Saint Olaf Collegeis not the school for everybody. It was, however, the perfect school for me. I found that I was challenged in all facets of my life, and I felt that the college really worked to develop the whole person body, mind, and spirit.
Most of the negative comments I've read on the website about Saint Olaf seem to come from those who did not adequately research the college before the enrolled. Saint Olaf is a particular type of school. The college must be the right fit for the student, and the student must be the right fit for the college.
If you are a person who likes being exposed to many different subjects, ideas, points of view, and approaches to life and learning, then Saint Olaf may be for you.
If you want a rowdy party - animal environment, St. Olaf is not for you. The campus has a no alcohol policy ( very loosely enforced unless you're a loud fall down drunk and much of student life is structured by the school or focused around the academic experience. Northfield is the type of "historic main street" town your mother, aunts and grandparents would like to stroll around for the day, but there are a couple fun bars and some good restaurants. If you're looking for night life -- look elsewhere.
The quality of my education was exceptional. I also found the faculty to (most of the time) be extremely invested in the success of their students, but also fair and challenging. Especially for first year students, there is a bit of hand holding. That doesn't mean that it's not intellectually or academically challenging.
I studied abroad during my time at Saint Olaf and double majored in French Language and Music. If study abroad is important to you, you can't find a better program than that of St. Olaf. If music is a hobby, vocation, or passion St. Olaf provides an excellent experience and education for their students.
The religious aspect of the school is present in the philosophies and operation of the college. The dialogue on faith is open minded and tolerant. Nobody is EVER forced to attend or engage in religious activities -- it is completely voluntary. There are required religion courses but these range in wide variety from classes on Christian Theology to Inter-faith Dialogue, Religious Pluralism, and Theological literature. The first year Bible seminar is academic, not religous.I would advise ANYBODY interested in attending St. Olaf to spend an overnight at the college. Get a feel for the faculty, student body, and environment. See if its for you! That's YOUR responsibility, NOT that college's!