I’m an Ole!

Chris Casey ’18 initially thought St. Olaf was the last place where he’d end up for college. However, everything changed when he visited campus. After further research, Chris knew St. Olaf College was the best school for him, and he applied for St. Olaf’s first Early Decision deadline. If you believe that you’re ready to become an Ole, you can still apply Early Decision to St. Olaf. The second deadline is just around the corner, January 8th. Why wait until March? Speed up your application process. Apply Early Decision today!

It was junior year. Minnesota Private College Week. The time had arrived for me to start looking at colleges. My first official visit to any school was St. Olaf. As my parents were driving down Highway 35, I remember telling them there was no way they could get me to go to a school out in the country! I wanted a big city with thousands of people and a school with a business program. They said I at least needed to get a feel for a different setting to see if it was something I would like. I’m forever grateful they took me to see St. Olaf because guess what: the moment I walked into Buntrock Commons I had that feeling that this was the place for me. That feeling was right. A year and a half later I applied Early Decision to St. Olaf.


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​​I’m grateful my parents told me I needed to give St. Olaf a chance!

There are several reasons why I love St. Olaf and knew it was the place for me.

One aspect that made me want to come to St. Olaf was the fact I would be in an academically rigorous setting where many classes were focused on discussion and posed challenging questions. During one of the Visit Days I attended, a professor gave a lecture similar to a TED talk, where she explained that this was how a typical class at St. Olaf would feel like. I knew I wanted this environment: small classes with accessible professors where I would be challenged.

While St. Olaf does not have a business major, I learned this wouldn’t be a problem after meeting with a professor. I am now an economics major with an emphasis in management and a concentration in media studies. This combination allows me to gain experience in a vast number of business related topics instead of being an expert in one specific topic.

I also applied Early Decision because of all the fun events and speakers St. Olaf brings to campus. As I mentioned earlier, I thought going to a small rural school would mean there would be nothing to do and people would go home on the weekends. I found that not to be true. Whether we are having a concert (such as Hoodie Allen), a DJ led dance, or a Twins game with discounted tickets, there are endless events sponsored by our Student Activities Committee during the week and on the weekends.

​One of the highlights of my freshmen year- the Color Run as part of Olepalooza! on the Hill!
​One of the highlights of my freshmen year: the Color Run as part of Olepalooza! on the Hill!

In terms of speakers, a number of political speakers have come to St. Olaf to share ideas and create discussion among the student body. Last year, it was Reverend Al Sharpton. The year before: Newt Gingrich. Two weeks ago, we hosted Admiral James G. Stavridis. It’s a great opportunity for students to how St. Olaf to learn about a variety of different beliefs.

Finally, I applied early decision because I had the chance to play baseball. Continuing your sport is something I highly recommend to anyone on the fence deciding if they want to play in college. The baseball team has allowed me to meet a great group of guys while playing the game I love. I also joined the Student Athlete Advisory Board this past year. This group is in charge of creating “Ole Pride Events” for our athletic teams, such as cafeteria tray races on the rink during hockey games.

​St. Olaf Baseball showing their support at the Women’s Hockey Ole Pride event.

I still remember the day. December 14, 2013. A big, yellow enveloped with the address, 1500 St. Olaf Avenue, came in the mail. I was so nervous and desperately hoping I would be an Ole. When I slid the slip of paper out of the envelope and the letter said, “I’m an Ole”, I was thrilled with joy. I had made it! In 2013, Christmas came eleven days early.



Early Decision is the best decision

Admissions Officer, Ben Pelegano ’15 knew early in his college search that he wanted to be an Ole. So he applied for St. Olaf’s first Early Decision deadline. Early Decision is designed for students who know St. Olaf is their best choice, and who understand enough about the college’s financial aid policies to feel confident St. Olaf is an affordable option. This year, the first Early Decision is deadline is November 15th. Click here to learn more! 

Come mid-December, I was fist-pumping to “The First Noel”, and my family was passing around the eggnog. My St. Olaf College acceptance letter hung by the chimney with care. I had just learned that I had been admitted Early Decision. With my college search complete, I could finally relax and enjoy my holiday break and the rest of my senior year. I spent my spring going to the movies and playing catch with my friends while my classmates were writing their college essays for the 106th time.

During my college search, I visited 17 schools. St. Olaf was the first one I visited and the last one. I returned to campus one last time to make sure it was indeed my Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen, or my #1 (it’s a Spongebob Squarepants reference, if you didn’t understand it). Something about the atmosphere and community on campus grabbed me from my first visit. First and foremost, I wanted to study abroad, and I knew St. Olaf would provide me with numerous opportunities to pursue that interest. I also wanted to have a radio show, write for the student newspaper, participate in the rowing team, and to play intramural inner tube water polo. I quickly learned that St. Olaf was a place that would support all my interests while still providing me with a quality education. So, while I begrudgingly told my father that I’d “keep an open mind” during the rest of my college visits, I knew almost right away that I’d end up at St. Olaf. Now for some, that moment of clarity will not be as immediate. But if St. Olaf is on the top of your list, I highly recommend Early Decision.

Applying early was the best decision for me and my entire family. St. Olaf had everything I was looking for in a college, and I did not want to wait until March to find out if I had gotten into my first-choice school. Thanks to Early Decision, I found out I had been admitted one month after I submitted my application. My parents were supportive because they knew my chances to earn any financial aid and/or scholarships wouldn’t be affected by applying Early Decision. Even my dog was thrilled because she knew I’d have more time to frolic with her instead of applying to more colleges. So, for the well-being of you, your family, and any attention-seeking animals your family may own, if St. Olaf is your #1 choice, consider applying Early Decision!


A #StOlaf2019 Must-Read: Destination St. Olaf

2019 Oles: it’s here.

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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.

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.