Bethel University is a small, liberal arts Christian college in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was shaky on my decision to come to Bethel, but since I have been here, I have realized it was one of the best decisions of my life!
Pros: Bethel has an amazing atmosphere. The students and faculty are very friendly and open (there are not a lot of cliques). The campus is beautiful, located on a lake, and have an abundance of trees and other plants all around campus. People are never "too comfortable" to get to know new people and there are always things going on. A lot of us compare Bethel to four years of summer camp, and it really is. There are always special activities going on, whether with your floor, dorm, or entire campus (and plenty of people actually go). Not a drinking campus, but the campus is definitely not boring, people are always out and about and have stuff going on.
The location is great also. Living in Minnesota can be a drag, but St. Paul/Minneapolis are two amazing cities with a lot of music/art exhibits. Bethel offers a lot of discount tickets to events in the cities and many classes visit them more than once. Bethel is in a town about 10 minutes outside Minneapolis (15 outside St. Paul) and near many lakes, ice rinks, zoos, targets, malls, and Perkins (a local family restaurant open 24/7)! Lots of students enjoy visiting lake Johanna, which is about 5 minutes from Bethel and is a ton of fun.
The housing is wonderful! Freshman dorms are a bit larger than most and have a great emphasis on getting close with one another. Once your a sophomore and up, you live in "suite style" housing, which is like a small apartment to share between 5-6 people. It's great and there are many different options.
The academics are very strong. The classes were not as hard as I expected, but the teachers don't want to just jam a ton of facts up down your throat. They want you to have a very good understanding of the topic and how to apply it to the secular and Christian world. The teachers care about their students and are, for the most part, very cool. There is a lot of hands on learning. In the biology department, each class requires a lab credit with it, which is a pain for scheduling, but gets you a TON of great experience. Teachers help hook many students up with summer internships, jobs, and careers.
The study abroad program at bethel is one of the best programs in the country. Almost everyone studies abroad for at least a J-term (month long term in January). There are Bethel-specific programs for a lot of main majors, and Bethel is great at hooking students up with larger programs and getting them the credits so that they don't feel like they waste a semester. I am studying abroad next semester and the process was so easy through Bethel! I had a student who works there take me out to coffee and show me every program for my major and help me pick the best one. It was great!
Overall, Bethel is an amazing university for someone who wants to be challanged intellectually and spiritually. I have learned so many important things here. Despite what some people say about Christian colleges, Bethel is fairly open minded and a lot of the faculty are open and respectful to different points of view. It is a christian university, so if you are offended by Christian values and the integration of faith in everything we do, Bethel is not for you. But for me, as a Christian, it's amazing to here teachers testimonies and be able to grow in my faith here. Bethel is always trying to better it self, by continuously updating the structure, getting latest books, and staying environmentally friendly. And it really is a lot of fun; people are lame and do homework every night and weekend. Most stay up late, go out, go to the organized events, or get creative. Again, if you want to drink, don't go to Bethel. Seriously, the University of Minnesota is much cheaper and has tons of parties. But don't come to Bethel and whine about it being a dry campus, because no one should go here for that! There are so many more amazing things about Bethel and I will remember my time here as the best years of my life!!