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 at no additional cost. Support is student-centered, accessible, and inclusive.

To contact the CAAS office, please email or call 507-786-3288. CAAS is located in TOH 153. To make an appointment with CAAS staff please use this link

Academic Coaching

Academic Coaching is a one-on-one service 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!

Peer Academic Coaches, or Accountability Tutors, are available evenings and some weekend hours.  Students can make an appointment through the Accountability Tutor Calendar.

Academic Strategy Workshops

Academic Strategy Workshops are offered for students on a variety of topics to enhance their learning and study strategies.  These workshops are designed and presented by college professionals and CAAS lead peer tutors.

Academic Tutoring

One-on-one peer tutoring is available in most courses depending on tutor availability at no extra cost. It is not designed to help students with specific homework assignments, but rather to enhance their overall learning and understanding of course material. Students are highly encouraged to utilize department resources including, but not limited to, Supplemental Instruction, department help sessions, and office hours along with tutoring sessions.       

We encourage students to seek out tutoring as early in the semester as possible. You can schedule a session with a tutor via our website. If your course is not listed, submit a request!  

Supplemental Instruction (SI)

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program offered through CAAS in some 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 program assessment purposes.   

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.

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 support with writing and academic communication as needed to multilingual students and to their professors. 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 staff provides consultation and assistance for students with disabilities, as well as serving as a resources for the students' instructors in the provision of accommodations.  Accessibility Specialists offer the following services to students:

  • Reading through the student's disability documentation and talking with the student in an intake interview to learn about their past lived experience with their disability and to identify barriers to access
  • Determining and arranging for reasonable accommodations to help ensure equal access to the same opportunities to succeed as any other St. Olaf student
  • Encouraging and facilitating communication between the student and their professors to discuss the logistics related to utilizing their accommodations 
  • Providing regular check-in meetings and academic strategies for the student as needed

Any documentation regarding the student's disability is confidential.  It is not shared with anyone within the college unless there is a legitimate educational need to know. Registration with DAC and/or receiving accommodations will not be indicated on the student's transcript.

TRiO - Student Support Services for Students with Disabilities (SSSD)

Student Support Services for Students with Disabilities (SSSD) is a federally funded TRIO college retention program serving 100 students per year.  TRIO/SSSD helps students with disabilities develop the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue and successfully complete a college education by helping students focus on academic and personal development.  SSSD offers intensive one on one advising, workshops on various topics relevant to students with disabilities, and works to build a community for SSSD students on campus.  For information on applying please visit or you can apply directly by clicking on SSSD Application.  


Advising at St. Olaf College uses an intentional holistic student support approach, meaning that advisors focus on the whole student and work to establish meaningful relationships with the goal of teaching and learning. Central to this educational process is the collaboration between students and their advisors. Advising is individualized to address diverse student needs, and students discover how to direct their intellectual curiosity, overcome personal or academic barriers to learning, and to attain their goals.  

The Center for Advising and Academic Support supports both advisors and their advisees by providing the necessary information to fulfill graduation, OLE Core (general education), and major requirements. We also assist students to explore possible major options, to change advisors, and to use a degree audit, class/lab schedule, and the St. Olaf Catalog.

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 during the summer. 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 new incoming students will meet with their College Advisor at the New Student Orientation Meet and Greet event on opening day. In addition, students will also meet individually with their advisor at a designated time later that week to review their course schedule and discuss the upcoming semester. 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 Major Advisor, a faculty member within a declared major. Students are generally more satisfied when they make an informed decision regarding their advisor than if the move is made for them by Advising. However, this change will be made by Advising if necessary. In certain circumstances, students will be given the opportunity to opt out of this reassignment 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 Center for Advising and Academic Support and department chairs and program directors oversee the reassignment of advisees for faculty on sabbatical or other leaves. Generally, 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 review the goals of Advising as well as the Student's and Advisors' Roles and Responsibilities for Academic Advising in the Advising Syllabus to maximize their advising experience.  

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 both students and alumni, 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 individual and group coaching, events and workshops provide the tools to guide students toward a meaningful career or post-graduate opportunity.  The Piper Center also provides coaching for alumni at all stages of their careers, from recent graduates through to seasoned alumni who are rethinking their lives and careers.  

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 Piper Center provides funding to support students who are participating in unfunded or underfunded internships and to enable students to participate in cohort internship programs (some with a residential component) in pre-health, pre-law, social impact, and entrepreneurship.  The Piper Center also provides opportunities for students to meet with alumni and to explore opportunities in a broad range of careers.

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, parents, and friends living and working locally, domestically, and abroad.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship program promotes creativity among students, faculty, staff, and alumni toward the goal of transforming society. Dedicated to education, research, and service within the liberal arts, the program supports student creativity through the Ole Cup competition, 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

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 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: Both students and the public are invited to use this center for research in Norwegian migration.

TRIO Student Support Services (SSS)

507-786-8018 •

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. A participant 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 172 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.