Academic Resources

Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS)

The Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS) provides resources for all students as they work to maximize their full academic potential. CAAS collaborates with faculty, staff, and other campus partners to provide a range of services, programs, and resources to support student learning. Support is student-centered, accessible, inclusive, and free of charge.

To contact the CAAS office, please email caas@stolaf.edu or call 507-786-3288.  CAAS is located in TOH 153.  To make an appointment with CAAS staff please use this link https://wp.stolaf.edu/academic-support/make-appointment-with-asc-staff/

Academic Coaching

Academic Coaching is available for all students who wish to learn more about academic skills such as time management, organization, note-taking, learning or study skills, test-taking, test anxiety, mindfulness, and more!  

Academic Tutoring

Free one-on-one peer tutoring is available in most courses and is provided upon request, referral, and in consultation with faculty. Tutoring is not designed to help students with specific homework assignments, but rather to enhance their overall learning and understanding of course material. In addition to strengthening your understanding of course material, tutors will assist you in identifying subject areas to study or practice, discuss effective participation methods in the class, and convey new study techniques.

To be eligible for tutoring, students must:

  • Attend departmental help sessions (if available) or attend at least one Supplemental Instruction (SI) session per week (if available) unless there are extenuating circumstances 
  • Consistently attend classes, unless there are extenuating circumstances                     

We encourage students to submit tutor requests as early in the semester as possible.  If you need help in a specific course, please submit a request!  

Supplemental Instruction (SI)

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program offered through CAAS in some historically difficult courses. SI is peer-facilitated and is a collaborative learning environment. Courses that are currently supported with SI are listed on the SI webpage. SI is a long-standing and internationally recognized program that assists students in learning and retaining course information. All students enrolled in SI-supported courses are strongly encouraged to attend any and all SI sessions throughout the semester.  SI attendance is anonymous and only recorded for research purposes.  

Academic Writing Support 

The Writing Desk helps St. Olaf students write clearly, convincingly, and confidently to effectively engage in academic conversations. Tutors listen, ask questions, and provide guidance for any writer, on any paper, at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Desk is committed to supporting writers, not just improving papers.

In a tutoring session, you may work collaboratively with your tutor to brainstorm ideas, strengthen arguments, develop evidence, organize paragraphs, and learn to identify and correct patterns of error on your own.

Academic Speaking Support

Tutors at the Speaking Space help students to effectively speak and listen in order to engage meaningfully in academic conversations. Speaking tutors listen, ask questions, and provide guidance for speakers of all abilities in a variety of contexts, from presentations to discussions to interviews. The Speaking Space is committed to supporting speakers, not just improving speeches.

In a tutoring session, you may work collaboratively with a tutor to brainstorm ideas or outline a speech, rehearse a presentation, polish your delivery skills, plan to lead or participate in a class discussion, practice your conversation skills, or create a video recording of a presentation.

Language Support for Multilingual Students

An English language specialist is available to provide semester-long or as-needed support for multilingual students who have been referred by course faculty.  English Conversation Partners are available to meet regularly with students whose first language is not English for conversation practice and help navigating the academic culture of this campus.     

Disability and Access

Disability and Access provides consultation and assistance for students with disabilities as well as resources for their faculty members. Services include identifying barriers to access, determining and arranging for appropriate accommodations (e.g. providing auxiliary aids), offering regular support and strategy instruction, and facilitating communication with faculty and staff. 

Advising

Advising at St. Olaf College encourages the integration of the mind, body, and spirit as students learn to create academic, career, and lifelong goals. Students discover how to direct their intellectual curiosity, to overcome personal or academic barriers to learning, and to attain their goals. Central to this educational process is the collaboration between students and their advisors.  

Advising supports both advisors and their advisees in providing the necessary information and skills to fulfill graduation, general education, and major requirements. We also assist students in exploring possible major options, in changing advisors, in using a degree audit, class/lab schedule, and the St. Olaf Catalog for necessary information about fulfilling requirements.   

College Advisors

Students generally will have at least two advisors during their time at St. Olaf—a College Advisor, typically for the first two years, and a Major Advisor. Every incoming St. Olaf student will be matched with a faculty or staff College Advisor in August. The College Advisor will be the first guide to a liberal arts education at St. Olaf. College Advisors will discuss students’ interests and goals, and assist with course registration. They will introduce opportunities for international and off-campus study and experiential learning, as well as encourage the use of resources on campus to explore academic, career, and lifelong goals. Because the role of the College Advisor is to advise broadly, College Advisors will come from all areas of the college and typically are not in a department in which students are considering a major.*

All incoming students normally will meet with their College Advisor at the Meet and Greet event on opening day during Week One Orientation as well as the morning of registration to review their registration plans. Students will be required to meet at least once a semester with their College Advisor.

