Home on the Hill for the holidays

By Aleece DeWald, Admissions Officer


To echo my colleagues’ previous posts, I also experienced the thrill of admissions fall travel season. As the admissions officer for all of Wisconsin, I spent my fall exploring one the Midwest’s hidden gems. I was captivated by the finest fall colors in Wausau, indulged in tasty burgers and cheese curds in La Crosse, and interviewed numerous intelligent and engaging prospective students in Appleton, Madison, and Milwaukee.

While it was bittersweet to say goodbye to the adventures of travel season, I can’t help but agree with Judy Garland’s statement at the end of The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home.”

My statement may sound a bit cliché. I’m certainly not the first recent graduate to refer to her alma mater as home. But it’s hard for me to think of St. Olaf as anything different. The sense of community and conversation resonate with me as much as the rigorous academics and valuable opportunities – which are great benefits too.

St. Olaf felt most like home to me this past weekend, when the campus celebrated its annual Christmas Festival. For those unfamiliar, Christmas Fest is a four-day musical event that invites all St. Olaf students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests to celebrate the joy and the spirit of Christmas.


A couple of things come to mind when I think of Christmas Fest. Unsurprisingly, the first of these is the music. The weekend revolves around the large festival concert, which features the 500 talented student musicians, who participate in the orchestra and various choirs. Each year, I am awestruck by the talent of our students, who produce such beautiful and inspiring sounds. Even more shocking is when I remember that most of them do not even major in music. About one third of St. Olaf students participate in music; however, only one third of our musicians are music majors. If you have the opportunity to attend Christmas Fest or any St. Olaf music event in the future, I encourage you to read through the list of student majors in the concert program. You’ll see everything from music performance to physics, to nursing, to English, to environmental studies to even our most popular first-year major, Undecided.

In Admissions, we believe that aspect to be a special feature of St. Olaf. My colleagues and I love meeting prospective students with multiple interests—who find the time to participate in multiple extracurricular activities, such as music. Because extracurricular involvement is vital for students in high school, we believe it’s just as important for them to continue developing their interests in college—even if they don’t plan to make a career out of them. If you’d like to learn more about music at St. Olaf, I invite you to visit the website. You’ll find great information about our ensembles and music scholarships, which are open to students of any major.

Now, let’s talk about my second favorite element of Christmas Fest: tradition. Christmas Fest is one of the oldest musical celebrations in the United States. Over the last 102 years, thousands have flocked to St. Olaf College to experience the joy of being part of such a musical tradition that has lasted throughout generations.


This year’s festival theme was The Word Renewed with Love Divine, which I found especially poignant when thinking about the magnitude of the Christmas Fest tradition. I attended the concert this past Friday. While preparing for the performance to begin, I flipped through the pages of the festival program and stopped on the first page. Inside the front cover was text describing different types of circles. The image stuck with me throughout the performance as I imagined how, like circles, the Christmas Fest tradition seems never ending. The celebration is renewed each year with a new group of first-year musicians, who fill the spots of graduated seniors. I’m already looking forward to next Christmas Fest, when I look to the Viking Chorus and Manitou Singers, the first-year choirs, and see the faces of the students whom I am meeting this year. I cannot wait to welcome them into this special community.

Mostly, the tradition reminds me of home. It’s unique and real, and there’s nothing quite like it. A few months ago, I was speaking with prospective student who was applying to St. Olaf for Early Decision 1. (By the way, here’s a link to our application deadlines. If you think St. Olaf might be your top choice, there’s still time to apply for Early Decision 2.) During our conversation, I asked what it was about St. Olaf that stuck out to her. She replied that St. Olaf is a school with a “real personality.” In addition to Christmas Fest, several parts of the school – the students, the architecture, the traditions, the fight song – contribute to St. Olaf, giving it a unique identity among the hundreds of colleges in the United States. And, as the holiday season progresses, I can’t think of a better place to be than home.


From Thailand to travel season

By D.J. Erickson, Admissions Officer

Most of the time that I’ve traveled in the past two years, I’ve needed my passport. After serving some motivated and tenacious Twin Cities high school students for two years with St. Paul-based College Possible, I packed a bag for Gwangju, South Korea, and then Chiang Mai, Thailand. This fall, as my colleagues and I in the St. Olaf Admissions Officer hit the road, drivers’ licenses in hand, I was excited to visit some new and familiar places in the country I call home. My national territory involves most of the states on the East Coast from Maine down to Virginia, including Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.


