Take a closer look at St. Olaf!

Get a great liberal arts education, be part of a diverse campus community, and travel around the world on one of the best international study programs in the country.

You’ll find arts and athletics, internships and research, active campus life, small classes, and great teaching faculty. And best of all… a strong financial aid program to make a St. Olaf education affordable.

Start your application with the Part One today. https://admissions.stolaf.edu/register/PartOne

Beyond the Ball Field

Christopher Casey ’18 shares his perspective on being a student athlete at St. Olaf. You can learn more about our 27 NCAA Division III varsity sports here. Not sure you want to play on a varsity team? We also have awesome club and intramural sports.

One of the best parts of my St. Olaf experience has been playing a sport. I am a member of the baseball team and enjoy the chance to practice and play the game I love. However, what I like the most is that our coaches recognize we are student-athletes and emphasize the student part first.

Cereal Bowl

Throughout the year, my coach tells us we need to succeed in the classroom first and that baseball comes second. For example, if you have a lab that runs late, you don’t miss the lab for practice–you come to practice when the lab is done. It also occasionally works the other way around. During the year, you may have to miss a class for a game. When I had this scenario with baseball, I appreciated all the work my professors did to help me get caught up. You learn that office hours are very valuable! When the team went to Florida for a couple games, my professors told me to e-mail them if I needed anything or had questions.

Ole Basketball

Another part of being a student-athlete is the importance of participating in a variety of activities. Beyond baseball, I also have my own radio show, “Turning Two,” every Wednesday night at six on our radio station, 93.1 KSTO. For an entire hour, I talk professional sports, Ole sports, play pop and country music, and have a special segment at the end. I don’t think any of the listeners will forget our duets (especially our Thanksgiving version of the song “Timber,” which we called “Turkey.) In addition, I am a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and love to attend many of the Political Action Committee events. Of course, our intramural broomball is something I like to be a part of during our January term. Check out my radio show here!


When it is time to train and practice for a sport, St. Olaf is a great spot. Ole athletes are lucky to have top-notch facilities. The Jim Dimick Baseball Complex is a wonderful place to play with our main field set alongside a hill where students and families like to bring blankets and watch a game on a nice day. We have brand new batting cages beyond left field and a small field for infield practice beyond the cages. When the cold weather hits and we are forced to move inside, Tostrud and Skoglund Center are some of the best places to train in Minnesota. Tostrud consists of a large field house, two tracks, a two-level weight room, a rock climbing wall, and many basketball hoops. Skoglund is home to our basketball court and second field house. We also have Porter Hall on the other side of campus that houses another weight room. My favorite part is the two large batting cages we have that are almost always available to hit!

Mornings in Tostrud

I love being a St. Olaf athlete and appreciate that my coaches focus on our academics while still having the chance to play competitively throughout my college years. If you are looking for a school that is academically rigorous and want the chance to compete on a team, St. Olaf is the place for you!

Go Oles!!!

Want to be an Ole? Start your application today!

Be a part of this dynamic community: begin your application to St. Olaf College! The Part One is live — fill it out to give us an early heads-up on your interests and background. Then, get started on Part Two: the Common Application. For most of you, the school year hasn’t begun, but why not get a head start on your application? It will save you time (and maybe some stress) as you balance all the activity of your senior year in the coming months.

Our 3,000 students are ready to welcome smart, creative, and ambitious people who want to be challenged. Let a few of them tell you why St. Olaf might be the right fit for you.


How to be a Pre-Med Spanish Major

When choosing an undergraduate institution, the end result can be a huge factor. Students considering pre-medical studies need to know if their school will help them toward the bigger picture. In this blog post, Taylor Knopf ’18 gives the scoop on pre-medicine at St. Olaf.

You know the kids who are born with school colors in their veins? Me too. But I certainly was never one of them. However, I did know from the start that I wanted to go into medicine. And I knew that I wanted to become bilingual in English and Spanish. I also knew that a Spanish major wasn’t the normal track for a pre-medical student. That’s when I discovered St. Olaf.

St. Olaf gives me the opportunity to do research, volunteer in the community, and meet all kinds of doctors. I can also be a Spanish major and a pre-medical student, so I can study abroad twice in my four years and still be ready for medical school!

The thought of being a pre-medical student is really intimidating for a lot of college students. There are quite a few classes to take and activities to do to prepare for the MCAT and interviews. The process for medical school seems far in the distance when you’re just a freshman in college. But if you’re a pre-medical student, you probably already have questions! Turns out, becoming a doctor isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Check out these Frequently Asked Pre-Med Questions!

