{ I Have Friends, and They Have Thoughts }

For this installment of my blog, I wanted to get other people's input. Early decision announcements have already come out, but other decisions have yet to arrive. This is for any prospies who want some REAL answers (says in the voice of an annoying 12-year-old boy talking about how the only REAL music was made by dead white guys in the 70s). While I think the brochures/other representation of Oberlin does a pretty good job of conveying what it's like to go to school here, it's always helpful to have opinions from current students to help prospective students get a good feel for the campus. I asked a few of my friends to give me their opinions on various things, and they all had some great responses. Although all of their opinions are valid, I just want to mention that everyone's experience at Oberlin is different, and while there are certain things in common, not everyone agrees with everything. These answers aren't the end all be all of what it's like here, but I think they should be fairly helpful. Also I think it will be fun to look back on this in a few years to see how our answers (especially about majors and our future) have turned out.

Clara

Why did you decide to first apply to/attend Oberlin and is it anything like you expected?

Um...I applied because people told me I would like it and I was like "Sure, cool" and then I came...mostly because out of all the places I looked at it seemed the most (lively/likely) and also it was one of the only colleges I ended up getting into, so there's that. Yeah, [it's like I expected].

What do you like about Oberlin?

I really like how liberal everyone is, that's cool. People said before I came here that everyone here is really friendly and stuff but at the time I was kinda like "oh that's probably bs," but I don't know, I've found it to be pretty true.

What do you dislike about Oberlin?

Campus dining service induced diarrhea.

What do you think you want to major in?

I don't know. Undecided.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

On a beach, drinking a margarita, and plotting the destruction of the establishment.

Danielle

Why did you decide to first apply to/attend Oberlin and is it anything like you expected?

So I wanted to apply to Oberlin because I always heard that it was a really cool place filled with really cool people. I also really like the music scene, I heard a lot of good things about that. I came here because they gave me a really nice scholarship and the prevalence of music here compared to other schools was a big factor. Is it anything like I expected? Yeah, it's a lot like I expected. In some ways it's more...I guess...a little more chill than I expected, but ultimately it's a lot like I expected.

What do you like about Oberlin?

I would say a big thing is I like the people, I like all of the concerts that happen all the time, I like the size of the campus, it's pretty easy to navigate to get to one or another...and all the classes I've taken so far have been really interesting, lot of smaller class sizes and I haven't been overwhelmed with anything. All the teachers have been pretty accessible.

What do you dislike about Oberlin?

I'd say the lack of a queer culture here is kind of weird, a lot of it is very spread out and it can be kind of hard to find other queer people...it's kind of segmented so that's kind of difficult.

What do you think you want to major in?

Undecided. It's difficult because college seems like it's geared towards people who know what they wanna do forever, but I guess the beauty of a liberal arts college is learning how to do liberal arts, reading and writing and argumentation, and basically just improving yourself as a person academically, and all that kind of stuff.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully working somewhere. Just doing something I love. It's hard because I don't exactly know what direction I'm going into yet but hopefully it's something that I find enjoyable and that gets me through life.

Naomi

Why did you decide to first apply to/attend Oberlin and is it anything like you expected?

Well, the first time that the idea of Oberlin was introduced to me was [when] I was with my tutor/college counselor and I was looking at schools with good creative writing programs and I was looking at all these different schools and he was like "I think these are good schools...but I think you'd like Oberlin more, they're more your type of people." And I looked at it and I looked at the acceptance rate and I was like "nahhh." And then a few months later, I was saying to my co-counselor at camp, "Oh I wanna go to a small liberal arts college, with a good community, good creative writing program." And she said "I go to Oberlin, you should come to Oberlin!" And then I was like, "no I won't get in." And then eventually my best friend from home just convinced me to apply, you know, without having any expectations, and I thought, like, this is what I'm looking for, a small liberal arts college, good creative writing [program], strong community with a lot of different opportunities for different clubs and activities, so I applied. During the application process, I kind of had Oberlin in my mind as my dream school but I didn't think I'd actually get in... And then when I got in, after recovering from the shock I went into, I just knew the entire time that it was the perfect place for me and I knew that I wanted to go there, so it was an easy choice for me. I guess, I wouldn't say every stereotype you hear about Oberlin is true but probably most [are true]. It's a lot of what I expected. If there's one thing I'm surprised about, I heard, you know, it's so liberal and artsy and hipster, which it is, but I was kind of surprised, I didn't realize how many different kinds of people there would be within that subset, people with different passions and skills and talents, so that was kind of a fun surprise when I got here.