One of the greatest pleasures of visiting the high schools and college fairs along the way is getting to know the next generation of Oles, one at a time. Although I would be a little too optimistic to imagine every student I met on our campus in Northfield, it’s fun to sit down and imagine that possibility with each of them. Whether students are considering physics majors or English majors, whether they play football or the French horn, or whether they want to study abroad in Jamaica or Japan, I enjoy taking the time to wonder out loud where their lives might take them after high school.


As I stopped at high schools and college fairs along the way, I kept thinking about how many different places and experiences Oles bring with them when they arrive on campus. Over the course of the week, I met students who grew up hundreds of different places, speaking several different languages, but sharing one common goal: to continue to explore their passions – both in and outside of the classroom. And I kept thinking about what a wonderful opportunity it is to be able to surround yourself with equally passionate people who push you to grow and learn.

Some of my favorite people to talk to are those who have never heard of St. Olaf. Many times, I was asked, “Where is St. Olaf exactly?”, but my favorite question came from the younger sibling of a current high school senior in northern Virginia: “Is your mascot a snowman?” A native Minnesotan myself, I never realized just how famous for cold my home state is. “How cold does it get there?” “How much does it snow?” Everyone wanted to talk to me about winter.

So allow me to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post for a public service announcement:


MINNESOTA HAS FOUR GORGEOUS SEASONS, of which winter is just one. My only regret while on the road was missing one of the best weeks of the year in Minnesota: the last week in September. The leaves are gorgeous here. Vermonters: we may not have your incredible mountainous canvas for the foliage, but our fall colors are worth gawking all the same.


I have to admit that when it came time for me — as a high school student — to look at colleges, I was tempted to dismiss what Minnesota, and St. Olaf in particular, have to offer. I know I certainly underestimated the passion and purpose of this place. In just the four years since I’d been away, St. Olaf has exploded with an incredible new array of scientific research, alumni career connections in business, medicine, law, and public service, and artistic and athletic success than I could have imagined when I moved in to my first year dorm in 2006. It has been such a pleasure to return to an even more vibrant St. Olaf than I knew — and most of all — to share that vibrant world of possibilities with all of those considering St. Olaf in their college search.

I feel fortunate that it’s now my job to share my St. Olaf pride with all of you. A glance at recent higher education-focused New York Times articles calls into question much of what a liberal arts education is intended to accomplish. The kinds of personal growth and development possible when you bring together a group of driven, passionate, caring, and community-oriented young people is really remarkable. It’s a unique environment because the growth isn’t limited to the private intellect of each student. There are so many different kinds of students who flourish in this place, and the way they learn from each other and alongside one another is part of the magic of this community. As I look back on my four years at St. Olaf and where they have taken me post-graduation, I would have never imagined the places to which I’ve been catapulted. I guess that’s the risk and the reward in a liberal arts education.


I wish I could stop by every high school where we get applicants, to try to imagine the enormous variety of people and passions who make this place what it is. American poet Walt Whitman set out on that task on his rambling walks through New York City. As an Admissions Officer, I get a small opportunity to do that out on the road visiting your home states and hometowns. The best way for you to do that would be to come for a visit and see for yourself what life is like for our 3,100 Oles.

Reflecting on my first travel season

Hi all!

My name is Zoey Slater, and I’m a new Admissions Officer for St. Olaf College. If my name sounds familiar to loyal readers, it’s because I used to write for the Admissions Blog as a student at St. Olaf. Now that I’ve graduated and become an officer, I’m looking forward to posting my insights on the admissions process at St. Olaf! As a recent graduate, I love telling students about why I chose St. Olaf and what my experience was like as a student while helping them work through the sometimes-daunting admissions process.

