Questions about St Olaf College

Hello I have 2 questions about St Olaf
1/ How religious is the school ? I know that non religious students are welcomed there but are the classes taught from religious point of view ? Do professors bring up religion topic in class a lot ?
2/ is it easy to double major there ? I read somewhere on the website that it’s not very easy.

Thank you

“How religious is the school” Classes are not taught from a religious point of view. There are a bunch of threads that will give you insight into this question:

I posted a ‘vibe report’ from my D’s sophomore year that addresses her perception of the religious vibe of St Olaf. St Olaf is not a Christian College, however many of your classmates will be Christian and that it different than at other schools and will affect your experience. My D had a great 4 years at St Olaf, and I recommend the school but it will have a different ‘vibe’. Also keep in mind that it is a very very musical school.

Regarding double-majoring. My D double majored (2 STEM fields) and many of her classmates did. How hard it is depends on what else you are doing. Many Oles do 1 or more terms abroad (they have a robust study-abroad system) or were heavily involved in music. Those 2 things can make it harder to double major (depending on what field you do).


You could say that music is their real religion. But, yes, they are grounded in Lutheran tradition. We have never gotten an overtly Christian vibe from the place, but there is a real sense of kindness and caring there that we didn’t feel from any of the other schools my daughter applied to. They are also all about community and are less individualistic in their value system. They talk about “vocation” - so there is a deeper grounding to the career center then just “get a job”. My daughter’s first choice was Macalester, but they didn’t give as good a financial package. We still could have afforded Macalester, but we couldn’t convince ourselves that the value was there for the extra $20+K per year it would have cost. Plus, she’s a musician, so Olaf is tops in that way. And she got into the Great Conversation program, which she loves. The kindness, caring and warmth really won us over, too. Since it was the pandemic, we only Zoomed with people there, no visit - but we Zoomed with EVERYONE. Someone from almost every campus office. We spent hours and hours doing this with 3 different schools. When she finally landed on campus, there were no surprises.

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Now it’s a few months later, and D is loving her experience. She was concerned that Olaf would have, if not an overly Christian vibe, at least a very “mainstream” vibe and that she might not find her people . She reports this has NOT happened. It is definitely a liberal campus, but does seem to lack some of what many consider to be the excesses of places like Oberlin. She has friends who happen to be Christian, but don’t talk about it. She has friends who are atheists and friends who identify as “they”. She has friends who are from other countries. Overall, it’s probably not as alt and artsy at Macalester or Carleton, but the bonus is that there seems to be more of an opportunity to encounter a range of views. D is a very strong student who truly went to college for the academics and was worried that at Olaf they might not feel rigorous. That hasn’t happened either. (She’s in Great Con and also sciences). She’s totally challenged and might not even get all As, for the first time in her life. Lots of contact with faculty, older students to offer extra help, etc. I’m pretty convinced that if this place weren’t Lutheran and at the corner of Nowhere and Winter it would rise in the rankings. She’s having a great experience.


Piling on to @sandraguth 's comment. My son is a freshman at St. Olaf too and has a similar experience–there are all kinds of students from all over the world and who carry the entire spectrum of religious and political views. My son is Jewish-more of a cultural than religious identification- and he has had no problem finding great friends. It’s does seem to be an especially warm supportive environment without sacrificing academic rigor. Also if you have a student with ADHD, or other challenges, the supports through the disability services office are great, but exemplary are their Trio (federally funded) programs offering a depth of support, including extra advising and community for students with disabilities, or who face the special challenges of being 1st generation and/or economically insecure. TRIO Programs at St. Olaf – St. Olaf College

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