What We Look For
Oberlin is a highly selective liberal arts college. When making our admissions decisions, we draw upon a holistic review process that allows us to get a sense of not only the applicant’s academic qualifications, but also of what the applicant is like as a person, and what they will contribute to the Oberlin community. We seek an incoming class that represents a variety of talents, viewpoints, and achievements.
- We prefer a high school record demonstrating proficiency equivalent to four years of English, four years of mathematics, three years of the same world language, three years of laboratory science, and three years of social studies.
- Students from secondary schools that do not offer all of these courses should not feel discouraged from applying to Oberlin. We seek students who exhibit traits of leadership and involvement in their schools and communities, but the focus is on quality, not quantity. Both ethical engagement—especially concern for others and the common good—and intellectual engagement are highly important.
- For your teacher evaluations, we strongly recommend they be written by teachers who recently taught you in an academic subject, and who are most familiar with your writing, analytical, and quantitative abilities.
The holistic review process means that no one element of an application will ever guarantee a student’s acceptance or rejection, and we encourage you to give careful attention to each and every aspect of your application.
Want more insight? Check out our YouTube channel for a series of workshops led by Oberlin admissions counselors that cover different aspects of the college search and application process.
You may choose to apply to Oberlin College under one of two decision plans: Early Decision or Regular Decision. We accept applications for early decision at two different times of the year; applications for regular decision are accepted only once a year. An early decision application is a binding commitment to enroll if accepted and should be submitted only after careful consideration. If you are considering 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/Deposit Due*||January 2||February 15||May 1|
All application materials should be postmarked or submitted online by the application deadline. Please be sure to request letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadline.
We understand that students and educators are still dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters around the country. We want to help students eliminate any barriers faced during this difficult time and will provide flexibility when needed and as appropriate during this often stressful and narrow timeline. If you have been affected by a major event and need any assistance, please contact us at 440-775-8411 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*A $300 matriculation deposit is required to secure your place in the incoming class. This deposit must be submitted via check or online payment along with your intent-to-enroll card. Failure to submit your deposit by the reply deadline may prevent you from enrolling at Oberlin. Payment plans are available for those experiencing financial hardship.
For students in the United States applying to the College of Arts and Sciences as high school seniors. Separate application requirements apply to homeschooled students and to international students. If you are considering applying as a high school junior, please refer to Early Admission in the special circumstances section. The College of Arts and Sciences does not require an application fee.
We cannot begin reviewing your application until we have received all required components.
Students intending to apply to Oberlin may sign up to receive deadline reminders and additional information by completing our prospective student inquiry form.
We accept online applications through either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. You may choose whichever application platform is most convenient to you, but please remember to submit only ONE application.
We require a general personal essay as part of the application. You may use Common App or Coalition App essay prompts, or write on the topic of your choice. View the prompts and read our best essay tips. We no longer require an Oberlin specific writing supplement.
Secondary School Report and High School Transcript
Teacher Evaluation (2)
We require two academic teacher evaluations. Both of these recommendations should come from 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 the junior or senior year. Forms are available for online completion through the Common App or the Coalition App.
Unless otherwise noted, all materials may be submitted online through the Common App or the Coalition App, mailed to the Office of Admissions, 38 E. College St., Oberlin, OH 44074, or faxed to 440-775-6905.
We recommend the following items as valuable ways for you to share more information about yourself and your academic qualifications. We encourage you to complete these items, but will give your application equal consideration without them.
Interviews allow us to learn more about you, and provide you with the opportunity to learn more about Oberlin. They are available on and off campus. For more information, please visit the interview page.
If you would like to include additional materials to supplement your application, we will accept the following items.
Two recommendations are usually sufficient, but you are welcome to submit an additional letter of recommendation if it will provide relevant information not found in your academic teacher recommendations.
You are welcome to submit supplemental materials to highlight a special accomplishment, talent, or interest. Please review the Submission Guidelines. Materials not submitted in accordance with the guidelines will not be reviewed.
Early Decision Agreement
SAT or ACT Score Results
Oberlin has moved to a test-optional model starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and will be continuing as a pilot program through the 2022-2023 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required. For more information, please review our testing policy.
If you have been involved in significant scientific research, you are welcome to submit a research abstract or resume to highlight your accomplishments. If you participated in mentored research, you are encouraged to request an additional recommendation letter from a research mentor who has been personally involved in your work.
Oberlin College has a rich diversity of students who bring educational experiences from both conventional and alternative schooling, and we welcome applications from homeschooled students. When evaluating applications for admission, the Admissions Committee seeks evidence of academic preparation and proficiency comparable to:
- 4 years of English
- 4 years of mathematics
- 3 years of the same foreign language
- 3 years of laboratory sciences
- 3 years of social studies including history
Homeschooled applicants should follow the same application procedures and submit the same materials as other students, with a few exceptions outlined below.