Interviewing at the Mars Cafe in Des Moines

Interviewing at the Mars Cafe in Des Moines

One of my favorite aspects of being an Admissions Officer is what we call “fall travel season.” At St. Olaf we have students from all fifty states, which means officers like me spend days on the road traveling to high schools, college fairs, and the occasional coffee shop telling students about St. Olaf. We divide the state of Minnesota and the country into territories, and each officer becomes the primary contact for those different “territories” (if you haven’t already met your officer, find out who it is here. We love getting emails and phone calls from our prospective students, so don’t be shy). This year, we’re joking around the office that I have everything south of St. Olaf–that means I have the southern suburbs of Minneapolis (places like Apple Valley and Burnsville), Iowa, which is just south of Minnesota, as well as “the South” (if you live between North Carolina and Louisiana, I’m your officer). I was born and raised in Minnesota, so I was excited to find out I would be traveling to places like Atlanta and Nashville to meet future Oles. Throughout the fall I traveled to high schools, set up my table at college fairs, and held interviews with students. At the end of the season, I met and got to know hundreds of students and helped them learn more about St. Olaf.

Spending time between high school visits exploring Martin Luther King Jr's old neighborhood

Spending time between high school visits exploring Martin Luther King Jr’s old neighborhood

America's "Music City," Nashville, TN

America’s “Music City,” Nashville, TN

I loved travel season for a few reasons. First, I spent all day talking to amazing high school students. I met a student in Iowa who wants to combine her love of Jane Austen with her interest in health. I got coffee with a student in Atlanta who plays the organ for her church, and a few weeks later I met another who does magic card tricks in his spare time. I met hockey players and cellists, painters and golf stars. Hands down, my favorite part of traveling was hearing about all the awesome things high schoolers are doing!

View from the beautiful Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN

View from the beautiful Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN

Another thing I loved was meeting students who had never heard of St. Olaf. In those situations, I introduced families to the school for the first time and watched them realize how our small college in the North Midwest could be a good fit for an out-of-state student. That’s not to say I did not have to correct some assumptions. Namely, we are not connected to the small town of St. Olaf’s in the Golden Girls, nor did we have anything to do with the snowman in Frozen. Even though some students started off knowing next to nothing about St. Olaf, they walked away with view books in hand and a picture of themselves as an Ole in their minds. Whether you grew up singing our fight song or think St. Olaf is Betty White’s hometown, I encourage you to reach out to your officer, and next time we’re in your hometown, stop by and say hello!

First impressions

By Chris George, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid

Halloween marked my first month back on the Hill. I have spent the better part of October getting reacquainted with a place that I once knew very well. It has been twenty years since I walked off Manitou Field after graduation, ready to take on the world. I didn’t realize that one day, I would have an opportunity to come back and work for my alma mater as the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid; yet here I am, managing a dynamic staff of admission and financial aid professionals who are dedicated to finding students that are a match for the St. Olaf academic and residential community. We are looking for students who want an experience that is academically rigorous, intensely residential, globally engaged, and involved with the college’s faith tradition. These four pillars were very much a part of my time at St. Olaf twenty years ago, but as I have learned, current students experience that foundation in a lot of different ways than I did as a student. Over the next couple of months, I will share what makes St. Olaf special and why I encourage you to visit our beautiful campus.

The first stop you should make when visiting St. Olaf is Buntrock Commons. Buntrock is truly the campus crossroads and the perfect example of our intensely residential experience. With 96% of our students living on campus for four years, Buntrock is the place to pick up your mail, eat a meal and find out what is going on across campus.


I find myself looking for ways to make a daily trip through the building. I’ve been in Buntrock at 7 a.m., at 7 p.m., and all times in between. Every time I’m there, I’m struck by the constant energy in the building. One day you might find a band playing during lunch; the next, you might see 300 prospective students and their families checking in for our Fall Visit Day; and on another day, the college is serving cake to celebrate its 140th birthday!


I’ve run into professors that I took courses from when I was a student, had lunch with a colleague from the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, shared a soda with the College Pastor, and met with my student athletic trainer. But most importantly, I see students connecting in ways that you won’t find on other college campuses.  They are working together in small groups at the Cage and meeting up at the top of the stairs to eat in the cafeteria, Stav Hall. They’re finding a cozy spot to study in the Fireside Lounge, and talking with a professor about a research paper over a cup of coffee. On Fridays, they’re stuffing “Friday flowers” in a friend’s mailbox.

When you visit campus, I encourage you to take a little extra time to watch the interactions that take place in Buntrock, explore the hallways and lounges, and see yourself engaging in that community for the next four years.

