Oberlin Blogs

Can you describe a typical Oberlin student?

September 22, 2009

Leslie Braat

I've just returned from my first recruitment trip of the fall. I started off in Washington, DC, and then flew to Chapel Hill, NC. From there I headed back up to Brooklyn, NY. At every stop along the way, whether it was a large information session or a small gathering of students in a high school, someone asks the question: What is a typical Oberlin student?

By now I'm hoping you've gathered that there's nothing typical about Obies! They are all unique, which makes this a pretty interesting place. Of course I can give you some numbers about last year's applicant pool, along with test score and gpa averages, but that certainly doesn't tell much of our story. (And if you've read Elizabeth's blog about High School Obsessions, you will better understand why we don't like to talk in terms of numbers because of our holistic review of applications.)

But I thought you might be interested in meeting our awesome new freshman class. So without further ado...

Our 860 new students arrived this fall from 41 states and the District of Columbia, representing 622 high schools worldwide. About 64% of the new class graduated from public schools and 35% attended a private high school. A small portion was homeschooled.

Some members of the new class came from just down the street with four Oberlin High School graduates enrolling, while 107 others in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music represent 35 countries around the world from Bahrain to the United Kingdom.

The states sending us the largest number of students include: New York, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois.

In keeping with our aspirations, this class comes with great promise as scholars and musicians. On average, they achieved nearly a 3.7 gpa (unweighted) in high school and scored 1376 on the critical reading and math portions of the SAT.

Our community will be enriched by students who have performed service projects in Vietnam, Uganda, Nepal, Thailand, and Ghana, to name a few of places worldwide that have been impacted by some of our new students. One member of the class helped to build a school in Afghanistan and another assisted with the construction of a medical outpost in Tanzania. One student served as Director of Outreach for the Bronx Science Holocaust Museum while another volunteers as a Caring Clown. One of our enterprising new students founded a community service group that refurbishes guitars for soldiers and children in Iraq.

In the area of Creativity and Leadership, our new students are just as accomplished. One young woman runs her own jewelry business and donates the profits to Conservation International. Another member of the class owns a plant business--she starts seedlings and plants and then sells them to co-ops in her hometown. A young man from Cleveland is the Director of the Community Garden Program in Tremont, a Cleveland suburb.

We are constantly impressed by the research that students are doing in high school. One young man presented his paleoecology (using data from fossils to reconstruct the ecosystems of the past) research at conferences in New York and New Mexico. A young woman created a board game connecting African American history with ragtime music. Finally, a new Obie has done oceanography research in Hawaii, and her classmate has conducted neuroscience and AIDS research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sound like students you'd like to meet? I can't wait to see what they do now that they are part of this community!

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