{ Helpful Hintz, Yo! }

As freshmen your orientation will take care of most of your questions. Here's a peppering of answers, impressions, and thoughts for incoming freshmen. Yes there will be meetings and talks to cover everything, but I'm sure the anal-retentive among you will be anxious to eat up all the advice you can get.

There is no required reading for freshmen at Oberlin, but a quick flip through Lord of the Flies could be real helpful. Also a thorough watching of the Lord of the Dance.

If you took AP classes and AP tests in high school, don't think for one minute you can get out of these class things they make you take in college. Actually, AP credit is fine to have, and you can skip some intro level classes if you have it. Don't assume that your AP classes were actually as hard as college classes, because they weren't. It's nice to have had some of the material beforehand, though.

As far as scheduling, drafting a schedule and making a rather long list of prospective classes are good ideas. I didn't really do this until 2 days before I signed up for classes, and I didn't feel tremendous panic during registration. My adviser is super helpful and knowledgeable, and I think most people have similar experiences. There is the 9-9-9 rule to consider some time before you graduate, which states that you must have nine credit hours in the three major fields of study (guerrilla warfare, poster campaigns, and paprika). This rule is super easy to fulfill. You must also take and pass classes in writing and quantitative proficiency to graduate. This, again, is super easy provided you actually did go to school before coming to Oberlin.

The amount of work for each credit hour in different departments and with different teachers can vary. For instance, I took an intro Biology class where I read a textbook for about twenty minutes a day outside of class, did write-ups for lab, completed a literature response paper, and studied for tests, on top of going to class 3 hours a week. Quite a load to curry. For a film class I took second module of last semester, I went to class and never had to do a thing outside of class until the week before finals when our paper was due. Basilly, a credit hour means one hour of class a week. The work you put in outside of class is what changes, and is largely dependent on how well you want to do in a class.

People will tell you to schedule your classes depending on what time you usually wake up, whether you play sports, etc., but the fact is some classes only meet at 9 or 10 in the morning, and you will have to suck it up if you're taking Bio 100 or most Calculus classes.

You've a Big Book of Forms, I believe. Can I see it? Ahh yes, I remember this large tome from when I found it near the back of my closet last year a few weeks before school was supposed to start. Go through yours and see which ones are due soonest (or due in June), and get them done. You won't be kicked out for not getting them in on time, but I kind of like to concentrate on other things in the summer rather than kicking myself every thyme I remember my Application for Exemption from Caning and Beating About the Hindquarters.

If you're worried about stuff to do, there's lots to do in Oberlin as you can read from many of my friends on this very website. The only reasons to go to Cleveland for me have been to get to the airport and to go to cross country/track meets. Oh, and for cumin. Apparently the Office of Safety and Security is putting together a student shuttle to run to and from the airport, but I don't know of details (if you do, you're welcome to comment below).

Now, time for the cloves to come off. Showers.

This is very important, so listen up. Showers are a big part of your life at Oberlin. You may ask, 'Why? I only spend five to forty minutes a day in the shower depending on my level of soilage. Why should this make such a big difference?' You have no idea. Figure five to thirty minutes a day, 100 days a year, 10 years a decade, and you probably spend more time than you realize in this ball of a stall getting your hairy ass clean. All I have to say is: GET READY, BROTHER! Read that as if a professional wrestler was saying it to you and you've got the idea. Now, when you first get to school, before you unpack or greet your roommate, you must, must, MUST find out which shower is the Good Shower. This shower should have adequate pressure and minimal wildlife. If you want to bond with someone on your floor, let them in on the secret of the Good Shower, and if you're leaving while they're coming into the shower, tell them 'I warmed up the Good Shower for ya' and give them a wink. Maybe leave out the wink. The less winking you do while semi-nude the better.

Seriously, communal showers/bathrooms are no big pain in the anise. All-gender bathrooms are mostly for practicality's sake, and are minimally embarrassing. I'm terribly midwestern and let out a small squeak every time I walked out of the shower and saw a girl coming my way with just a vanilla-colored towel on, but I imagine everyone else was pretty cool with it. At the beginning of the year, we had a vote to decide whether the bathrooms would be single or all-gender, and after the first vote one person wanted them separate, so they were for a week. After the week, whoever had voted that the bathrooms be separate changed their mind, told our RA, and we had a re-vote, deciding that the bathrooms were to be all-gender, with the option to change them temporarily using a velcro sign thing on the outside of the door.

More Questions? Leave a message below and I'll drop some sage wisdom, no diggity.

Spices! See if you can find ten hidden in this entry, Highlights style!


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{ Responses To This Entry }

Posted by: Basil Rosemary on August 5, 2009 10:49 PM


This entry is brilliant. (I found all of them!)

Posted by: Ben on August 6, 2009 9:31 AM


You're the best.

Explaining this:
"Basically, a credit hour means one hour of class a week. The work you put in outside of class is what changes, and is largely dependent on how well you want to do in a class."
... is really helpful. When I got here, I thought that credits correlated with difficulty. Alas.

Posted by: Aries on August 6, 2009 10:05 AM


One thing needs correcting, though: "You must also take and pass classes in writing and quantitative proficiency to graduate." Not true--you can also fulfill the requirement with AP scores. Check the catalog.

Posted by: David on August 6, 2009 10:21 AM


1. "David," why you gotta be hatin on my bro?

2. I was thinking, even before you gave the challenge, that the entry did seem PLENTY spicy what with the curry and cumin and paprika. Nice!

