Academic Resources and Advising

Academic 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 Academic Success Center 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.

Summer Advisors

For all incoming students, during the summer, you will be assigned a Summer Registration Advisor who will guide you in registering for fall classes. You will attend a virtual Summer Registration Preparation Session as well as meet with your Summer Registration advisor prior to registering in June.

Pre-Major Advisors

During your first year, you will have a Pre-Major Advisor, a Success Coach and two SOAR Peer Leaders to assist you in your transition to college. You will continue to be advised by your Pre-Major Advisor and your Success Coach throughout your sophomore year. The Pre-Major Advisor will be the first guide to a liberal arts education at St. Olaf. Pre-Major Advisors will discuss your interests and goals, and once you arrive on campus, assist with course registration. They will introduce opportunities for study abroad/study away 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 Pre-Major Advisor is to advise broadly, they come from all areas of the college and typically are not in a department in which you are considering a major.

Your first opportunity to meet with your Pre-Major Advisor will be at your one-on-one Advising Meeting on Monday or Tuesday of New Student Orientation. This personalized meeting is an excellent face-to-face opportunity to review your course schedule and discuss the upcoming semester.

Major Advisors

By March 15 of their sophomore year, students will have declared 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 Pre-Major Advisor, students are encouraged to remain in contact with their Pre-Major Advisor as part of the network of relationships that students build while at St. Olaf. Major Advisors continue the work of the Pre-Major 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.

A Career Coach is another important addition to your advising team during your junior year. Your Career Coach will assist you to explore your vocational and career interests. 

General Information on Advising

After completing at least one semester, students may change to a different Pre-Major 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 Academic Success Center 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 25 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 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.