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Students Enjoy Smooth Start at Cal Lutheran

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To anyone who has ever attended a state university, Cal Lutheran’s first day of instruction Tuesday was almost startling.

No mile-long lines of students trying to add or drop classes snaked around the administration building, no fisticuffs broke out in the parking lot over spaces and no one sat on the floor of a lecture hall packed wall to wall with 350 undergraduates.

Such things are all but unheard of at this small liberal arts school, attended by about 1,600 undergraduates and approximately 1,000 graduate students who are working on their teaching credentials and masters’ degrees.

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The enrollment numbers at Cal Lutheran are also remarkably stable: 250 incoming freshmen this year, up two from last year.

New students at Cal Lutheran said they were pleased to have chosen the university, which sits under a reddish brown, craggy outcrop known as Montclef Ridge, on the northern end of Thousand Oaks.

“It’s everything I wished for. . . . It’s beautiful,” said Gabriel Laizer, 20, originally from Arusha, Tanzania, in eastern Africa.

Twenty-year-old David Linstad from Oslo echoed Laizer’s sentiments, but said he needed some time to get used to California’s climate.

“The temperature here today is like the max in the summer in Oslo,” Linstad said.

Linstad said he likes the fact that Cal Lutheran was founded by the son of Norwegian immigrants who came to the area in 1890. Richard Pederson, the school’s founder, donated the land that is now the university in 1959.

Linstad was a little peeved that he is on a waiting list for two classes, although that was nothing unexpected, he said.

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“The international students are the last to register,” Linstad said. “Basically there’s nothing left for us--maybe a class here and there.”

Classes at Cal Lutheran also stand in sharp contrast to those at the public universities, averaging 18 to 20 students in an undergraduate course, as opposed to 40 or 50 in a state school.

“Twenty-five--that’s a big class,” Linstad said.

Many students were pleased by the relaxed, friendly atmosphere at Cal Lutheran, which made the first day of classes less of an ordeal, they said.

“It’s kind of a fun school just to hang out at,” said 18-year-old freshman Will Brooks of Simi Valley. “We’ve known everyone for three days and it’s like we’re all friends.”

Eighteen-year-old freshman Julie Hermansen of Redwood City, who lives in the same dorm building as Brooks, agreed.

“I have a lot of friends who go here,” Hermansen said. “This is one of the first schools I looked at, and I knew this was it.” Amanda Young, 18 and a freshman from Phoenix said the academic year’s smooth start has come as a pleasant surprise.

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“I’ve been really shocked,” she said. “It’s really well-organized.”

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