International Student Q & A

How much does a taxi cost from the Airport to campus?

A taxi is the most expensive way to get to campus. If possible avoid this by taking the Northfield Lines (a bus service).  If you need to take a taxi, the price will range between $80-$100. You can check out taxi services in Northfield and to/from the MSP International Airport as there are a range of companies in the rank.

Can I stay on campus over winter, spring or summer break?

Yes, it is possible to stay on campus over winter, spring or summer break, although staying for summer break is discouraged unless you have a campus job. During vacations students have to pay an additional rent to stay in dorms of $70 a week. However, this fee is waived for named scholars (Kellogg, Starr, George, Nason) staying for Spring or Winter break.

Is the dining hall open during breaks?

Dining halls are not open during break however students will have access to a kitchen, and there are a few local grocery stores (Econo Foods, Cub Foods, Walgreens) where students can pick up supplies.

Can I find a job on campus over break?

Yes. Students who look for a job safely in advance tend to be successful in securing a job. Like any job application however students need to be responsible and prepared.

Where/how can I get a cell phone? How much does it cost? How does it work in the US?

During ISO week a special trip will be made to Target, where pre-paid phones may be purchased.  Prices may vary depending on the amount of usage you may require.  Purchasing a monthly phone plan (or post-paid) from a known company - Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, may not be possible right away as you may need a Social Security Number to make such a purchase or put down a large deposit.  A SSN is issued by the U.S. government's Social Security Administration and only to those who have authorized employment; we will discuss SSN during orientation. 

Please note that the U.S. has several types of cell or mobile systems, and the one used by most of the rest of the world, GSM, is only operated by AT&T or T-Mobile.  If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you may purchase pre-paid SIM cards through these two companies. Also, most U.S. cell companies charge for out-going and in-coming calls.  

As for local calls, all dorm rooms have a phone with local and long-distance access.  You will receive a monthly statement for calls made from your room phone. 

What are the shopping opportunities during International Student Orientation, and once at Carleton in general?

There will be a school sponsored trip to Target and Cub Foods during orientation. The school will provide transportation to students for a few hours to get all the things they need.

How do I get around Northfield, and to the Cities?

The school website has a full description of all transportation available at. It is very easy to get around Northfield, and while the cities takes some planning and a minimum of a $10 price tag it can be done easily with some forward planning.

Do I need to bring a computer?

Most students do, but this does not mean that you have to. The school has lots of computer labs in every academic building that are free to use. Some are accessible 24/7, and all operate both MAC and WINDOWS. It is more than feasible to get by without a personal computer.

Can I mail some of my belongings to Carleton over the summer?

No, you cannot mail your belongings to Carleton prior to your arrival.  All belongings need to arrive with you, or be purchased upon your arrival to campus.  Once you are on campus, there are able to place your belongings in storage during summer break. A small fee does apply to each box of items you may store. More Info

Can I arrive to campus before ISO starts? Will the college provide me accommodation then? 

You need to arrive on campus on the day specified by the Associate Director.  Carleton will not accommodate you before then.  If you do arrive prior to the allowed date, there are hotels and motels available in Northfield for nightly stays. 

What is a one-card? What are Schillers?

In addition to giving you access to buildings and services, the OneCard can also act as a purchase card for some campus transactions with Schillers. Schillers are the OneCard's unit of currency. One U.S. dollar equals one Schiller. You can pre-purchase Schillers to spend at authorized campus locations at Carleton College and St. Olaf College.

How does laundry work on campus?

Each dorm has a laundry room. This has both washing machines and dryers. Students are expected to provide their own laundry detergent and are charged a small fee for the use of the machines. It costs $1.00 for use of a washing machine and $0.75 for use of a dryer. This can be paid for using Schillers.

How do meals work at Carleton?

All first year students are on the 20 meal plan for the first term. This means that their one-card gives them access to the dining hall for 20 meals a week. After the first term students can switch to the 12 meal plan or stay on the 20. The 12 meal plan is the same concept as the 20 except with 12 meals a week. There is also a meal replacement option if you miss a meal which you can take at the Sayles Snack Bar.

What happens to my belongings over break?

During Spring and Winter Break your belongings stay in your room and you do not need to move them out, however, during the long Summer break, you need to move completely out of your room. Storage is available at a small cost for international students who cannot take back all their belongings with them.

The weather at Carleton: how bad does winter get?

The way you handle winter will depend upon its severity relative to your climate at home. January is the coldest month of the year and the average high temperature is 22 degrees F (- 6 degrees celcius) and the average low is 4 degrees F (-16 degrees Celsius). There are plenty of stores around Northfield and in the cities where you can buy appropriate winter clothing.

When you arrive on campus in September the temperature will be around 65 degrees F (18 degrees celcius) and it is still possible to walk around in a t-shirt. 

On campus employment: how does it work?

If you have been given a work study as part of your financial aid package you are guaranteed campus employment and will be placed in a position when you arrive. This position will depend upon the experience and preferences that you submit to Financial Aid Services (they will be in touch with you). If work-study is not part of your financial aid then you are free to look for a job once you arrive. 

How/where/when can I get my textbooks?

There are many ways to get your textbooks, much of which will depend on your budget. Some students buy all the textbooks online to save money and send them to the school address (300 N College Street, Northfield, MN, 55057). However, the price difference is not vast between online sites and the school bookstore. The school bookstore has all the required course material on stock and will be open when you arrive. The OIIL office also has a limited number of books which we lend out on a first come first serve basis.  Contact to check if the office has it in their collection.

How do I get health insurance at Carleton?

 Health insurance is dealt with through the Carleton Business Office.  Please direct yourself towards their website for more information.

What documents should I keep with me when I travel?

There are several important documents to keep with you at all times. The most vital are your passport and I-20. However it is also useful to have Luyen Phan’s business card, your certification of finances, and address for the school.  Make sure to have copies available of your passport, in case of loss, or it being stolen.

Can I change my mind about classes once I get there?

Yes, there is the drop/add option if you have issues with your classes.

How do I register for classes?
The best way for a comprehensive guide to registering for classes is to visit the registrars page.

Is there a big party culture at Carleton? Will I be expected to partake?

Carleton is an American college which contains a wide spectrum of students with different interests.  Although Carleton is a wet campus (students over 21 may purchase and consume alcohol) there are many different societies and activities for students who do not want to drink.

Will there only be co-ed bathrooms?

No. Some floors do have co-ed bathrooms but this is only after everyone on the floor agrees to it. If you do not want a co-ed bathroom and prefer unisex ones the floor will accommodate you.

What happens if I do not like my roommate?

If you do not like your roommate or you are in continual conflict there are several avenues open to you. The first is to talk to your RA (residential assistant). This is someone who lives on your floor and is employed by the school to support you. They will try to come up with a solution to the issue. If that does not work, you can take the issue to RESLIFE, an office in the school and they will attempt to resolve the issue.