While a transcript-style summary of coursework can be helpful, we also require 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 using whichever of the following methods is most convenient: as a transcript upload by a parent filling out online school report forms or as a material uploaded after the application submission to a student’s Oberlin applicant portal.
Academic Paper (Optional)
Provide a copy of a recently written academic paper. Papers do not need to be lengthy, but should be a typical example of your written work. Graded copies are preferred. A recent scientific laboratory report is welcome as an example of an academic paper. The Academic Paper may be uploaded after the application submission to a student’s Oberlin applicant portal.
In lieu of the standard academic teacher recommendations, we require two recommendations from non-parent adults who can provide a meaningful evaluation of your academic and personal characteristics. Non-parent adults may include private instructors, coaches, religious leaders, mentors, employers, or sponsors of an extracurricular activity. A parent who has been the primary instructor may submit an additional teacher recommendation, but two non-parent recommendations are required. Additional letters of recommendation are welcome if they will provide further insight into your academic abilities or experiences.
While interviews are recommended for all applicants, they can be particularly helpful for homeschooled students. To schedule an interview, please visit the interview page. Students who have not completed an interview with an admissions counselor may be requested to do so as part of the application review process.
We meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. However, your status as a home schooled student may affect your eligibility for Federal financial aid. Home schooled applicants are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds if their secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school. Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to home schoolers. If this is the case in the state where the student was home schooled, they must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid funds. For further assistance please contact the Office of Financial Aid by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-800-693-3173 or 440-775-8142.
Oberlin College considers undocumented students living in the United States as domestic candidates for admission. Students who qualify for “deferred action,” and have achieved DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), are particularly encouraged to apply.
Questions and Answers:
Must I have DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status to apply to Oberlin?
No, all undocumented students regardless of status may apply for admission.
As an undocumented student will I be considered for financial aid?
An undocumented student must indicate an interest in applying for need-based and/or merit-based financial aid on the Common Application or the Coalition Application. If admitted, Oberlin College will meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated need with institutional financial aid. These funds may include need or merit-based scholarship, campus employment and if appropriate, a loan.
What steps should I take as an undocumented student to apply for financial aid?
We recognize that undocumented students are ineligible to apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All applicants are required to submit the College Board PROFILE form. For further assistance please contact the Office of Financial Aid by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-693-3173 or 440-775-8142 with any questions.
What will happen to my financial aid status if I become a US citizen or permanent resident following the initial application process and enrollment?
If an undocumented student becomes a US citizen or permanent resident after completing the application process and enrollment, the student will be eligible to apply for, and receive, other forms of need-based financial aid.
Can an undocumented student apply for need or merit-based financial aid following enrollment if the student did not indicate their intention to apply for need-based financial aid when the application for admission was submitted?
If an undocumented student does not indicate their intention to apply for need or merit-based financial aid on the application for admission and is admitted, they will not be eligible to receive need-based financial aid while enrolled at Oberlin.
Since our founding in 1833, Oberlin has been at the forefront of social change. Our history includes being the first college in the United States to admit students regardless of race (1835) and to grant degrees to women in a coeducational program (1837). Today, Oberlin remains committed to access and to forging a diverse and inclusive community. As part of this mission, Oberlin is a proud partner of QuestBridge National College Match.
QuestBridge is a national nonprofit founded in 1994 that connects bright, motivated, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities. Working with highly selective colleges and universities, QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending top colleges and to support them through their college journeys and beyond.
The QuestBridge National College Match is 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.
About Oberlin and QuestBridge
The College of Arts and Sciences partners with QuestBridge and participates in the National College Match program. 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.
If you have additional questions about Oberlin and QuestBridge, please email email@example.com.
Oberlin has no formal program of Early Admission, but for many years we have considered candidates who wish to enter college before completing the customary four years of high school – with or without a secondary school diploma.
Early Admission candidates compete for admission with all other applicants, and once they enroll they are treated in exactly the same way as are all other students. Consequently, early applicants must be intellectually able and both emotionally and socially mature. They must also present valid and convincing reasons for early entrance into college. It must be clear that the student is moving toward a future goal rather than merely seeking to escape from an unhappy situation at home, at school, or in the community. We will give careful consideration to the recommendations of teachers and counselors concerning the applicant's readiness for college. It is of utmost importance that the candidate has taken full advantage of the high school curriculum and has taken a course load that compares well with that of our senior applicants.
