{ Choices }

One of my recurring duties as a staff member in the Office of Communications is to update the online events calendar. I talk to the dean of studies each week to determine which events to feature on the homepage.

Were this not part of my duties, I'm not sure how much attention I would give to the different activities that happen here beyond such major events as the convocations or some of the conservatory-sponsored concerts.

Most events here are geared for students, as they should be. And most happen during the day when the rest of us are supposed to be doing our work to ensure the college is functioning as it's supposed to function.

If I were a student here, I'd find the choices exciting yet a bit overwhelming. I freely admit to being "choice-challenged." Sure, I want options, but would rather limit them to two or three truly excellent things than having to choose from more than a dozen that are mediocre or "variations on a theme." It's like going to a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop: You want to sample all the flavors, but you can't, at least not in one visit. (And doesn't chocolate ice cream taste about the same no matter the brand?)

It's the same at Oberlin: you'll want to try, visit, attend, be a part of, witness as many different programs and events as possible. But some events are one-shot deals. At least you can revisit that ice cream store.

On any given day, the campus in general and students in particular may choose to attend a lecture, a workshop, a student presentation, a recital,

a voice masterclass, a jazz group performance, a basketball or volleyball game, a club meeting,

an opera, or a dance, a film screening, a political talk, or a tour of the college observatory.

And sometimes there are several exclusive and compelling events happening at the same time. How to choose? How???

I suppose it boils down to the similar kind of selection process, for example, that leads one to choose a college like Oberlin. It has to appeal to your intellect as well as your aesthetic sensibilities. It must have variety, be unique, singular. It has to be distinctive or at least present a new or different twist. At least those are the attributes I'd seek when making a decision.

So do you attend that biology seminar on genomes? Your roommate's junior recital? A free art therapy session? A noon jazz session at the Cat in the Cream? ...Choices. Glad you get to decide and not I.

Photo credits:
Mark Boal by John Seyfreid
Les Miserables by John Seyfreid
Denyce Graves by Roger Mastroianni
Peters Observatory, Oberlin College

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{ Responses To This Entry }

I commonly lament to prospies and first-years that the hardest part about being a student at Oberlin is learning to say yes and learning to say no to all the events and performances that happen here.

Then again, I also wasted my freshman year and didn't really go anywhere or do anything. I've spent the rest of my time trying to catch up!

Posted by: Ma'ayan on November 24, 2010 4:00 PM

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