The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 31, 2013

Gustavus sees uptick in Legacy Students

Family history influences students' college picks

By Amanda Dyslin adyslin@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — The advice being given to incoming freshmen in Norelius Hall at Gustavus Adolphus College was typical of parents dropping their kids off at any college.

“Study hard. You’re not just here to make friends.” “Don’t stay up too late.” “You know, you can always come home on the weekends; we’re just an hour away.”

But the advice of many parents helping haul boxes and bedding up flights of stairs was a bit more practical, considering they were speaking from experience.

“I had a very nice time here,” said Beth (Neuman) Jones of Hopkins, and her family history at the college served as pretty good assurance that her son, an incoming freshman, would too.

Beth graduated from Gustavus in 1982. Her older sister and brother had gone to Gustavus before her, having graduated in 1974 and 1980, respectively.

About 30 years later, Beth’s son, Henry, was the next to attend the college, graduating in 2012. And following in a long line of Neumansand Jones on Friday was William Jones, an incoming freshman, who was getting some help from Mom and Dad in putting his dorm room together in Norelius.

Jones was a part of a much bigger trend than just his family’s. For the past several years, about 20 percent of the freshman class have been known as “Legacy Students,” those who have grandparents, parents or siblings who attended Gustavus before them.

The status comes with a tuition break — $2,500 annually. But few mentioned that as an influence on their decision to come to Gustavus. (Well, few freshmen mentioned it. Some of their parents were quite appreciative.)

William’s No. 1 reason for wanting to be a Gustie was shared by many of his fellow students: the food.

“The food is really good. I’ve tried everything 10 times,” said William, who has been on campus for a couple of weeks for cross-country. “It’s all those little things that add up to a good environment.”

Given all the family members who came through Gustavus, William has heard a lot about the school, and he’s been given his share of Gustavus paraphernalia over the years.

But Beth swears there was no pressure for him to attend her alma mater.

“My whole life I’ve been getting clothing, so there were subtle hints there,” William said.

A floor down from William, Sydney Franklin of Plymouth was moving into her dorm room, having passed on her original plan of attending school down South in Alabama. She’d “really wanted to get away from here,” she said, but had a change of heart.

“I decided I wanted to stay closer to home,” she said, which made her mother, Kim Franklin, very happy.

Kim came to Gustavus in the late 1970s. She also had a sister and nephew who attended.

And that family history probably influenced Sydney to make Gustavus the only Minnesota college she applied to. Being awarded a scholarship clinched the deal.

Judging from Kim’s experience at the school, she knows Sydney will do well there.

“I felt at home here,” she said. “Even just by being in the dorm, I knew she would meet people right away.”

As is the tradition at Gustavus, all the freshmen and their families were welcomed to campus by loud and excited groups of “Gustie Greeters” who lined the roadway with signs and waved to the long line of vehicles.

Members of the Gustavus football team also helped families unload their vehicles and move belongings into the students’ dorms.

“It’s just such a friendly place,” Beth said.

At A Glance Fun facts about the Gustavus Adolphus College class of 2017: ■ There are 650 incoming freshmen this year, and 19 percent are Legacy Students. ■ Students hail from 32 different states and six countries. ■ 22 percent is from outside of Minnesota, including 26 students from Wisconsin, 12 from California, 10 from Iowa, eight from North Dakota and six from South Dakota. ■ Six students are from Cancun, Mexico. ■ 15.3 percent of the class represent racial minorities.