Went for a college visit today to St. Olaf in Northfield, MN...and neither Kayla nor I were impressed. The campus is huge with lots of old buildings and looks beautiful, but the buildings are old on the inside as well. We got a tour of the campus from a girl that should not be giving tours...she made so many mistakes it was horrible! We were walking to the dorms and she is telling about all the games the students play which included "Spoon Murder"...basically trying to "kill" each other with spoons. She told all about how everyone was paranoid and locking their room doors...doesn't sound like a good way to make friends to me. Then she starts telling about how the dorms are segregated by floor and the opposite sex cannot be on the other sex's floor after midnight. The next thing she says is "but that is never enforced so you can have boys in your room whenever you want to." What?? I know that happens on college campuses everywhere, but you aren't supposed to tell the parents that! Then she starts talking about the campus being a dry campus, but lots of people drink alcohol behind closed doors so you can find it if you want it. Again...what?? Once more, something every parent knows but not something you tell the parent if you want them to think you are trying to "sell" this college.

We toured the science building, which of course Kayla has no interest in and would never take classes in. But we heard all about how it is "green" and got a big award for it and has natural sunlight in every room in the building. It was the only building on campus that was new and modern, and it was beautiful, with awesome views of the town. We then went to the music building, where Kayla would spend 99% of her time and it was horrible. No natural sunlight in that building, just dark halls and big wooden doors that we couldn't open. We walked through that building really fast, the one place she really wanted to see and it was the quickest tour we had.

After the tour, which neither of us were impressed with, we went to the admissions office. This was the first time that the admissions officer talked to just Kayla, I was asked to wait in the lobby while they talked. I found that rather strange since the parents often have questions about admissions and I know Kayla will be asking for help with the admissions process from me. Another set of parents were also waiting in the lobby with me and they too thought it was a little strange that the parents couldn't talk to the admissions counselor. St. Olaf policy I guess!

After admissions we went to talk to the music department admissions counselor (I got to go along with this one) and while she had a lot of good information, it just wasn't impressive at all. The clarinet professor wasn't available as he is touring Taiwan right now, but the music lady did tell us what the admissions requirements for the music department were. She printed out the music that would be required for auditions and Kayla almost laughed...it was so easy she could have played it in 5th grade!

So all in all, neither of us thought much of St. Olaf. I asked Kayla her opinion before I told her mine, but through the whole morning it was pretty obvious to me how she felt about the place! The tour guide was bad, but that wasn't the fault of the college and really had no determination on how we felt. The buildings were old and stuffy (no air conditioning in them) and dark. The campus was spread out and hard to get around. The music department was more focused on vocal than instrumental, which is great, but not for Kayla. St. Olaf just wasn't what we thought it would be.

date July 27, 2010

3 comments to “St. Olaf = Fail”

  1. lovebucket
    July 28, 2010 at 3:35 PM
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  1. Owen
    July 28, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    I'm a prospective student from PA interested in music and environmental studies, and came across your blog entry via Google search--though I respect your views entirely, there are a few things I'd like to share. It doesn't seem like we visited the same St. Olaf!

    For starters, St. Olaf's music program is well known as being rigorous and challenging--that's how their graduates do so well in the performance and education realms. It's totally unrealistic to think your daughter is better than their music program, she'd be performing professionally already is she were.

    Also, if you're looking for someplace to falsely sell you a school, your daughter will not find one that's a good fit for her, all she'll get is the lies the school told you...which coincidently seems to be exactly what you want to hear.

    When I toured St. Olaf it was wonderful, the tour guide was interested in everything I was doing, and wanted to do--I've never had such a personal tour at ANY other school. Weren't you invited in with the Admissions officer after they took the time to personally get to know your daughter? That's what happened to my Mom and I--after all, I'm the one applying, not her.

    Aside from all of that though, I agree with you that some of the buildings are outdated, but renovations are happening right now if I remember right--the music department is about to expand for more rehearsal space too. If you think your daughter will spend 99% of her time in the music hall, you are sorely mistaken, and on that note, I know for sure that St. Olaf requires students to take two science credits, which means your daughter will GET to take classes in that awesome science building.

    I apologize if this comment seems forward, I truly find your blog amusing (especially the Tootsie Tuesdays), and I wish your daughter luck in the rest of her college search--I know how daunting it can be.

  1. James
    October 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I enjoyed reading your St. Olaf tour and snickered. Yes, St. Olaf is old and stuffy like their buildings. LOL My Mom, fresh from living on her own and going to a 2 year college in Chicago toured there in 1946 with my Grandpa - a Swedish Covenant pastor. Mom thought they were stick-in-the-muds even back then. No dancing, no makeup, no car allowed on campus, no boys. Mom opted for Winona State University, where she was expelled three times for breaking rules being a pastor's kid! My Dad however, got the GI bill and went there in 1946. He had a medical heart condition from being in World War 2 and those stubborn idiots at St. Olaf would not let him be excused from physical education even with the US Army Surgeon backing him up. Dad won the battle though with those stubborn Norwegians. The music was incredible there, and he sang in the college choirs under Mr. Christiansen. To dodge the silly college rules (which they still have some of) Dad would park his car at a friend's house, and they would pick up girls from nearby Carlton college and go dancing in Minneapolis on Saturday nights at night clubs. Friends would stuff his bed for him to make it look like he was sleeping when they sneaked in via the fire escapes to avoid the RA. Sometimes Dad would stay with his cousin in Anoka. Once he got caught and was hauled into the college president's office to be expelled, and Dad stood up to the jerk with great aplomb. The college prez didn't know what he was up against, and Dad didn't get expelled. St. Olaf is good for some, but confining for others. Great education, great music, but old, stoddgy rules still in 2012.

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