Student Life at Gustavus

Experience personal growth in a fun, exciting, and inclusive community at Gustavus

At Gustavus, we think that education involves more than academics alone. We believe in education for the whole person that takes place inside and outside of the classroom. Student life at Gustavus is more than just clubs and activities. It’s the feeling you get when you live and learn in a welcoming community — a place where you can make friends from all over the world. 

A sense of belonging is important for the college and campus community. That’s why we encourage you to take advantage of a wide range of activities (on and off-campus) designed to help you build your own community. You’ll gain new friends, new perspectives, and a wide range of new skills as you fully immerse yourself in the Gustie experience.

Gusties Get More Out of College

Gustavus students take their academics seriously, while also getting involved in activities such as sports, music, student clubs, and just having fun with friends. There are many other ways to get involved on campus and make the most of your college experience. 

A Residential College Experience

There’s nothing like living on campus! Being in the center of the action gives you access to more of the activities that make up a college experience — it’s definitely not “all work and no play!” 

There are many benefits for living on campus and being a part of a residential college:

  • Location: You will be close to all of your friends, classes, the fitness center, the library, the dining hall, and other on-campus resources. This saves you time and hassle.
  • Safety: You can feel at ease knowing that you are in the company of faculty, staff, and other students who are concerned about your safety on our inclusive campus.
  • Community: At large universities and community colleges, you won’t have the opportunity to build community by living on campus. Residential life is the best way to meet new people, get involved in campus activities, and build lifelong friendships. 
  • Personal development: Living on campus is a great way to grow and develop as a person. You’ll learn how to live independently, manage your time, and solve problems. You will also have the opportunity to explore your interests, gain new perspectives alongside people from different walks of life, and discover new things about yourself and others.
  • Knowledgeable guidance: Gustavus employs Collegiate Fellows (current Gusties students) who are focused on developing community and facilitating connections between diverse individuals to create a respectful and fun residential environment that enhances learning both in and out of the classroom.

Overall, living on the Gustavus campus is a great way to get the most out of your college experience. 

Find out more information about campus housing

Making Friends at Gustavus

When you first arrive on a college campus, you’ll be joining a community of new students in the same position as you. All you need to do is be yourself and be open to meeting new people. The residential community, numerous ways to be involved on campus, and small classes help you find your friends. 

The Campus Activities Office is instrumental in connecting students, whether that’s through hosting periodic Involvement Fairs; helping you get involved in one of over 120 student clubs or organizations; or going to Campus Activities Board-sponsored events like a concert, dance, or sporting event. Gusties enjoy the LineUs Improve Troupe, and cultural events like Latinx night, Africa night, the International Festival. If you’re looking for something more casual, there’s a weekly game night, an Esports team, and Saturday Nights in Lund, where the athletics center stays open late and features activities like a headphone disco, inflatables, and laser tag.

One thing we know about making friends at Gustavus: It will happen. We’re known for our friendly and inclusive atmosphere. Leave your door open when you're in your residence hall room and talk to the person next to you in class. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone new. You never know who you might meet!

Go Gusties! Athletics at Gustavus

Gustavus is an NCAA Division III school with 23 varsity sports teams. We have a state-of-the-art hockey rink on campus, home to the 2023 national champion women's hockey team. Gusties produce highly competitive teams in every sport, often contending for conference and playoff titles. During the 2022-2023 academic year, Gustie women took 1st in the conference and men were 2nd in the MIAC All-Sports Competition.

Our athletic teams provide students with the opportunity to compete at a high level and help to build school spirit. If you are interested in playing sports in college, Gustavus offers many options for competitive teams and a supportive environment for student-athletes.

Explore Gustavus Adolphus Athletics

A Cultured Gustie Life: Fine Arts on Campus

The fine arts are a vibrant part of campus life at Gustavus. Nearly 40% of students are involved in the fine arts, and there are always opportunities to take center stage or watch your friends perform. You can take in guest performers and artists from all over the world, offering everything from concerts to lectures to workshops.

