The Selection Process


Ever wonder what happens to your application once you've clicked "submit" at the Common App site?

First, you'll receive a letter in the mail from your regional representative, letting you know that your application has been received. The letter will also provide contact information should you have any questions throughout the process.

We will also send you a letter (and often an email message as well) if we are missing any parts of your application. But please be patient! It takes time to process all the pieces of your application. You can also check the status of your application through our online portal (you'll receive log-in information via email).

After your application and all supporting documents (transcripts, essays, recommendation letters) are assembled here in Oberlin, your digital file is passed to your regional admissions counselor. Your admissions counselor will do a "first read" of your application file. Every admissions counselor first-reads applications from his/her regional territory. This way we get to read applications from students we may have met during our fall travels or from schools we are familiar with. The first reader will complete a holistic review of your application, looking at all of the materials you've submitted (transcript, SAT/ACT scores, recommendation letters, essay, activities).

Your file is then passed to a second reader. Second reads are distributed alphabetically among the other admissions counselors so that we have the opportunity to read applications from all over the world. At least two counselors read each file.

Finally, your application is brought to the Admissions Committee for discussion. Your first reader will present your application and then answer any questions from the committee members. We will reach a decision by consensus whether to admit, waitlist (defer in the case of ED applications), or deny.

The process begins in November with Early Decision round 1 applications and concludes in late March. On the days we release our decisions (mid-December for ED round 1, late January for ED round 2, or late March for regular decision), there is much rejoicing. In fact, the day we release our regular decision letters, we cut into the TGTLAITM cake (Thank God The Letters Are In The Mail). We've also celebrated with gutter parties (we fill gutters with ice cream and eat right out of them; it's a good thing we like our co-workers so much!) and popped champagne/sparkling grape juice corks, relishing all the hard work that you have put into your applications and we have put into reading them. In the end, we hope that we have admitted a class of new Obies who want to know answers to important questions, who want to create great works, and who want to better the lives of others.

Then we wait... until the May 1 national candidates' reply deadline to see which of the admitted students choose to embrace our very special Oberlin community.

Blog Entries Related To This Topic:

The Moment I Knew I Was an Obie

posted by Sarah Dalgleish '20 | Hint: it involves tap dancing.

All Roads Lead to Oberlin... Eventually

posted by Lilah Drafts-Johnson '18 | My Oberlin waitlist experience.

Dear Me: You Got This

posted by Kira Findling '19 | I wanted to write a letter to myself that would've helped me out when I found out I got into Oberlin. Prospective students, whether you get into Oberlin or not, I know you'll find a place that feels right for you. Sending you all love and good energy!

A Few Thoughts on the Waitlist

posted by Tanya Aydelott, Admissions | The waitlist is exactly what it sounds like: a wait. And you can make that waiting useful.

A Path to Oberlin

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | This is the route I came by. It's pretty short; pretty simple. Pretty totally acceptable.

Why Choose Oberlin?

posted by Dara Lehrer '16 | If you have little more than a month to decide where you'll be spending the next four years of your life, and have received an acceptance letter from Oberlin, then read on. This post is for you.

This one is for the parents out there

posted by Barbara Sawhill | This one is for the parents whose children are applying Early Decision. This one is for you.

Need Sensitivity

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posted by Joe Dawson '12 | Some memories and advice about visiting campuses.

Song for the Waitlisted

posted by Emily Wilkerson '15 | My experience on Oberlin's waitlist.

Selecting a Posse

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | Reactions ranged from Woots! to tears of joy.

Our awesome future Obies

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | Interesting is an understatement when talking about these students! Roget would also suggest exciting, fascinating, out-of-the-ordinary, remarkable...

A Word to the Waitlisted

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Two years ago, I wrote a detailed post about why we have a wait list that answered a number of questions you might have if you recently received a wait list letter from Oberlin, but I also wanted to comment specifically on this year's wait list.

Letters away!

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | Yesterday afternoon I was privileged enough to witness the fourth annual "waving goodbye to the truck" day in the Admissions office. Let me tell you, it was quite the celebration.

In Which I Wished for Oberlin to be Hogwarts

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | While I think of Oberlin as an alternate universe Hogwarts much of the time, we don't have owls delivering letters, though that would totally be the coolest.

And the letters are... almost in the mail

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | I know you're waiting eagerly for your decision letters. This is what we've been doing in preparation for sending them out.

Applications, applications, applic....

