Applying To Oberlin


If you've decided to apply to Oberlin, congratulations! Choosing where to apply to college often comes at the end of a long and arduous process involving anything from chats with counselors to sorting through mountains of mail to going on epic cross-country journeys to visit campuses. If you have not yet reached the decision stage, please don't be discouraged by the task ahead of you—searching for colleges can also be a fun and rewarding experience. Whether you're planning to submit your application or are currently "just looking," there are a few things you should know about applying to Oberlin.

For starters, Oberlin is divided into two separate divisions, the College of Arts and Sciences (from now on referred to simply as the College), and the Conservatory of Music (a.k.a. the Con). Each division uses a different application and uses a different set of admissions criteria, so please don't get the two confused! If you wish to participate in our five-year Double Degree program, you will have to fill out both sets of applications.

Applying to the College

Like many other liberal arts colleges, the College accepts the Common Application, and you must submit it online on the Common App's website. Before you submit the full Common App, we ask that you submit the Application Part I (available on our admissions website). The Application Part I initiates the application process by asking some basic questions about you and your interest in Oberlin, and it is only about a page long. When you submit the rest of your Common App, you will also need to submit two teacher recommendations, a counselor report, an official copy of your transcript, standardized test scores, your essay, and the supplement Oberlin essay. If you would like to submit additional supplementary materials (such as artwork or a resume), we welcome those as well. We do require standardized test scores, from either the SAT or the ACT with writing, and we will consider your best score for each subsection on the SAT if you take the test more than once. Oberlin does not require SAT II scores, but we do accept them if you wish to send them. Make sure you apply by January 15th, our regular decision deadline. If you would like to apply early, we also have two rounds of binding Early Decision, with deadlines of November 15th and January 2nd. Want to know what you're up against? The College received nearly 7500 applications this past year and admitted roughly 26% of those who applied.

Applying to the Conservatory

The Con does NOT accept the Common Application. You should only complete the Common Application if you are applying to the Double Degree program. To apply to the Con only, you must submit your application through Decision Desk by December 1st and complete an audition. Auditions are conducted January through March, and students are expected to audition in person, either on campus or at one of the many regional auditions held in major cities across the US and in several locations throughout East Asia. (Please note that if you are requesting a live audition, the following departments require screening recordings or portfolios for review to determine if an audition will be granted: piano, composition, TIMARA, jazz studies, and voice.) If you live more than 600 miles from campus and more than 200 miles from a regional audition site, you may submit a recorded audition. Last year, the Con received about 1400 applications and admitted about 25% of those who applied.

Applying to both: the 5-year Double Degree Program

If you're up for a challenge, you may wish to apply for our five-year Double Degree program. Double Degree students graduate with a Bachelors of Music from the Con and a Bachelors of Arts from the College. This option meets the needs of those who want to combine rigorous academic study with musical training at the highest level. To participate, you must submit separate applications to both the College and the Conservatory. About 200 students are currently enrolled in our Double Degree program.

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Applications and Organization

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Tis the season to be reading (applications)

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That's Wormwood!

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A Visitor's Guide to Oberlin: Planning Your Visit

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Ich Bin Ein Oberliner

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What are my chances?

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To be or not to be Oberlin

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We all have a "This is how I discovered Oberlin" story...

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Back to School

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The College Decision

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Paid Agents. To Use or Not To Use. That is the Question.

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | The idea of using an agent has some merit. But what are the values of those things? That depends in large part on what other sources of information are available and how much they cost.

5 Questions Every Prospie Should Ask

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More about prospective students

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Getting Here

posted by Will Mason '10 | In many ways, my story of getting to Oberlin is pretty uninspiring, and it's certainly brief.

The Long and Winding Road to Oberlin

posted by Helena Thompson '11.5 | During my first tour of campus, I saw smiling students, wide open spaces, and albino squirrels, all of which drew me closer to the school — but what really got me was the energy, the vibrancy, and the passion.

The Letters are in the Mail!

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | The Arts & Sciences Admissions Office is celebrating today, because decision letters for this year's applicants are finally being mailed out.

Campus Visits: How to be a Prospie

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | This blog gives you a few pointers for getting the most out of your campus visit. I don't usually go in for grandiose, sweeping statements, but I think I can say without (much of) a doubt that this blog could be the most important thing you read during your college search. I can say this because I have learned from experience.

What should I be taking?

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | The lowdown on what type of high school curriculum you should aim for.

Three college essays

posted by Chris Gollmar '10 | Part 1 in a series of posts dissecting the three college essays I wrote as a high school senior. In this post, my "Why Oberlin?" essay.

Music Business and Oberlin

posted by Will Mason '10 | Some disjointed thoughts in response to a question about the music business & Oberlin.

Reading season...time to hibernate

posted by Farah Emeka '97, Admissions | During the months of January, February, and March, the admissions counselors at Oberlin are given days outside of the office to read files.


posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Regular decision deadline is next Friday! Here are answers to some questions common at this time of year.

A Post about Posters

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | I will try and contain my excitement within the post, but I need to note that haven't really stopped grinning for the last few weeks, and I'm just smiling at my computer while I write this. Because Oberlin makes me happy. And so does this poster.

How Do You Know If It's the One?

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | I have concluded that there is no easy way to manage the college-search process. You just have to go through it.

How I Chose Oberlin

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | My waking self was indecisive, but my subconscious knew.

Application time!

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | "You haven't written your application essays yet? Well get crackin'!" --A Pamphlet on applying to (not too many!) Colleges; Plus, a few modest Examples are included for the perusal of the curious Reader.

