Regardless of the times of frustration, stress, and physical and social anguish, students always seem to firmly believe that Gustavus was the right choice for them, and most live and breathe the school and the campus traditions. Students who enter Gustavus know many of the “downfalls” before they enroll: the small-town atmosphere and the social politics involved with attending a college the size of many high schools. However, the benefits of the small-school experience are experienced right away: small class sizes, personal attention from professors, and the ability to meet and befriend a number of fellow students. Students who stick through the four years at Gustavus come away with a changed outlook on themselves and the world that surrounds them.
While Gustavus may lack many of the things that come with attending large schools, there are plenty of opportunities to make the four years something to treasure: activities are plentiful, the curricula can be challenging (if you push yourself), and the chance for self-exploration abounds. Living at Gustavus is sort of like living in a bubble (especially if you don't have a car). To respond to this effect, many students form large circles of friends that often intersect with other circles, eventually creating one large community. People are only one or two friends away from someone they don't know. Students also choose to break their bubble by studying abroad; around 50 percent of Gustavus graduating seniors have spent a J-term, semester, or year abroad. Gustavus graduates are, for the most part, down-to-earth individuals who know how to effectively communicate and approach complex issues. By the time they cross the graduation stage, they've realized that it isn't always about what they learned, but rather how they've learned and what it means to continue the learning process throughout their lives.