Oberlin's Experimental College (ExCo) is a student-run initiative that allows all members of the Oberlin community to teach and take courses outside the scope of the college's traditional curriculum. With its flexible nature, the program reflects the current intellectual, social, and aesthetic trends of the Oberlin community, providing opportunities to explore or expand upon subject matter beyond the usual course offerings.

ExCo offers a wide range of courses that are open to the public. Teaching is open on a volunteer basis to any Oberlin student, staff, and area community member. Each semester there are up to 120 courses offered in topics as diverse as tap dancing, The Ren and Stimpy Show, classical music of North India, rock climbing, animal rights, Swedish language and culture, scientific illustration, and US labor history.

While teaching an ExCo can be time-consuming, most students who embrace the challenge find themselves richly rewarded by the insights they gain, not only on the material itself, but also on the skills necessary to be an effective instructor. ExCos are far from one-way learning experiences. Ask any former ExCo instructor about the highlight of his or her experience, and you will hear about the special relationship that develops between the instructor and the class.

Oberlin students may receive one to two hours of college credit for taking an ExCo course, with up to five credit hours counting towards graduation. Students who teach ExCo courses also receive credit - but with so many classes to choose from each semester, many students chose to take or teach an ExCo course for no credit at all.

For more information and current course descriptions, see: oberlin.edu/exco.

Blog Entries Related To This Topic:

The Liberal Arts & Antidisciplinary Education

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | Exploring how the liberal arts at Oberlin leaves us space to explore antidisciplinary education.

Sports Bars, Silent Weekends, and American Sign Language

posted by El Wilson '18 | How I'm becoming bilingual without a single Oberlin professor's help.

ExCo Fever

posted by Alexandria Cunningham '16 | What is the most memorable course you took at Oberlin? Why was it so amazing? If you could teach a course, how would you do it?

Community Energy

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Or, I'm taking a dance class and I can't help but parallel lessons learned on the dance floor to my learning in the bigger world.

Wait, what? You have rock climbers in Ohio...?!

posted by Paris Achenbach '13 | Includes lots and lots of photos. Get ready.

A Salute to First Semester

posted by Margaret Saunders '16 | I do a little bit of boasting on behalf of the Fencing ExCo. Or is it FenceCo? FenxCo? FedEx?

Join Our Family

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Or, what #SoMeXco is all about and how our project is going to legit rock the world this weekend.


posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | For those of you who got here by googling "Oberlin Super Smash major" you're at the right place. Read on.

Dear Future Oberlin Freshman...

posted by Paul Buser '15 | Through my own personal failings, it is my wish that you will become enriched with wisdom.

A Particularly Enlightening Post

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | This just in: I really love to teach excited photographers. Especially when it comes to playing with light.

The Harry Potter ExCo: A Preview

posted by Alanna Bennett '13 | November means many things for Oberlin: the typical college leaf piles, a strange flip-flopping in the weather from early-fall-crispness into Winter Is Coming ominousness. It also means that ExCo applications are due.


posted by Joe Dawson '12 | One needs laser sights attached to their clown wigs. Am I trying to do too much?


posted by Karl Orozco '13 | A blog on my Adobe Illustrator ExCo.

I Like to Think We Grew Up a Little...

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | First off, we became an unofficial SexCo...

Traditional Irish Music

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | The ExCo that taught me how to do it right.

Snow busy-ness

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | Things got a little hairier at this point, if I remember right, and I found new uses for my simple tools. The flat head screwdriver could be easily used as a pry bar, I found, pulling up pieces of the tape player whose screws wouldn't yield to my five year-old hands.

New Vistas and Tough Choices

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Oberlin is an active, interesting place. For students, it is a great boon and a great tragedy: among all the wonderful opportunities we have, we must confront and accept the fact that we will never be able to explore them all.

An ExCo (Af)Fair to Remember

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | In which the tables are turned on my previous ExCo fair experiences: this time, I was sitting on the other side of the chaos.

On Teaching and Oberlin

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Luckily, Oberlin gives us the opportunity to be on the other side of the podium, too: I'm teaching an ExCo this spring!


posted by Christine Chang '13 | Why to pay attention to M.M. Bakhtin readings (turns out he has quite a following in several classes), and why to take Korean ExCo (for sheer awesomeness).

You teach me and I'll teach you.

posted by Karl Orozco '13 | Pokémon! And ExCos! Specifically, ExCos about Pokémon!

Tacky the Penguin and Other Stories

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | With this Oberlin story (with penguins!) in my possession, I had to share it with everyone. I put out an all-call on Twitter and Facebook whenever I was sitting in the library working and knew that people needed a distraction.


posted by Joe Dawson '12 | I started out this semester with the idea that I would declare Biology or Engineering as my major and get cracking on the classes I needed to fulfill the major requirements. This was to be my buckling down semester, full of sciences and maths of various shapes and flavors.

Finals in Perpetual Motion

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | If you've heard the song "We Will All Go Together When We Go," by Tom Lehrer, it encapsulates the joyful fatalism of finals. This is why we have gender-bending, gravity-smashing swing dances.

It's the (ExCo) Final(s) Countdown!

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Our final for this ExCo was to make our own picture book, the four of us creating a fabulous story. Picture book enclosed for your reading pleasure!

Hello again, world!

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | I love the idea of ExCos--it's part of the reason I came here. I signed up for a bunch of them but only one really worked out with my schedule. (One of my sophomore friends told me that it's funny how first-years try to do everything, but the truth is, there's so much interesting stuff going on, it's impossible not to at least try it.)

Go West

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Dan stood in front of the bulldozers and blocked the construction for hours before they hauled him away. Why weren't there hundreds of people with him? Thousands?

"Translation is not a matter of words only..."

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I went into the first lesson armed with ten years of violin lessons, one year of music theory, and a textbook.

I'm cool, too!

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | And one more interesting thing. This is my thirteenth post here. I figured publishing it tomorrow would be a little much.

Hieronymus Bosch in a Hot Air Balloon

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | During Add/Drop, we overcommit. This is inevitable.

ExCo Madness

posted by Emily Robinson '12 | Since I first sat back down at my desk last Saturday, I had this whole blog perfectly planned out.

Storytelling ExCo

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | I had cancelled most of my plans for the weekend to write my script for cinema, and was currently completely outlined but not written. And I needed inspiration. A room full of creative souls seemed like a good place to be for two hours of my precious Sunday time.

Woman who fell from the sky

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | The Storytelling Exco has been the pillar of my college experience -- performance on the outside and therapy on the inside.

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