Interviews are not typically required for admission. In certain cases, however, an interview may be requested by the Office of Admissions. To schedule an interview, please visit the interview page.
Despite the cautionary tone of some of the above statements, it should be emphasized that any mature and capable student who applies to Oberlin for early admission may be sure of careful consideration by the Admissions Committee. Just as we have recognized the principle of variable progress toward the degree in permitting students to accelerate through Oberlin in less than four years, so we believe that students should be admitted to Oberlin when they are ready for it, whenever that may be.
Oberlin’s financial aid policy is simple: We meet the full demonstrated financial need of every admitted student through a combination of grants, loans, and money earned through student employment. Each year, more than two-thirds of Oberlin students receive some form of need-based financial assistance. Our three-part award package typically includes grants from the college, low-interest students loans, and work-study jobs. We commit more than $75 million annually to provide grant aid directly to students. This makes Oberlin affordable to many talented students who otherwise might not be able to pursue an education at Oberlin.
When you complete a financial aid application, Oberlin automatically considers you for need-based college grants and merit-based scholarships, in addition to any state and federal grants, loans, or work-study programs for which you may qualify.
Applying for Financial Aid
Last year, more than two-thirds of Oberlin students demonstrated financial need and received aid with an average award of more than $37,500—a total of about $75 million. Our Office of Financial Aid analyzes the information you provide on your College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE as well as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and establishes a "family contribution" amount for you. This amount will include contributions from both you and your parents. Your demonstrated need is the difference between this family contribution and the cost of attending Oberlin.
- How to Apply for Financial Aid
- Download Financial Aid Forms
- Financial Aid Checklist
- Quick Cost Estimator
The chart below details the expenses involved in an Oberlin education for the current academic year. A number of payment plans and options are available to help make college affordable. See the Office of Student Accounts for details.
|Oberlin College Costs 2020-21
for First-year Students
Student health insurance is available for purchase at a cost of $1,924 for the 2020-2021 academic year, billed in the fall semester. Students who have other adequate coverage are not required to purchase this insurance. The deadline to waive the health insurance is August 15.
*Fees includes a refundable "Green Fee". Students may waive this fee if they do not wish to support the Green Edge Fund.
Students admitted to Oberlin College are automatically considered for the following types of scholarships. You may receive a merit-based award even if you don't qualify for aid based on financial need.
Oberlin Commitment Scholarship
Oberlin will award a renewable $10,000 Oberlin Commitment Scholarship to all new students who apply and enroll in the College of Arts and Sciences and/or Conservatory of Music in fall 2021. All new students—domestic, international, transfer—will benefit from this scholarship. It is renewable each year at Oberlin provided that a student is enrolled full-time, maintains good academic standing and makes regular progress toward graduation
Oberlin College National Merit Scholarships and National Achievement Scholarships
We sponsor a number of National Merit and National Achievement Scholarships in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. If you are a finalist in the National Merit or National Achievement Scholarship competition, you are eligible for consideration for these Oberlin-sponsored scholarships if you:
- Declare Oberlin as your first-choice college
- Have filed an application for admission to Oberlin College
- Have not been selected as a winner of other National Merit or Corporate National Merit Scholarships
College of Arts and Sciences John F. Oberlin Scholarship
A limited number of merit-based scholarships are available for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Office of Admissions makes the awards based on academic achievement and notifies students selected to receive merit awards at the time of admission.
Yellow Ribbon Project
Oberlin College participates in the Yellow Ribbon Project for post-9/11 veterans and their children. Additional financial aid funds are available to veterans and their children. Please visit the Office of Financial Aid website for additional information.
Conservatory Dean's Awards
These scholarships are awarded on the basis of audition ratings and ensemble needs. The Office of Conservatory Admissions notifies selected students at the time of admission.
Restricted Scholarship Programs
Oberlin College offers special scholarships for graduates of Oberlin High School and for children of Oberlin College employees. Contact us for more information about Restricted Scholarship Programs.
See the Office of Financial Aid website for more information on scholarship policies.
Many students must borrow money to meet the costs of their college education. Loans can be extremely useful, but understanding their terms and conditions may be confusing. We have centralized loan information to help you find answers to your questions about the loan process. This information is for students who have never borrowed funds before.
If you cannot find what you need here, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Oberlin participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Most financial aid packages include on-campus employment during the academic year. Students typically work up to 20 hours per week in dining halls, the library, computing center, and academic and administrative departments.
Jobs and information are posted on the Student Employment web page.
It’s free to apply to Oberlin! We accept the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and the QuestBridge Application. Oberlin does not have a preference among any of our application options. Please submit only one application.
Oberlin was a founding member of the Common Application, 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 a new 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.
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.