Will St. Olaf prepare me for medical school? Yes, and quite well. Typically between 65-75% of St. Olaf students that apply to medical school are accepted.

What’s better: biology or chemistry major? Trick question–all majors are equally amazing, even majors outside of the sciences. A liberal arts college like St. Olaf gives students the opportunity to take a wide range of classes. Approximately 1/3 of your classes are in your major, 1/3 are general education requirements, and 1/3 are “electives” (which would be the pre-medical requirements for you). If you choose a major like biology or chemistry, a lot of classes for your major will intersect with your elective classes. If you choose any other major, many of your classes will intersect with your general education requirements. That means that even if you want to be an English major, you can still graduate as a pre-medical student in four years! We’ll also try to help you fit your interests together in organizations, programs, and study abroad. One trip available is the Peruvian Medical Experience, a biology class for pre-medical and pre-dental students. Of course, you don’t have to speak Spanish to enroll in the course, but it sure is a bonus for the students who share those passions.

What classes will I have to take to be considered a pre-medical student? At St. Olaf, we have a list of suggested classes for any incoming freshmen who wants to consider pre-medicine. These classes include three biology courses, five chemistry courses, two physics courses, a psychology course, a sociology course, and a statistics course. I know that sounds like a lot, but you’ll find that it fits really well into the course structure at St. Olaf.

Are there opportunities to volunteer? Do research? Shadow doctors? You know what they say: opportunities are endless! At the beginning of the year, Volunteer Network sets up a volunteer fair for all St. Olaf students, so there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for any interest. Come find me at the HeadStart table! Every department on campus has some research component, so there are lots of opportunities there as well. You could even start the summer after your freshman year if you play your cards right.

And the Piper Center for Vocation and Career has a networking event every year for sophomores through seniors called Ole Med where you can meet medical students and doctors who graduated from St. Olaf and want to share their steps to success with you. In fact, the Piper Center has numerous resources to help students with everything mentioned in this question.

A Californian takes on winter in Minnesota

Students at St. Olaf represent all fifty states and over 80 countries. Avi Steele ’17 talks about his experience moving from California to Minnesota, particularly tackling the winters in his new home. 

As an out of state student, I faced a unique set of challenges when transitioning into the St. Olaf environment. Sure, I didn’t have to learn a new language, but I nevertheless entered an environment that was dramatically different. I was in a new state with no one I’d ever known. Most people didn’t know how good In-N-Out is or that guacamole should NEVER EVER EVER have mayonnaise in it.

One of the most obvious challenges moving to Minnesota was the weather. I’m originally from Northern California, where winters are forty degrees and summers routinely get as high as 115. Having my hair freeze in the morning was a new experience for me. However, I quickly realized something that made me feel better about the new climate I had to adjust to: no one is comfortable with it. Seriously. My best friends, most of whom are Minnesota natives, like to complain about the weather just as much as me. There’s something about living in weather twenty degrees below zero that really brings people together with a common sense of misery.

Who could be miserable when it looks like this outside?

That’s not to say we were unhappy all winter; it just meant that we all had to spend time together indoors. And if you go a bit stir crazy staying inside so much, there’s always someone who decides it’s a good idea to make snow angels. Maybe that someone could be you!

Outside of my social life, things still weren’t too difficult in the winter. All of the dorms are heated, and each room comes equipped with its own thermostat. Most of the academic buildings are connected by breezeways or underground tunnels. In fact, it’s possible to get from one end of Tomson Hall all the way to the far end of Regents Hall of Natural Science without stepping outdoors. Of all the academic buildings on campus, only Holland Hall, Old Main, the Theater Building, and Steensland Hall (which isn’t currently being used) aren’t connected to directly adjacent buildings. Take a look at a campus map and you’ll see how impressive that is.

There’s still fun to be had outside, though. Every year dozens of trays go missing from the cafeteria as Old Main Hill looks more and more tempting to sled. Intramural broomball is a great way to work up a sweat even when it’s freezing out. If photography is your thing, you’ll love how much campus looks like a snowglobe in the winter. If your biggest worry about coming to St. Olaf is the winter weather, take it from me: the weather outside may be frightful, but campus life is still delightful.

One challenge of moving to Minnesota that probably isn’t as obvious is the culture shock that comes with moving to a new part of the country. Midwesterners are probably accustomed to the congeniality that’s known as “Minnesota Nice,” but if you’re from a coast like me, it’ll take some getting used to. People here will go out of their way to be polite. I once had to elbow my friend out of line while getting lunch because I knew he was going to sneak up and try to pay for me. I’ve rarely been asked to pay someone back for something, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate when I slip some money in their backpack. It may seem annoying at times, but it is grounded in good will. Simply show everyone courtesy, and you’ll do fine.

A look in and out of a St. Olaf classroom

At St. Olaf, professors are eager to work with students both in and out of class. In this blog post, Katherine LeClair ’18 reflects on her experience in her summer chemistry course. She highlights how office hours, classroom discussions, and peer study groups can help enrich the learning experience.

One of the reasons I chose St. Olaf was because of the “in classroom” feeling. As a potential student, I visited St. Olaf and shadowed a class. As I sat in the classroom and listened to the professor and students, I could see myself fitting in with the conversation and how the students and professor interacted.

This summer I chose to take a summer course, Organic Chemistry, a class daunting and said to be one of the hardest. As nervous as I was to take the class, I was calm because I knew I had support both in-class and outside of class. My professor encouraged us to ask lots of questions. During class we work in groups, on the convenient white board walls, and on workshop problems. While we work in groups, our professor walks around and is able to help and explain.

Over my freshman year, I found that professors at St. Olaf want to see their students succeed and will help them outside of class time, making room during the day to see the student. I learned early on to use this extra help outside of class. While Organic Chemistry may be a hard course, I am thankful to my professor who is always willing to answer questions. I am also grateful for the multiple friends I have made who often get together to review or study. We use each other’s knowledge, and if I do not understand a topic, I have people who I can turn to who do understand and are able to explain a problem.

Notes from the African Chorus

St. Olaf has hundreds of organizations on campus, including many that celebrate a variety of cultures. Alex Hemmer ’18 shares her experience in Karibu Association, a club that focuses on the cultures of Africa. In her blog post, the students are planning Africa Night, a yearly event that highlights the diversity of dance, music, theater and more from across the African continent. Check out all our student organizations here!

“This year, we would really like to see some singing, which is something we didn’t have in last year’s show,” said Olivier, then a sophomore student from the republic of Congo, and the co-chair of St. Olaf’s Karibu Association. As a first year student in my first month at St. Olaf, I was quite nervous about pitching ideas for the upcoming Africa Night. I was even shyer in brainstorming performance ideas because I am not from an African country. But before I can continue with this story, allow me to first give you a brief background:

I am an international student from Singapore, and I completed high school at the United World College (UWC), a 2-year international boarding school with 15 campuses around the world. Very simply put, UWC is dedicated to uniting students from different nations for peace & sustainability. I was blessed to live with schoolmates from over 80 countries in the gorgeous southwestern state of New Mexico – UWC USA – who exposed me to a variety of intercultural experiences. At UWC, I was passionately involved with the school’s African Chorus, a student-led choir that performed (mostly) Southern African gospel songs, often incorporating dance moves from the region. It was especially great because you didn’t have to be African to participate; we had Norwegians, Chinese, Haitians – almost any nationals you could think of! I had a lot of fun with the African Chorus, and the thought of having to leave it behind was really sad. But why move on from something you love when you can continue, right? It is possible to start clubs or activities at St. Olaf College, and as a first year student, I was excited to continue learning more about African cultures by participating in student organizations.

Honestly though, such ideas were more easily said than done. For starters, St. Olaf is known for its nationally prestigious choirs led by highly professional instructors. Additionally, I’m a first year Singaporean student with Southern African interests in a school founded on Norwegian culture. The idea seemed more like a dream than a goal at first, but it wasn’t scary enough to be put down. As a result, I determinedly joined Karibu in the beginning of freshman year, out of both my interest in African cultures and my hope to get one step closer to developing this chorus idea.

Later, when Fred Eduam, my Ghanaian classmate at UWC and now at St. Olaf, told me he wanted to introduce the concept of African Chorus to our new peers, I jumped at the opportunity to work with him. I knew then that I wasn’t alone – not to mention that he is one of the most musically gifted people I know. Together, we pitched the idea to our Karibu leaders, who upon watching some of our performance videos from UWC, allowed us to lead the Karibu community in song & dance.

Our ideas were finally approved, but we still needed one more person. It goes without saying that we needed someone good at vocal instructions with a sense of rhythm. But we were also looking for someone from Southern Africa who would be most familiar with the region’s music and cultures. This person turned out to be Themba Jonga, another classmate of mine from Swaziland, a UWC graduate from the Swazi campus. Much to our benefit, he also had a rich choral and general musical background. After presenting the entire idea to Themba, he excitedly agreed to co-lead what was soon to develop into a successful African Chorus!