Major Advisors

By March 15 of their sophomore year, students will declare a major. By the end of the sophomore year, students are expected to have a faculty advisor within one of their majors. Before fall of the junior year, typically in June, students will be assigned to a Major Advisor from the faculty if they have not already changed to an advisor in their major. In certain circumstances, students will be given the opportunity to opt out of this re-assignment to a Major Advisor. Although most students will no longer be formally assigned to their College Advisor, students are encouraged to remain in contact with their College Advisor as part of the network of relationships that students build while at St. Olaf. Major Advisors continue the work of the College Advisors while also assisting advisees in selecting courses in the major and introducing students to opportunities in their field of study. Students will be required to meet at least once a semester with their Major Advisor. Students who are planning more than one major, and/or a concentration, are advised to consult faculty in the areas in which they are not assigned an advisor. Similarly, students who are pursuing Pre-Professional Studies should work closely with pre-professional advisors.

General Information on Advising

After completing at least one semester, students may change to a different College Advisor or Major Advisor at any time during the academic year, with the permission of the new advisor via an electronic Request to Change Academic Advisor form, which can be found on the Student Information System (SIS). The Advising Office and department chairs and program directors oversee the reassignment of advisees for faculty on sabbatical or other leaves. Generally speaking, no individual advisor has more than 20 advisees in any given year.

The advice of advisors does not constitute a promise or a contract ensuring students graduate on schedule or complete specific requirements. Students and advisors must refer to the class and lab schedules to determine which courses fulfill specific graduation requirements. The responsibility for understanding and meeting degree requirements rests entirely with the student. Students have access to their academic records at any time on St. Olaf’s Student Information System (SIS). Students are encouraged to review the Students' Roles and Responsibilities for Academic Advising information in the catalog to maximize their advising experience.

*Students who are accepted into a major upon enrollment (music and nursing) will be assigned to an advisor in that major.

Links to Additional Information about Advising: 

Goals for Academic Advising 

Students' Roles and Responsibilities - What Your Advisor Can Expect

        The responsibility for understanding and meeting degree requirements rests entirely with the student.  

Academic Advisors' Roles and Responsibilities

      The advice of advisors does not constitute a promise or a contract ensuring a student’s graduation on schedule, or the completion of specific requirements. 

The Piper Center for Vocation and Career

The Piper Center for Vocation and Career is composed of four program areas offering a host of opportunities for students to discern their vocation and gain career-related experience while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Within each program are initiatives that promote the Piper Center’s mission to “provide resources and experiences designed to help students leverage their liberal arts education to achieve their full potential.” The Piper Center is a resource center for students, providing information and assistance to help determine vocational goals and devise well-informed post-graduation plans.

Career Education and Coaching

Career coaches help students develop, implement, and evaluate career and life plans while collaborating with academic departments to integrate concepts of career development into courses of study. Career Education workshops and events are designed to help students identify their vocation and refine their professional skills. From vocational discernment exercises, to mock interviews and salary negotiation, Piper Center events and workshops provide the tools to guide students toward a meaningful career or post-graduate opportunity.

Internships, Service, and Leadership

These programs support students in applying classroom learning and developing professional skills. Students utilize services and resources available through the Internship program to identify and prepare for structured educational work experiences. Piper Center staff work closely with faculty members to develop tools and strategies that encourage students to set learning goals and derive meaning from their credit and non-credit internship experiences. The Civic Engagement program helps connect the classroom with the community – linking students with civic and service opportunities in local, domestic, and international contexts. Collaboration between the Piper Center, faculty members, and community partners enhances learning and encourages students to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to become engaged citizens.

Recruiting and Outreach

Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to interact with alumni and employers through on-campus and virtual recruiting, information sessions, job and internship fairs, and networking events. Piper Center staff facilitate numerous on- and off-campus career and networking events where students can take advantage of the vast network of St. Olaf alumni and other supporters living and working locally, domestically, and abroad.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship program promotes creativity among students, faculty, and alumni toward the goal of transforming society. Dedicated to education, research, and service within the liberal arts, the program supports student creativity through innovation grants, courses, internships, business plan development, start-up support, and networking events.

