Testimonials by UST students from the Chicago area
I graduated from Mascoutah Community High School in 2010, and will graduate from the University of St. Thomas in 2014. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) have so much to offer, and St. Thomas students have easy access to it all. There are buses available throughout the day, including city buses and free St Thomas shuttles, connecting you to the downtown shopping area of Minneapolis, the Metrolink, sports stadiums, shopping malls (including the Mall of America), the airport as well as lots of arts and entertainment. The Twin Cities also have bike rentals, called Nice Rides, available throughout the city. You can rent these green bikes for $7 an hour, and then just drop them off at any of the many other locations in the city.
Close to the campus you can find fantastic coffee shops, locally-owned stores and boutiques, bars and restaurants including my favorite, Punch Pizza, a brick oven pizza restaurant. The St. Thomas campus is wonderful; it's truly the definition of what a college campus should look like. There is always something going on: free stuff on the quad, Fall-a-Palooza (an event on campus that gives students free UST attire, food, and the occasional inflatable jumpers), or campus concerts. St. Thomas also genuinely cares about the condition of the campus. Everything is extremely well taken care of -- including the students. The campus is always well groomed and in the wintertime, they set up a beautiful Christmas display including a life-sized nativity scene, and all of the trees are decked out in purple Christmas lights.
For a private college, you still get the small class sizes, but UST doesn't feel too small. Your professors know you by name and truly want you to succeed. If at any point you are having problems with their class, they are easily available and will commit the time you need until you understand the information--all you have to do is ask.
Because I am an Air Force brat, I have had my fair share of moving around from state to state. From New Jersey, New York, California, Oklahoma, Illinois and Minnesota, I feel as though I have seen it all. By far, though, my favorite cities are the Twin Cities. There is so much to offer, and St. Thomas is a perfect school to experience it all!
UST Class of 2014
Mascoutah Community High School 10’
The professors, students, and neighbors are great here at UST. My two years here have been unbelievable and filled with excitement. I came here to play football for a great program that continues to excel. Not only is it awesome that the football team is great, but the fact that UST shines in sports across the board makes the experience here even better.
The weather is actually beautiful this year. We are experiencing great cool weather opposed to how frigid and cold it could be. The distance from home is just right. Just a hour and half flight or 6-7 hour drive, I feel far enough from home to be independent, but close enough where family can come up to visit and I can get home for holidays.
St. Thomas is a great fit for anyone coming from the big city of Chicago. It's a great village atmosphere in St. Paul and with the friendly neighbors around the school, but also the big city feeling of Minneapolis with all the sports teams and fun places to go.
UST Class of 2014
Fenwick High School 10’
I am a sophomore here at UST, and I can assuredly say that I have loved every minute of my college experience! Last year I lived in Ireland Hall on the Catholic men's floor and I had a blast. One can never truly have the college experience without living in a dorm at some time, and believe me when I say that I-Hall definitely fulfills that experience. My favorite experience of dorm life was the bi-annual "Super Smash Brothers" Tournament. My RA that year had an N64, so the men of campus were able to duke it out on the original "Super Smash Brothers." It was epic. Now I live in the Catholic Studies men's house, just two blocks from campus. There is a plethora of houses and apartments near campus.
In addition to the hall events, St. Thomas Activities and Recreation (STAR) plans a ton of events ranging from magic acts and well-known musical acts to how to make your own bonsai tree sessions. St. Thomas has enough clubs and organizations to satisfy anyone's discerning palette. I am a leader for the Swing Dance Club, which sponsors lessons, dances at local studios, and holds two big on-campus dances where we encourage students to dress in period attire. Our last major dance, The Mob Hop, was 1920's gangster themed, and it had a phenomenal turn out: around 150 people! If dancing is not your thing, then try the Spanish club, the psychology club, the video and board games club, or even the rock climbing club.
I would describe the campus atmosphere as a very large suburb. It is conveniently located only a few minutes from downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis, but it is still removed enough from the cities that you feel like you're back at home (at least for me, since I grew up in the suburbs). As the largest private school in Minnesota, 6,000 undergraduate and 11,000 with graduate students, everyone is able to find their own little niche. The classes are at average around 21 students, which is ideal.
Don't be scared off by the cold! I assure you that the Twin Cities area is not that much colder than the Chicago-land area. The major difference is that Minnesota winters are just longer. They start in late November/early December and end around early/mid April. The distance isn't too much of a hassle either. To get home, I usually just take the Megabus from Minneapolis to Chicago and then take the Metra or have my parents pick me up. This is very inexpensive, ranging from $5 to $45 one way, if planned in advance. It's true that my family does not visit me as much as they did my siblings who went to school in Naperville and Lisle, IL, but they are still able to make it up for my concerts and even for my birthday!
I honestly love it here at St. Thomas, and would not want to be anywhere else. Come and join me!
UST Class of 2014
Downers Grove South HS '10
My experience living in St. Paul reminds me of home with the city just ten minutes away. With just a $15 bus ride back to Chicago, travelling is easy and inexpensive. My lifestyle at St. Thomas is challenging but exciting, and as a communications major the opportunities are endless in Minneapolis, just ten minutes away.
