Frequently Asked Questions
New Student Orientation
When is New Student Orientation?
For incoming first-year Oles, New Student Orientation (NSO) will begin on Saturday, September 2nd and continue through the start of classes on Thursday, September 7th.
Is there anything I need to do over the summer for New Student Orientation?
Yes! We have a summer module that incoming Oles take part in!
I’m a transfer student. Is New Student Orientation for me?
Yes! We have what we call NSO: Transfer Track which is an experience specifically designed for incoming transfer Oles. Learn more about NSO: Transfer Track online!
What will New Student Orientation look like this fall? Where can I find the schedule?
We are still working on the New Student Orientation experience and plan to share more soon. Be sure to keep an eye on the New Student Orientation website for more information!
What is an Ole card for and when will I get mine?
Your Ole Card is an all-purpose card that can be used to access your meal plan, check out books from the library, and gain access to your residence hall. It also is a debit card that can be used at the St. Olaf Bookstore, Print Center, Post Office, and the Lion’s Pause. You will submit your photo online before you arrive to campus and receive your Ole Card when you check-in to your residence hall!
Where can I find directions to campus?
We can’t wait to welcome you to campus! We have resources available for you online!
What will my residence hall look like? How do I find a roommate?
St. Olaf requires students to live in on-campus housing all four years. We have some great videos that show off our residence halls to give you a glimpse inside. Everything you need to know about the roommate pairing process can be found online!
Are there rules about what I can or cannot bring to my residence hall room?
Yes. These stipulations and more common questions can be found on the Residence Life website. One important one to highlight is that the college provides a refrigerator/freezer/microwave in every student room on campus. Students may not bring their own.
I accidentally submitted my Roommate Preference Form before I finished it. How can I reopen it?
No worries. Please send an email to email@example.com and we will work to reset it for you!
Am I allowed to smoke in my residence hall or on campus?
St. Olaf College is a tobacco-free and vape-free campus indoors and outdoors. You may find out more about the campus policy here.
What student organizations exist on campus?
We have over 200 student organizations that Oles can join to get involved on campus! Learn more on Presence!
What is College Ministry?
College Ministry is both the home of the St. Olaf College Student Congregation and the hub of inter-religious life. In addition, our College Pastors and Associate Chaplains for Jewish and Muslim Life all talk frequently with students about all matters of college life.
I want to be involved in music on campus. How and when can I audition? Do I have to be a music major?
Firstly, all students are welcome in our music ensembles! Non-music majors make up more than 50% of our music participants. When your New Student Checklist goes live in May, the first thing to do is complete the Music Interest Questionnaire. This will put you in contact with the Music department to get you scheduled for an audition in the fall. On the form, you will also be able to note your interest in voice and/or instrumental lessons and scheduling for lessons will occur in the fall. Additional information for incoming musicians can be found online.
I want to take music lessons at St. Olaf. How can I sign up? Do lessons cost more? What about using practice rooms?
Incoming music majors and music scholarship students who are required to be in private studios will be registered over the summer. All other students may request music lessons online. Regarding cost, last year lessons cost $600 per semester per .25 credit. Financial aid is available for students who desire to take lessons at St. Olaf. Practice room sign-up is held the second full week of each semester online and students participating in lessons and ensembles will receive an email with the details. Contact Lisa McDermott (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Who is my academic advisor and when will we meet?
You will be assigned to a Summer Registration Faculty Advisor at the beginning of June; you will be able to find your assigned advisor in our Student Information System (SIS). This advisor will be available to assist you with any questions you may have as you prepare to register on June 22. At the end of July, you will be assigned to a faculty or staff academic advisor who is typically not in your major interest area or field of study. You will meet with your advisor when you get to campus as part of New Student Orientation. Once you declare your major in the spring of your second year, you will select a major advisor in the department of your declared major. Your advisor will check in with you each semester and can help with future course planning, assist with degree completion plans, identify opportunities in your major interest area, or explore new ideas. You should always feel able to reach out to your advisor with any questions. Don’t wait – you can go to them! More information about advising can be found online!
How and when will I declare my major/concentration?
As a first-year student, it is an exciting time to explore different academic paths that match your interests and passions and it is OK to be undecided! At St. Olaf, you must declare a major by March 15 of your second year. If you’d like, you can declare a major now by using the Request to Declare or Drop A Major, Concentration or Emphasis form found on the Student Information System. You can change your major at any time!
I have a question about my academics and don’t have an assigned advisor yet. Who can I connect with?
The staff in both the Academic Success Center and the Registrar’s Office are great places to start with questions. Our Student Information System (SIS) has an active chat function to connect with staff on questions you may have.
If I’m undecided about my major, what will my fall semester schedule look like?