Information Technology

Information Technology (IT) provides computers, software, A/V technologies, telecommunications, and support services to the entire St. Olaf community. All campus computers connect to the campus network, the Internet, and Internet 2.

Public computing labs are located in all the academic buildings and residence halls. Nineteen departments share or have their own specialized computing labs. This brings the total number of computers available for student use to nearly 1100. Multimedia computer workstations are also available in the Digital Scholarship Center (DiSCO), located within Rolvaag Library.  In addition to access to specialized software, the DiSCO offers support for video production, web design, 3D printing and scanning, and general support for the integration of technology and education. The library circulation desk also provides a wide variety of media production equipment available for checkout to the campus community.

IT works closely with faculty in supporting their use of technology in teaching.  This may take the form of digital assignments (e.g. podcasts, video, or website creation), classroom-based tools like personal response systems or "clickers" and computers and projectors, or by using our online Learning Management System (Moodle) to make course content available outside of class. All classrooms are equipped with computers, digital projectors, and other presentation equipment.    

Over 98 percent of all students have their own computer on campus. Students who own a computer can connect to the campus network and the Internet using either the wireless network or a wired connection. Wireless access is available across campus, including many outdoor spaces. Students can access their course assignments, check email, review their grades, view their tuition bills, stream videos, or just surf the web from the comfort of their rooms, the campus green, or from a study space just about anywhere on campus.

IT employs 30 full-time professionals and nearly 80 student employees who support the computing needs of the entire campus. A campus help desk and student computing consultants are available nearly 80 hours per week during the academic year, including assistance in the evenings.

St. Olaf’s Libraries and Special Collections

The St. Olaf Libraries provide a variety of carefully selected resources that mirror the breadth and depth of the undergraduate curriculum. These resources are housed in two branches: Rølvaag Library (the "main" library) and Halvorson Music Library. The libraries subscribe to thousands of print and electronic periodicals, core disciplinary journals, and hundreds of scholarly online databases and archival collections to support academic and curricular research.

The strength of the St. Olaf collection is magnified through our partnership with the Carleton College Library via the Bridge consortium which offers a joint catalog of over 1.3 million items, including physical and online video and audio recordings and digital resources. In addition, both schools have implemented Bridge², a web discovery tool that provides access to over a billion regional, national, and international academic resources. Strong relationships with national library consortia provide extensive delivery of items via interlibrary-loan.

While the Bridge consortium provides the fundamental resources for undergraduate research, it also has a number of unusual strengths. St. Olaf College has especially strong holdings in the fields of music, Nordic history and literature, and Norwegian-American culture and church life. The St. Olaf Libraries digitize, and make freely available, unique local publications such as the Manitou Messenger, the Viking Yearbook, and other works of historical significance to St. Olaf College.

The St. Olaf Libraries offer a course-integrated instruction program that teaches students to conduct research in a wide range of disciplines. In a typical academic week, the libraries provide 60 hours of research assistance at the reference desk. The libraries are open 110 hours per week when class is in session, with extended hours late in the semester and during exams. Twenty-six staff and more than 100 students purchase, organize, and provide access to a rich blend of materials and service points.

Kierkegaard Library

The Howard V. and Edna H. Hong Kierkegaard Library, located within the Rølvaag Library building, is the major research collection outside of Denmark for the study of the thought of the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. The library was presented to St. Olaf College in 1976 by the Hongs, who gathered the collection to support their translation into English of the complete works of Kierkegaard, published in 26 volumes by Princeton University Press. The Library is directed by Professor Gordon Marino, a Kierkegaard specialist and professor in the Philosophy Department. Especially during the summer, the library offers programs that bring students and visiting scholars together for research seminars and private study as well as study of Danish for the purpose of reading Kierkegaard texts in the original language. More than 50 scholars a year come to the Library from all over the U.S. and around the world. The collection includes 12,000 book volumes as well as 5,000 periodical and newspaper articles, non-print media, and archival materials. The collection is open Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m-5:00 p.m. during the academic year, with extended hours in the summer months. Access to the collection at other times is available by appointment. The collection is open to anyone with interest in the study of Søren Kierkegaard, including St. Olaf and Carleton students, faculty, scholars, pastors, and other visitors. For further information, consult the Kierkegaard Library website at wp.stolaf.edu/kierkegaard.

