{ What makes us different? }

Brandi recently posted an inquiry on her facebook status: "Oberfriends: If you had less than 60 seconds to express how awesome Oberlin is to someone who knows next to nothing about this place, what/how would you do it?" I visited her earlier that day, and she asked me the same question.

Now, I have the luxury on this blog of (hopefully) having more than 60 seconds to explain my love of Oberlin, but this is a good question. Having worked for admissions for the past three years, I know there are a lot of wonderful things about Oberlin. But what should we emphasize?

The short answer is that we ought to emphasize what makes Oberlin different. When looking at liberal arts colleges, the facts and figures all start to blur together after a while. All liberal arts colleges will talk about their small class sizes, outstanding relationships with professors, opportunities for undergraduate research, etc. And yes, I talk about those things, too. But there are a few things that do make us different, and I'd like to highlight some of them here.

Also, before I get any further into this, I must give credit where credit is due. The idea for this post and the way in which it is formatted comes from Tom, one of our admissions counselors (and the admissions counselor who read my application!). I like the way he presents this information, so I have borrowed it and altered it with my own information and opinions included.

What makes Oberlin different?

1. The big small school
What exactly does being "the big small school" mean? With nearly 3000 students (when combining the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music), Oberlin is larger than the vast majority of our peer institutions. This means a few things. We're able to offer more courses, since we have more faculty. This has inevitably led to the expansion of the curriculum, with Oberlin offering a Creative Writing major independent of the English Department. We are also able to feature several interdisciplinary programs as part of the curriculum that some other liberal arts institutions might not have: East Asian Studies, Comparative American Studies, Law and Society, Environmental Studies, Jewish Studies, and Russian and East European Studies are a few of these programs. More students, in our case, means more faculty, which inevitably leads to more course offerings. All while still maintaining the small class sizes (see, I told you I mention them) characteristic of a liberal arts education.

2. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Oberlin is the only place you can find a world-renowned conservatory of music and a top-ranked liberal arts college sharing the same campus. The music scene here is ridiculous. The Conservatory itself officially sponsors over 500 concerts per school year. This doesn't include impromptu performances and recitals, or any non-conservatory musical events (of which there are also a ridiculous number). Even if you don't play an instrument, if you love music, Oberlin is the place to be. I was originally a double degree applicant, as I've blogged about before, and I love the music scene here. I wouldn't give it up for anything.

3. Allen Memorial Art Museum
Though it has been closed for renovations for quite some time, the Allen Memorial Art Museum is still one of my favorite things about Oberlin. Not only is the museum itself an incredible resource (especially for those of us who love history), it is ranked as one of the top five college art museums in the country. Furthermore, art rental is pretty much the most awesome thing ever. Not too bad for a school in rural northeast Ohio, eh?

4. Sciences
Most liberal arts colleges are known for the their strong programs in the humanities and the social sciences. Oberlin is also known for its strong science programs. I could ramble on and on about the sciences and their general awesomeness, but I'll leave it to the experts. Check out the departmental websites for Biology, Neuroscience, Environmental Studies, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and general information about the Science Center itself!

5. The Student Body
There are so many awesome bloggers, and let me tell you, they truly are representative of the general awesomeness (totally a word...) of the Oberlin student body. Oberlin students hail from all over the country and the globe, and I've considered myself to be incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to meet so many people with different backgrounds and interests. My favorite example of this? I got to spend an afternoon this summer trying to explain baseball to my friend Fajer, who is from Bahrain. She had never been exposed to baseball before. It was the strangest experience, trying to explain baseball. It's quite a silly sport, really. And no, there are not that many similarities to soccer, despite Fajer's attempts to draw comparisons. And Fudge, if you're reading this, I still owe you a baseball game before I graduate!

6. The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association
OSCA is the largest per-capita cooperative system at any college or university in the country. It is second in overall size only to the co-ops at UC Berkeley. I could write about OSCA, but so many other people have blogged about it, I'll just link you to their blog posts (and, yes, each word links to a different blog post).

So, let's recap. Want awesome music? Oberlin has it. Incredible academics, including the sciences? Yep, we have those! A state-of-the-art art museum (no pun intended)? One of the best in the country! Lots of awesome students, but still a smaller campus? We have that, too! Do you want the largest per-capita cooperative system of any college or university in the country? Yeah, we've got that too. Oberlin is totally awesome. I love it here.

Quote time!

"I'm going to take a picture where it looks like I'm holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Do you have any idea how strong I'll look?" - Devon Banks, 30 Rock.


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{ Responses To This Entry }

This post outlines five of the six reasons I chose Oberlin (I didn't realize how great the Allen was until I got here, but if I had known, it would have convinced me, too).

I wish I had caught Brandi's original question when she posted it, but I wasn't around. Either way, I'm glad it helped prompt this post!

Posted by: Ma'ayan on April 22, 2011 2:28 PM


I sent in my check two weeks ago. I am officially part of the Oberlin Class of 2015.

And now I must admit that I appreciate your 30 Rock quote more than anything; my deep love for 30 Rock is manifesting itself in this post. I even included a quote from 30 Rock in my Oberlin essay. That is all.

Posted by: Elena on April 25, 2011 10:06 PM


The aspects of Oberlin outlined in this post are some of the key reasons as to why I want to attend this school more than anything. I'm a fairly well-rounded musician who wants access to a great music education, but I want my main focus to be academics (specifically English). If I do get accepted into Oberlin, I could see myself easily having the best times of my life. Hopefully, I will be part of the class of 2016! That's the dream :)

Posted by: Ziya on April 26, 2011 6:23 PM


Hey, nerds! Who's got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi.

Not gonna lie, the science center atrium on a sunny day played a pretty big role in my coming to Oberlin. Also, the sadly unrainbowed rainbow couches. It's the little things, sometimes.

Posted by: Ellen on April 27, 2011 3:38 PM


@Ma'ayan: I didn't even know anything about the AMAM before I got here. SUCH a pleasant surprise!

@Elena: Congrats! Which 30 Rock quote did you use in your essay? I love that show :)

@Ziya: Best of luck throughout the process! Our admissions office is totally awesome - get to know them. They'll be incredibly valuable throughout your search and application process.

@Ellen: Yessssssss. What a wonderful quote. And I am in complete agreement about the Science Center Atrium. And the library is totally awesome. ;)

Posted by: Patrick on April 27, 2011 5:31 PM


I started it out with "I want to go to there" and footnoted it with credit to Tina Fey's daughter, Alice.

It's pretty much the best thing. Kenneth? Most wonderful of wonderfuls. Also, I'm pretty much in love with Matt Damon's appearances. The 100th episode was perfect.

Posted by: Elena on April 28, 2011 2:51 PM


@Elena: I totally agree with everything you said about 30 Rock. And kudos on quoting it in your college essay! :) It's easily my favorite TV show. Ever. Can't wait to meet you in August!

And great post Patrick!

Posted by: Anonymous on April 29, 2011 7:18 PM


Forgot to write my name... ^that's me!

Posted by: Audrey on April 29, 2011 7:20 PM


@Elena: "I want to go to there" is one of my favorite quotes. I use it all the time. Also, if you haven't checked out Tina Fey's new book, you definitely should. It's wonderfully hilarious.

@Audrey: Thanks! I love that this post has turned into a discussion about the general awesomeness of 30 Rock.

Posted by: Patrick on April 30, 2011 1:17 AM


I ordered it a few weeks ago. Supermuch pumped to read it. 30 Rock is most definitely my favorite show; Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer are tied for my favorite things.

Can't wait to meet y'all!

Posted by: Elena on May 1, 2011 9:00 PM



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