The African Chorus performing at International Night

The African Chorus performing at International Night

There were several times that I questioned my leadership and whether or not the dream was successfully falling into place. Themba, Fred, and I had to understand what teaching style would best suit our peers of diverse musical backgrounds. Some students understood choir structures, while others had never publicly sung before. It was a learning process, but it helped us develop as student leaders and choral teachers, even though none of us were music majors. We also had to make sure that we accurately taught the song lyrics and thoughtfully represented Southern African culture. Both Themba and Pumla Maswanganyi ’16 from South Africa were tremendously helpful as we learned pronunciations. Through practicing lyrics that were typically in SeSotho, isiXhosa and isiZulu, we exposed the chorus to Southern African clicks, which are quite hard for those not experienced.

All in all, African Chorus rehearsals turned out to be a wonderful exposure to Southern Africa, considering that they were typically one-hour sessions in a meeting room in Northfield, MN. After the many hours we spent together, I am glad to say that we successfully performed Hlohonolofatsa at Africa Night 2014, enough for us to be trusted with two more performances after that. Themba, Fred, and I led the chorus one more time for the annual school-wide event, International Night, and even got to perform at Macalester College’s African culture show in Spring 2015. Though we are a young chorus, all three of us agree that we have come a very long way in such a short time, and we are looking forward to further developing it with the next few opportunities that come our way. We are excited to continue the dream of having a student-led choir that also serves as a musical opportunity for those not seeking to academically pursue music, while also spreading one aspect of African cultures.

Check out our final practice below!

So thank you Themba, thank you Fred, and thank you to every single person who has been a part of the chorus so far. The development of African Chorus would not have been possible without any of these people. I look forward to making more memories!

Want to see more performances that celebrate cultures worldwide? Watch the entire performance of International Night 2015 here!

How to do research at a liberal arts college

Liberal arts colleges do not always come to mind when considering undergraduate research. However, research flourishes at colleges like St. Olaf because we’re able to offer small class sizes and personal attention from professors. There are no graduate students at St. Olaf, so professors devote their time and resources to undergraduates. This allows students from a variety of departments to pursue independent research projects. In this post, Henry Burt ’16 describes his connection to professors and the research that followed.

The first class period I had at St. Olaf was on a bright, sunny morning in Regents Hall of Natural Sciences. It was Personality Psychology, 8AM, Professor Carlo Veltri. Not only was I new to the school, but so was the professor teaching the course. He had a thick brownish-red beard and mustache, round glasses, and a soft-spoken disposition. I won’t get into the details of the course, but I will let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed it!


Regents Hall of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Carlo and I passed each other in the Psychology Department and in the Cage cafe from time to time throughout the rest of my freshman and sophomore years, exchanging the usual greetings and news about upcoming vacation plans. It wasn’t until the first week of junior year when our interactions became much more frequent.

He had recently returned to his dissertation data on personality inventories examining the traits of compulsivity, rigidity, obsessiveness, and perfectionism in a large sample of college students. Carlo was interested in exploring if there were certain underlying “factors” that correlated with these traits. Subsequently, he called upon me that first week of junior year to help him identify these factors using a statistical factor analysis.

But why me? Well, over the spring semester of sophomore year, I had been in contact with psychology faculty about the possibility of assisting professors with their current research. I had taken enough psychology courses in my major to feel confident that I was headed into a career as a psychologist. Now I wanted some hands-on experience and taste of what this profession would entail. Furthermore, my academic advisor mentioned that having undergraduate research would set me apart from other applicants when the time came to apply to graduate school. Eventually word got around that I was on the hunt, and I am sure that the faculty whom I had taken courses with put in a good word for me as they were talking with one another about open positions for professors’ research assistance.

My small classes and relationships with my professors helped me take on this research opportunity. Carlo and I are now meeting on a weekly basis to pare down and fine tune our factor analysis. We plan on presenting a poster of our current findings at a regional symposium this coming year. Many professional psychologists will be there scrutinizing our work, but I’ll also be able to network and explore future collaboration in the field of clinical psychology. I’ll be happy to represent St. Olaf College by sporting a black and gold tie!

My college days began well that first day in Professor Veltri’s class, and I expect it to end well alongside him as I undertake my senior year!

You can find more information about undergraduate research at St. Olaf (including an exciting list of recent projects) here.

A #StOlaf2019 Must-Read: Destination St. Olaf

2019 Oles: it’s here.

Screenshot at May 11 15-36-39

The Dean of Students and Residence Life Offices mailed this postcard last Friday to all deposited Class of 2019 students. The Destination St. Olaf website, where you’ll find all the information you need to prepare yourselves for the fall, is now live. Though you’re now officially in the care of the Dean of Students Office, your friends in Admissions wanted to be sure a few particular points are clear as you begin to transition from prospective Ole to official Ole.

Here’s a handy guide to address some big questions we see pop up around this time of year and over the summer.

How do I access everything on the Destination page? Activate your St. Olaf account. To do this, you’ll need your St. Olaf ID number (found in your deposit confirmation letter). If you lost or misplaced your ID number, contact your admissions officer.

If I have questions about anything related to Destination St. Olaf, housing, forms, Week One orientation, etc., who should I contact? The Dean of First-Years Tim Schroer (schroert@stolaf.edu) is available to answer questions via email, and you may also email questions2019@stolaf.edu. Now is the time to get used to using your St. Olaf account and contacting the relevant offices at St. Olaf with particular questions. All information and updates will now be emailed to you at your St. Olaf email account.

When is the second deposit due? Your second enrollment deposit of $300 is due on June 1. You may mail a check, or you may pay online. To pay online, you must still use your Admissions account, which you log into using your Common Application email address and the password you have established. (For those of you who applied to a Conversation program, this is the same account you used for that application process; it’s also the account through which many of you sent in your first deposit, as well.) If you have not established your password, use the 9-digit PIN you received when you first began your St. Olaf application. If you no longer have the PIN, contact your admissions officerAfter you pay your second deposit, you’ll no longer need to use your Admissions account.

Also due June 1: student employment forms for students who have a student work award as part of their need-based financial aid package. To log into Financial Aid Online, you can use your St. Olaf account log in – the forms can be found there, or here, once you have logged in. Be sure to keep up with the timeline for your financial aid forms – there are more due in July.

When are placement tests due? What about the roommate preference form? Or the adviser questionnaire? All of the due dates can be tracked on the handy Destination St. Olaf Timeline 2015 page. The roommate preference form is due in a little over a month: June 15.

When are housing notifications made? Generally, the Residence Life Office notifies incoming students of their roommate and dorm assignments in the end of July – or at the latest, beginning of August.

How do I get my pre-St. Olaf (AP/IB/CIS/PSEO) credits transferred? First: read the detailed information on the Timeline 2015 page (on the Destination St. Olaf site). If you haven’t had your score report sent to us, you’ll need send them to Nanette Schroeder in the Registrar’s Office (schroede@stolaf.edu).

Do I need to register for classes before I move to campus? Your official registration will take place during Week One, the orientation week for first year students, after you have met one-on-one with your faculty adviser. However, course choice submission for both Writing 111 and Religion 121 will be required during open registration in July (more information on the Timeline page). These are your first year writing and first year religion courses; you will take one, then the other, over the course of your fall and spring semesters at St. Olaf. If you are in a Conversations program, there are adjustments to this – The Great Conversation and Environmental Conversation coursework incorporates both credits, and American Conversations includes Writing 111.

When does first year orientation take place? Move In Day is Saturday, September 5 – the Saturday before Labor Day weekend. (International students move in on September 1). Visit the Week One site for all the details you need to know: travel arrangements, schedules, etc. for the day.

Week One – which is the first year orientation – takes place from the evening of Move In Day (after you say goodbye to your family) until the first day of classes on September 10. During that time, you’ll meet other 2019ers, get to know campus, meet your academic advisers (multiple times), attend information sessions on the academic majors, audition for first year ensembles, register for classes, and investigate the clubs and organizations to join. Again, the Week One page has a lot of helpful information to consider as you prepare for the transition.

What is “Drop Off, Drop By”? If you and your family will be in Northfield on the Friday night, September 4, before Move In Day on September 5, you’re invited to drop off your things in your dorm room from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Note: this isn’t a time to move in, but only to drop your things in your room. After you do so, you can join other 2019 Oles and some current students in the Pause while your parents enjoy a reception at the President’s home. This can be a nice time to alleviate some of the stress that comes with moving in and unpacking during the morning of Move In Day, and get to know a few people early-ish in the process. For more information and to RSVP, check out the Destination St. Olaf home page. You’ll also receive a formal invitation from us this summer.

That’s a LOT of information! Keep the link to this blog handy – and share it with your parents – throughout the summer. Remember to ask if you have questions, check your St. Olaf email account often, and check the Destination St. Olaf page often for updates. A big adventure awaits!





Happy May 1, #StOlaf2019!


Today is National Candidate Reply Day, and by the end of today, thousands of college-bound high school seniors from across the country will have chosen the place where they will spend their next four years. To the students who have chosen St. Olaf for the next four years: congratulations, and welcome. We have truly enjoyed getting to know you. This is the beginning of a great adventure.