The students of Gustavus showcase their talents through a variety of theatre and music performances, dance productions, and student art exhibits each year. Here are a few examples:

  • The Music Department hosts student performances on campus throughout the year and leads students on tours - locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • The Theatre Department stages three main shows each year, which regularly include a musical, as well as a variety of smaller productions. 
  • The Dance Department, known for its energetic and expressive performances, produces two main stage shows each year in addition to a variety of smaller productions. 
  • The Art Department hosts a variety of student art exhibits throughout the year. 

The fine arts are a vital part of the campus community at Gustavus. Students love these opportunities to flex their creative muscles, learn about different cultures, and connect with others. 

Explore Fine Arts at Gustavus

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Gustavus

Gustavus values and welcomes all students. That’s why we offer programs designed to support students from all backgrounds, including first-generation college students and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students. The hub of this activity for students is the Center for Inclusive Excellence, which provides a space for all students to gather and connect.

One of the college's most important programs for first-generation college students is First Forward. First Forward provides academic support, financial assistance, and social and cultural programming to help first-generation students succeed. The program also helps students connect with other first-generation students and with mentors who can offer guidance and support.

Learn more about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Gustavus

A Well-Rounded Gustie: The Importance of Whole-Student Well-Being

Gustavus has a well-staffed Health Service on campus to address the most common medical needs. We also have a Counseling Center, offering a variety of mental health services to students. 

Here are just a few of the many resources available through Gustavus’s Health Service and Counseling Center:

  • Primary care: Gustavus offers students primary care services, including physicals, sick visits, vaccinations, and minor injuries. 
  • Nutrition counseling: We offer free nutrition counseling with a Registered Dietitian to help students (including students with food allergies and intolerances) make healthy food choices. 
  • Sexual health services: Gustavus offers sexual health services, such as birth control, testing for STIs, and counseling. We also offer information about sexual health and relationships.
  • Mental Health Care: one-on-one appointments for students to meet with a therapist, drop-in hours, support groups for students for students suffering from anxiety, depression, grief, or eating disorders.
  • Free online resources through Learn to Live provide additional mental health support for all students.

Gustavus’s holistic approach to health is an asset to students’ mental and physical health — and academic success. We’re committed to providing students with the resources they need to stay healthy and thrive as they face challenges away from home.

What About the Food? Dining at Gustavus is Award-Winning

Gustavus boasts a nationally-ranked dining service that offers students a variety of à la carte options. Entrees rotate each meal period and include regional, national, and international recipes, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and allergy-free options.

With over 20 different entrée options for lunch and dinner daily, students have plenty of flexibility to choose when they eat and what they eat. Some student favorites (and weekly staples!) include caesar salad on Mondays, omelet bar on Thursdays, and gyros on Fridays.

The dining service is committed to using cage-free, locally sourced, equal exchange, grass-fed, wild-caught, and rBST-free ingredients. In fact, around 1,500 pounds of seasonal produce is grown right on campus by student workers at Big Hill Farm. Gustavus averages about 115 tons of compost each year, which is between 15-20% of our total waste.

If current choices aren’t enough, students are encouraged to share family recipes with the chef, cultivating a more community-driven dining experience that allows students to learn about different cultures.

To keep the food options fresh and respond to student suggestions, Gustavus assembled the Kitchen Cabinet, a group of faculty, staff, administrators, and students who work together on continually improving the dining experience for students. 

