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 ( is available to answer questions via email, and you may also email 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 (

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.

FAQ: Conversations and Learning Communities

At this point in your college search as an admitted Ole, you’ve likely heard of the Conversations and Learning Communities. We’ve talked about them with you in interviews, during visit days, and we mailed out information (including all you need to know to apply) last week. There will also be informative sessions led by faculty from these programs during both of our upcoming Admitted Student Days. However, as the first application deadline approaches on April 14, I wanted to be sure you got your burning questions answered to best inform you as you consider your four years at St. Olaf.


What are the Conversation programs? Which programs can I take during my first year?

Interdisciplinary and unique, the Conversation programs are sequences of courses that take place over more than one semester. There are five Conversations overall; The Great ConversationAmerican Conversations, Environmental ConversationsAsian Conversations, and The Science Conversation. The first two — AmCon and Great Con, as they’re known on campus — are two year programs that students begin during their first year at St. Olaf; Environmental Conversations takes place during the first year only. So, those are what we’ll talk about here. Keep in mind: Asian Conversations and Science Conversation are sophomore year-only courses; Asian Conversations requires that a student take Japanese and/or Chinese during their first year at St. Olaf (as there is a study abroad component over Interim of the sophomore year). As always, it’s good to visit the web pages for the Conversation programs to get the basic information about course offerings and general focus.

What is CH/BI?

CH/BI – or Integrated Chemistry and Biology – or “Chubbi,” as it’s pronounced, is a sequence of three courses taken during your first year, including your interim during the month of January. Students work together to explore the fundamentals of chemistry and cellular biology. As a learning community, students and faculty explore ideas in the lab, through group-based problem solving and discussions. In addition to basic texts, readings from a variety of sources enrich discussions and illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of science. There isn’t a residential component to CH/BI.

What’s this about a “residential component”?

Students who are involved with Great Con, AmCon, or EnCon live among each other in specific residence halls during their first year only (though non-Conners live there too, so you won’t have a Con roommate). Hoyme Hall is typically where AmCon students live; Kildahl and Ellingson are where Great Conners reside; and you can find EnCon students in Kittlesby, which is designated the “green” dorm on campus. There is a lot of writing, reading, thinking, discussing, and debating in the Conversation programs — and much of it happens in the residence hall lounges where the students reside. It creates a fun and dynamic intentional learning community that can also aid in the transition to college life during your first year.

How do I apply for one of these programs?

To apply, you need to log in to your Admissions account (which is different from your St. Olaf account; the Admissions account is what you’ve been using to monitor your application status, and where you’re also able to make your enrollment deposit). Once you log in, you’ll be able to locate the applications for the four programs for first years on the right-hand side. Each application requires a short original essay component with prompts specific to the program. Need help logging into your Admissions account? Contact your admissions officer.

Can I apply for all Conversations and Learning Communities if I’m not sure of which one I want to do?

Yes. If you are accepted to them all, you’ll be able to do a little more research before choosing the one you want. Generally, one of the questions on the application requires students to rank their Conversation preference.

…And which deadline should I apply for if I’m unsure I want to do a Conversation program at all?

It’s always encouraged that if you have even a shade of desire to be involved with one of these programs, you should apply by the first application deadline. The majority of students are admitted from that first application round on April 14; but there is still room as well for students who decide by the later deadline of May 12.

I love the concept of the Conversation programs and CH/BI, and I want to do THEM ALL! Can I?

Wow, we admire your gumption! However, even if you are an incredibly motivated genius, it’s impossible to do CH/BI, The Great Conversation, American Conversations, and Environmental Conversations alongside each other. However, it is possible to do either CH/BI or Great Con or AmCon or EnCon AND Asian Conversations or The Science Conversation. Generally, there only are a handful of students who double-up on a two year and one year Conversation program.

How many students are accepted who apply to the Conversation programs?

