Following national trends, University draws Minn. natives

Students from the Metro-area and Hennepin County are more likely to attend the University.

Isabella Murray

First-year student Teri Holman rolled up her sleeves to reveal a small black pine tree tattoo on her forearm, flanked in ink with “Made in Minnesota.”
Many students like Holman, a Wayzata native, grew up in the Twin Cities suburbs and decided to attend the University of Minnesota after high school. The school’s urban location is a selling point suburban for students who are ready for independence but want to stay connected to their roots, she said.
“It’s a ‘Minnesota pride’ gesture,” she said. “I’ve lived here my whole life. My family and I do a lot of outdoor activities here, like visiting Lake Superior and camping on the North Shore and agate hunting as traditions.”
Nationally, 57.4 percent of incoming freshmen attending public four-year colleges enroll within 50 miles from their permanent home, according to a recent University of Wisconsin-Madison study. 
The University follows this trend, with about 77 percent of students from Minnesota hailing from the Twin Cities metro and about one-third from Hennepin County, according to the Office of Institutional Research. 
Many first-year students who leave the state to attend college elsewhere return to Minnesota because of affordable tuition, said junior Ellen Puls.
“I think for a lot of us, the ‘U’ was a good option for school,” Puls said. “The general perception was that it was a highly regarded school, but I think that sometimes we just wanted to go elsewhere for something different.”
Puls, a Plymouth, Minn., native, attended Colorado State University her freshman year. She transferred to Minnesota because tuition was less than half of Colorado’s nonresident rates.
“The ‘U’ is an excellent institution, so it makes sense that it would pull students from the Midwestern region, seeing its affordability compared to paying out-of-state rates for students of the surrounding area,” said geography, environment, and society professor Kate Derickson.
The University has reciprocity agreements with the states of Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and the province of Manitoba, Canada. Students from these places qualify for tuition rates comparable to resident rates.
What sets the University apart from other Big Ten schools — and part of its appeal to suburban students — is its urban location, Derickson said.
“Most flagship land-grant universities are rural because of the way land-grant universities work. It’s unusual for there to be urban schools in the Big Ten,” Derickson said. “The fact that this is the flagship university and it’s in the cultural and political capital region [of the state] is unusual.”
For Holman, the University was the only option she wanted to consider.
“It’s my family’s school. Both my grandparents went here. My parents met here. My sister and I go here — all of my aunts and uncles went here,” she said. “This is the school people in Minnesota aspire to go to.”