It’s time to apply Early Decision

Do any of the following scenarios apply to you?

Your first words were “Um ya ya” – pronounced correctly (OOM-yah-yah). Your bedroom has taken on a black and gold color scheme. You visited campus last summer during a camp… then came back and visited this fall… then realized you were convincing your family to travel to Northfield again for a weekend vacation. You already know your favorite places to study, socialize, and hang out on campus and can visualize your dorm decorations. Your St. Olaf sweatshirt is worn to school, to sports games, during rehearsal, on the weekends, and to bed (and the cuffs are starting to fall off). When people ask you about your college search, you blurt “St. Olaf!!!” before they finish the sentence.

If any of these situations seem familiar to you, apply Early Decision. Early Decision applicants are students who have decided St. Olaf is the perfect fit and their absolute first choice. When they receive the gold admission envelope in the mail one month after the application deadline (by December 15 for Early Decision 1, and by February 1 for Early Decision 2), they are prepared to commit to St. Olaf. Then, they’re finished with their college search.There are two weeks until the first deadline of November 15; if you need a little more time, Early Decision 2 is on January 1.

We certainly understand the leap of faith it requires to apply Early Decision. First of all, in this world of thousands of college choices, it can be hard to narrow down to one school by November 15 or January 1 (our Early Decision I and II application deadlines) instead of the National Candidate Reply Date of May 1.

This decision also prompts conversations about affordability. It’s important for Early Decision applicants to do financial research. If need-based financial aid is part of the equation, we require the CSS PROFILE to be submitted by the applicable Early Decision deadline. We award merit scholarships and preliminary need-based financial aid packages for our Early Decision applicants; however, by signing the Early Decision Agreement, students and families forfeit the ability to compare financial aid offers with other schools. It can be overwhelming to consider all the scenarios, but it’s good to prepare. And, you can always contact your admissions officer and financial aid staff with questions. We are here to help and talk through the intricacies of Early Decision, in addition to getting to know you in addition to reading your application (which is a fun part of the job).

Hear from a few of our current Oles who applied Early Decision:

This is an exciting time of year for us! We’re excited to meet the students who will be the first Oles of the Class of 2019.

– Maggie

A lesson in financial aid vocabulary

By Steve Lindley, Associate Director of Financial Aid

Financial aid can sometimes feel like an intimidating topic. But it doesn’t need to be!

It’s important to remember that financial aid does exist, in both need-based and merit-based forms. For the Class of 2018, 93% of our students are receiving some type of aid; need-based financial aid awards can range from $5,500 to over $50,000. Here, I will break down and define some of the most important terms within the financial aid process.

Scholarships: the most common word associated with financial aid. Scholarships are awarded to students based on the information on their admissions application. The criteria aren’t established in a grid; rather, scholarships are determined based on above-average academic performance and extra-curricular engagement.  At St. Olaf College, we have both academic and fine arts scholarships, as well, which scholarships range from $2,000 – $24,000. Though scholarships will appear on your financial aid award, all selection is completed by faculty and admissions staff. 

Grants are a form of financial aid that is similar to scholarships. While scholarships are based on the admissions application and strength of the student, grants are determined by the family’s financial information. The Financial Aid Office gets this information through both the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA. Grants can come from the federal and state governments, in addition to the college or university. Taking the time to carefully fill out these forms (and doing them on time) is the best way to give the Financial Aid Office a picture of your family’s financial circumstances. For this current year, Oles are receiving over $24 million in grants.

In some ways, grants and scholarships can be thought of in a similar fashion. They are both “gift aid.” Gift aid is money given to the student that the student does not have to earn or repay.

The next main form of financial aid is student employment, or work study. Students are able to earn this money by working a job either on or off-campus. This money can be used to help pay for tuition or directed to the student to help with miscellaneous expenses (Target run, anyone?). There are hundreds of jobs: helping in the cafeteria, working on hanging shows in the art gallery, managing a stockroom for the chemistry department, staffing the front desk of a residence hall, and even refereeing intramural flag football games. Sometimes, your work study job could help inspire a future career path.

