St Olaf College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


The academics are fairly rigorous, but you'll get out what you put in. I'm sure you can do fine just skating by and not studying, but you won't learn as much. For the most part, the student body and the profs are concerned with learning. The smaller class sizes make it easier for the profs to focus on individual students, and office hours are especially helpful. There are plenty of places to look for support if you're struggling.


As a freshman, my biggest class is my intro to environmental studies at about sixty people. Despite this, my professor is really great, and through his never-ending supply of enthusiasm, he is able to make the class discussion-oriented rather than a lecture-oriented. I'm only a first semester freshman, but I've found all of the faculty that I've worked with to be really great.


The large majority of professors know your name. My favorite class was genetics taught by Dr. Jean Porterfield--it was difficult, but I learned a lot from her, she made class fun and challenging. Most of my classes were either in biology or chemistry and the professors were fantastic in those departments! Be prepared to study. Opportunities to study abroad are unparalleled. You can go anywhere from Africa to the Bahamas to Costa Rica or Italy while studying Spanish to marketing or biology. I feel like I got the best education available by going to St. Olaf, and it prepared me well for graduate school.


Lower level classes tend to be a little lacking in intensity and students are a little apathetic, but things get better in the upper levels. This is probably because of the GE requirements. Students are competitive with themselves, but not against each other. The honor code is taken very seriously.