Minnesota State Mankato- A Large Campus with a Small Campus Atmosphere

Carl Vagle

Transitioning to any new institution can be overwhelming and daunting. Imagine transitioning to four different institutions before finally finding your “home away from home.” Current Minnesota State University, Mankato student Carl Vagle has a story that involves a number of transfers before finally finding his second home at Minnesota State Mankato.

Following high school graduation, Carl, a native from Hermantown, Minnesota, chose to attend Lake Superior Community College to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism. Since he had already earned 28 college credits, he was able to obtain his Associate of Arts degree in just a year. But toward the end of the year, Carl realized that broadcast journalism was not the right path for him.

That realization prompted a quick detour that led him to University of Wisconsin-Superior. At UW-Superior, Carl declared a major in elementary education. In the middle of his first year in Superior, he met a young woman and started dating her, which led to another detour. One important thing Carl notes is that while he was attending both institutions, he was not heavily involved on campus. He was either on campus for classes, working or at home getting together with friends from his hometown.

Carl’s third detour took him to Normandale Community College in the Twin Cities where he persisted toward his degree in elementary education. It was not long, though, before Carl changed his major yet again, this time to business. And by then, he was also no longer in the relationship that had initially brought him to the metro area.

While he was living in the metro area, Carl joined the wait staff at Buffalo Wild Wings in Lakeville. During one of his shifts, a graduate student from the sport management program at Minnesota State Mankato came into the restaurant. Carl started to learn more about the program and fell in love with the idea of it, because it combined two of his passions into one degree.

Carl applied and was accepted into the sport management program, which led to his fourth and final transfer across institutions. Carl shared that his experience has brought him many valuable life lessons.

After getting into the program here at Minnesota State Mankato in the fall of 2013, Carl decided to get involved on campus and the community right away. He’s an Orientation Peer Assistant and a tour guide, a member of Phi Delta Theta, Vets Club and the Sports Management Association. In addition, he holds a few different intramural officiating positions on campus. One of the valuable lessons he shares with incoming students is that “in order to create your second home, you have to get involved.”

One office that Carl has gotten involved with is the Admissions Office, where he serves as a tour guide. He enjoys bringing prospective students around to help them identify what aspects of Minnesota State Mankato could be pertinent to creating their own new home away from home. One point that he shares on all his tours is that “Minnesota State Mankato is a large campus with more than 14,000 undergraduate students, but it has the small campus atmosphere.”

As Carl looks back on his experiences, he realizes that not getting involved on his previous campuses was a mistake. He went to school and then hung out with friends from home instead of making new friends on campus. Now he realizes that his friends from home will always be around—but that they aren’t going to help him create connections on campus.

Carl also learned that you should find a major that you love instead of doing something because of the potential to make money. If you love what you’re doing, he says, it won’t be work. In addition, Carl says, you should never follow a girl around.

Carl is excited for the school year ahead as well as for the opportunities that arise from his involvement in his “second home.”

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.