Along with the university’s location in the heart of Menomonie, population 16,600, near Lake Menomin and the Red Cedar River, Copeland was attracted to the polytechnic, applied learning approach. “Hands-on is the way I learn best,” she said.
The polytechnic aspect also appealed to Josh Carr, a Minneapolis native who graduated in 2017 with a degree in construction. He returned to Minneapolis and is a project manager for commercial general contractor Kraus-Anderson.
“I really liked the focus on labs. They gave me a feeling that I could learn hands-on knowledge that would help me be successful in the industry,” Carr said.
Copeland and Carr are part of a decadeslong migration of Minnesota high school students to UW-Stout, thanks in part to a reciprocity agreement between the states that allows Minnesota students to pay their resident tuition rate, not the higher Wisconsin nonresident rate.
In recent years, including fall 2021, an average of 2,000 to 2,500 Minnesota students a year have attended UW-Stout, or 20% to 25% of total enrollment.
Copeland often gets the chance to tell fellow Minnesotans, and others, about the benefits of UW-Stout in her part-time job as an Admissions Office tour guide. She stresses the labs, career-focused majors, free laptop computer, friendly atmosphere, caring professors and short drive home.
“I add that they most likely will be enjoying school and meeting people so much that they won’t even want to go home,” Copeland said.
“I am only about an hour and a half from home, which is not terrible for me. I enjoy being here so I go home very rarely. I met a ton of people from Minnesota at Stout,” said Copeland, who used the campus Rideshare program to help get home her first year.
“The professors are extremely helpful and flexible if you need extra help. There are so many resources on campus to help with tutoring or writing,” she said.
UW-Stout also prides itself in maintaining strong connections with business and industry in Minnesota. The upcoming Spring Career Conference will feature dozens of Minnesota-based companies.