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Top 7 Reasons to Attend College in the Twin Cities

Sept. 19, 2014
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The Minneapolis-Saint Paul area is as vibrant and varied as the many colleges and universities that call it home. From catching a play at the renowned Guthrie Theater to catching a foul ball at Target Field, students can always find something to do when they’re not busy writing papers or looking for internships.

Here are seven reasons why you won’t regret spending your college years in the Twin Cities.

School and Work

1. Internships abound

College is all about trying new things and learning something in the process. As any college graduate can tell you, many of those enlightening experiences happen outside of the classroom. Unlike more rural campus settings, the Twin Cities are teeming with private and non-profit businesses with strong internship programs that can help you gain valuable professional experience.

“Students benefit from internships, experience and research opportunities in business, finance, medicine, science, government, law, the arts and more – within a few miles of campus. They gain mentors, connections and practice at getting things done,” says Barbara Laskin, media relations manager at Macalester College.

Recent Macalester graduate Ruxi Zhang confirms just how diverse the area’s internship opportunities are.

“At my first internship in the Twin Cities, I did research for the Refugee and Immigrants Program in Minneapolis,” says Zhang. “The next year I was a legislative intern in Gov. (Mark) Dayton’s office in Saint Paul.”


2. A wide selection of schools

From community colleges to four-year, private liberal arts colleges, the Twin Cities offer a diverse set of schools that cater to all educational backgrounds.

“The Twin Cities metropolitan area is known for its strong educational values and opportunities for students,” says Rachelle Hernandez, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of admissions at the University of Minnesota.

Additionally, the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cites (ACTC), which is composed of Augsburg College, Hamline University, Macalester College, St. Catherine University, and the University of St. Thomas, enables students enrolled in any of those institutions to take classes at other ACTC schools. If you’re an English major at Macalester who wants to take a public speaking class at St. Thomas, for example, you can through the ACTC.


3. Excellent job prospects

“Stay in the Twin Cities after graduation and take advantage of a great job market,” recommends Christine Paulos, director of admissions at Century College.

Boasting the lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. cities, the Twin Cities are ideal for recent graduates. NerdWallet recently found that Minneapolis was the third best city for recent grads based on factors like affordability and the strength of the workforce.

“The Twin Cities is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, many of whom provide wonderful internship opportunities, as well as jobs for recent graduates,” adds Dr. Anupama Pasricha, associate professor at St. Catherine University.


City Perks

4. Affordable cost of living

Unlike other major cities, the Twin Cities have a low cost of living, especially when it comes to off-campus housing and entertainment.

According to NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator, the median cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Saint Paul runs about $1,125 a month, compared to $3,079 in San Francisco. Meanwhile, a movie ticket in Minneapolis costs about $4 less than a ticket in New York.

Plus, being a college student has its perks.

“The Twin Cities takes care of its college students,” says Adrian Perryman, assistant director of admissions at Concordia University. “There are plenty of free and discounted entertainment options and a plethora of low cost modes of transportation to get around.”


5. Vibrant arts scene

Whether you’re an art connoisseur or just want to mindlessly marvel at paintings for a few hours, you’ll find several outstanding museums to choose from in the Twin Cities. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts each attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year thanks to their lively and thought-provoking exhibitions.

The Guthrie Theater, meanwhile, has drawn praise for its stage productions, attracting well-known directors from around the world. It even provides opportunities for student involvement.

“University of Minnesota undergraduate students in the BFA Actor Training Program get professional theater experience through a U of M partnership with the world-renowned Guthrie Theater,” says Hernandez. She adds that the Twin Cities has more theater seats per capita than any other city in the nation apart from New York.

Minneapolis is also home to First Avenue, a legendary music venue that hosts hundreds of great artists each year.


6. The great outdoors

Contrary to popular belief, the Twin Cities aren’t coated in a thick layer of snow year-round. During the spring and summer, Minnesotans take to the Twin Cities’ many parks, lakes, and bike paths. In fact, Bicycling magazine recently named Minneapolis America’s best bike city.

“I really like all the parks here,” says Jesse Nagamatsu, a sculpture student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “I bike a lot during my free time, and in the summers I’m always swimming in the lakes because it’s a must—they’re so accessible.”

And even when winter does set in, you’ll be able to go cross-country skiing or ice fishing to blow off some steam. Just invest in a good jacket.


7. Cheering for the home team(s)

Although the Twin Cities don’t host championship parades too often, sports fans will have many opportunities to catch a game or two. Whether you’re out to see the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, or Lynx, there’s never a shortage of action or intrigue on the field, court, or ice. Better yet, some teams have promotional college nights where tickets are sold for as little as $10.

From F. Scott Fitzgerald to Prince, the North Star State has produced a colorful cast of characters. Although attending college in the Twin Cities won’t necessarily guarantee you fame, success or exceptional dance moves, there are plenty of good reasons to earn your degree in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. With so much to do and see, many students end up sticking around after graduation.

Minneapolis skyline photo via Shutterstock.