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Old 10-09-2014, 04:30 AM
 
5 posts, read 5,113 times
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Hello,

I am in California for the past 3 years and i am seeking to move out of state for studies. I have been looking to move in Minnesota and i guess it's time now!

Studying computer science i came across two great universities that i believe are both great, MSU, Mankato and Winona State, Rochester campus. However, i have to consider few factors before i make a final choice. I would like some help for it.

I would like to know first of all, what area or city between Mankato and Rochester is great for student? Which means cost of living, shopping and attractions, weather.
Also, in terms of employment which city has better opportunities for job seekers.

At last a major question i should have asked first, i know both computer programs are great but any advice on which one is better will be great.

Thank you,
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:48 AM
 
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I'm not intimately familiar with either of those programs. I have, however, worked in IT in southern Minnesota for the last 6 years. Many of my colleagues either went to Mankato or Winona.

First of all, I'd suggest looking at the main Winona campus of Winona State. WSU-Rochester is essentially a few borrowed classrooms from the local community college (RCTC). For the computer science program, you can take all of your computer science classes through WSU right in Rochester. You take most- if not all- of your generals through RCTC. That may be good, bad, or neither depending on what you're looking for. I just want to make sure you understand that WSU-Rochester is not the traditional college campus.

Mankato is very much a college town. You will have a harder time finding a place to live that's not by college students than the other way around. In general, Mankato is a fun town. Although Rochester is much larger and it's nightlife has improved recently, Mankato would be more exciting. It's not that Rochester doesn't have entertainment. It's just that in Rochester, the options are somewhat disjoint and disconnected. Whereas, in Mankato everything is a bit more cohesive; You could go downtown in Mankato for a D1 hockey game and then head over to bar to celebrate and listen to a local band. Rochester has fun stuff to do, but there's nothing really tying it all together. I've never been to Winona, but I'd expect a slightly scaled-down version of Mankato.

The short answer for jobs is Rochester. Mayo Clinic plans aggressive expansion in the immediate future and that will undoubtedly require more IT personnel. Although IBM's presence is diminishing, there are a variety of other technology employers popping up to grab the ex-IBM'ers. That said, I would not focus too much on any particular city in terms of jobs. Instead, I think of Rochester, Mankato, and surrounding areas as one collective economy of southern Minnesota. The big employers are Mayo in Rochester, Hormel in Austin, Federated Insurance in Owatonna, Taylor Corporation in Mankato, and probably a few more I'm forgetting. There's a surprising amount of smaller businesses, too. You'd also find opportunities up the road in the Twin Cities or down the road in Des Moines.

All can be good options depending on exactly what you want. Just make sure you take a look at Winona State in Winona.
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Old 10-09-2014, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
17,032 posts, read 26,049,045 times
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Well they play football tonight on national tv, cbssn. That should decide it for you.
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Old 10-12-2014, 10:15 PM
 
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Hello,

Thank you very much for your responses and suggestion it is very helpful !

---r_shackleford, I am definitely thinking of flying over there to see what Winona State looks like and the ambiance around campus. However, I am already having a good feeling about Mankato, from your suggestions and also from my research about their program in computer science. You were suggesting Winona State can you please advise since you are in IT too? I am looking to graduate in software engineering.

---Oildog, I think the choice was easy made since Winona State lost...lol thank you!

By the way, i would like to have some suggestions regarding the weather. Coming from California, i have heard that winters are very hard. Do you suggest things to prepare and to expect when moving during winter? I am moving in in January.

Thank you very much !
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Old 10-13-2014, 12:58 AM
 
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In January, we may have temps from -15F to 30F with wind chills making it feel even colder. Snow depth on ground could be a few inches to a foot or more. Roads can be icy, even though they usually put down salt or sand. Streets are usually plowed shortly after a significant snow fall. Residential roads may have to wait a bit to get out after a really major snowstorm. Strong winds during a snowstorm can make visibility very poor, as in you might be able to see as far as taillights of a vehicle in front of you. You'll need some outerwear (obviously) if you are outside in winter. Best wishes.
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Old 10-13-2014, 02:14 PM
 
137 posts, read 161,010 times
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You may have to rethink MSU-Mankato. According to their website, the Computer Science program has been eliminated. I had forgotten about that, but I think it had to do with budget cuts. You should check directly with the university to confirm.

You'd be able to get a solid education through Winona State. The curriculum does not really vary that much from one college to another. Some programs are more rigorous than others, though. Based on conversations with coworkers, it did not sound to me like the WSU program was a pushover. No matter where you go, college is what you make of it. That's doubly true at some of the cheaper public colleges like WSU. It's not Carnegie Mellon or MIT. Nor will it instantly start a bidding war among the likes of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft for your services. It can, however, provide a solid foundation from which to launch a career or pursue a graduate degree. I've heard many good things about Winona itself from people who went to college there. Like I said, I imagine it's quite similar to Mankato. Both are river towns with a public university and private college. Both will have far more culture and entertainment that you'd otherwise expect from cities that size. And I still need to get over to Winona to try the doughnuts at Bloedow's.

