Colleges That Change Lives
St. Olaf College is again included in the latest edition of the best-selling Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College, a guidebook written by New York Times education editor Loren Pope and revised by Hilary Masell Oswald that promises an in-depth look at 40 colleges that “prepare you for life and all the things life comprises.”
The revised edition praises the college’s popular study-abroad programs, renowned Music Department, and robust science and math programs. The authors also note that St. Olaf ranks 11th among four-year colleges in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees and boasts a medical school acceptance rate of about 80 percent.
Pope and Oswald discuss St. Olaf’s unique and rigorous curriculum, highlighting its four Conversations programs. The authors call the Conversations “a hallmark of a St. Olaf education — and a shining beacon of what liberal learning ought to be,” and note that the programs “give an added layer of life to an already vivacious campus.”
The book is equally enthusiastic about St. Olaf students themselves, saying that “they’re self-assured but not pretentious or cocky. They’d probably cringe at the word ‘wholesome,’ but it’s apt: Students display a genuineness that teeters on the edge of wholesomeness.”
The Best Value Colleges: 2013 Edition
St. Olaf is one of the nation’s “best value” colleges and universities, according to the Princeton Review. The education services company profiles St. Olaf in its book The Best Value Colleges: 2013 Edition.
In its profile of St. Olaf, the book’s editors praise the school for its strong programs in science, math, and music. St. Olaf “offers exceptional students with a civic mindset a rigorous college experience in a positive community atmosphere,” the book notes.
The guide also praises the college’s Piper Center for Vocation and Career, noting that it “offers a staggering number of vocational services to students across their four years.”
“The school is serious about its commitment to study abroad and postgraduate education, and its graduates often enjoy much success in their pursuit of competitive postgraduate fellowships,” the 2013 edition states.
Kiplinger’s “100 Best Values in Private Colleges”
St. Olaf College ranks 46th in the latest edition of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s listing of the top 100 private liberal arts colleges and top 100 private universities in the nation. The rankings, which are based on an examination of more than 600 private institutions, seek to measure academic excellence and affordability, with quality accounting for two-thirds of the total score.
Each year, Kiplinger’s assesses quality according to measurable standards, including the percentage of students who are admitted out of those who applied, the test scores of incoming freshmen, the ratio of students to faculty members, and the four- and five-year graduation rates.
“The institutions on Kiplinger’s rankings for best value in private colleges represent schools that provide high-quality academics as well as affordable cost even in these tough times,” said Jane Bennett Clark, senior associate editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. “With money tight and the college choice so important, you have every reason to expect the best bang for your buck.”
St. Olaf College placed in the top 200 because of a high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, good student-to-faculty ratio, excellent on-campus resources, and overall great value.
Fiske Guide to Colleges
The Fiske Guide to Colleges, a guide created by another former education editor of the New York Times, Edward Fiske, provides profiles of “more than 300 of the best and most interesting institutions in the nation.”
In addition to its individual college profiles, the guide offers selective listings of colleges and universities with “unusual strength” in one of nine preprofessional areas. St. Olaf College was cited among the small colleges and universities strong in music as a performing art and international studies. The book praises the college for cultivating “an international agenda for its students and faculty” and creating “the largest international studies program in the country among liberal arts colleges.”
In describing the college, the guide proclaims that St. Olaf is “a school where students work hard, are encouraged by good teachers, toughened by Minnesota winters, and nourished by strong moral values — in addition to hearty Scandinavian food.”
The campus climate is portrayed as “Minnesota nice,” and described as a great place “for those yearning for a school where spirituality and scholarship exist on the same exalted plane.”
The guide also praises the “outstanding” Division III athletic programs, the rigorous general education requirements, the engaging faculty members, and the “meticulously landscaped” 350-acre campus.
U.S. News Best Colleges
According to U.S. News & World Report, St. Olaf College ranks 55th among national liberal arts colleges.
The U.S. News “Best Colleges” 2013 edition evaluated more than 1,400 of the nation’s public and private four-year schools using a variety of indicators to determine academic quality: assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and (for National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges) high school counselor ratings of colleges and “graduation rate performance.”
In addition to its overall ranking, St. Olaf was rated No. 6 on the “Best Undergraduate Teaching” list and No. 50 in the “High School Counselor Rankings” category. The college also was noted for its distinctive International and Off-Campus Studies program.