If you are undecided about a major, fall semester is a wonderful opportunity to explore. Each first-year student will take a First-Year Seminar course (FYS 120) or a Writing and Rhetoric course (WRIT 120) in the fall. Many students will also opt to continue the world language they studied in high school or start a new language. Since the most common schedule is 4.0-4.5 total credits, you can select two (or three or even four courses if you don’t take a language course or have completed your Writing and Rhetoric course through transfer credit) additional courses that pique your interest. The OLE Core curriculum includes a group of courses all students take within the liberal arts as part of the St. Olaf degree requirements. The first semester is a great opportunity to take a Core course or two, especially if you are exploring different majors.
A word of advice: Don’t worry about declaring a major right away if you are not ready! The liberal arts and the OLE Core curriculum are designed to help you find the best major for you. Most students switch their majors within the first year or two of college, and you are not required to declare one until March of your second year at St. Olaf.
When will I register for my classes?
Registration will begin on June 22nd. Keep an eye on your St. Olaf email account for more information as we get closer!
How can I see which courses are offered in the fall?
Once you have deposited and activated your stolaf.edu email account, log into the Student Information System (SIS). On the left, you will see Class and Lab Schedule. Click on that to see course offerings for the Fall. You can search by department, major area of interest, or even by general education requirements!
How do I decide which courses to take?
We have a First-Year Registration Guide with sample first-year schedules for each major, concentration, and pre-professional program in which you are interested – make sure to check it out!
How likely is it that I will get into the classes I want?
We plan accordingly for course offerings that are specific to first-year students to ensure there is room, but as always, you’ll want to have alternate options in case your first choices are full.
How many classes/credits will I take in my first semester?
At St. Olaf, one full-semester course usually equals 1.0 credit and full-time status is 3.0-4.5 credits per semester. Most students take 4 courses for a total of 4.0 credits each semester. Taking fewer than 4.0 credits each semester may require additional semesters, summer courses, or overloading (unless a student has transferred in credits). Music ensembles are worth 0 credits and are billed separately. Music lessons are .25 credits each and count within your tuition.
Can I test out of the language requirement?
St. Olaf requires either the equivalent of the third or fourth semester in a language as one of the OLE Core curriculum requirements. Chinese, Greek, Latin, Norwegian, Japanese, and Russian require completion of the third-semester equivalent while Spanish, French, and German require completion of the fourth-semester equivalent. If you begin with SPAN/FREN/GERM 111, however, your language requirement will be fulfilled after successful completion of the third-semester course. If you will earn credit for one of the above languages with your AP or IB scores according to the equivalency guide provided by the Registrar’s Office, your placement is determined by your score and you do not need to take the placement survey. Reminder: you must request AP/IB scores to be sent to St. Olaf. We usually receive them in mid-July.
If you have studied one of the above languages previously, will continue with that language at St. Olaf, and do not have AP/IB credit for it, you must take the placement survey. Students who place above the fourth semester may have the option to take a proficiency exam to complete the language requirement. If you wish to take a language not previously mentioned or your native language is one other than English, please contact the Registrar’s Office to discuss your options.
How do I know which placement exams to take?
All new students must take the math placement survey. Whether you need to take additional surveys depends on your interests and transfer credits. See the notes below each placement survey in the New Student Checklist to determine whether you need to take it.
Do I still have to take them if I have a 4 or 5 on the AP exam in that area?
Yes. In order for the registration system to allow you to register for the appropriate course, please take the placement survey even if you have pending transfer credits. Some of the surveys may just ask a couple of questions about your transfer credits in order to guide you to the correct placement result.
I’m not entirely sure I want to major in ________________, should I take the exam or not?
Yes. Even if you are unsure about your major or about taking courses in that subject, taking the placement survey can guide you toward course options. It’s ok if you don’t take the course you place into until a later term or don’t take it at all. This is a great time to explore and to create Plan A, B, and C schedules for yourself.
How do I transfer my pre-college credits?
To transfer AP/IB scores, have them sent directly from College Board/IB to St. Olaf. To transfer credits from other colleges/universities, have a final, official transcript sent directly from the awarding institution to St. space here Olaf for evaluation. An official transcript must come directly from the other institution and is defined as one available via secure link to a PDF or in a sealed envelope. For more information, visit the Registrar’s Office website.
When and to whom are financial statements generated? When are payments due?
Financial statements are generated electronically and students will receive an email to their St Olaf email address when statements are ready to view. Authorized users will only receive a statement notification if access has been granted by the student. Fall statements are billed in early July and due August 1. Spring statements are billed in early January and due February 1.
How do I grant financial access to someone other than myself?
Per Federal guidelines, students must grant others access to their student financial account. Once the student grants access, the authorized user will be notified via email and can view and make payments to the account. Parent/authorized user access must be granted before we can discuss details for a student’s account with anyone other than the student. Instructions on how to add authorized users who can receive statement notifications, view and make payments to my financial account can be found online.
Where and how can payments be made to a student’s account?