Not all students who apply are accepted, but there are wait lists that exist throughout the summer as students change their minds or decide to opt out of the program. There are two cohorts of 60 students for Great Con, one cohort of 40 students for AmCon, and roughly 30 students in EnCon. Generally, both programs are able to accept half to a third of students who apply.

How are applications reviewed?

The professors who teach in the programs review all applicant essays completely separate from any other consideration. They don’t look at your high school GPA, your test score, or essays you submitted in the fall. Their reasoning: you were admitted to St. Olaf, so you’re smart enough. It’s just about who puts together a compelling essay and how well it’s written.

Are these programs considered “honors” programs?

While there is a considerable amount of reading and preparation for each class (for Great Conversation, you read upwards of 80 extra pages of reading per night); no, St. Olaf doesn’t have any honors program. As a selective, academically rigorous college, every course sequence provides the rigor and opportunities you’d find at a typical “honors” level program.

What if I don’t do a Conversation program?

All in all, only 25% or so of Oles are involved with a Conversation program when all is said and done. While they are awesome for the students who are involved, they are not the only way you’ll get a rigorous, interesting, compelling education at St. Olaf. Evaluate if it fits what you want and how you learn best; if it doesn’t, you won’t be looked down upon or judged for not being a Conner.

Is there a cool visual aid to help me get a better sense for the Great Conversation program in particular?

Why, yes! Enjoy.

Hopefully this is helpful! Enjoy crafting your clever essays… I know our professors are excited to read them and welcome the next group of Conners and CH/BI students to campus.

Why attend Admitted Student Day?

Maybe you think, “Well, I’ve been to campus, why should I come to one of these Admitted Student Days?” or “I’ve already deposited… should I still come?” or possibly “Why should I spend a weekend of my valuable time visiting St. Olaf?” Good questions! Below, I’ve highlighted a few reasons why Admitted Student Days are particularly special. From an admissions perspective, my colleagues and I — who will be wearing matching blue shirts, by the way — love the energy and enthusiasm of these days. We finally get to meet students with whom we’ve worked for months (and sometimes years). Whether or not it’s your first time meeting us, we have gotten to know you by reading your application, emailing with you, and talking with you on the phone. It’s fun for us to see the next class of future Oles explore campus with the knowledge that they could actually be students here in a few months.

Here are a few reasons (of many) to attend Admitted Student Day:

1. Meet your future classmates… and roommates… and teammates…

From informally meeting during registration, to the students-only lunch in the Pause, you’ll meet the students who will become part of the community in the fall. Around 30% of the students who attend Admitted Student Days have already decided on St. Olaf (how to tell? see #5).

2. Learn about the beginning of your beginning here: Week One!

From Move In Day to the first day of class, Week One is a time of transition. From socializing, adjusting to dorm life to registering for classes and finding level 3 1/2 in the library, there is a lot to do. Learn about the support systems in place to ensure your arrival and adjustment to college life at St. Olaf goes smoothly.


3. Hear from faculty in every academic discipline about what makes the St. Olaf experience unique.

There will be breakout sessions from faculty in Humanities, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Natural Science & Mathematics, and Interdisciplinary & General Studies. One – or a few – of these professors may soon have you as an advisee, lead your study abroad program, or teach you in the classroom. Get a sense for who will be teaching you during your four years on the Hill.


4. Taste the food. Make sure it still suits your palate. And, take a free St. Olaf Cookie for the road.

Breakfast in the Caf, lunch in the Pause, and a St. Olaf cookie to go — you will be well-fed and get a true sense for the culinary atmosphere at St. Olaf. Princeton Review recently ranked us #5 for Best Campus food, but you should see – and taste – for yourself.

5. Get your “I’m an Ole!” button.

Committed students who have given us their enrollment deposit will receive this button upon check-in to wear during the day’s events. Attach it to your shirt and let everyone know you’re official. If you get to the end of the day and decide you’re ready to become an Ole, you can deposit and we’ll bestow this valued trinket upon you. Also, we have buttons for your parents, as well.