What do you like about Oberlin?

I definitely like how socially aware Oberlin is. I feel like from taking classes here and also just from being a student on campus and interacting with people I feel like I've learned a lot more about, you know, humans and things that I might have been doing before that were not really ok and I've learned more about race issues and sexuality issues and how a lot of it's just kind of built into me and I'm unlearning that at Oberlin...

What do you dislike about Oberlin?

I feel like there are a lot of ppl with interesting skills and talents and I don't feel like Oberlin has necessarily a competitive atmosphere in that people go to each other like "What did you get on the test? I got this, I'm better than you!" It's more unspoken because there are so many interesting and unique people, you kind of just feel a small little atom in a giant pool of amazingness, and that can kind of be stressful and make me question my identity at some points.

What do you think you want to major in?

Oh gosh. I don't know! I originally came in knowing I wanted to major in creative writing and minor in gender studies and...I feel like I kind of did the whole college thing backwards. Most people come in like "I don't know what I want!," take some classes, find their interests, find their major. I feel like I came in knowing what I wanted and now I've taken classes and everything's just been cool and interesting and there are maybe 5 different things I could possibly pursue as a major, so I'm not sure right now but I am still interested in creative writing, gender studies, sociology, psychology.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Probably working at Starbucks. Not to be a cliché, but I feel like, I don't know, maybe I'll figure out what I want to do sometime soon, but I am still figuring out what I wanna do and even after choose a major it will take me a very long time to figure out exactly what I wanna do. Maybe I'll go to grad school...

Matilda

Why did you decide to first apply to/attend Oberlin and is it anything like you expected?

Well, I was pretty behind on the college process because I got very overwhelmed, so I originally applied to Oberlin for a dumb reason, bc my ex-girlfriend was applying. But I wasn't really considering it that much, so I decided to visit because it was only a few hour drive from Chicago, and then I came, and then I loved it. I mean I came in the middle of winter so it was pretty ugly [to be honest], but it was right after Winter Term so it was cool cause I came and people were talking about their winter term projects and I was like "this is so cool." Also, I really wanted to go to a liberal arts school but I'm very math and logic focused so I was really worried about finding a liberal arts school that had a good math and science program which Oberlin does, so that's why I eventually decided to come here. It was also definitely the best school that I got into by far. [Is it anything like you expected?] Yes and no, it's more liberal than I expected in the best way...harder than I expected, schoolwork wise, but not unmanageable.

What do you like about Oberlin?

Salad bar! But in all seriousness, definitely the professors. Like in high school, you can't really talk to your teachers about real issues, especially social justice issues. Especially this semester, since I'm taking a CAS [Contemporary American Studies] class, I've had amazing one on one convos with my professors about queer politics and social justice and it's super nice.

What do you dislike about Oberlin?

Going along with the salad bar, CDS (Campus Dining Services). It's not that bad, but...it's lacking. Also, some people are pretty pretentious at times which can really bug me. People don't like being wrong, which kind of sucks.

What do you think you want to major in?

Math or econ. Probably econ, actually. I thought math but I'm leaning towards econ now. We have really good econ professors here. Really hard econ professors but really good.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Oof. Hopefully not at Oberlin. Not living with my parents? Hopefully having a job?

Liam

Why did you decide to first apply to/attend Oberlin and is it anything like you expected?

Well I mean I was looking at a lot of schools that were very similar to Oberlin because I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted at the beginning of the college app process, I was looking for a small liberal arts school, sort of a politically liberal atmosphere and with a lot of artistic opportunities and a lot of opportunities to explore a wide range of disciplines, so a true liberal arts interdisciplinary education. And I wanted a small school because I wanted a more intimate atmosphere and, you know, state schools kind of intimidate me with all their fanfare and whoo hooing. So yeah I was looking at a lot of schools like Oberlin. I knew some people from my high school who had gone to Oberlin so it was familiar to me, so I thought I'd check it out. Also I knew I wanted to do creative writing, so I wanted a school with a good creative writing program. Oberlin fit the bill, all respects. Why did I choose Oberlin? Well, first of all Oberlin gave me a pretty big financial aid package, Oberlin was the most...or maybe the second most?...affordable. It came down to Oberlin and Vassar, and Oberlin just seemed like it had more of an eccentric atmosphere. Vassar seemed more like an east-coast, elite private school, not that Oberlin isn't an elite private school, but it had less of that pretension. And also the creative writing program seemed superior to me when looking at the opportunities available. And is it anything like I expected? Yes, it is. It is a small liberal arts school with an interdisciplinary education. I've been very pleased so far with the education I've received, the classes, and the freedom I've been able to have to experiment in different disciplines. And the community is very similar to what I imagined, lots of hipsters, although not as many as I originally thought. The community is a little....in some ways it's more diverse and in some ways it's less diverse than I expected. It's more ideologically diverse than I expected. I mean, everybody's pretty liberal, but there's a broad spectrum of causes that people are invested in, whether you're sort of preppy east coast liberal or more socialist and radical revolutionary, so there's a broader spectrum of political ideologies than I thought. There's less racial diversity than I thought, cause all the brochures were touting that and it's really not that. So that was a disappointment. But I would say overall so far, it is what I expected.

What do you like about Oberlin?

The education here is the best thing about it. It's obviously a top ranking school, great faculty. So far I have not been disappointed by any of my profs. Even the classes that I was a little wearier about taking, particularly the two economics courses I've taken have both been...I mean particularly the one I'm taking right now has been phenomenal, and I'm enjoying it a lot even though economics is never something I never would have considered myself interested in, so really, the quality of education is really top notch. I like a lot of the people here, yourself included [meaning me, because I was interviewing him]. Met a lot of good people. And I guess because it's a small school and I live in a small residence hall, there is a strong sense of community, there's an intimacy to the campus. I think it's a pretty campus. I like the campus scenery, I like the buildings. I like the town! The town is great! There are better restaurants than I expected here and there's surprisingly good shopping...Ratsy's is the bomb. Good shopping if you're looking for eccentric things.

What do you dislike about Oberlin?

I mean the one thing I dislike about Oberlin is probably the lack of racial diversity and the lack of spaces that seem to be open to people of color or where people of color feel comfortable accessing is disappointing to me. I expected a much more integrated campus. YikYak's been depressing me lately because it seems like people don't like it here, and I think it's a rough time of year so it's a little biased by that. But I do think in comparison to a bigger school there's less of a campus-wide community. There are smaller communities but in terms of campus itself, we don't really have school spirit. I think there's a sort of individualist spirit that works against the formation of a broader campus community. There's a lot of in-fighting and lots of fragmentation of the student body, you know like Barrows 322 and people of color and you know, just lots of groups that form for a variety of reasons.

What do you think you want to major in?

I wanna major in creative writing, but I also want to double major, but I don't know what my second major would be.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Well, I'll have just graduated Oberlin, hopefully. I wanna live in a city. I don't know what city. Probably somewhere on the West Coast. The Pacific Northwest has always appealed to me. But depending on where the job market is, those cities with good employment, that's where I'll be looking. But I'll be looking for a city with a hip youthful culture. I don't know what I'll be doing. The long-term plan is to be a writer but you can't just jump into that. I might be looking at applying for editing jobs, jobs at magazines, jobs at newspapers. I might be working a pretty low-skilled job at first. I wouldn't mind working at a restaurant, paying my dues now that I have experience in food service. So yeah I imagine I'll be settling in, in a Pacific Northwest setting, trying to build my work experience and work my way into the writing world.

So there you have it, folks. Oberlin is an overwhelming liberal place, which is one of the reasons people come here. There are a lot of hipsters but they don't necessarily run the the school. Oberlin is also the place to be if you want to do something that will change the world (seriously, we have posters advertising that very thing). However, Oberlin is not as diverse as it purports to be, at least when it comes to race/ethnicity. But all in all, it seems like everyone at Oberlin is happy to be here.


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