't like, you don't have to ever talk to them again. The academic requirements allow for a student to get a broad spectrum of classes. There are several themes such as "Environment", "Publich Ethics", and "Social Science" that are required for a student but there are many options under each and you can alwasy find something that interests you.

Kevin

My college, the college of design, is one of the smaller colleges on campus. Most of my professors know my name and they are always available outside of class during their office hours to talk about class or just about what we've been up to. I've been told that the engineering department, especially chemical engineering is the best in the country. We have other departments that are highly ranked but I just don't care about those.

Brian

Professors don't know your name if you don't introduce yourself. It is different than a private small college becuase you have to do a little extra work to make your professor know your name. It is nice when you raise your hand in a 250 student lecture and your professor calls on you by name - but to make that happen, you have to add 2 minutes to your first day of that class and introduce yourself. Students at the U are very intelligent, in and outside of classes. We talk about religion, politics, people, families and since their are so many different races we have very different conversations. The academics are definatly geared toward getting a job which is very nice. The internships and companies in the area always come to the U to find students and it is a great location to do that. The classes are tough and it is hard to get an A, but it is possible to do well.

brenna

terrible -- worst school ever

Jenny

The classes that I attended in St. Paul were small enough that I got to know many classmates and even the instructors. I still keep in touch with some of my instructors from undergrad. Even in Minneapolis in a large organic chemistry class the instructor knew me by name. I never expected to be known by name attending such a large school. I also enjoyed working with the staff in the College of Agriculture's office. They also knew my name when I came in. I really appreciated being remembered.

Rachel

Some professors are cool, others suck the big one. But that's going to happen at any school. And even after you're done with the class the cool profesors are pretty awesome at helping you if you need it.

Allison

Academics are wonderful. Professors make themselves available and TA's are incredibly learned in their topic of choice. Smaller classes or lecture classes are available.

Alex

Carlson is pretty ridiculous. Everyone in the classes are suckups - but I have realized that they have to be because they get graded like that.

Tristan

My classes are relatively small and my professors know me by name. I love my Spanish classes because I love speaking Spanish. My least favorite class is math because I'm horrible at math. A select few students in my classes participate. The most unique class I've ever taken was Rock II, the History of Rock and Roll. We listened to rock music and analyzed different songs. We had the coolest professor who knew so much about music.

Katy

My favorite class thus far was taught by Richa Nagar; it was a freshman seminar about narratives in social change. I loved my professor and everything that we learned in that class. It has led me to become more passionate about creating change. Depending on the class, class participation is usually very common, except for during lectures. I have met with one professor outside of class once, but I would like to develop stronger relationships with other professors. I think education at UMN is geared towards helping students discover what they enjoy most and making a career out of it.

Alyssa

The classes are primarily huge lectures and it's not great. It's the easiest way for students to blend in with the crowd. It's funny that when you're in a class with 200+ people and the professor asks a question no one will answer. It's pretty mindless. Students are very competitive. My department is even more competitive. No time spent with prof's outside of class - there isn't much of a relationship potential. Most of the time their TA's will conduct smaller recitations with us so it'd be more likely to talk with a TA than the professor. Some prof's are caring though they don't actually grade the work most of the time so their care and opinions aren't of benefit to grades - only emotions. There's no time to learn for its own sake. They overload us with too much. Getting a job is completely up to students. Preparation is good in some areas but not others. Experience with computer programs is only for optional electives that students must take outside of their major/CLA requirements yet most workplaces require it. Quite the contradiction.

Daniel

Some of the Professors know your name, it depends on class size and whether it is in your major or not. Favorite class is any sculpture class, American sign language, or geology. Study time depends on the class and same goes for participation. If intellectual conversations are your thing; it is academia, you will find them. The most unique class I took was monsters, cyborgs, and robots. The art department is unreal. The professors are very engaged and unique. The U's requirements are spot on.

Alex

Professors will know your name if you put in the effort. If you go into their office hours and meet them, talk to them and get help. Students study differently depending on which college they are in. Those students in IT and CBS will study much more than those students in CLA and Carlson. Students do not often participate in large lectures, or if they do it takes a few minutes for them to begin talking. In smaller discussion classes more participation is necessary for the class and so more kids will talk and participate.

