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Help choosing between Iowa and Minnesota


bsteinma

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Hello,

I graduated from U. Iowa's biomedical engineering program and have the opportunity to either continue grad school at Iowa in biomedical engineering or move to Minneapolis and enter U. Minnesota's mechanical engineering graduate program. In terms of cost, staying at Iowa is by far much cheaper than going just about anywhere else. Cost of attendance for Iowa resident is about $24K vs. about $34K for Minnesota non-resident. If I go to Minnesota it is likely I will not have a research assistantship. If I stay at Iowa it is likely I'd be able to continue my current research appointment as a graduate student and continue working on a project I recently began. I have been back-and-forth about whether I should stay at Iowa or go to Minnesota and thought I was set on going to Minnesota until I had a short campus visit this past weekend and became really anxious (not the good kind) about being there and so close to a bigger city. I will add more after someone replies to this post but want to get away from my habit of writing a story, which I think tends to scare people from reading and replying to my posts.

Thank You,

bsteinma

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I think you answered your own question. No funding from Minnesota plus uncomfortable about being in a big city makes staying in Iowa the smart move in my opinion. Of course I know nothing about your field and the relative strengths the programs that might justify Minnesota if there is a big gap between them in terms of quality.

I also visited both universities last summer when I was deciding where to apply to and I definitely liked Iowa City better. Minneapolis as a whole I liked, but Dinkytown (the area right around U of M) I found to be run-down and a bit unsafe. While Iowa City is small, there was a great vibe there and I didn't find it lacking in the arts and entertainment department either.

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I think you answered your own question. No funding from Minnesota plus uncomfortable about being in a big city makes staying in Iowa the smart move in my opinion. Of course I know nothing about your field and the relative strengths the programs that might justify Minnesota if there is a big gap between them in terms of quality.

I also visited both universities last summer when I was deciding where to apply to and I definitely liked Iowa City better. Minneapolis as a whole I liked, but Dinkytown (the area right around U of M) I found to be run-down and a bit unsafe. While Iowa City is small, there was a great vibe there and I didn't find it lacking in the arts and entertainment department either.

I don't know if it was the big city that made me anxious or just being there in general. I didn't really get a chance to check the campus out that much because I was only there to attend a day of a conference that UMN hosts (i.e. spent 90% of my time at the conference). I grew up in Iowa so I'm used to the smaller town feel of Iowa City vs. a large city like Minneapolis. However, in terms of program strength, Minnesota has a huge advantage. I'm not expecting to receive a ton of funding from either place. I will likely get some financial aid assistance, but the outlook on graduate assistantships isn't great at either place. Every time I read posts on this forum about peoples options and decisions, they are usually based a lot on the type of funding package. Based on all of those, it seems like everyone is either a genious because they're receiving scholarships and fellowships or the universities just have enough money in their funding that they are able to help out. I wasn't totally aware of how all of this dispersal of funding works. The only possibility at Iowa is that I may be able to keep my current job and just turn it into a graduate research assistant position, but if I did decide to venture to a different research lab at Iowa, I would probably have a hard time finding another opportunity. I know that if I am able to acquire a graduate assistantship at Minnesota that during my period of assistantship I would be paying resident tution rates, which would make the estimated cost of attendance at Minnesota a few thousand more a year than at Iowa (i.e. not too much more expensive).

Well, with all that said, I am planning on a UMN campus visit at the end of the month. Hopefully I will be able to make a decision sooner rather than later because I will still need to make living arrangements, which are always very stressful (especially at the beginning of summer when everything has already been picked over).

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