We're so excited that you're interested in becoming an Obie and pursuing your passions and interests within our supportive, collaborative community. Here is some helpful information to help guide you through the application process.
What are We Looking For?
What does Oberlin look for in an applicant?
This is the million dollar question! First, let’s establish that there isn’t one specific thing that the admissions committee is looking for. There’s no cookie-cutter mold that we’re looking to fill. We want students from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences who are going to succeed in the classroom and contribute to our community.
Students come to Oberlin from all over the United States and the world, and we see applicants from a variety of educational backgrounds and preparation. When we review your academic record, we’re looking to see whether or not you’re prepared for the rigorous education offered at Oberlin.
When we assess your transcript, we’re looking for the equivalent of:
- Four years of English
- Four years of math (through pre-calculus or higher)
- Three years of the same foreign language
- Three years of lab sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)
- Three years of social studies
Don’t be discouraged from applying if your school doesn’t offer all of these options. We evaluate students within their educational context, which means that we’re aware of what courses (including AP and IB options) are and are not available at your school..
Successful Oberlin applicants generally exhibit traits of leadership and involvement in their schools and communities. We want to bring in students who are going to be involved on campus, so we’re going to look at how you spend your time when you’re not in class. Are you involved in clubs or sports teams at school? Do you have a part-time job or family responsibilities at home?
Quality is better than quantity! Don’t sign up for 10 clubs you aren’t interested in because you think it will look good on your college applications.
How does the admissions committee evaluate applications?
Oberlin is a highly selective liberal arts college. We evaluate applications using a holistic review process that helps us to get a sense of your academic qualifications as well as what you're like as a person and what you will contribute to the Oberlin community. Our goal is to assemble an incoming class that represents a variety of talents, viewpoints, and achievements.
Our holistic review process means that no one piece of your application will guarantee that you do or do not get admitted. Every piece of the application is important!
Check out this blog post by an Oberlin admissions counselor for more information about how applications are reviewed.
Choose whichever application platform is best for you - we don’t have a preference! Please only submit one application (it’s free to apply!).
Oberlin was a founding member of the Common App, which is now used by nearly 900 colleges and universities. The Common App is committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process.
The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is an initiative dedicated to increasing access and helping students find their perfect match college. All Coalition member schools provide substantial support to lower–resourced and underrepresented students, offer responsible student financial aid support, and demonstrate a commitment to student graduation. The Coalition Application is hosted through a partnership with Scoir, a platform that allows students to search for and apply to member schools in one place.
QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best colleges. If you are working with the QuestBridge National College Match program, you can use your QuestBridge application to apply to Oberlin.
The College of Arts and Sciences is a proud partner of QuestBridge National College Match, a college and scholarship application process open to academically outstanding high school seniors from low-income families. Students selected for College Match Scholarships receive loan-free scholarships that cover the full cost of tuition, room, and board.
Students may apply to Oberlin through the QuestBridge Match process, and non-matched students may use their QuestBridge application in lieu of the Common Application. Additional information about how to apply to Oberlin via the QuestBridge application can be found on the QuestBridge website. Students may not apply to the Conservatory of Music through QuestBridge.
The following requirements are for domestic students applying to the College of Arts and Sciences as a first-year student. Please note that additional requirements apply if you are homeschooled (see Additional Guidelines below) or an international student.
We can't begin reviewing your application until we have received all required components. Unless otherwise noted, all materials may be submitted online through the Common App or the Coalition/Scoir Application.
If you’re applying via Early Decision, you’ll also need to submit the Early Decision Agreement. This form requires signatures from a parent/guardian and your school counselor.
You’ll need to write a personal essay as part of your Common App or Coalition/Scoir application. Oberlin does not require any additional supplemental essays (hooray!).
Secondary School Report and High School Transcript
These items will be completed and sent by your school counselor. If your transcript was sent to us prior to the conclusion of your first senior year grading period, we will also need a midyear report from your counselor.
Pro tip: Talk to your counselor about your school's process for submitting these materials. Don't wait until the last minute!
Two Teacher Evaluations
Oberlin requires two academic teacher evaluations. You’ll need to request recommendations from two teachers who have taught you in core academic subjects (English, math, science, social studies, foreign language, or an AP/IB class). We prefer letters from teachers who have taught you for a full course in either your junior or senior year.
Letters from band teachers, choir directors, art teachers, etc. are considered supplemental and do not fulfill our academic teacher evaluation requirement.
Pro tip: Choose teachers who know you well! Remember that they may be writing recommendations for many students, so please request your recommendation as early as possible.
