Wheaton vs St. Olaf [pre-med, environmental science]

Weird as it is to be here, I’m a hs senior down between Wheaton and St. Olaf. It’s unexpected for me as I expected to end up at WashU or Bowdoin or Carleton or Emory. The first two rejected me (RD) and the second two aren’t great fits. (I didn’t find the Carleton students as welcoming or friendly as elsewhere, so here I am!)

Financially, both Wheaton (IL) and St. Olaf have been generous to me.
As I plan to run DIII, it was important to find supportive team environments at both. Olaf is much more serious about running, but Wheaton, of faith. People at Olaf are nice and friendly, but at Wheaton they’re seriously commited to faith (not just “culturally” Christian). Both schools, unfortunately, could improve on racial diversity, but in that way, they’re comparable.

I think that as a pre-med, the sciences at both would challenge me without drowning me, (I could have room to succeed and even shine), but maybe they’re a bit more challenging at Wheaton?? There I was offered a spot in a Sustainability honors program that would give me another (on top of running) small group of like-minded peers.

I don’t have a great feel for St Olaf and haven’t been able to visit a class or stay overnight, so my limited understanding is likely reflected in my thoughts. Would any of y’all jump in and offer suggestions/experiences to help guide my path?

I am interested in medicine, distance running, environmental science, volunteering, and faith/interfaith. Thanks!

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At St Olaf you can sign up for The Environmental Conversation program as a freshman, then you can take Science Conversations sophomore year. Only admitted students can apply/sign up.

Faith can be as important as you wish at St Olaf. Chapel is not mandatory, you can attend (there’s no class scheduled during chapel) or you can do whatever you want. They are very big on Interfaith dialogue and have representatives of various faith working on campus and in the Religion department. Your classmates will NOT be exclusively Christian.
Wheaton IL is an evangelical college, more conservative than St Olaf, and where you sign a creed before you enroll (or teach there). As a result, all your professors are evangelical or conservative Christians and virtually all your classmates will be evangelical Christians. Chapel is mandatory.

Academically speaking, especially for science and premed, St Olaf is seen as the stronger choice.


I think both are great options. I have friends who have gone to both. You will get a good science education at either. You are right that Wheaton is more Christian while St. Olaf is more of a mixed bag depending on the individual. Go with your gut on this one, and congrats on all your great options!

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Have you looked at the gen Eds for each school? Are you comfortable with Wheaton’s Christ at the core curriculum? Their 3x per week required chapel?

i have an acquaintance who transferred to st. olaf after our first year of undergrad due to some personal familial reasons and afaik she’s really enjoyed it. the college, although religiously tied to one institution, is open and accepting of students of all faiths, and one of the perks is that it’s in the same town as carleton, so you’ll be exposed to students outside of just st. olaf.

your assessment of wheaton is not wrong— the college is very, very dedicated to faith, and it is quite conservative, politically and socially. some students thrive in that environment, and that’s perfectly okay. however, some can find it largely restricting, and if you feel like you might, that’s something to heavily consider. i must say that wheaton’s overall vibe and environment vary a lot from the schools you were rejected from or considering. is there a reason you threw it into the mix with all the others? do you think you gravitate more toward a certain environment subconsciously given the schools that were on your list?