St. Olaf College | News

Sophomores are majorly celebrated on Major Declaration Day

Two sophomores who recently declared their majors Raveena-Flor Lalwani ’23 and Zack Holmes ’23.

Major Declaration Day looked quite different this year, with most events being held online, and (most notably) no build-your-own Cage Cookie station, thanks to COVID-19. But we still had a lot of fun celebrating the St. Olaf Class of 2023 in new and creative ways — online and in-person.

“A very positive result of the celebration being online is that students studying off campus were able to participate in this event for the first time,” said Associate Director of Advising Melody Geiger. “This was especially important this year with more students living off campus than in previous years, due to the pandemic.”

The Center for Academic Advising and Support, who host the celebration each year in partnership with the Office of Student Activities, and the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, kicked off events by holding a sticker design contest among sophomore students. The winning design was created by Gretchen Ellis ‘23, and her graphic was printed professionally and given to students as they picked up their official Class of 2023 t-shirts and “I Declared” signs in Tomson Atrium from March 4 – 10. About 76 percent of students were able to pick up their gear.

Director of Management Studies Sian Christie welcomes newly declared majors on Zoom.

On March 11, the official date of Major Declaration Day 2021, students participated in a virtual event which included a 10-minute webinar and breakout sessions with their departments. About a third of the class participated in the online celebration.

That day, the college Instagram account also shared photos of students with their “I Declared” signs plus video messages from department chairs and faculty welcoming young scholars to their chosen field of study.

“Many of our graduates go on to careers in research, or teaching, or the health profession, or law, or science communication or conservation work,” said Associate Professor of Biology Lisa Bowers in one of the videos. “There’s so many things you can do with a biology degree … I’m sure your enthusiasm for biology will be ‘infectious!’”

Biology remains one of the most popular majors at St. Olaf. Unseated only briefly in 2019 by economics, biology has been the number one major for Oles in the last decade.

An important step of declaring a major is changing to an advisor within that major, and CAAS reported a large uptick in sophomores doing just that in anticipation of Major Declaration Day.

“Major certainty and feeling a sense of belonging to a major community are significant factors in sophomore thriving,” said Geiger. “I am so happy that all sophomores had the chance to celebrate this year! Seeing the students’ smiling faces, holding their ‘I Declared’ signs and wearing their Class of ‘23 t-shirts in the department Zoom session photos was definitely a highlight of this challenging year.”

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