Interviews are a great way for us to learn more about you, and they give you an opportunity to learn more about Oberlin, too! All of our interviews are done virtually, and you can do one any time between the spring of your junior year and the application deadline (no need to wait until after you submit your application).
For more information, please visit the interview page.
Pro tip: Availability is limited, so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up for an interview.
SAT or ACT Test Scores
Oberlin is test-optional for students applying for admission for fall 2023. You can submit scores from the SAT and/or ACT, but it’s not required. Please review our testing policy for more details.
If you want to submit test scores as part of your application, you can self-report your scores on your application. You only need to send in an official score report if you enroll at Oberlin.
SAT Code: 1587
ACT Code: 3304
Two academic recommendations are usually sufficient, but you are welcome to submit one additional letter if it will provide relevant information not found in your two required academic teacher recommendations.
Art and Performance Supplements
Do you dance? Play an instrument? Take awesome pictures? We want to know about it! After you submit your application to Oberlin, you’ll have the opportunity to submit supplemental materials to highlight a special accomplishment, talent, or interest. Please review our Art and Performance Supplement Submission Guidelines for more information.
Have you conducted research in STEM or another field? Submit a research abstract or resume to highlight your accomplishments! If you participated in mentored research, you are also encouraged to request an additional recommendation letter from a research mentor who has been personally involved in your work.
There are two ways to apply to Oberlin as a first-year applicant: Early Decision and Regular Decision. Early Decision is a way for you to show us that Oberlin is your first choice! Submitting an Early Decision application means that if admitted, you will definitely enroll at Oberlin. If you're thinking about applying Early Decision, please refer to the early decision page for more information.
|Steps||Early Decision I||Early Decision II||Regular Decision|
|Application Deadline||November 15||January 2||January 15|
|Financial Aid Deadline||November 15||January 2||January 15|
|Notification||December 15||February 1||April 1|
|Reply Due||January 2||February 15||May 1|
Students who are homeschooled, undocumented, or are looking to graduate from high school early may have additional requirements are part of their application to Oberlin.
Homeschooled applicants should follow the same application procedures and submit the same materials as other students, with a few exceptions outlined below.
In addition to a transcript-style summary of coursework, we also ask for a detailed syllabus that lists the subjects studied each year, the dates each subject was studied, a description of each course of study, major texts used or literature read, and evidence of science laboratory experiences. The Academic Portfolio can be submitted by the parent/guardian as a transcript via the online application, or to the student’s Oberlin applicant portal.
In lieu of standard academic teacher recommendations, we require two letters from two adults outside of your family who can provide a meaningful evaluation of your academic and personal characteristics, such as private instructors, coaches, religious leaders, mentors, employers, or sponsors of an extracurricular activity. A parent/guardian who has been the primary instructor may submit a teacher recommendation in addition to the two required recommendations.
We meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, but your status as a homeschooled student may affect your eligibility for federal financial aid. Homeschooled applicants are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds if your secondary school education was in a homeschool that state law treats as a home or private school. Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to homeschoolers. If this is the case in the state where you were homeschooled, you must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid funds.
Oberlin considers undocumented students living in the United States as domestic applicants. We welcome applications from all undocumented students, regardless of their DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status.
Oberlin meets 100% of demonstrated need for every admitted student, including those who are undocumented. If you would like to be considered for need-based financial aid, you must indicate that on your admissions application and submit the CSS Profile. If you are in the process of becoming a US citizen or permanent resident, you may be asked to complete additional financial aid paperwork after your status has changed.
Undocumented students who do not apply for financial aid prior to admission will not be eligible to receive need-based financial aid while enrolled at Oberlin.
While we encourage students to take full advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities available to them while in high school, we do accept applications from students who plan to graduate in fewer than four years. You're eligible to apply to Oberlin as long as (1) you’ve met the requirements in your state for a high school diploma and (2) you will be at least 16 years old by the time you start classes on campus.
In your application’s essay or additional information section, be sure to address why you’re seeking to enter college early and how you’re prepared to do so.
Oberlin’s financial aid policy is simple: we meet the full demonstrated financial need of every admitted student. We commit more than $87 million annually to provide aid directly to students, supporting Oberlin’s historic, ongoing efforts to broaden educational access.
Most Oberlin students receive some form of need-based financial assistance. And all students, regardless of financial need, are automatically considered for generous merit scholarships. At minimum, all new students who apply and enroll at Oberlin in fall 2023 will receive the $10,000 Oberlin Commitment Scholarship.
Visit our Financial Aid Overview page to learn more.