For Parents

Congratulations on your child’s acceptance to St. Olaf College!

We understand that sending your child away to college can be both exciting and worrisome. We have compiled some resources about life at St. Olaf College that we feel may be of interest to international parents. Please feel free to look around and contact us if you have any questions or concerns!

The Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion
TEL: +1-507-786-3073  |  |


Contents of this page:

About St. Olaf College
About Northfield, Minnesota
St. Olaf Academic Requirements
Campus Resources & Residential Life
Paying Tuition
Health Insurance
Academic Calendar
Visiting Your Son or Daughter


About St. Olaf College

St. Olaf College is located in Northfield, Minnesota, approximately 45 minutes south of the state’s largest cities: Minneapolis & St. Paul (also known as the “Twin Cities”). St. Olaf offers a distinctive education grounded in academic rigor, residential learning, global engagement, and a vibrant Lutheran faith tradition. Through intensive learning conditions and a rich, vibrant residential environment, St. Olaf fosters an uncommon educational experience that fully prepares students to make a meaningful difference in a changing world. Click here to see more on St. Olaf’s learning outcomes.

A View of Campus
What does campus look like throughout the year? See what the weather is like for your son or daughter on Virtual St. Olaf, where you can view interactive campus maps and live webcams.

St. Olaf Alumni
What are our graduates doing? See the St. Olaf Alumni Profile page to see what kinds of things St. Olaf graduates are doing today!


About Northfield, Minnesota

Downtown Northfield
Downtown Northfield is located just a 20 minute walk from St. Olaf campus. There are many places to eat and visit. See the Northfield Visitor’s Guide for more information.

Minnesota is known for its cold, snowy winters–just one of four distinct seasons here. For the majority of St. Olaf students, winter is an adjustment from their home countries. September through November is considered fall or autumn when leaves change color with cooler daytime and evening temperatures. Winter runs from December to about March with January & February typically the coldest months. The average January temperature is 11 °F (-12 °C), while the average July temperature is 73 °F (23 °C). You can see what the weather is like on campus by viewing our Virtual St. Olaf website.

Banking & Shopping
Northfield has several banks in town; however only two ATMs (Wells Fargo and First National Bank of Northfield) are located on campus. See this page for a list of banks found in Northfield and surrounding areas.

Hospitals, Medical Centers and Pharmacies
See this page for a list of local hospitals, medical centers, and Pharmacies.


St. Olaf Academic Requirements

The St. Olaf curriculum cultivates the basic skills students need to succeed in college and beyond and introduces students to the traditional liberal arts disciplines. All students must complete general education (B.A. / B.M.) requirements, IN ADDITION TO major and elective requirements to be eligible for a degree. Typically, a St. Olaf degree is earned in about four years.

Liberal Arts Curriculum
A liberal arts college gives students control of and flexibility in shaping their education and provides personal attention and hands-on experience. Classes are small and students have ample opportunity to interact with professors. Students choose from a vast array of subjects in the humanities, natural and physical sciences, and social sciences. This means that a student whose major is Computer Science or Economics must also take social science classes like History, Art, Music, etc. and vice versa. These “general education” courses help students realize they have chosen the major that is best for them, while allowing them explore other academic fields. Please keep this in mind if you hear from your son or daughter that they are taking subjects outside their major field.

Academic Advising
Each student is assigned an academic advisor (faculty or staff) who will help guide and advise them on academic coursework at St. Olaf.

Student Privacy
All student information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). No student information can be provided to parents without the student’s permission. Information protected by FERPA includes, but is not limited to:

  • student grades
  • class schedule
  • other personally identifying and/or private information

More information on students’ rights, privacy, and FERPA can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Students do have the option to grant access to their grades, current schedule, and degree audit in addition to billing information to designated persons. For more information, please review the Parent Access page.


Campus Resources & Residential Life

Food on Campus
All students living in residence halls are required to have a full board plan. Students may choose which full board plan they prefer. Flex dollars are put on your son or daughter’s Ole Card and can be used at one of three dining areas: The Cage, Stav dining Hall, and the Kings’ Room.

Ole Dollars & Campus ATM
The St. Olaf student ID card, “Ole Card”, can be used to pay for items at the bookstore, cafeteria, and a few other places on campus and in town. More information on the Ole Card can be found here. Money can be added to the Ole card through in-person payment at select areas on campus. Parents can also add funds to their child’s Ole Card through Parent Accesshowever payment can only be made from a U.S. bank account (no overseas remittance allowed).

Two ATMs (Wells Fargo and First National Bank of Northfield) are located in the lower level of Crossroads in Buntrock Commons. It is possible to make withdrawals from these ATMS using a different bank card, but a fee will be charged for each transaction.

  • First National Bank of Northfield: $2.50 fee (except for U.S. Bank debit cards)
  • Wells Fargo: $2.50 fee for domestic bank cards; $5 for international bank cards

Residence Halls
Most students live in residence halls on campus. See the Residence Life website to learn more about each of our residence halls. Each residence hall is staffed by Junior Counselors or Resident Assistants, who act as peer counselors for residents and create programming for building community within the residence. For more information on these facilities, see the residence hall FAQ page

Public Safety
While St. Olaf and Northfield are considered quite safe, the college makes sure to provide programming and services to ensure continued safety. Public Safety not only ensures the security of buildings on campus, but also supports preventative measures for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Limited transport/escort services are also available for the safety of our students. Visit the Public Safety website for more details on how they keep our campus safe.

Center for Advising and Academic Support 
The Center for Advising and Academic Support provides advising and support to help St. Olaf students succeed. Advising and support is also available for students with disabilities. Please refer to the Center for Advising and Academic Support website for more details on their services.

Health Services
Health Services provides basic medical advising and care for St. Olaf students during the school year (closed during holidays and breaks). Services are free to all students.

Counseling Center (Boe House)
The Counseling Center at St. Olaf is located in the Boe House. The Counseling Center is staffed by licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and a nutritionist who support students in their academic pursuits and facilitates personal and interpersonal learning and growth. Counseling is free and available to all full-time St. Olaf students (except during holidays and breaks).

Counseling is a common practice in the United States. Visiting a counselor does not necessarily mean your child is having a serious mental issue. Students may discuss a wide range of topics with our staff, from stress management to coping with depression. For more information on what counseling in the United States and at St. Olaf College looks like, see our Counseling FAQ page.

The Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion
The Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion provides support programming for international students, domestic multicultural students, and LGBTQIA+ students. The Taylor Center also organizes such programs as the International Friendship Program, connecting international students with local members of the Northfield community for cultural exchange. The Center is available to counsel and advise your son or daughter regarding any of their needs adjusting to life at St. Olaf College. This office also provides advising for all international students regarding immigration and visa related questions. International students should also consult with this office prior to any intended travel or study outside the U.S.

More Campus Resources
More information on campus resources can be found on the Parent Portal!


Paying Tuition

Information on billing and paying for tuition can be found here from the Business Office. It is important to pay tuition and any other money owed to St. Olaf by the designated deadline. A monthly finance charge of 0.5% will be charged on unpaid amounts after the due date.

Health Insurance

All St. Olaf students are required to purchase medical insurance. Information on the St. Olaf Student Health Plan can be found here. Health Insurance can be very complicated in the U.S. International student advisors will talk about how to get and use health insurance during the International Student Orientation, “Week Zero”.

Academic Calendar

Parents can view the St. Olaf Academic Calendar and the Event Calendar at St. Olaf to see what kinds of things are going on, or to plan a visit.

Visiting Your Son or Daughter

Please see this page on getting to Northfield to visit your son or daughter.