ParentsAdmission Resources

Whether you're preparing to send your first child off to college or getting your last child launched, the complexities of the college search and application process can be overwhelming. This holds true for parents and guardians, whether they have experienced college firsthand or not. Regardless of your distinct circumstances, the dedicated staff and faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College are ready to provide assistance by addressing several common questions frequently encountered by parents and guardians.

Best Advice for the College Search Process

  • Encourage your student to regularly check for emails from Gustavus. We will copy you on the most important messages as long as your student has provided us with your email address.
  • Visit campus (or visit more than once to gain another perspective).
  • Ask if your student has logged into their Applicant Portal.
  • Apply for financial aid including Gustavus scholarships and file the FAFSA.
  • Help your student think beyond majors. Though choosing a major is important in college, consider how Gustavus shapes students into well-rounded and successful citizens.

Academics at Gustavus

With 72 majors to choose from, students have plenty of options to explore and discover new areas of interest.

Whether your student has a clear vision of their academic path or is still considering potential majors, they will take a diverse range of courses during their initial years at Gustavus. Students typically declare their major by the end of their sophomore year. As part of the Gustie Guarantee, academic advisors in each department guide students in their course selection to ensure students graduate in four years or Gustavus will cover the tuition for one extra semester.

Academic Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it easy to double major at Gustavus?
    • Yes, since one-third of a student’s schedule is open for electives, students can use that time to pursue a second major and/or minor.
  • What’s the academic calendar like?
    • Starting in Fall 2024, we’ll be using a new academic calendar and schedule. One feature: Classes and finals are done by the end of April, allowing students to get started sooner with their internships or summer jobs.
  • How many classes do students typically take each semester?
    • Students typically take four classes each semester (16 semester credit hours).
  • Are there summer terms?
    • Yes. There are opportunities for coursework, music tours, and study away in May and June. These are not required and may result in additional costs on a per-course or per-experience basis.

College Application

Gustavus simplifies the application process, from start to finish. We practice holistic admission, meaning we review everything on the application, not just the numbers. We’ve been test-optional for over 15 years, letting your student decide whether or not they want to submit their standardized test score (ACT or SAT) as part of their application.

Learn more about our free application process.

Apply to College Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many colleges should my student apply to?
    • We recommend applying to 4-6 schools. It can be hard to seriously pursue (and manage the mail and email situation from) 10+ schools. To do this, it’s important for students to understand the type of school environment they will succeed in: big, small, close to home, far away, etc.
  • Should I help my student with their application?
    • You can guide your child’s application process (encouraging them to finish their applications by November 1), but the student should be the one to fill out and submit the application.
  • When should my student submit their application?
    • Each school has their own application timeline. At Gustavus, we recommend completing the application by November 1, our Early Action deadline. We will review Rolling Admission applications through May 1.
  • How long does it take to apply to a college?
    • Applications typically take around 30 minutes to complete. Our application has an essay component, which may take a student a bit more time, though they are welcome to submit an essay that has been written previously for a high school class. 
  • How long will it take before we know if my child was admitted to a college?
    • Again, each school has their own timeline in terms of admission decisions. At Gustavus, we will provide students with their admission decision within two weeks of application completion.
  • What’s the difference between Early Action and Rolling Admission?
    • Early Action applicants will receive their non-binding admission decision by November 15. These students are also able to participate in an early scholarship round. If they file the FAFSA, Early Action applicants are the first to receive complete financial aid awards from Gustavus. This allows students to make their college decision earlier, submit their deposit, and begin planning for their time at Gustavus!
    • Rolling Admission applications are reviewed starting on December 1. Once a student’s application is complete, they will receive their admission decision in two weeks. After a student is admitted and we’ve received their FAFSA, they will receive a complete financial aid award within 2-3 weeks.

Financial Aid

Sending your student to Gustavus is within reach for you. More than 97% of Gustavus students receive some form of financial aid. Students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships upon application, reducing their overall cost of attendance.

Understanding the financial aid process is critical in making a Gustavus education accessible to you and your family. Use our Net Price Calculator to get an idea of the type of aid that might be available to you at Gustavus.

We recommend each family completes the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This allows Gustavus to award any additional aid your student might be eligible for, such as institutional grants, state grants, federal loans, and student employment. If you do not qualify for the FAFSA (due to citizenship, for example) you can complete the CSS Profile instead.

After a student is admitted and we receive your FAFSA, we put together their financial aid award using a combination of merit-based scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment.

Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is merit-based, need-based, and institutional funding? 
    • Merit-based aid is scholarship and grant money that is awarded based on demonstrated quality of the application. Gustavus practices holistic admission, so we consider everything on the application such as the types of classes taken, involvements in school and outside of school, and work experience; not just final grades and numbers.
    • Need-based aid can come in the form of institutional scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment. It is awarded based on the financial capability of the family as outlined in the FAFSA data.
    • Institutional funding is grant money awarded from Gustavus based on demonstrated financial need, as calculated by the FAFSA. Students do not have to pay this money back to the institution after graduation. 
  • Are these scholarships/grants renewable each year?
    • Yes. Merit-based scholarships are renewable pending students maintain a 2.0 GPA and make satisfactory progress towards graduation.
  • How much does college cost?
    • Colleges post the cost of tuition, fees, and expenses to live on campus. However these posted costs do not include financial aid. Use the Net Price Calculator to determine approximately the cost you can expect to pay.
    • Also consider that at Gustavus, students graduate in four years. Students attending many larger universities need to go at least five years to graduate, adding additional cost.
  • Should my child apply to a college that is way out of our price range?
    • We encourage students to apply to all the schools they are interested in, regardless of the published price. After going through the application and financial aid process, families are often surprised to find that the final cost for each family is substantially lower than the posted cost.
  • Are there other costs beyond tuition that I should know about?
  • What is the FAFSA?
    • FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is an online form that students in the United States can fill out annually to apply for federal financial assistance for higher education. The information provided on the FAFSA is also used to determine a student's eligibility for various types of financial aid, including grants, student employment on campus, and student loans. The form takes into account factors such as family income and assets. 

Campus Visit

We’d love to have you and your family on campus! Explore our dynamic visit program and see all that Gustavus has to offer.

Visit Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many colleges should my child visit?
    • We recommend visiting several schools and a wide variety of colleges: big, small, close to home, far away. This helps your student get a feel for the type of college that will suit them best and will help determine the schools they ultimately apply to.
  • When should we make college visits?
    • It’s great to start visiting colleges during your student’s junior year of high school. This way, they have plenty of time to do second visits at their top 2-3 schools. If possible, we recommend visiting during the academic year so you can get a feel for the student experience and how students use the academic and extracurricular spaces on campus.
  • Am I supposed to go on college visits?
    • Most prospective students visit colleges with a parent or caregiver. 
  • What kinds of questions should I ask on college visits?
    • In addition to questions about application processes and financial aid, we recommend asking questions about your student’s interests, potential majors, and extracurricular activities like athletics, fine arts, and clubs. Student life, housing, and meal plan options are great to ask about, too!
  • What if we can’t visit a college in person?
  • What should I expect on a college visit?
    • A college visit will typically include interaction with an admission counselor, either one-on-one or in a group setting, and a campus tour.
  • How much time should we plan on spending at a college we visit?
    • Most individual visits will last 1.5-2 hours of formal programming. Before or after the visit, we recommend wandering around campus on your own, especially spaces where you find a lot of students spending time.
  • What are the differences between a private college, a public university, and a community college?
    • Private colleges (like Gustavus) offer a more personalized learning environment with smaller class sizes, a strong campus community, and more opportunities to be involved in numerous ways outside of academics.
    • Public institutions are typically larger overall, most notably class sizes and a strong emphasis on one area of study 
    • Community colleges typically offer students the opportunity to receive an associate’s degree (2-year degree). 


Nestled in the Minnesota River Valley, Saint Peter is a classic-feeling college town with great local businesses that offer everything from food and drink to home essentials and little luxuries. And in addition to practical goods and services, there are parks, a golf course, sports, and outdoor activities when you need a break from your academics. 

Our charming and safe downtown boasts dozens of local businesses where Gusties become regulars. So whether your student is looking to find the best burger at Patrick’s on Third or a go-to coffee order at River Rock Coffee & Tea, your student will be in good company. And we’re just an hour from the Twin Cities and ten minutes from Mankato, so those big-city conveniences are close by.

Explore our college town.

Location Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do students do for fun?
    • Gustavus is a residential college and most of the action is on campus, during the weekends and weekdays. Between athletic events, theatre performances, and 120+ student organizations, there’s always something going on around campus. Once students have gotten to know the 340-acre campus (including a beautiful arboretum), they can branch out and discover new favorite spots in this quaint college town. From great food to all the different kinds of activities available, Gusties can find the perfect Saint Peter destination. See Gustie go-to restaurants and the local natural wonders around St. Peter and Mankato.
  • Is there transportation to Mankato or the Twin Cities?


You want your student to graduate in four years and have the skills they need to be marketable to employers and thrive in competitive graduate programs. Gusties do this!

Our top notch academics paired with internship and job connections help students thrive from their first year on campus, through graduation, and beyond. All Gusties complete a Signature Experience (SigX), which serves as a bridge between your academic interests and future career goals. These immersive, hands-on learning experiences include internships, student-faculty research, course-based community projects, and study away opportunities.

Outcomes Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will my student be prepared for a job?
    • According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), hiring managers look for skills like solid problem-solving, a good work ethic, teamwork, and excellent communication — qualities highly valued in every workplace, no matter what your major may be. A liberal arts education at Gustavus helps students develop these skills. That’s why all courses, campus employment, and extracurricular activities at Gustavus give students the opportunity to build more effective leadership techniques, boost your overall ability to communicate in teams, and even sharpen their technical skills.
  • What percentage of students find jobs after graduation?
    • 9 in 10 Gusties report being employed, continuing education, or doing service within 9 months of graduation. (First Destination Survey Results from Gustavus class of 2022) 
  • What kind of internships do students do?
    • The Center for Career Development helps students find internships in their field of interest in everything from business and law, to performing arts and environmental sustainability. The strong alumni network is an asset for making career connections.

Contact us

Each student has a dedicated admission counselor at Gustavus. Get in touch with your student’s counselor. They are happy to connect with you, too!