What is the First-Year Experience?
The First-Year Experience at St. Olaf provides you with a foundation for college success. The courses that make up the First-Year Experience focus on critical thinking, discussion, research and writing skills to prepare you for your college experience. These courses are coupled with a year-long orientation program that provides you with the skills you need to succeed: St Olaf Orientation to Academic Resources, known as “SOAR” for short.
You may complete your First-Year Experience on one of two paths. You may take First-Year Seminar 120 and Writing 120 as individual courses, one in the fall and the other in the spring, OR you may enroll in a Conversations program.
Students who opt for the First-Year Seminar 120 and Writing 120 are split into two groups. One group takes First-Year Seminar 120 in the Fall and one group takes Writing 120 in the Fall. In the spring, students who completed First-Year Seminar 120 then take Writing 120, and students who completed Writing 120 take First-Year Seminar 120. You cannot take both First-Year Seminar 120 and Writing 120 in the same semester.
The Conversations programs focus courses around a theme that students engage with in multiple courses during one or two years. Through the Conversations, students may fulfill additional Core requirements beyond the First-Year Seminar 120 and Writing 120. You do not have to participate in a Conversations program; in fact, only 30% of incoming students do.
Regardless of your path, all incoming students are required to complete the SOAR program.