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Tis the season to be reading (applications)

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | I'm reading roughly over 1,100 applications before mid March.

What are my chances?

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | The information you need to make a semi-educated guess about the likelihood of your admission to Oberlin.

New and Improved! Guide to All Roads Lead to Oberlin

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | A REVISED comprehensive list of events for the next weekend, when most admitted students visit. Featuring: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, fashion shows, pizza night, dance shows, and film festivals.

The tide has turned

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | College seniors spent a lot of energy convincing colleges to admit them. Now that acceptance letters have been received, it's time for the colleges to woo the students and their parents.

All Roads Go Ever On and On

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | One choice--to visit a college--can be the first step on that much-talked-of journey of a thousand miles. No, I'm not referring to the famous Confucius quote, actually--I'm thinking of The Lord of the Rings. Although Oberlin is a lot more fun than Mount Doom.

Think one fearless road can lead to Oberlin? So do we.

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | I sat and thought about all the colleges I'd visited. And the thing that jumped out about Oberlin was that I wanted to go back.

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.

Mail Day! In picture form!

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | I know Elizabeth already gave a nice narrative about the decision letters being mailed out, but I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures from our little celebration!

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.

What's going on in the Admissions Office?

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | You're probably getting anxious. We're just starting to relax.

Calculating GPAs for International Students

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | Calculating international GPAs is a bit of a challenge, but we still do give it a shot. There are 4 primary tools that we use when calculating GPAs for school systems with which we are unfamiliar.

Prospie Perspective

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | So, applicants to Oberlin will be notified of their acceptance in about a month, right? Gosh I'm glad I don't have to worry about that crap anymore.

What's in a GPA?

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Weighted vs. unweighted and why we don't care.

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.

Can you describe a typical Oberlin student?

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | By now I'm hoping you've gathered that there's nothing typical about Obies! They are all unique, which makes this a pretty interesting place. Of course I can give you some numbers about last year's applicant pool, along with test score and gpa averages, but that certainly doesn't tell much of our story.

High School Obsessions

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Fairly often, we get questions from prospective students (or, more commonly, concerned parents) about the effects their choice of high school will have on their chances of admission.

China and the Oberlin Admission Process

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | We are aware of the general educational system in China and have tried to look at the whole picture of all of the students that apply.

Diversity and Admissions

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | Diversity is not the result of any one or two students that we have at Oberlin, but rather the result of the integration of the unique perspectives of all of the students that we have on campus.

Summer Duties

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

Have Diploma, Will Travel (Back to College?)

posted by Daniel Tam-Claiborne '09 | It turns out that for a pair of liberal college campuses, both boasting large feeder populations from elite(ist) NYC high schools, Cornell and Oberlin couldn't be more different.

Demystifying the Waitlist

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about the waitlist.

Why Oberlin? My All-Roads Flashback

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | This is my old livejournal entry from when I visited for All Roads as a prospie. Wiggle your fingers: it is 2005, I have really long hair and wear a green military coat.


posted by Joe Dawson '12 | My team T-Spain feat. Young Portugueezy, formerly Urethra Franklin, formerly Hurricane Kathleena and the Mansoon, really turned up the heat.

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.

The Beginning of the End

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | The big, important admissions exam is almost over.

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posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | I've been reviewing applications since November, with a couple of months still to go before we mail our decision letters....

Mail Call!

posted by Jesse Hernandez, Admissions | Leslie's not lying, we have been inundated with mail (and I've got the photo evidence to prove it)

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.

Choosing our future Obies

posted by Leslie Braat, Admissions | Every year at this time I wonder how time flies so quickly. This weekend I began reading early decision applications. I will be reading applications for the next 5 months of my life.

Like a College Visit with Less Clothing

posted by Daniel Tam-Claiborne '09 | Over this past weekend, I decided to make a trip out to Tufts University in Medford, MA to see a group of friends perform in a Burlesque Troupe that they helped to found on campus. Little did I know that I would get the added bonus of recreating the lore of my junior year college trips.

Early decisions with an Ecuadorian Twist

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | To assure that we have great diversity when we are done with the final crafting of our international class and that we have also chosen the individual applicants who are most likely to thrive, we use a three-decision process for early decision applicants.

Sleepless over the Yellow Sea

posted by Charles Grim, Admissions | 3:54 am, September 17th, 2008 Asiana Airlines Flight 724, Somewhere over the Yellow Sea

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