The last big term that students and families need to understand is student loans. We believe that reasonable student loan debt is a necessary part of affording a St. Olaf education. That said, St. Olaf works closely with students to make sure they are taking on a manageable amount of debt and that their loan debt won’t affect their post-graduation decisions. Our median loan debt this past year was $27,000 (cumulatively, not per year), below the national average.

There are two kinds of loans: federal and private. Federal loans are the loans from the government directly to the student, while private loans come from financial institutions (like banks or credit unions). Federal loans are often preferable to private loans because they tend to have a lower interest rate, do not require a co-signer, and offer more repayment/forgiveness options.

So, there you have it! I hope this has helped define some of the terms you need to know in the financial aid process. For now, do your research. Communicate with financial aid offices about changes or context of your family’s financial situation. If a student or family wants to see an estimate of their St. Olaf Financial Aid Award, the Net Price Calculator can help. While the Calculator isn’t exact, it is useful to learn what information is relevant and does help give families an idea of what they might qualify for in financial aid.

Think about all four years instead of just the first year when considering a college’s affordability. Though finances can play a large role in the college search, be sure to consider the value of the academic and social fit overall.

Register today: St. Olaf National Admissions Interviews

High school seniors across the country: does the postcard below look familiar?

National Interviews_STD_2014_frontIf it does, you’re in luck. The St. Olaf National Admissions Interview programs will be coming to your neighborhood this fall, which provides you the chance to connect one-on-one with a member of the admissions staff on your home turf.

Why is this important? Though admissions interviews are not required, they are highly encouraged if you have the chance to do so. Our goal is not to stump you with hard-to-answer questions; instead, the interview is conducted like a conversation over the course of 45 minutes. We want to know your academic triumphs and challenges, your experiences in high school, what makes you tick, and what activities keep you well-balanced aside from your studies. In turn, we also want you to ask questions of us. What’s life like in Northfield? How do professors interact with students? How can I take advantage of your study abroad opportunities? Is the food any good? Many students even bring a list. This is your college search, and you have every right to ask as many questions as you can to better inform yourself – especially if you haven’t yet had the chance to visit campus. Though we meet one-on-one first with the student, parents are welcome to join us later in the conversation to get their questions answered.

Our admissions staff enjoys this opportunity to connect with students one-on-one. Many times, we get to know our students via email or over the phone, but hearing your stories and talking with you in person is the best. We are friendly people who enjoy what we do because we’re passionate about St. Olaf. We’re also dedicated to helping students navigate their college search and become better informed about the sometimes daunting task of choosing a college.

So, check out the interview locations and register today. We look forward to meeting you on the road.

– Maggie


Welcome, Class of 2018!

Last Saturday was Move-In Day for the Class of 2018. It’s a day of navigating dorm hallways, hauling boxes, assembling furniture, lofting dorm beds, meeting roommates and corridor mates, and getting to know Junior Counselors and faculty advisers. And, it’s a day to say goodbye to parents and family, at least for a few months, and embark upon a completely new adventure.

Per tradition, there’s a video to capture it all and welcome the class, officially, to the St. Olaf community. Enjoy.

From high school to college: reflections from a fall athlete

By Henry Burt ’16

Well, it’s that time of the year. The fall sports season has begun. Fitness tests, calories upon endless calories, and coaches’ whistles fill up the days. Coming into my first year, I was not quite sure what to expect for two weeks of pre-season. Is my fitness level up to par? What will the competition level be like? Are the upperclassmen going to like me? Are there towel fights in the locker rooms? Well, let me give you a low-down of what my first pre-season looked like, the expectations of athletes, and the great community that comes with being a student-athlete.

Ole Men's Soccer team

Ole Men’s Soccer team

Football, women’s and men’s soccer, women’s and men’s cross country – all of us check in to Ytterboe Hall on a Friday afternoon for pre-season. Kiss your mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, boyfriends, girlfriends (and whoever else) goodbye after they help you unpack and get ready to head home. Say hello to all of your teammates in the pod, which is essentially made up of five “doubles” rooms situated around a common living room. And then strap on the shin guards, pads, or running watches in preparation for your first practice.

