I’m coming out of hiding to post this…
I’m a Rolla grad, and unless things have changed in the past several years, it’s quite the boring town. Having said that, though, there are some serious upsides to the place.
The University itself only has about 5000-6000 students, and the town has about 15000 residents, so chances are everyone you’ll meet there is affiliated with UMR. There’s a realtively large international population (for a town its size), and like in most places, grad students tand to stick together, so there’s also a built-in support group. Because of the large interational population the town is pretty tolerant, so I don’t think he needs to worry about anti-Muslim sentiment.
Rolla is about a 1.5 hour drive from both St Louis and Springfield, so it’s conveniently close for day or weekend trips. And speaking of driving, cars are an absolute necessity in Rolla. No public transportation at all.
As an engineering campus, the place is fabulous. There are several “unconventional” teaching aides that are not found at most campuses, including a working mine and a nuclear reactor. The professors know what they’re talking about, but can be a little “out there” at times, which is expected for engineering professors.
All told, I enjoyed my time there. The cost of living is almost obscenely low, it’s a pleasant little town and people are friendly, and it’s a good place to learn. But, I’m not rushing back there anytime soon.