Graphic: Hannah Anderson/The Olaf Messenger
With 832 first-year students, the class of 2027 is one of the largest in St. Olaf’s history. Hailing from all corners of the U.S., as well as more than 50 countries, the new class certainly sets a precedent in more ways than one.
In their first three weeks on campus, students went through an extensive orientation program with their St. Olaf Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) groups. In addition to the activities done with their groups, students were able to attend the Co-Curricular Fair, sign the College Book, meet with numerous clubs, and attend the Opening Convocation.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I feel like the St. Olaf community has helped me adjust well,” Aubree Klein ’27 said. “I really enjoyed my SOAR group and my SOAR leaders especially. They made it really fun and made it an easy transition into college.”
Other students agree that hands-on activities allowed for a connection they might have not found elsewhere. “I absolutely loved that we did SOAR just because I felt like I got connected with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” Sofie Hamilton ’27 said.
However, the time-consumptive aspect required of many activities was not as beneficial for some as it was for others. “It was very overwhelming at first because we were going from scheduled thing to scheduled thing, and we hardly had any free time,” Alana Schmitzer ’27 said.
As first-years continue to settle into campus life, many share their excitement about getting involved, whether that be through clubs or academics. “I’m most excited about participating in some of the many club and intramural sports,” Gunny Coulsen ’27 said.
For Schmitzer, the academic freedom that some of her classes allow is enticing. “I’m looking forward to most of my classes and like just learning more and getting more freedom to experiment with certain research topics,” Schmitzer said.
This eagerness to get involved seen in many students has not gone unnoticed. “There’s a refreshed energy with this class, where you all strike me … as folks that are really eager to find connection, to find community, to establish sort of roots and relationships in ways that I think are more … present than previous classes,” Director of Student Activities Brandon Cash ’16 said.
Oles, first-year or not, benefit from being a part of an engaged, welcoming community explains Tara Hupton, assistant director of academic support. “[Know] that St. Olaf staff, faculty, SOAR Leaders and peers are here for you,” Hupton said. “We want to meet you, get to know you, and help and support you in any way we can.”