College Archives

Located in the Rølvaag Library building, the Shaw-Olson Center for College History contains official records and publications, private papers, photographs, books, periodicals, audio and visual recordings, and museum artifacts that record and illustrate the history and life of the college. These materials provide historical information about the Board of Regents, the faculty, the student body, alumni, academic departments, the curriculum, administrative offices, campus services, college organizations, and campus activities. The mission of the archives is:

  1. to preserve materials that reflect the college’s identity;
  2. to make these materials available to scholars, students, alumni, and other interested researchers; and
  3. to promote attention to the college's history.

The collection may be searched electronically with Fram at www.stolaf.edu/apps/fram/. Fram identifies paper records and artifacts, indexes abstracts of all articles in the student newspaper, The Manitou Messenger, and provides full text searching for the St. Olaf magazine. The Center for College History also provides work opportunities for some students and occasional internships for majors in appropriate departments and programs.

The Norwegian-American Historical Association

Housed in the Rølvaag Library Building, the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) has been sheltered by St. Olaf since its founding in 1925. With an international membership of over 1,000, NAHA has two goals: to publish scholarly books on Norwegian-American history (106 books have been published so far) and to be a national center for research in Norwegian-American history by collecting and maintaining printed and manuscript materials produced by Norwegian-Americans or concerning their history. Printed materials, including periodicals and newspapers, are incorporated in the college library collection and other materials (such as diaries, journals, photographs, and records of organizations) in a separate archive. The oldest, out-of-print publications are available on the NAHA website at: naha.stolaf.edu. Both students and the public are invited to use this center for research in Norwegian migration.

TRIO Student Support Services (SSS)

507-786-8018 • http://wp.stolaf.edu/sss/

Student Support Services (SSS) is a student retention program sponsored by St. Olaf College with substantial support from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the NorthStar STEM Alliance, and the Hearst Foundations. The SSS program is one of three TRIO programs originally funded under the Higher Education Act of 1965, whose objective is to help students overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to complete their college education. SSS provides the following services: summer bridge program; academic advising/referral; cultural events and leadership activities; financial aid and financial literacy advising; graduate school preparation; research, internship, and scholarship application assistance; Supplemental Instruction (SI); and a graphing calculator, smartpen, and textbook lending program.

To be eligible for services, a participant must be a first-generation college student (where neither parent has a four-year bachelor's degree), meet federal income guidelines, and/or have a documented disability; he or she must also be a U.S. citizen or meet residency requirements for federal student financial assistance, and be enrolled at St. Olaf College. The SSS program provides services to approximately 165 eligible St. Olaf students annually. In order to apply for the program, students should complete an application and bring it to the Student Support Services Office in Tomson Hall 282.

Other Academic Support

Class Attendance

Class attendance is expected and usually required. Irregular class attendance becomes the concern of the college since absence from class represents an academic loss. Excessive or prolonged absences are reported by instructors to the Dean of Students Office.

Study Time and Study Habits

Many students need to adjust their time use habits on arrival at college. St. Olaf students are expected to devote a minimum of three hours of study outside of class for each hour in class. Making the best use of the limited time available usually requires using a good mix of daylight and evening hours for studying and avoiding study marathons. Successful study at St. Olaf usually includes reading ahead, attending class, using faculty office hours, studying for each class in frequent, short study sessions, attending help sessions, forming a study group, asking questions soon after they arise, and seeking help if the preceding efforts do not appear to be working.

Faculty Office Hours

Professors hold office hours for the classes they teach. Office hours are regular times set aside each week to talk with students from class, usually on a walk-in basis. Office hours provide an opportunity to ask questions about class topics, to extend the class discussion, or to get to know instructors better. St. Olaf faculty encourage students to avail themselves of this opportunity.

Help Sessions

Many departments hold special help sessions or discussion groups for particular courses. These are usually listed on syllabi for those courses and are usually staffed with upperclass students who have been successful in the course. These sessions may offer an opportunity to get a second look at the class material, to rehearse the ideas and vocabulary, and to ask questions.

Study Groups

Most students find it helpful in at least some of their courses to form a study group of two to three interested classmates. Such groups often improve understanding of course material through discussing assignments, exploring course ideas further, brainstorming possible test questions for each other, or formulating questions to bring up in class.

Continuous Reporting System

Instructors are required to file a continuous reporting form that alerts the Dean of Students Office to students who are having difficulties in a course.