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ISSUE 117 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/19/2004

First years get frank on college life

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor
and Aaron Johansen
Staff Writer

Friday, March 19, 2004

March 12-14 was Scholar's Weekend at St. Olaf. Prospective scholarship recipients from around the country converged on campus to explore the possibility of someday attending this private Lutheran college.

A year ago, current first-year students were making their own college decisions; college life loomed ahead for the then-high school seniors, and each of them anxiously awaited their seemingly glamorous, undergraduate futures. Living alone without parents, curfews or any major responsibility seemed immensely appealing. Now that they're in the thick of college life, how have freshman students changed the naïve expectations that they originally formed in high school?

Many current first-year students said that academics here at St. Olaf are much different than what they had anticipated. Many who achieved high marks in high school were surprised at how difficult the transition from high school to college really was.

"I thought I knew what studying was," but I didn't, Laura Bernard `07 said.

Some students said they were disappointed with the academics here, while others raved about their professors.

"The professors are a lot friendlier than I thought they would be," Joey Paulsen `07 said.

Other students commented on the excessive amount of work they are required to do, while others imagined that their workload would be far worse. "[In high school], they scare you a lot about what classes [will] be like [in college], but in the end it's not so bad. There's a lot of time for fun," Marie Olson `07 said.

Fun is a common theme among the class of 2007. Because they`re away from home for the first time, most students said that they are finding friendships and other social experiences are very important here at St. Olaf.

As far as activities go, many first-year students have found that they are satisfied with the campus offerings, despite their preliminary expectations about being off-campus more often.

One campus activity frequently discussed in interviews was dating. Many first-year students have found the St. Olaf dating scene to be relatively casual, dispelling the perception that college students always seek long-term commitments.

When it came to dorm living, students saw the most discrepancies in their high school perceptions of college. "I like to plan, but college proved random," Leigh Billings `07 said. Many students assumed that they would be forced to wait in line for the dorm showers. Even more students were surprised by how long they could go without doing laundry.

However, many students said that college was not as scary as they thought. Some found that they couldn't even remember their perceptions of college life from one year ago.

"It is a fun self-discovery period," Laura Stone `07 said. "Well, maybe not always fun, but definitely a self-discovery period."

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