Insider’s Guide to the Colleges
Compiled and edited by the staff of the Yale Daily News, Yale University’s student newspaper, The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges hails itself as “the only comprehensive college reference written and researched by students for students.” It claims to rely on hours of interviews with current students to give a true sense of each school profiled and its student body.
The guide touts the number of students who study abroad at St. Olaf and the dedication of faculty members, noting that “the faculty goes above and beyond its academic calling to help students develop and hone their intellectual curiosity.” It also highlights the college’s dedication to sustainability initiatives — pointing out that “the student body has an appreciation for conservation not experienced at many other schools” — and sense of community.
“The campus encourages a tight-knit sense of community that pervades the campus and makes students feel they are taken care of and part of a larger St. Olaf family,” asserts the guide, which also includes St. Olaf College on its list of schools with exceptionally high four-year graduation rates.
Princeton Review’s Best 377 Colleges
St. Olaf provides a “great liberal arts education rich with musical, academic, and social opportunities in a tight-knit, caring community,” says the 2013 edition of The Best 377 Colleges, while noting that “St. Olaf’s national reputation is sharply on the rise.”
The guide touts the popularity of St. Olaf’s study-abroad programs and the”great hands-on learning in addition to classroom learning” that many students earn through internships. It also praises the high quality of the college’s food (No. 13 in the nation), its town-gown relationship with the community of Northfield (No. 11), and says that “there is always something to do on campus, despite the small size of the student body.”
The guide also praises St. Olaf students for being “highly motivated toward success, whether academic or vocational” and for staying “involved in many extracurricular events.”
“One of the best things about this school is the broad range of academics and academic experiences you can have,” notes the 2013 edition.
The Ultimate Guide to America’s Best Colleges
Written by two ivy league graduates, The Ultimate Guide to America’s Best Colleges has been called “the most honest guide to colleges,” and one that “gives you detailed profiles of the 300 best colleges.”
The 2013 edition recognizes St. Olaf College as “a leading contender in the liberal arts, known for its rigorous programs in mathematics, natural sciences, and music.” The guide notes that “with over 180 student organizations present on campus, students at St. Olaf never tire of extracurricular activities,” and that St. Olaf “does not fail to entertain its lively student body.”
It also touts the popular International and Off-Campus Studies program at St. Olaf and notes that “though the academic spread is demanding, students praise the amount of individual attention they receive.”
Making a Difference Colleges
Called “a great guidebook for college-bound young activists,” the Making a Difference Colleges: Distinctive Colleges to Make a Better World guidebook uses more than 10 criteria to rate colleges for their focus on environmental issues, mission and values, and commitment to a global education.
Billed as “the original and authoritative guide to green, socially responsible, progressive, and alternative colleges,” the guide profiles 75 colleges that “educate for a healthy future for our communities, our nation, and our planet.”
The guide singles out St. Olaf’s commitment to international education; its innovative academic programs in American racial and multicultural studies, environmental studies, women’s studies, and Hispanic studies; its community service orientation; and its environmental stewardship.
Parents and Colleges
The online publication Parents and Colleges was “created by passionate college admissions professionals to help parents navigate the college preparation and admissions process.”
The site ranks St. Olaf at No. 8 on its “Top Ten Best College Eats” list, noting that food service provider Bon Appetit uses produce from STOGROW, the student-run organic farm, as well as other local sources to make meals on campus a “locavores dream come true.”
Washington Monthly calls its guide a “different kind of college ranking,” — one that “asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country” — and its 2012 run-down of 254 liberal arts colleges ranks St. Olaf No. 42.
The Washington Monthly rankings concentrate on three criteria: social mobility, or how the school recruits and graduates less advantaged students; how the school supports and conducts research and, as in St. Olaf’s case, produces Ph.D. candidates; and how well the school fosters a culture of service.
Travel and Leisure’s “Most Beautiful College Campuses”
The September 2011 issue of Travel and Leisure magazine features a web exclusive highlighting 30 of “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses,” and St. Olaf is included on the list.
To choose the most beautiful among more than 2,600 four-year American colleges, the magazine looked for “awe-inspiring architecture, landscaping, and surroundings,” and took into account architects’ expert opinions.