Who knew Fargo would suddenly be so hot? This snowy city boasts a major research university with small class sizes, reasonable tuition even for out-of-staters, and a whopping 102 majors to choose from. Plus, a thundering herd. Here's the scoop on North Dakota State University:
- The College: Founded in 1890, North Dakota State University is a public, research university in Fargo, a bustling little city on the North Dakota-Minnesota border. The school boasts small class sizes for a state school – 80% of the courses have 40 or fewer students, and some have less than 20. The school, which draws 14,400 students – including nearly 12,000 undergrads, plus students in the pharmacy, nursing and other graduate programs – operates on the semester system. It’s ranked among the top 100 or so research universities in the nation and is particularly well known for its science and agriculture departments, but its 102 majors offer something for everyone.
- The Tab: Like any public university, tuition here varies according to home town – or rather home state. But this school's tuition reciprocity arrangements with a number of other states significantly soften the blow for out-of-staters. If your family is from North Dakota, figure on $13,992 per year for tuition, room and board – and all freshmen and first-years are expected to live on campus, by the way. Minnesota kids pay $14,274, and out-of-staters pay $24,238 – except in cases where those tuition agreements kick in. That includes two Canadian provinces – Manitoba and Saskatchewan - as well as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado and 17 other U.S. states, whose students pay $17,060 for tuition, fees, room and board. There's a Greek scene here, with 14 fraternities and sororities. About 650 students or 5% of the school’s undergrads participate.
- The College Town: Contrary to Hollywood-fueled belief – hello, “Fargo”! – it does not snow here constantly. But temperatures drop into the single digits in the winter, so bundle up. Summers? Expect temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Much as Minneapolis-St. Paul are sister cities, this bustling city of 107,000 has a twin city across the river: Moorhead, Minnesota. And Fargo owes its existence to the Red River. In the 19th century, the budding pioneer town was a popular stop for steamboats. You can see traces of that frontier past in the historic sites that dot the area, including Bonanzaville, a living history park with a "Pioneer Prairie Village." History not your thing? This area is also known for cross-country skiing and hiking. Several hotels in the area offer college tour discounts, so be sure to call and ask. Fargo has its own international airport with nonstop service to eight cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, Las Vegas and Orlando.
- More Important Details: You may think of North Dakota as isolated, icy terrain, but its two flagship universities – NDSU and the University of North Dakota – have become suddenly hot commodities, the Wall Street Journal says, because of their mix of high-ranked science programs, small class sizes taught by professors not T.A.s, and relatively low prices. That state tuition consortium has sent enrollment soaring at a time when the number of state high school graduates has plummeted. Some 55% of the students at NDSU are from out-of-state, although it’s important to add that many of them come from Minnesota, which is a hop, skip and jump away. Literally.
In addition to the academics, which include programs in agribusiness, livestock media and range science, as well as biotechnology, German, music education and so on, North Dakota State has a large athletics program. NDSU is an NCAA Division I school with 16 varsity teams. They were dubbed the Farmers in the 1890s and the Aggies in the first decades of the 1900s, until the football team rebelled, saying they wanted something fiercer. Ever since 1919, they’ve been known as the Bisons, the Thundering Herd. Intramural sports, including flag football and wallyball, are popular here too.
Whether you’re strolling the campus informally or taking one of the tours, be sure to check out the area near the old Minard Hall, where you’ll spot the waterfalls, amphitheater and lounging areas of the Babbling Brook water feature, as well as memorials, monuments and public art. Be sure to pause at the memorial to Noble’s Golden Marguerite. It’s not every day that you see a cow’s grave marker on a college campus. Noble’s Golden Marguerite was a special cow, though, and the darling of the university’s dairy program. In one year alone, her milk produced 977 pounds of butter, a state record.
- Incoming Frosh Stats: NDSU accepts about 77% of its applicants. The typical incoming freshman has a 3.37 GPA and a 24 ACT score. The mid-range SAT scores are 480-620 for the math and 450-610 for critical reading. Students who apply here also tend to apply to the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.