I chose the University of Minnesota - Rochester (UMR) because of its location, integrated curriculum, and size. UMR is located in the middle of Rochester and is actually attached by skyway from the living-space (318 Commons) to the college and even to Mayo Clinic. This not only allows for easy travel to and from class, especially in winter, but also allows for additional educational opportunities and experiences, including multiple volunteering opportunities at Mayo.
Mayo Clinic is known the world over for its ground-breaking and innovative treatments that save lives. There is an air of hope all around Rochester. This was evident from the first time I visited UMR and learned about the intuitively integrated curriculum. At UMR there is no question of "when will I ever use this?" All the classes are focused around the health sciences, and all the students are working toward a similar goal: a profession in the medical fields.
Unlike a typical university that has separate departments that do not communicate with each other, at UMR the faculty is part of one department called the Center for Learning Innovation (CLI). This allows for a more cohesive and integrated-across-all-disciplines course plan. The professors and students at UMR are able to actively engage with each other due to its small size. Unlike at a typical university, which has normal, freshmen-class sizes of about 300 students per lecture, UMR has about 70 students in the underclassmen learning labs. UMR is also unique in that unlike other small universities, it is backed by the University of Minnesota.
The size of UMR also allows for greater opportunity to communicate with professors. In fact, the professors at UMR actually know their students' by name. This small size allows for a more-personalized educational experience and in the last year or so of college a Capstone project of each student's choosing is designed and implemented. The Capstone project can be worth up to 30 credits; it is obviously a significant and meaningful part of each student's college education. In sum, University of Minnesota Rochester is a unique and special place because of its location, integrated curriculum, and its small size. I believe that UMR hold tremendous opportunity in a small package.