Kevin

Most students go to most of their classes, but it is not uncommon to skip once and a while. Class sizes are often large, and profs wont get to know your name unless you visit them in office hours once and a while or happen to get into a small class. Many classes are competitive, but students dont seem to mind. It you try hard enough, you can get the grade you want. I'm a chemical engineering major, and I try to get involved in the department as much as I can. I have been doing undergraduate research since last september, and plan on continuing with it until I graduate. From my experience, I think the upper level classes tend to put some focus on practical problems students might face in the workforce, which I think is more practical.

Anna

About half of my professors I've had knew my name. It is something different if they can still remember it in a year. Education at the U is definitely geared at getting a job. I learn the stuff to take the test, most of which I will never use again. My favorite class is my academic success strategies class. I like it because I have a group of friends in there and then we all go to lunch together afterwards. The professor is pretty cool and knows us by name, but doesn't seem very scholarly. My least favorite class was Global Politics. The course description didn't really match the class content and it was boring and impersonal. The first bad history class I have ever taken. In most of my classes the students don't participate, but it seems like the professors have gotten used to it. I don't think that the students are very competitive because of the size. You have to compete against yourself more so than anyone else. The most unique class I took was a Biology class entitled, "What Sex Should I Be?" It was taught by Jane Phillips and covered unique sexual determination characteristics and variants that could alter sexual preferences. I am double majoring in Neuroscience and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Both of the departments are smaller and extremely specified. I've met with a few of my professors outside of class. I've talked to all of them at least once because of some medical conditions that I have. Two professors from last semester I have met for coffee and chat at least once a month. A few other ones I have bumped into outside of class randomly. I think that some of the U's academic requirements are a bit much. Because I am double majoring in two different colleges I have to meet double the requirements. I find this to be unfair because it is literally impossible for me to graduate in 4 years.

Rachel

Professors are like students, they're all different. I had a bio lecture of about 600 and I don't think the professor even looked at me in that class. I also had a 30 person American Sign Language class where the teacher took the time to learn everyones names before the end of class the first day and still remembers me when I pass her in the hallways more than a year later. My favorite classes have been my communications classes. The professors are usually goofy but willing to give students the bottom line when it comes to informational knowledge about life. One of the most useful classes I've taken at the U was an interviewing class, it not only taught the mechanics of being a good interviewer/interviewee but it taught me how to read people and interpret messages that I often let slip through the cracks previously. I also took a great class called organization communication. In that class we had to work with a client to pick a mayoral candidate and the basis for the entire project was the Simpson television show. Our client played Mr. Burns and we had to help him choose and promote a candidate that would win over the citizens of Springfield. Any class that involves watching cartoons for homework has to be a blast. It has been my experience that the U is primarily based on the welfare of the students. Most classes are focused on knowledge and giving the students a handle on the criteria. There are also classes that are primarily focused on career goals like the interviewing class I previously mention or even an individual careers class that covers everything from how to write a cover letter to how to pick a major. This class also provides you with campus resources on where to go to find major information and what you can do with it as well as put you into contact with local employers.

Harper

Professors know you if you take the time to know them. It's important to get to know several of your professors each semester. When you being, you're placed in larger class but as the semesters pass, you're classes get smaller and smaller.

Owen

Many of the large prerequisite classes, there is no chance of the professor remembering your name unless you introduce yourself the first day and go into office hours at least twice a week. However, in the smaller classes, professors make an effort to remember. In-class participation is kinda low and the discussions never get really heated, I believe because the "Minnesota Nice" factor. The classes are just there for getting your degree, but if you make a connection with the professor, you can learn for its own sake and there's tons of interesting liberal education requirement classes and even mini-classes of only 5-8 weeks.

Bethany

I am a Pre-med Psychology and Kinesiology double major. I would reccomend taking at least 1 psychology class in your 4 years here at the U. There are some great profesors in the psyc department, that are excited about psyc. Speaking of professors, many of them absolutly love what they do and make classes very fun and interesting. Because of the large lecture classes, many of them don't know every student by name, but be sure make an effort to introduce yourself to them. They love getting to know their students. Also keeping in touch with them will give you great resources for future letters of reccomendation. Students that keep in touch tend to do much better also, because they are comfortable asking questions. Because of the size of this institution the top students are incredlby competitive, but having a challege is never a bad thing.