During spring break, I realized that this was that time of the year, when seniors find out where they're going, juniors visit colleges and worry about standardized test scores, and students road-trip and fly here and there to find, or at least have some idea of the place: that one place to call home for four years before having to find your place in the world. My family members, cousins in this position, and friends all had a lot of questions. Where to go? Why? How much? When do we turn this in? What questions do we ask? After giving the best that answers that I could, based on my knowledge so far, I thought back to when my family and I had the same questions and concerns.
So, here is a little bit about how I knew Oberlin was the place for me. Every person has a different story as to how and where they ended up going to college, but some questions that I had during the process are similar to the ones I heard from family and friends.
1. How did you know?
I really wasn't that sure, but as long as you can really see yourself living there and learning more about yourself and as a student, it might just be the right place. As an admitted prospie, I came to visit Oberlin last year, during Easter weekend, and in those few days, I was thoroughly convinced that Oberlin was the place to be for me. I visited many schools and attended a lot of tours and info sessions, and when it came to Oberlin, I ended up going to one or two organized events for prospies and then did the rest of the exploring by myself or with current students. This is different for everyone, but for me, having the opportunity to walk around campus alone gave me the chance to really see myself living in Oberlin.
Even more, spending time with friends who were already sophomores gave me the chance to see Oberlin through their eyes. I got to experience a late night trip to Gibson's for ice cream, saw some of the Conservatory's best at a live performance in the radio station in Wilder, met Professor Yolanda Cruz, stayed with former Professor Bob Pierce and his wife, Barbara, an Obie alum, and attended Midge and Smith Brittingham's incredible Sunday dinner.
Essentially, I was given the chance to really dig deep into everything Oberlin has to offer. But really, it was the people. The people I met and the friends I made during the visit were all part of my decision, I knew that I wanted to be around people like that, that I wanted to someday be just like them. And with that, I knew exactly where I needed to be.
One of my first experiences in Oberlin.
2. What should a student focus on more, SAT/ACT tests, schoolwork, or extracurriculars?
I am quite certain that when I was a junior/ first semester senior, I had not a clue as to what I was really supposed to focus on, but one thing to do is to find a balance and do your best in everything that you do. If there is something you are truly passionate about, make it heard in your application; if you don't quite know what your strengths are, make sure to find equilibrium between all three aspects. Make sure to study the schools that you are interested in and the things that the school looks at the most. This is really a multifaceted question because all schools focus on different things. Some schools want high SAT/ ACT scores, others want 4.0's, while some want a multitude of activities. Even more, some just want it all. But when it comes down to it, schools will choose whom they want, and the best that a student can do is to try and to show the best of themselves, so they know, no matter where they end up, they worked hard to earn it.
3. What advice do you have for juniors and seniors?
- Do your best, trust your instincts about the places you visit (but always be open to new ideas about the place, even if you didn't like it originally).
- Don't let the location of a college scare you (I'm a Californian, but I love Oberlin. The birds chirping, the crickets at night during the summer, the beautiful autumn, and the picturesque snow days really outweigh the depressing grey gloom that Oberlin's sky sometimes prefers).
- Be smart about deadlines because once they pass, well, asking for an extension goes two ways, they say no, or you have that awkward can-I-please-send-this-in-late-I-promise-I'm-not-that-terrible-of-a-student-please-still-accept-me conversation/email.
- Be nice to the people you meet and the people helping you through this process. You never know who you're meeting; for instance, on a trip to Brown, we got lost, and ended up walking back with a former president of the college, who didn't tell us who he was until we got there.
- Don't forget your parents or guardians. Be really kind and grateful to them especially if this is a first for them too. They're learning, you're learning, and they're doing their best to get you to where you want to be.
- Finally, trust that wherever you go, you are there for a reason. As long as you are learning about yourself, growing academically, mentally and emotionally, and really, truly enjoying yourself (productively and otherwise...), you are most likely doing something right.
This is just my experience, and no matter where you end up, you'll be really happy as long as you're true to yourself!
When the seasons change the way they do in Oberlin...why not go here?!