The “It” School of 2023: Texas Christian University


Lily Butner

Many BSM students travel south upon graduation to attend the “it” school of the year: Texas Christian University.

Each year, the college application process brings in waves of schools that suddenly become popular and draw dozens of students in to apply. This year, a Horned Frog has hopped almost a thousand miles north and grabbed the attention of countless BSM students. Texas Christian University is this year’s “it” school.

The odds of a relatively small Christian university catching the eye of so many Minnesotans are certainly low, but it has happened nonetheless. Back in 2005, the earliest that BSM’s Naviance records TCU applications, only three students applied to the school. 17 years later, by 2022 – 27 students applied. Senior Abby Lohmann, along with dozens of other students, is currently applying to TCU, and has several reasons as to why. “I’ve always wanted to go somewhere far and warm and it’s not too big. It has big athletics, but the classes are still small and…I would get scared going to a big school,” Lohmann said.

As expected, the class of 2023 followed in former Red Knights’ footsteps. BSM counselors provided a list of where students applied to college and the number of students applying to each. TCU had a record high of 34 BSM applicants, the fifth highest school on the list. Local schools such as the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas topped the list, as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Creighton University, all of which have been popular schools for years. But TCU is right behind them, producing new records year after year.

This trend of Minnesotans applying is not just restricted to Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Just five miles down the road lies Edina High School, and 44 students from their class of 2022 applied to TCU. BSM Counselor Kate Berry believes that psychological reasons influence high MN application rates, as most students are encouraged to consider colleges during the winter of their junior year, when the temperatures are the lowest and students yearn to get out of the cold. When a school in the south like TCU, with many attributes that students look for, is brought up, the idea of high 80s temperatures are enticing for prospective applicants. “I think TCU really checks a lot of boxes for students at BSM,” Berry said.

I think TCU really checks a lot of boxes for students at BSM,

— Kate Berry

What are these boxes that TCU checks? The most important factor about the school, from both applicants and attendees, is the size. Because BSM is a medium sized school, students are naturally inclined to want that familiar size when it comes to choosing a college. With TCU having about 9,500 undergraduates, it’s classified as a medium sized university, thus creating a comfortable environment for students’ transitions.

“It seems to be an easy transition from this community to that community. It’s a medium sized school. It’s got, like huge athletics, [and] I think a lot of our students are looking for schools that maybe aren’t super overwhelming in population,” Berry said.

Senior applicant Greta Hall visited TCU over the summer as part of the school’s finance program, where she was one of only 36 students nationwide invited. She recognized the similarities between BSM and TCU, in everything from architecture to opportunities. “It feels very safe. Like if you go there, you know, you’re gonna come out with a decent job at least and you’re gonna make friends and you’re gonna have that college experience,” Hall said.

Naturally, there’s been a big draw towards the university, but this trend escalated only in the last few years. Jacqueline Bieter, a 2014 BSM alum, was one of only four students applying to TCU at the time. Though the school had a good reputation in the south, it was a little lesser known farther north, so she was one of the first pioneers of the migration down to Fort Worth.

“I felt some people were confused with my choice as it didn’t quite have the well-known reputation in Minnesota yet, but my family and I had a feeling it was going to be the next ‘IT’ school due to TCU’s investment in the campus, programs, and sports,” Bieter said in an email interview.

Bieter discovered TCU through her mom who worked in Texas at the time. She, like many others, liked the size and feel of campus, with small class sizes but big-school opportunities. Though she went with her gut when it came to picking a school, she felt a bit funny at first and was scared of judgment from classmates due to her unpopular choice. However, the fit of the school proved far more important than others’ opinions. “I encourage every BSM student to focus on what is best for their education vs. opinions of others,” Bieter said.

I encourage every BSM student to focus on what is best for their education vs. opinions of others,

— Jacqueline Bieter

As application cycles have continued to evolve, more students are taking note of TCU and adding it to their lists. BSM’s number of applicants grows every year, mostly due to alums sharing positive experiences at TCU. Cassi Gonyea, member of BSM’s class of 2022, is currently a freshman at TCU. Her knowledge of other Red Knights liking TCU helped her figure out it was the school for her.

“I definitely think [that] BSM helped me discover the school and every BSM student that has gone there that I talked to spoke so highly of the school, which made me want to tour more,” Gonyea said in an email interview.

But the high number of interested Red Knights is not a good thing for some. The idea of having several members of your graduating class attend the same college as you acts as a turn-off for some students. “To be honest, it’s influenced my decision to not want to go there. Because, yes, it’s far and like, at times I like it that a lot of people want to go there because it feels a little bit more like home, but I also don’t want to go with my whole grade,” Lohmann said.

Hall agrees with Lohmann that a fresh start with fewer high school members at a university would be more ideal, though she’s willing to look past it because of the thousands of other students at the school. She too understands the draw that TCU has on students, though the cultural differences from Minnesota to Texas are stark. A survey conducted on about the makeup of TCU students in one word yielded responses such as “wealthy,” “All-American,” and “friendly.” Additionally, the same survey reported that the political belief of campus as a whole was 45% conservative, with an extra 10% classifying campus as very conservative.

I’ve always kind of liked the southern-like vibe…country…cowboy boots and stuff like that,

— Abby Lohmann

“I feel like the difference between how guys and girls interact are very different down there…[the vibes are like] 1950s customs. I overheard some guys like rating the girls in our class out of 10, which I was like, ‘Oh, God, seriously?’ So I feel like it’s a little bit more objectifying but they want to stay true to customs or whatever,” Hall said.

This Southern culture is undoubtedly very prominent at the school, especially for Minnesotans. The traditional customs can be a draw for some Northerners, but for Hall, this isn’t the case. “I think [the culture’s] a less ideal aspect. I think the stuff that appeals to me personally about TCU is more like academics, and their football team and that kind of atmosphere. Like I think they’re all very supportive of each other. But it’s just…their whole like, ‘nice culture’ is very different from ours. So it would be a draw[back] to have to adapt to that. But, I mean, there’s so many other great aspects about the school that I think kind of overshadow that,” Hall said.

However – this is a debated attribute of the school, as others enjoy this switch in culture. “I’ve always kind of liked the southern-like vibe…country…cowboy boots and stuff like that,” Lohmann said.

No matter the opinions of applicants, the number of students infatuated with TCU is high and expected to continue growing. And as the positive experiences from Red Knights keep coming in, it looks like the Horned Frog will capture more hearts in years to come. “It honestly makes me so happy as I feel TCU has the perfect balance of academic rigor & social engagement creating an awesome college experience. I had a fantastic experience at BSM and chose TCU because it had that similar community-feel to BSM,” Bieter said.