UST Class of 2014
Mother McAuley High School 10’
I'm a freshman at St. Thomas and hope to graduate in 2015. I'm from Shorewood, Illinois and graduated from Joliet West High School. My mom's side of the family is from Minnesota so it was natural for me to move here. It's nice to get away from Illinois for a while, and it's even better to still get a home-cooked meal every so often from my relatives up here in Minnesota.
I didn't want to go to school in Chicago, because I didn't want to live under skyscrapers and in the midst of heavy traffic. UST has a small-town feel and a woodsy Mississippi overlook as well as big city life at the Minneapolis campus. I didn't want to go to a huge school like U of I or the U of M, but I still wanted a sense of school spirit, which can easily be witnessed at UST. This year I had the opportunity to fly home for the first time during our short midterm break (the flight's super short, they don't even have time to serve drinks). I'll still be able to drive home for Thanksgiving as well as for J-Term.
I've been loving life at St. Thomas, and I keep busy studying and doing homework, living in Murray (with three amazing roommates), playing intramural soccer, playing clarinet in band, and singing in choir.
UST Class of 2015
Joliet West High School 11’
I grew up in Highland Park, but lived in Grayslake, Gurnee, Hawthorn Woods, Libertyville, Lake Villa, Oak Park and Vernon Hills. I graduated from Grayslake North High School with the Class of 2010. When I was looking for universities, I thought I would enjoy attending a large school, but then realized that a small class atmosphere was the best for me. I looked to Minnesota because my family members in the area told me it would be a good place to consider. My first impression of UST was that it had a stunning landscape placed in the middle of an upper-class neighborhood. There are numerous colleges within a few miles from us. Most of the students that go to UST have good morals and continually represent the school well.
I was skeptical about how the city of Minneapolis would be in comparison to Chicago. The truth is that Minneapolis feels a lot smaller, and it' only a 5-minute bus ride on the free inter-campus shuttle. I previously heard that there was a saying of “Minnesota Nice”, that the people are generally really nice; it’s true. Although people here will disagree, it is colder here. Luckily, we have some underground tunnels and skyways to get around in blizzards. The distance isn’t an issue for me because I do not feel the need to go home often; it is about seven hours away.
UST has an incredible business program and makes it very accessible to study abroad. I lived in Dowling my freshman year and would not have changed it! This year, I moved a block away to a house with some roommates. Overall, UST has a good reputation and was a good choice for me.
UST Class of 2014
Grayslake Community High School 10’
I have never been happier about the decision to come to UST. I’ve had the best time here. I was a little worried about moving so far away, but it wasn't that bad. I have met some extremely wonderful people here and lifelong friendships have flourished. Campus life is great, I feel as if this college is so close knit that everyone can be friends here.
The weather is pretty much the same as Chicago, but only in Minnesota can we go from one day being 75 degrees to the next being 30 degrees! But it’s really not that bad. I would recommend this college to any one from out of state, you will feel right at home no matter how far away you live. Coming to US has been the best decision of my life.
UST Class of 2014
Montini Catholic High School '10
When I was considering applying to St. Thomas, some of my friends asked, 'Why would you ever want to leave sweet home Chicago and go all the way to St. Paul for college?'
Having the opportunity to experience college in a big city like Chicago was very enticing to a lot of my friends. And yes, it is true that there are many fine educational institutions in my hometown and in the surrounding metropolitan area.
So what factors did I consider when deciding to attend St. Thomas?
Academics: One word comes to mind: variety. Whether you’ve known what you wanted to be since you were six, or you have no idea what career path you want to take, there are classes for you. With a variety of departments like business, education, music, communication and journalism, engineering and biology, St. Thomas offers several options for majors and minors. UST is well-respected, and a degree from this institution will mean something to anyone looking at your credentials in the future.
Distance: I knew I wanted to go “away” for school, while preferably staying in the Midwest. With flights just 1 hour 30 minutes long and car rides around 7 hours, traveling between St. Thomas and home is very manageable for me.
Location: St. Paul is a great place to attend college, and St. Thomas takes full advantage of what it has to offer. Surrounded by the Mississippi River and beautiful Victorian homes, St. Thomas sits in an ideally aesthetic atmosphere. With campuses in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, students can go back and forth between the Twin Cities on the free campus shuttle.
Weather: Being from Chicago, I am used to cold winters with a lot of snow. Don’t let your friends and family deter you when they ask, “Isn’t it cold up there?” Chicago is usually only 10 to 15 degrees warmer than “Minnesnowta” come winter. You’ll survive.
Study Abroad: You can avoid some of those cold months if you decide to study abroad for a J-term, a semester or even an entire year. How about spending January studying philosophy in Hawaii? Or a London business semester in the fall? With programs in dozens of countries, St. Thomas offers a variety of opportunities to simultaneously study and explore.
Christian values: I had always attended Catholic schools, and I noted that UST had a strong base of values I was comfortable with. While some theology and philosophy courses are required, religious practices are not pushed on anyone. Students of all religious traditions are welcome at St. Thomas. Diversity of race, gender, ethnicity and religion is encouraged in all campus groups.
I hope you find these factors helpful, and I hope you choose to be a Tommie!
UST Class of 2013
Fenwick High School '09