Choosing Colleges vs. Choosing Fishmongers

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | There are a few differences between the liberal arts colleges and fish markets, though. Liberal arts colleges generally smell better, for instance.

Recommendation Letters!

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | Some answers about who should write yours, what forms to use, and all that fun stuff.

The Oberlin Supplement

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | What's the point of that extra application essay, and what should you write?

My pain is Oberlin's gain

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | I just wrapped up a week's worth of travel in Dallas, my first trip of the '09 travel season.

The Road Not Taken

posted by John West '10 | In this post: the Montreal International Recorder Competition, recorders that look like plumbing, apocryphal stories, adorable taxi drivers, the death of punk, and Glenn Beck killing a frog.

Part I of my fractured fairytale: Clyde

posted by Brandi Ferrebee '10 | Once upon a time (specifically, January 14th, 2006), I was a more-confused-than-usual high school senior applying to Oberlin.

Don't be a phantom, get on our radar!

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | If we don't know that you're interested in Oberlin, how can we tell you about all the cool admissions events that happen each year?

Admissions, from the in(tern)side

posted by Brandi Ferrebee '10 | I have the unique perspective of having gone through two applications processes and now introducing new applicants to Oberlin, and so I want to give prospective students (or "prospies," as we fondly call you, in reference to our own nickname of "Obies") an idea of what it's like to visit Oberlin as a prospective student.

It's an Obie world after all

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | I headed to a small coffee shop and discovered that it really is an Obie world after all.

Tour Guide for Life

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | I love being a tour guide. The job is to share what you love while walking backwards, connecting with people from across the country and the world. What's more rewarding than that?

Recipes for Summertime, Part Three

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | These aren't secrets to getting into your dream college, I apologize. I don't think there is a formula for that. What I'm offering in the following post is an approach to making your application a solid representation of yourself.

Summer Duties

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Or, why we've all been too busy to blog lately.

Recipes for Summertime, Part Two

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Wayyyyy back when I was a wee 'un, I wanted to go to a glorious place, one I had read about in books and seen in movies. College! It was everything I wanted! But first, I had to apply. And applications require writing.

Why Oberlin?

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | "You know," one of them said, "Chewbacca is the only one in his family with a normal name."

Summer Visits

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Is it worth visiting Oberlin over the summer?

Identity Crisis

posted by Will Mason '10 | Does being a double degree student make you less of a musician? Less of a scholar?

All Roads: Behind the Scenes

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | As I am employed as a tour guide, admissions intern, and creative writing intern, "All Roads" is pretty busy for me. Besides tours, info sessions, and panels, I saw Reefer Madness, sunbathed, and contra danced.

Emails and phone calls and physics, oh my!

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Oberlin professors are super-cool, and sometimes give out their home phone numbers.

Once upon a time I was an admitted student

posted by Yitka Winn '09 | I read that sentence again and again, then ran outside to my backyard, where my dad was doing some spring yard work and making pleasant small talk with the neighbors over the fence, and I promptly yelled to the skies, "I'm going to college!"

Allow me to kibitz...

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | You pick up some Yiddish at Oberlin, for those of you coming from places like Columbia, Missouri, or those of you too young to remember Linda Richman.

Frequently Asked Questions: What is an Average Day?

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | One of the questions I get on tours is "What's an average day like, for an Oberlin student?" This is, of course, one of the most difficult questions ever.

Admitted students--it's your turn!

posted by Prof. David Walker '72 | Now comes the last but often unexpectedly difficult part of the admissions process: weighing your various options and deciding which of the colleges that have admitted you would be the best fit for the next exciting phase of your life.

The letters are in the mail!

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Your decisions are now in the hands of the US Postal Service, and the admissions office is celebrating.

Work it, dance it, write it.

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | Some people speak Spanish, French, Chinese. My friends speak Science. If I didn't speak at least some pidgin Science, I couldn't understand them at all.

All Roads Lead to Rom- Uh, Oberlin

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | The applications were sent, the waiting is over, and by the magic of a little envelope in the mail, POOF! You're now one step closer to being an Obie. But, if you've been accepted, what is available to help you decide if Oberlin is the right place for you? Man, if only there was some great and helpful program...

Info Sessions, etc.

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | In which I share information on what an information session is like at Oberlin and ramble a bit about unicycles.

Keeping the Post Office in Business

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | Today, we heard Sanskrit Chanting, pianists performing Schubert and Rachmaninoff, a fiddling group, and vocal performances ranging from Vittoria, mio core to hip hop selections.

More Essay Writing Tips

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Because there's no better way to procrastinate writing your college application essays than reading tips about writing your college application essays.

College Essay Advice

posted by Will Mason '10 | Unqualified and unsolicited advice on the college essay from someone who went about it the wrong way.

My advice on the college essay

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | The college essay can be hard to write, and equally hard to give advice on. Here's my attempt on the latter.

Last Year

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | They have a velvet Last Supper hanging above the stairs leading to the exit. I'm serious.

The Hazards of Thinking Too Much

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | A rumination on thank you notes.

Planning Your Visit

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | To my delight, a prospie e-mailed me last week and asked if she could spend some time with me during her visit to Oberlin. We had a good time, but here's how to have an even better stay.

From High School to Oberlin to...Oberlin?

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | In which I chronicle my journey from prospie to student to admissions representative.

Hindsight Is 20/20

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | feel free to borrow my eyes for a moment.

Opportunities for College Musicians

posted by Will Mason '10 | The Oberlin Conservatory attracts a number of world-class musicians, but its presence on campus is also a major draw for college students who wish to continue studying music without committing to a pre-professional program.

Welcome to My Oberlin!

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | A bit about how I ever left L.A. sunshine for Ohio and why I'm so glad I did.

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