For the soccer team, we begin with a beep test. Run to the line and back before the beep on the loudspeaker rings for as many times as you can. The test ends when the beep sounds before you make it back. Fun! Coach Anderson certainly gets the “worst” part of pre-season out of the way, as that might be the only conditioning we do all week. As with most coaches here at Olaf, he expects us to come in fit and ready to go. Division 3 athletics requires a lot of self-drive and responsibility on the individual athlete’s behalf.

Then it’s time to get dinner. St. Olaf currently ranks #5 in the nation for campus food, which we athletes can appreciate! Burgers, stir fry, pasta, cakes, cookies, fruit, yogurt – pick what you like, eat all you can. Calories are calories at this point in the season. So go back for a second helping of waffle fires! We’ll get three square meals a day, apart from the ice cream socials or spontaneous late-night runs to Chipotle that the coaches and upperclassmen schedule.

The hours between sessions (soccer, as with most of the other sports, usually has two-
a-days, with each session about two hours) are fun bonding times. The guys like to hook up the Xbox in the pod’s living room to play FIFA or Madden. We’ll watch movies like Blood Diamond or Fight Club in the evenings. On Sunday mornings when there is no practice scheduled, perhaps Coach Anderson offers us a ride to his local Lutheran congregation for worship. Maybe the upperclassmen will drive us up to the Twin Cities to catch some of the state fair. After all, what says “Welcome to Minnesota” more than fried Oreos?

Lights out is on your watch, but what’s the point of going to bed at 3 a.m. when you have 9 a.m. practice the next morning? The dorm is air-conditioned, but Minnesota summer nights aren’t exactly the definition of “hot” anyways.

The days sort of blend together with drills, walk-throughs, and game film for the practice sessions, and before you know it, it’s time to move into your permanent residence hall a couple of days before the rest of the first-years arrive for Week One. By then, you guys know the campus like the back of your hand, you’ve already said goodbye to your parents, and the initial homesickness that might have hung over you for the first few days has long worn off. Besides, you are now going to be too busy meeting new friends, thinking about what classes to register for, and taking in nightly outdoor movie screenings in the quad that you have little reason to think of home. Also, practices have now scaled down to one a day, as it will be so for the rest of the season, which allows you to attend all of your orientation events without having to miss those final preparations for your first game.

All said, athletics here are a blast, and I look forward to maybe meeting you this fall. Catch me around Ytterboe or in the Admissions office, where I serve as a tour guide. It’s an upperclassman’s responsibility to make the entering class feel as comfortable as possible during this transition time. As a side note, I’ll be running with the cross country team, which hopes to repeat as Division 3 National Champions. Um Ya Ya!

Countdown to the Hill: Drop Off, Drop By and Move-In Day

On August 29 and 30, the Class of 2018 will arrive to the Hill to begin their four years here. It’s an exciting and overwhelming first few days. Brandon Cash ’16 offers some tips and insights on how to ace Drop Off, Drop By and Move-In Day.

Off, By, and In: three prepositions and then BOOM. College.

Welcome to your first lesson as a student at St. Olaf College.  Now, who can tell me what a preposition is?  If you had a high school English teacher like I did, you probably know that a preposition is a part of speech that serves as a locater in time and place for nouns.  You, the Ole student, are a noun: a person, place, or thing, and you happen to be entering an important time in your life as you venture to a new place.

I’ll return to that analogy later, but first, let me introduce myself.  My name is Brandon Cash and I am a junior at St. Olaf.  I’d like to take a minute or two to share with you my Drop Off, Drop By and Move-In Day experiences, both as an incoming student and as a Junior Counselor (JC) in a first year dorm.  I hope that with these two perspectives I can shed light on these two days which, if done right, can set you up for a great first year here on Manitou Hill!

So first off, what is Drop Off, Drop By?  Plain and simple, it is a window of time for you and your families to drop off your stuff in your dorm room and drop by to visit with fellow Oles and Ole parents.  This event was a lifesaver for me and my family.  Because we had stopped by the dorm the day before, we avoided a lot of the chaos that naturally occurs on Move-In Day.  Aside from the initial drop off, there are some other perks to the day as well:

1. You get help unloading.  That’s right, you don’t need to carry your futon up to the fourth floor alone!  The JC staff will be awaiting your arrival to assist you in carrying in the whole trunk-load.  Sure, they’ll be there on Move-In Day, but why wait when you’ve got curb-side service?