6. Update your Ole gear: the Bookstore will provide a 15% discount.

Wear your name tag into the Bookstore, and grab the St. Olaf signature sweatshirt, black and gold sweatpants, and a pennant to hang in your future dorm room. These guys below definitely took advantage of the discount…

7. Mingle with current Oles and start planning what clubs and organizations you’ll join.

Over 20 student-led clubs will be present for the Co-Curricular Fair during the student lunch. Volunteer organizations, special-interest groups, intramural sports, multicultural and religious organizations — a sampling of our 250+ clubs and organizations will be present. You’ll be able to walk from table to table and meet current students who can tell you about their groups. You’ll even be able to sign up for the clubs that look interesting to you and get a head-start for next fall. Check out the full listing of current student organizations!

8. Learn about resources for mapping out life after St. Olaf.

We are proud to have the Piper Center for Vocation & Career on campus to advise and connect Oles to their future jobs and vocations. Attend the informative presentation from the Piper Center staff, and hear from current Oles’ experiences at St. Olaf and how the Piper Center’s support has helped prepare them for the future. Your college career is imminent, but it’s important to know what St. Olaf can do to prepare you for life after your four years here.

9. Scope out a residence hall.

Check out a residence hall tour. As part of the continuing effort to provide an even better residential experience than we already have, you’ll be able to see one of our newly renovated first-year residence halls. Start to plan your room decoration theme, packing list, and how you’ll move into your new shared living space.

10. Get the answer to your question: “What are the Conversations programs, anyway?” 

Now is your chance to learn more about the interdisciplinary Conversations and Learning Communities directly from the professors who teach in these unique-to-St. Olaf programs. There are two application deadlines for the first-year programs – April 14 and May 12 – so it’s good to get all your questions answered before you apply.

11. Take a stroll around our hometown, Northfield.

We’re located about 45 minutes south of Minneapolis St. Paul, but there are a lot of special reasons why our students choose our town of 20,000. Walk down historic Division Street, grab a coffee or tea at Goodbye Blue Monday, try a cupcake at Cakewalk, peruse the shoes at the Rare Pair, and learn about the town’s unique history at the Northfield Historical Society. The community of Northfield employs St. Olaf students as interns, babysitters, baristas, servers, and much more – discover it for yourself.

12. Discover your favorite spot on campus.

The official tours will show you the key places on the Hill; feel free to use that time — or time to wander on your own — to see where your new study place, meet-up spot, or meditation location will be. You can — and probably will — have more than one favorite place. I encourage you to take time to investigate the nooks and crannies of campus, from an outdoor spot in the Natural Lands, to the space under the Memorial Chime Tower, to a study corner of Regents Hall.



In addition to the highlights above, there will be a luncheon for parents, various information sessions about life on campus, such as study abroad, fine arts, and athletics, and lots of time to hear from current students and faculty. The basic schedule is on the registration page; you’ll receive a complete and detailed schedule upon check-in at Buntrock Commons. We look forward to welcoming you — see you soon!

Congratulations, 2019 Oles!

Congratulations to the St. Olaf Class of 2019! By now, St. Olaf admissions notifications have reached their destinations, and we are excited about the incredible group of students admitted to be future Oles. My colleagues and I look forward to meeting you on campus and during our Admitted Student Days on April 11 and 18; additionally, we’re always available via phone and email to answer questions that arise as you continue narrowing down to your final college choice. The National Candidate Reply Date is May 1, so be sure you take all the time you need between now and then to decide.

If you applied for need-based financial aid, the majority of those awards will be mailed by the end of this week. Merit-based scholarship notification occurred with your notice of admission; however, Fine Arts Scholarship awards will be on their way to finalists soon.

As you share your excitement about St. Olaf, be sure to use #stolaf2019 and #futureOle in your Instagram and Facebook posts. Also, if you’re a Facebooker, join the conversation in the St. Olaf College Class of 2019 group.

Enjoy a few words of welcome below: