Oberlin Blogs

20 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Oberlin

May 2, 2015

Samantha Smylie ’17

Hello, beautiful (yes you, you are beautiful, don't forget it!), I'm sorry that I've been away for so long. I was writing another piece that requires a lot more research and time--hopefully I can put it out doing the first week of June for you lovelies. I think that it is going to be an insightful piece. Anyways, on April 6, 2015, I was involved in the Oberlin Admissions Virtual Panel (which was amazing and you can view it on YouTube. I can't wait to do another one). However, one question has been stuck in my mind after the panel--haunting me, almost. "What do I wish someone would have told me before I came to Oberlin?" I'm going to write a couple of responses to this question. This is my first one, which will be a brief list of twenty [funny and serious] things.

  1. Hangers are important!
  2. The Free Store in the basement of Asia House (Quadrangle) has many FREE items. Hangers, clothes, blenders. It's really a wonderland.
  3. Don't buy so many school supplies. A couple notebooks, sticky notes, color pens or highlighters, 2 folders (at the most), pens and pencils.
  4. The Oberlin Plague is real. Everyone has it at some point in the school year. Buy hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and maybe Lysol wipes just in case you have to wipe down a couple of germy keyboards in Mudd.
  5. Speaking of Mudd, get familiar with the place and all of its resources. You may need to go to the Audio/Visual center for a school project or the Writing Center to get help on your paper. It will also be the place where you will sleep during midterms and/or finals.
  6. If you are a person of color and/or a part of the LGBTQ community, GO TO THE MRC (Multicultural Resource Center). They have a nice study space and the people who work there are very warm.
  7. If you cannot afford books, use OhioLink. It will deliver books from other colleges in Ohio to Mudd.
  8. Try to settle on your coursework at the beginning of the school year so that you can order your books on OhioLink early or assess which books you are willing/capable of buying.
  9. Get to know Oberlin Classifieds [update: oberlin-classifieds.com]. This amazing website lists jobs on campus, advice from students, events happening around campus, people selling items, and much more.
  10. Create an Oberlin Switchboard [service discontinued] account. It is the best way to gain advice from alumni who are doing interesting things, or you can use it to ask for jobs or internships or a place to stay over the summer if you are going to a different city. You guys might not know this, but I want to go into radio journalism and I met an alum who works for NPR on Switchboard.
  11. Don't be a typical freshman--explore Oberlin and don't feel like you have to stick to one friend group.
  12. Verizon Wireless is very expensive but it is the only phone service that has the strongest connection in Oberlin. You will need to switch to Verizon in order to get in contact with the outside world.
  13. You might need to bring a bunch of quarters in order to do your laundry.
  14. Get a job on campus--you will make money, meet people, and start networking.
  15. If you are failing a class, go to Student Academic Services. You can sign up for a tutor or find other resources to help you out.
  16. P/NP is your BFFL (Best Friend For Life). This is a grading option that you can use when you aren't doing well in one or two classes and you do not want it to damage your GPA.
  17. Oberlin has a shuttle that can take you to Walmart, IGA, and Drug Mart on Saturday from 2-6pm at the price of $4.
  18. Try to understand yourself and define ways in which you need to be supported here at Oberlin. College is fun, but it can be challenging and even isolating. You have to know what you need when you need it.
  19. The weather is extreme in every season. You will need a heavy winter coat and warm boots during the winter. You will need a light coat during the fall. You will need a raincoat, umbrella, and rain boots during the spring. If you are here during the summer, you will be naked (just joking, but shorts and tank tops will be your friend).
  20. Your learning will not just happen in the classroom. It will happen in random conversations, events on campus, and through various experiences.

If there is anything you want to know, just ask me!

Responses to this Entry

For someone considering Oberlin, this is a great!

Posted by: Chandler on May 2, 2015 5:37 PM

(As the purveyor of the initial question: I'm so glad you're still thinking about it — the question is designed to make you reflect! — and that you shared more extensively what you know now.)

I have spent several summers here and my recommendation for that time of year is actually plastic flip flop sandals! It still rains here in the summer (though a bit less than spring and fall) and when it's warm outside it's sort of terrible to wear rain boots because they can get really hot as you walk around.

Also, a recommendation from observing this in Harkness: the most popular person in building was the person who went to the bank at the beginning of the semester, got $40 in quarters, and then you could buy the quarters from them whenever you needed to do laundry. It was a great way to make friends and to assure that everyone around you had clean clothes, too!

And to the rest of this list: very much yes.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on May 4, 2015 2:39 PM

Yes virtual panels! I've done about four of those and each time I get asked that question I come up with some off-the-cuff knowledge drop that Ma'ayan later re-quotes and I get all excited like "who said that?!" and laugh when I remember it was me.

Also this starter list is spot on! Hangers are SUPER important and probably the most forgotten thing on a college student's shopping list next to a laundry bag/basket or light bulb for the desk lamp. The Oberlin Plague is DEATH and it comes in three waves each and every semester. If you must get sick, be in the middle wave where the sickness is at its most mild.

Related to OhioLink students should also check out Interlibrary Loan (ILL), you can request photocopies of journal articles, conference papers, books, etc. that if you can't find them on campus, in our databases or on OhioLink you have another source.

Posted by: Alex on May 18, 2015 5:46 PM

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