Winona- and many other colleges these days- offers a Bioinformatics emphasis in its computer science program. That's a growing field that broadly encompasses applying computational and mathematical techniques to solving problems in biology, genetics, and medicine. On one hand, it may be appealing because Mayo Clinic is the big employer in the area. On the other, there aren't that many actual bioinformatics jobs at Mayo. It's just worth knowing that it exists and what it is. I would at least recommend taking plenty of math, statistics, biology, chemistry, and physics courses. Those may prove more useful to a career than additional computer science classes. This is really just an extension of my point above to discuss with an academic adviser at whatever college you choose.

You should also note that Computer Science, Information Technology, and Software Engineering aren't quite the same thing. Any undergraduate computer science curriculum will focus more on theoretical topics and be fairly mathematical in nature. Corporate IT is cobbling together undocumented legacy systems with flawed vendor software. You will not ever need to compute big-theta of n complexity in a corporate IT setting. Nor will you actually write that much code. Software engineering is actually working for the software vendors to create the flaws that the IT programmer has to work around. Most actual jobs fall somewhere between IT and software engineering. In southern Minnesota, you are more likely to find an IT gig. There are jobs more on the software engineering side, too. Overall, it seems there's more need for programmers than there are capable people to fill them.

I hope this helps. I can't tell you too much more on specifics of the colleges or the career path in general.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:23 PM
 
168 posts, read 157,616 times
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I wouldn't major in bioinformatics, it sorted faded out as a good career path about a decade ago.
There are still good jobs in that field, but you'll need a PhD from Harvard to get into them. You don't want to end up being some data janitor for $15/hr yet also have to live in a super expensive area of the country, where most bioinformatics jobs are located.

If you're already in California, I do not know why you'd move to Rochester or Mankato to study computer science. California has excellent technical education at every level, from $46/unit community college to computer science power houses like Berkeley and Stanford. The CCs in California are perhaps the best value in american higher education, far cheaper than out of state tuition in Minnesota, and a transition path to a degree in the UC system.
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:29 AM
 
5 posts, read 5,113 times
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Hello,

I want to thank you all first for your information and advices, I feel more and more ready each time you all contribute in this post.

@r_shackleford: You were right on the computer science program in Mankato. After multiples emails without any responses, i have finally contacted the department that confirmed to me that they no longer offer any computer science program but a computer information system program which I think is more business oriented. I definitely think that Winona has a great computer science program looking at the courses they are offering i am very confident that i will receive the education i want to do great in my career. Like you said, I also believe no matter where you go for schooling it is really up to you to get the best for it and use it at your advantage. You are right, I should have precise that Software engineering is what i am shooting for but most universities have it under computer science department that is why. I really appreciate all your contributions. I will start the application process with Winona, and hopefully I will be accepted on Rochester campus.
@Chubsworth : Thank you for your response. It's true that bioinformatics sounds interresting to try but i believe like you said that to really get the greater advantage and give yourself a chance in the job market is to shout for a Phd, which I do not thing is something I would like to go for.
It's true in California there are some great schools for engineering and IT, but the main problem as you know, California is becoming more and more expensive to live in, or study in. I do not believe education should be so expensive that it become a luxury. That is why, I do not mind moving, even though I agree that for higher education such as PhD, California offers the best schools for it and i would consider that if one day getting a doctorate becomes a necessity for me.

Thank you very much, btw I would really appreciate to be in contact with anyone here that lives in Winona or Rochester. It's always hard when you move somewhere without knowing anyone
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Old 10-18-2014, 12:35 PM
 
Location: MN
1,306 posts, read 1,346,903 times
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Would you consider going to a community college first, to earn an Associates and then transfer? A lot of the universities and colleges here offering a Bachelor's degree will accept MN transfer curriculum, but they prefer to accept those who've earned a degree. Gone are the days where you could go for a year and then transfer to a larger school. With college becoming so expensive, it would be worth your while to save the money and get an Associate's first. Also, if you are able to get a job with an Associate's degree, you can have your Bachelor degree paid for by your employer if they offer tuition reimbursement or pay for school with the money earned through work. I'm a software developer who has coworkers still in school earning their Bachelor's or Associate's degrees. My supervisor doesn't even have a Bachelor's. It can depend on the company and what you're also looking for, but you do have some options to consider.
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Old 10-21-2014, 10:47 PM
 
5 posts, read 5,113 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintage_girl View Post
Would you consider going to a community college first, to earn an Associates and then transfer? A lot of the universities and colleges here offering a Bachelor's degree will accept MN transfer curriculum, but they prefer to accept those who've earned a degree. Gone are the days where you could go for a year and then transfer to a larger school. With college becoming so expensive, it would be worth your while to save the money and get an Associate's first. Also, if you are able to get a job with an Associate's degree, you can have your Bachelor degree paid for by your employer if they offer tuition reimbursement or pay for school with the money earned through work. I'm a software developer who has coworkers still in school earning their Bachelor's or Associate's degrees. My supervisor doesn't even have a Bachelor's. It can depend on the company and what you're also looking for, but you do have some options to consider.
Thank you for your participation. I actually have an Associate degree from one of the best community college here in California. That's why I am looking into transferring in one of the universities I have stated to finish the remaining studies.

Like you know, I think that the IT industry is a little more demanding on proficiency and skills for certain specific classes. Therefore, it is really hard to get something with an Associate degree unless you are willing to do some help desk IT jobs which are not available in bigger companies that can sponsor you to continue your studies.
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