It's not uncommon at St. Olaf to run into second-, third-, or even fourth-generation Oles. This fact, coupled with the school's outstanding retention rate, shows that there is obviously something that keeps drawing current students, alumni, and their children back to the Hill. Sure, if you ask current students walking across campus in mid-February about their overall experience of St. Olaf, they probably won't extol many praises. But if you catch them when it's over 45 degrees, you're sure to hear nothing but great things.
Despite the long winters, the course work, and the stress of life in general, campus is an extraordinarily happy place to be—and it shows. The zombification of students that occurs at other schools (bags under the eyes, clammy hands desperately clutching coffee tumblers, etc.) is a rarity at Olaf. Even in the dead of winter, most Oles are good-humored, friendly people who seem overjoyed to be right where they are. St. Olaf really offers students a wholesome four years, and not "wholesome" in the cheesy way. The school makes a point of nurturing the entire individual. You aren't seen as an academic machine, but as a person who needs a social and spiritual life in addition to a scholarly one. Olaf truly is a healthy place to be.