Economic Progress in China. Changing Political Identities in Coastal Central Europe. Medicinal Chemistry in Jamaica. Theater in London. These are only four of many courses offered during the month of January, or “Interim,” at St. Olaf. So, what should you know about Interim as you work on your St. Olaf application?
Even though it’s only four weeks, this one month provides many opportunities for Oles. They are able to take a class on campus — maybe in an academic area they’ve always wanted to explore, or something they know will be challenging and best to focus on intensely for a month. It also provides hundreds of students with study abroad and off-campus study opportunities led by St. Olaf faculty. Some students design their own Interim courses; others will pursue an internship or job-shadowing opportunity. Students are required to take three of their four Interims during their time as Oles; however, most students take all four Interim classes. With the chance to explore a new subject, dive further into something familiar, study abroad, or take in a slower-paced life on campus for a month — and at no added cost — students take advantage of January.
The essay on the St. Olaf Supplement to the Common App is where you get the chance to express your interests and creativity. We ask you to design your own interim course and to make it interdisciplinary — and you can embrace this term however you wish. An example of an already existing interdisciplinary course: during a popular Art and Biology interim (aptly titled “Art and Biology in the Bahamas”) students travel with one Art professor and one Biology professor to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. Not only do the students get to explore the marine and island life, they study the natural surroundings from both a scientific and artistic perspective. Students who are interested in art still experience the biology offerings, and vice-versa. Here’s an example of your classroom for the month, sent to me by Patrick Faunillan ’13 after his experience last Interim:
As you sit down to write your St. Olaf Supplement essay, consider your interests and hobbies, both inside and outside the classroom. Maybe they all have a common thread; maybe they have absolutely nothing to do with one another (or so you think). When we read your application, we want to see how you connect ideas and demonstrate your academic curiosity. Try to enjoy it! The Supplement essay is another chance for you to tell us about yourself and how you would engage with the St. Olaf community.