2. Speaking of JCs, you’ll probably get to meet yours!  The whole staff will be around to make the day run smoothly so you’re bound to meet your JCs.  Meeting them early is by no means a requirement, but if you do you’ll have a familiar and friendly face that you can look for from the start.

3.The Drop By.  You worked hard carrying up all your dorm room necessities, now relax!  Oles and their siblings (I dragged my brother along) can head over to the Pause in Buntrock to chill out, eat some food, and connect with your new peers.  I am still great friends with the first people I met at the Drop By event and who knows, maybe you’ll make some new friends too.  Parents get to head down to President Anderson’s house for a reception.  Now, I don’t know what really goes on down there (my dad said they had lobster and champagne and went to a circus… but I wasn’t so sure), but I know that it’s fun.  My mom (far more trustworthy) said she really enjoyed talking to parents who were in the same boat that they were.

So that’s that.  You’ve dropped off your stuff and you dropped by for a visit.  Go home or to the hotel and get some rest because the next day is a roller coaster ride.

Move-In Day is exciting and scary.  It is a day full of mixed emotions and it can be a lot to handle, but it becomes one of your most memorable days at St. Olaf.  To ease some of the looming anxiety, here are my 10 tips for a successful Move-In Day on the Hill.

Awesome JCs - like the Ellingson crew here - are here to help. Don't worry, our faces aren't frozen that way.

Awesome JCs – like the Ellingson crew here – are here to help. (Don’t worry, their faces aren’t frozen that way.)

1. Get off to a good start.  Get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and stay hydrated.  The day will be LONG and HOT so be ready.

2. Come prepared.  When packing, be organized and make sure you have everything you need.  If you have a rubber mallet – and you’re not taking a plane here – BRING IT.  It will make the lofting/de-lofting of beds so much easier.  Before you leave home, ensure you have all the tools necessary to assemble your furniture because tools are sparse.

3. Make a plan.  You’re going to pull up outside of your dorm and it will be crazy.  Take a deep breath and stay calm.  Know what you want to accomplish while you are in your room during the morning.  If you have a plan in mind the day will run a lot smoother.

4. Ask questions.  What questions do you have for your roommate?  What questions do you have for your JCs?  Parents: Ask questions!  My mom asked so many questions I didn’t even think to ask and I’m glad she did. Everyone is there to help you so ask us anything.  There are no stupid questions!

5.  Talk to people.  This is something you will hear a lot.  Everyone is feeling the same way so you might as well share it.  Meet some of your neighbors.  My neighbor in Hoyme came and introduced himself to me on Move In Day and we are still close friends. Honestly, that small interaction made that day so much easier.

6. Do it all.  Go to everything.  While this piece of advice applies to all of Week One, go to all the events on Move-In Day especially after your families head home.  The activities are planned to provide you with the smoothest transition possible.

7. Stay open-minded.  You are in a new place with new people and things are going to be different, but staying open-minded is how you can stay on top of getting overwhelmed.

8. Live in the moment.  Don’t think too far ahead.  Remember that it’s the first day.  You’re going to miss something if your mind is already in the future.  Be present.

9. It is OK to cry.  You will have to say goodbye to your family.  St. Olaf does all it can to make it as painless as possible, but it is going to be hard.  Don’t be the tough guy that holds back because I’ve seen that backfire later on.  If your family is like mine, someone will cry and it is okay if it is you. Confession: I did.  If it is really hard, find some private time before the final family event in Skoglund Center to say your goodbyes.  Remember: you are not saying goodbye forever.  It’s more like see you later.

Here we are, Move-In Day 2012, before our goodbyes-for-now.

Here we are, Move-In Day 2012, before our see-you-laters.

10.  Have fun. It is the most clichéd piece of advice in the book, but I mean it.  This is the start of a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.  It’s a long journey so you might as well enjoy yourself.

Well there you are.  10 things you can do to make the most of your college move-in.  Is that everything?  Of course not.  I have to leave some of it up to you!

To return to my opening analogy, all of you, students and families included, are at a time and place of change.  As you know, change can be hard, but life is full of prepositions and depending on how you write them you may like the change.

You’re OFF on a great adventure,

You don’t need to live strictly BY the book.

If you ask me, you’ve got this IN the bag.