From mail to 529 to online payment plans, there are a number of ways to make payments on a student’s account.
I have been billed for health insurance, but I am under my parent’s plan. What do I need to do?
You must complete an online waiver showing you have comparable coverage every academic year. Please visit the Student Account’s Health Insurance Overview for information on how to waive St Olaf Insurance and have the charge removed.
I don’t have health insurance, what are my options?
All students attending St Olaf College must have health insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you must enroll in the St. Olaf Health Insurance. Enrollment and waivers will be available beginning in June. If you are interested in learning more about MNSure (health insurance through the state of Minnesota), please reach out to the Financial Aid Office.
My Account Detail/Current Balance does not match what is listed as due under Bills/Amount Due. Which one is accurate?
On the financials main page in SIS you might see two different balances: one under Account Details/Current Balance and another under Bills/Amount Due. The balance under “Bills” shows the amount you owed at the time that the bill was generated. The most up-to-date charge is the one under Account Details because it will show if there were any charges that were added to your student account after the last bill was generated.
Why doesn’t my financial aid appear on my bill?
If you receive your bill and some or all of your financial aid is not showing on the bill, this means your award has not been finalized or there may be additional steps you need to take. Contact the Financial Aid Office or access Financial Aid Online to find out what might be missing from your file.
How do I know if all of my financial aid documents are in?
You can check the status of missing financial aid forms by logging into Financial Aid Online.
How do I submit my financial aid documents?
Copies of missing forms to complete can be found online. You can submit any missing documents to Financial Aid through our secure data exchange link.
Where do I complete my loan applications?
Federal Student Loans require a Master Promissory Note and Loan Entrance Counseling and can both be done online. Private loans are completed through various student loan lenders. Federal Parent Plus loan pre-approval and the loan application process can be completed online as well.
How do I notify St. Olaf about outside scholarships I am receiving?
You will need to complete the Outside Scholarship Form under Menu > Forms on your Financial Aid Online account. If you learn of an outside scholarship after the form due date has passed, please email email@example.com.
How do I contact the financial aid office?
You can schedule an appointment with a Financial Aid Counselor online or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
How do I find a job on campus?
There are two ways to get a job on campus. You can apply competitively for a job by viewing the online student employment job board or you can sign up for a guaranteed position working with Bon Appetit, our food service vendor on campus.
Should I apply for a job or sign up to work with Bon Appetit?
Applying for a job is very competitive in your first year at St. Olaf. Many first-year students prefer the security of signing up for a guaranteed position and then applying for different positions in subsequent years if they would like. We have also heard working for Bon Appetit is a great way to meet new people on campus in your first year!
Can I work on campus if I do not have a work award?
St. Olaf prioritizes students with work awards for all jobs on campus. Some positions may require specific skill sets that may necessitate hiring a student without a work award. Please specify when applying if you do not have a work award. If hired, Financial Aid will create a non-need based work award to account for the earnings. Students may also be able to work directly through Bon Appetit, our food service vendor, or Barnes and Noble, our bookstore vendor.
When will I find out if I got a job I applied for?
If you choose to apply competitively for a job, then the posting should have information on the hiring timeline. Most offices will begin the hiring process once students have registered for classes or right away in the fall once students are on campus. If you choose to sign up for a guaranteed position, Bon Appetit will send a welcome email to students throughout the summer to let them know the next steps for orientation and signing up for shifts.
Is there anything required for me to work?
Students must have employment eligibility verification completed in order to receive a job offer. All new incoming students will be required to complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form during move-in day. Students must have original physical documentation ready for examination. List of Acceptable Documents (Note: International Students document verification will occur during International Student Orientation.)
What are my meal plan options?
Students are automatically signed up for a 17 Meal Plan per week. Other meal plan options can be reviewed online. To make a change to your meal plan: Select Meal Plan Options, choose Financials, and then select Meal/Board Plan from the drop-down menu.
What dining options exist on campus?
We have three dining locations on campus! Stav Hall (better known as the Caf) is our full-service dining hall. The Cage is our campus cafe, specializing in sandwiches, hot/cold beverages, and sweet treats. The Pause is a student-run kitchen best known for pizza and ice cream!
Parking & Transportation
Can first-year students bring a car to campus?
Students are not eligible to obtain a parking permit during their first year. Exceptions are granted for students who reside 250 miles or more from campus. First year students with disabilities can apply for accommodations through Disability and Access. For more information, review the Parking Policy.
How and when can I apply for a parking permit?
Students can apply for a parking permit online starting June 1st. Please note that student permits are not guaranteed. Students must receive approval confirmation from the Parking Office prior to bringing a vehicle to campus, as there are limited parking options available off-campus in Northfield.
What are my transportation options for accessing the Twin Cities?
The College offers a few options for students to access Minneapolis and St. Paul. Please visit our transportation website to learn more about options for accessing Minneapolis and St. Paul.