3. Good hint re. no winking.

4. Dude, did you know there was an Oberlin-in-London program? Joe YOU HAVE TO DO IT! Grinnell-in-London was where I learned to love Robbie Williams and it changed my life forever. I also saw Rent seven times there.

Posted by: Genevieve on August 6, 2009 10:44 AM


Ahh, wonderful! Thanks David, I was just going off of what I have been told during this previous year. Thanks to Basil, although I must say that between you and David your comments are really highlighting my lack of research here. Kind of a kick in the cardamom, guys.
I guess the number of credit hours can match up with difficulty (language classes are 5 credit hours, and are also pretty intense), but hour for hour don't expect any kind of standardization. Especially in classes where you are working somewhat independently on projects (like a photography/art class or a microscope class I took first module of last semester where the teacher turned us loose after teaching us how to use the tools), it is up to you. Better get motivated.
Generrvieve, trust me there's no hate-age here. If I took it personally every time David or anyone else corrected me, I would tremble and sob in front of my computer instead of writing fearless blog entries. I do know about Oberlin in London, I was actually considering something like that junior year. As far as Robbie Williams and Rent go, I figure I can get the same thrill by just taking off my clothes and dancing in front of a mirror and save time and money.

P.S. The actual divisions of study for the 9-9-9 rule are Arts and HUmanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. In addition, there is a Cultural Diversity Requirement, which can be partly filled by foreign language, but mostly just requires that you take 9 credit hours dealing with cultural diversity. These classes are flagged with a 'CD' in your catalog. Your adviser will see to it that you graduate, so don't stress out about these.

Posted by: Joe on August 6, 2009 10:52 AM


To add, since I have been fielding questions from 2013ers:

You can find out your OCMR# (Oberlin College Mail Room number) by searching yourself in the directory on Blackboard. Blackboard is your new friend. Go to the Oberlin website, choose "Students/Faculty/Staff" and it will take you there. If you search your name on Blackboard, you will find out your OCMR, which is where you(r friends and family) can send you(rself) stuff in the mail.

The Blackboard directory is also a great place to find the offices you should be calling instead of me in admissions about your questions. Admissions admits people. Dean of Studies deals with Academics, Res Ed deals with housing, and Financial Aid/Student Employment deals with...well, you get the drift.

Go to the classifieds to find job openings. A blog post to come on this.

Just breathe. Everything is going to be fine. Most of your questions will answer themselves when you arrive.

Posted by: Brandi on August 6, 2009 5:58 PM


Just to add on to Brandi, your OCMR# should also be on Presto; that's where I found mine.

Also, Joe, great post! I was kinda worried about the schedules, but not anymore!

Posted by: Fajer Saeed '13 on August 7, 2009 5:47 PM


Hi, thanks alot for the blog-it's very helpful. I have a few questions if anyone is willing to answer...
Is Oberlin outdoorsy? Are the classes discussion based or mostly lecture only? Are many kids involved in athletics activities (intramurals, clubs, varsity, etc.) And how are the dorms?

Thank you, your help and time is much appreciated

Posted by: Prospective Student on August 11, 2009 12:14 AM


I don't know too much about the outdoorsyness of Oberlin, although I did attend a meeting of the Outings Club, which organizes hikes, rides, water-type activities, as well as rents equipment out to anyone who is a member (which involves signing a sheet of paper and paying 5 bucks). If you are outdoorsy, you can certainly find others like yourself. If it's any indication, we ran out of chairs at the informational meeting I attended, and the Facebook group @ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6481076230 has about 90 members. The officers email addresses should be accessible from that page as well.
Science classes will mostly have a mix of lecture and discussion, like a lecture class where you are encouraged to ask lots of questions, and a lab where you can discuss things with your group. The Calculus class I took last semester had about 18 people in it, and we often broke into small groups to discuss things. My best answer is that there is a mix, but again it is highly dependent on the classes you take. You will certainly not be lectured all day in every class.
Athletics are pretty popular, the cross country team has about 55 members this year, which is pretty huge. According the athletics website www.goyeo.com , about a third of the student body participates in club or intramural sports like fencing, bowling, rugby, ultimate frisbee, and aikido; but there are no numbers that I could find for varsity sports. There are a number of them: Yeomen have baseball, basketball, cross country, football, indoor track, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis. Yeowomen compete in basketball, cross country, field hockey, indoor track, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, and volleyball.
Dorms are good. Not like palatial, but I had a pretty cool dorm room last year and a room mate who was never around, so that was cool. Residence halls are getting updated and renovated all the time, and there should be a new first-year dorm built next to Stevenson in the near future. Other blogs that might be helpful- http://blogs.oberlin.edu/living/housing/index.shtml

Posted by: Joe on August 11, 2009 2:40 PM


Thanks Joe, that was very helpful! One more question...does it get boring being in such a small town of Oberlin, OH? Plus I hear Cleveland and other "bigger" cities in OH are really not that great...

Posted by: Prospective student on August 12, 2009 3:37 PM


Here's one response to that question:
http://blogs.oberlin.edu/living/town/the_middle_of_n.shtml

Posted by: David on August 12, 2009 7:09 PM


thanks David

Posted by: Pros. Stu. on August 13, 2009 4:24 PM


Professor Walker, that is.

Posted by: Anonymous on August 13, 2009 4:28 PM


Hey, great article! I don't know if you know this or not, but any idea what time mail arrives at the Mail Room each day?

Posted by: Anonymous on August 31, 2009 5:18 PM




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