As a current freshman at St Olaf who is also an atheist I can give you a bit of a low down, even though I’m transferring.
The academics are the best part of the school in my opinion and the professors are wonderful, but you need to know your own learning style. Do you enjoy more hands on/interactive approaches or lots of reading and discussion? If you prefer the latter, than St. Olaf will be a good fit for you. However, something to keep in mind is that because it is a small school, it is incredibly difficult to get the classes you want in registration. However, the classes can also be considered pretty easy. I have been doing less homework and getting more sleep than I ever did in my high school, which I feel was more rigorous.
Religion doesn’t necessarily effect academics and there are 2 required courses as someone posted above. Those aren’t bad though. However there are religious elements in full school events like graduation and orientation and the school does consider faith and service to be important. You’ll come across hella religious people that might make you feel awkward for being an atheist but for the most part is isn’t that big of a deal.
No Finance Degree. There is Economics and a Marketing Concentration. Economics is the most popular major, but they have the same number of faculty as less popular humanities so it can be more difficult to get into the classes you want.
St Olaf is essentially in the middle of nowhere near a cutesy, classic small town so the area is quiet, safe, and sleepy. However, as much as St Olaf prides itself in safety and trust, I’ve had problems and not been listened to because “St Olaf students wouldn’t do that”. My mail has been stolen on multiple occasions because you share mailboxes and anyone has access to them. They aren’t locked at all. Guys have gone into girls’ rooms at night and tried to rape them while they were sleeping. My friend was stalked to the point she had to take a leave of absence and even though he admitted what he did in a note to her, he faced no consequences. My roommate smashed my mirror after a fight and they wouldn’t even investigate it.
The financial aid is good. Most people say they come here specifically because of good financial aid.
As posted above, no greek life. There is a no drinking policy on campus. People still drink though, but it’s much lamer and usually parties are a bunch of people drinking crammed into a dorm room. A lot of people also go to parties at the neighboring school Carleton.