Conversations, Learning Communities, & Opportunities

Shape Your Experience

St. Olaf’s Conversation programs and Learning Communities take students on distinct intellectual journeys that expand beyond the classroom.

There are a number of options that are available for first-year students. Explore our programs and start an application asap!

APPLICATION DEADLINES

Early Decision

Feb 14

Round One

Mar 23

Round Two

Apr 20

Round Three

May 4

AMERICAN CONVERSATIONS

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“AmCon” as it is known on campus — is a two-year interdisciplinary learning community open to all St. Olaf first-year students interested in an in-depth exploration of America. Over a sequence of four integrated courses, students examine American culture, American history, America’s values and role, and the meaning of citizenship, both in the classroom and the surrounding community.

American Conversations is a learning community where students get to know one another both in their conversation-based classes and by living in a common dorm in their first year. “AmConners” also get together for program dinners, field trips, and social events. In AmCon, conversations might start in the classroom and continue over dinner or during a trip to a museum or theater in Minneapolis St. Paul.

Students of all majors acquire many of their general education course credits in one place — from literary and artistic studies to history and multicultural studies, from writing and oral communications to social sciences.

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONVERSATIONS

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Environmental Conversations (“EnCon”) is a learning community organized around regular elective and required courses, open to incoming first-year students, and focused on questions of environmental policy, science, and values. Through courses and co-curricular opportunities, EnCon prepares students to think about moral, scientific, and practical dimensions of human relationships with the rest of nature.

EnCon is a three course sequence. In the fall and spring, students complete two regular requirements of the first-year curriculum: Religion 121 and Writing 111. EnCon sections of these courses focus specifically on environmental themes. In the Interim, students take ENVST 137 Introduction to Environmental Studies. EnCon students engage in student-led sustainability initiatives, and learn about environmental questions and opportunities facing the college.

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THE GREAT CONVERSATION

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The Great Conversation is a sequence of five courses taken during first-year + sophomore year that center on interdisciplinary encounters with streams of ideas that emerge from the ancient Near East and Mediterranean in philosophy, literature, religion, and the arts, extending their reach to the present day. These streams of ideas include what it means to be human, what constitutes a good society, the relation between the human and the divine, happiness, suffering, beauty, and freedom.

The discipline and skills developed through Great Con benefit all academic paths and for the past three decades have prepared students for professional experiences ranging from social work to teaching to law and medicine.

All students selected to participate in the program live together in Hoyme residence hall during their first year at St. Olaf. This living arrangement not only allows great conversations to continue outside the classroom but also helps create friendships based on shared experiences.

 

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INTEGRATED INTRODUCTION TO CHEMISTRY AND BIOLOGY

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A Learning Community also known as CH/BI (“Chubbi”)

First-year students with a passion for science at the interface of biology and chemistry are encouraged to apply to our integrated introductory Chemistry/Biology sequence or CH/BI. CH/BI students complete a series of three courses and work together to learn the fundamentals of chemistry and cellular biology. The interrelatedness of these disciplines is emphasized through examples of biological applications of fundamental chemistry and exploring biology in light of chemical principles.

This unique interdisciplinary community approach to learning introductory material prepares students for more specialized courses by developing inquisitive habits and the flexibility to draw on ideas from multiple sources.

To apply to the CH/BI program, you will need to complete an application form followed by completion of the Chemistry Placement Exam (a link to this placement exam follows completion of the application form).

 

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RACE MATTERS

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Race Matters is a two-semester, interdisciplinary learning community for first-year students dedicated to the examination of the role of race, ethnicity, and related “race matters” in twenty-first-century American life. Many of these “race matters” occur at the intersection of race with one or more related axes of identity, such as gender, sexuality, religion and class.

With a sociology-focused course in the fall and a writing seminar in the spring, the thoroughly integrated curriculum bridges the humanities and the social sciences, offering students a deep and broad engagement with race and ethnicity in the contemporary world.

 

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FINANCE FAST-TRACK

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The Finance Fast-Track is an opportunity for first-year students to access an accelerated course progression in order to prepare for certain competitive careers in finance. Accepted students will take recommended finance and accounting courses in their first two years at St. Olaf. Students participating in this opportunity must eventually choose an economics major with an area of emphasis in finance.

Finance employers are increasingly engaging with students in their sophomore year. Many major finance firms are hiring for post-junior year summer internships beginning in the spring semester of the sophomore year. The Finance Fast-Track, in addition to academic advising and intentional coaching in the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, enables students to be competitive for these opportunities by providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful.

 

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PRE-MED/PRE-LAW  SCHOLARS

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The St. Olaf Pre-Med/Pre-Law Scholars Opportunity is a pilot program designed to promote the success of domestic US students from populations who are underrepresented in Medicine and Law.  This opportunity will provide mentoring, academic support, community building, career exploration, academic advising and support, and leadership development to enable students to be competitive for opportunities in Medicine and Law and to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful

This opportunity is a collaborative effort among the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, and the Center for Advising and Academic Support. We anticipate 10 students for the Pre-Med track and 5 students for the Pre-Law track for the 2020-2021 academic year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about these opportunities, this is a good place to start.

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