After applying to 5 schools across the west and 2 in Minnesota, my decision led me to spread my wings and head to the Midwest. So this is a view from an out-of-state student, who thought she was attending a place much greater than any other place she was leaving behind. My goal for my perfect school was to be private, pretty small, some sort religious aspect, strong science, and music. However, things did not work out that way.
After visiting Bethel 3+ times before I went there, I thought this was the place for me. Their packets they sent home were very helpful, and portrayed a school that was nestled by a lake with friendly and beautiful people - convincing me even more that I would fit in perfectly. But after moving there, and living in this place, I felt closed up and sheltered from the outside. The Bethel bubble is so true! Coming from the Pacific Northwest, where the people are very chill, and finding myself amongst girls who take so much time to get ready, was so different. I let myself adapt, and it turned out to be okay.
The social life at Bethel is lame. The student association sucks and their events are focused on getting girls and boys to hook up - ring by spring. I didn't find it fun at all and rather distracting. Freshman can't have a car, and if you're out-of-state, you're screwed. The daily shuttle only takes you to a nearby mall. You could only get to the cities if you had a friend who had a car.
Campus ministries can be pretty neat if you are into it. I thought their Pray First program was a cool idea and saw some of my friends fluorish in it. However, overall, I found the staff to be rather snooty and I had the sense that they felt they were higher amongst everyone else. I attended chapel only if I found something to be interesting. I really didn't feel welcome, but rather judged if I told someone I don't attend chapel regularly. I just don't agree with making chapel "frilly dilly". God doesn't care what "it" looks like, as long as everyone is doing His work, who cares if there are special effects or fancy slideshows. Just seemed fake to me.
Academically, the school is pretty good. I didn't feel like I was amongst the smartest of people. The Biology department feels like a dungeon, and the faculty don't seem very helpful. Advising is superficial and not in-depth at all. Bethel is a big Pre-Med school (because of the U of M) and I felt that's the only thing they would help students achieve. I was Pre-Vet and felt shoved away. I wanted to find resources from the faculty to help me, but they really didn't know how to help me at all. They are an older set of faculty and seem like they have been at Bethel forever (Since their dad went there and their dad's dad went there, etc.). Even though they built new labs, our school felt underpar with other schools. I didn't feel proud of our resources or felt like I was getting as much out of it.
Aesthetically, Bethel is very pretty on the outisde, but inside the cement blocks are gross. I always felt shut in, and unable to see the outside. I guess it was hard for me to not be outside as much because of the cold winters. Mentally, it just drained you and you felt like you were losing your mind by being inside so much.
The University, itself, is trying very hard to be politically correct, which is ridiculous. This last year, it got to the point where things got out of hand, and the school was trying too hard that it seemed fake. It was disheartening to even associate myself with their priorities.
I do have a few positive things to say: I met some great people there. Not everyone in the student body is bad. There are people there who will take you in and help you along. I've met people who have taken me home with them and I was able to find a family away from home. I think what I took away from my freshman year was that I was able to view a different kind of life (the Minnesotan way) and be able to meet new people. Even though I have decided to transfer, I still have friends back there I will visit. Bethel will be just fine without me. Advice: If you are an out-of-state student considering Bethel, I would say don't do it. Bethel really isn't all that special. It is deeply a Christian school, which is nice if you're looking for it, but sometimes it can get in the way of really noticing a person for who they are and not what they believe. Atleast that's how I viewed what other people thought of me. I am a Christian person, yet I am just more reserved and not as showy. When are you away from home, you need ways to get out, and at Bethel it's really hard to do so if you don't have a car. You may think that being close to home is a bad thing, but soon you will realize how great it is when you need to find refuge away from school.