Learn more about food at Gustavus

Spirituality on Campus

Gustavus’s commitment to religious diversity is demonstrated in its wide range of worship opportunities and religious resources. Students of all faiths are welcome and respected on campus, and everyone has the opportunity to grow and learn in a supportive environment. Here are some additional details about the worship opportunities open to students at Gustavus:

  • Christ Chapel: Christ Chapel is a beautiful chapel that seats over 1500 people. It is the site of regular Christian services as well as concerts, lectures, and other events.
  • Bonnier Multifaith Center: The Bonnier Multifaith Center is a modern space that can accommodate up to 100 people. It is used for a variety of religious services, interfaith gatherings, and workshops. There are dedicated spaces for meditation and washing stations.
  • Religious student organizations: There are several religious student organizations and events on campus, representing a wide range of faiths. These groups offer opportunities for students to worship together, learn about their faith, and serve the community.
  • Chaplains: Our college chaplains are available to provide spiritual guidance and counseling to students of all faiths. The chaplains also organize a variety of religious and spiritual events.
  • Religious studies courses: Gustavus offers a variety of religious studies courses that can help students learn about different religions and their traditions. These courses are open to students of all faiths, and they provide a valuable opportunity to learn about different cultures and perspectives.

Community Engagement and Service Beyond Campus

About 20% of the students participate in service opportunities beyond the campus. Students who are driven to make the world a better place often take on community service and social justice causes, giving back while boosting the local, regional, and global community’s awareness of worthy causes like:

  • Big Partner/Little Partner is a mentorship program that pairs Gustavus students with youth from Saint Peter and the surrounding area. This program aims to foster friendship, personal growth, and social-emotional skill-building.
  • Gustavus Habitat for Humanity pairs with local and national affiliates to build affordable housing for families. You can even go on one of several Spring Break trips to build houses.
  • Building Bridges is a student organization that focuses on educating community members on a wide variety of issues relating to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each spring, the students organize the Building Bridges Conference, an event that focuses on a different social justice issue each year. 

Leadership at Gustavus

There are a variety of other leadership, and service organizations you can get involved in to grow your skills and make a positive impact on the campus. Most students are involved in at least one student-led organization — it’s a great way to both make friends and gain leadership experience at the same time! 

  • Students can join a wide variety of on-campus leadership-building groups, including the Student Senate, Peer educators, Model United Nations, the Diversity Leadership Council, and the Environmental Action Coalition. 
  • Gustavus has several local and national fraternities and sororities. These groups are another way to gain leadership experience, while building strong friendships. Approximately 20% of the students participate in Greek life. Our groups focus on community service and philanthropy, so you can choose a group with values aligning with yours. 

Gustie Life: Traditions

As you might expect from a college over 150 years old, we have quite a few traditions on the Hill. Here are a few ways you can get into the Gustie spirit: 

  • Gustie Greeters: New student orientation leaders assist new Gusties from move-in day through their first semester on the Hill. They help students get to know the campus and introduce you to all of the unique opportunities available.
  • Homecoming: Homecoming is a major event for current students and Gustie alumni. It's a great way to celebrate school spirit and reconnect with friends. There's a football game, a big outdoor dance, and a petting zoo. 
  • The Arboretum: “The Arb” offers 125 acres of nature and relaxation. Stroll through the gardens and woods, take a nap in a hammock, enjoy some frisbee, go cross country skiing, and be sure to catch Fall Fest — outdoor activities, games, and food on arboretum grounds during Family Weekend. 
  • Midnight Express: This hugely popular study break before finals features Gustavus jazz bands and tons of free food. It's a much-anticipated way to enjoy a respite during an important time in the academic calendar.
  • Painting the Rock: There’s a big boulder known as “the Rock” by Old Main (the oldest building on campus) that students paint, whether to promote a special event or just for fun. 
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel: Our annual features over 350 students performing in a beautiful service that always ends with a moving version of the song O Come, All ye Faithful.

Become your Best Self at Gustavus

Gustavus recognizes that education doesn’t mean focusing on your schoolwork 24/7 — balanced students make for well-rounded, versatile graduates. That’s why, in addition to outstanding academics, Gustavus offers students a multitude of options for organized recreation, volunteering, and just plain fun. 

In our close-knit, active, and inclusive community in Saint Peter, Minnesota, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to make new friends, get involved in a cause close to your heart, or get your heart pumping on stage or on the field! 

Find out more by scheduling a campus tour.