Oberlin Blogs

First Impressions

January 16, 2023

Kate Magnacca ’26

It’s that time of year again: the college decision deadline approaches! This time last year was full of road trips and college visits for me. I recently happened upon some old notes from one of my first visits to campus, with all the things I liked the most/least about the school. Now that it’s been a semester, I thought it would be fun to look back on those first impressions and whether they’ve rung true.

One of the first things I wrote down was that the student vibe was extremely friendly. Granted, I had the benefit of already having an Obie friend and met a lot of people through them in the beginning. Everyone I met was very kind and welcoming (which hasn’t changed). I had some trouble making friends at first, but now I am surrounded by a group of the loveliest people I know and the best friends I could ask for. 

In the same vein, I was struck by the amount of support on campus for students. The tour guide talked at length about how the school recognizes the importance of prioritizing mental health and makes an effort to provide accessible resources. To be honest, I haven’t really taken advantage of most of these resources, so I can’t speak to how good the student health center is. But I have stumbled upon some of the events aiming to reduce stress, especially during finals. My favorite example: they brought therapy dogs to Mudd library during reading period-- it was amazing.

Another note I had was about the abundance of job opportunities. I initially worried that a small town with so many students meant it would be near impossible to find a job I liked. In reality, there are tons of opportunities. I now have two jobs in Oberlin that I absolutely love.

Getting to know professors was a big factor that influenced my decision to go the liberal arts route rather than a large college. Oberlin has pretty small class sizes, which is nice. Instead of a big lecture hall, you’re in a regular classroom where the professors know your name. All of my professors in the first semester were wonderful, and I felt very comfortable going to them.

Perhaps the biggest draw for me was the progressive nature of Oberlin. It is very inclusive. People are totally unafraid to be themselves, which is very different from the town I grew up in. I remember seeing a bunch of guys in Disney princess dresses outside Mudd on my tour. That was one of the most memorable moments of Oh. This is exactly where I belong. The sustainability aspect was another huge plus.

One of the downsides when I first visited was the size of the campus-- it felt very small. I originally had grandiose plans of leaving Ohio and going to a big school in New York. Going from one rural Ohio town to another could not be further from what I had in mind. I’ve since found that I actually prefer little Oberlin to a big city. It’s a nice, cute town where everything you need is within walking distance. I don’t have a car on campus, but I never really need one. A small town can feel a little stifling sometimes, but there are also ways to get off campus when you want to. There’s a shuttle that goes out every Saturday, and a few other transportation options. Plus, Cleveland is only about forty minutes away. 

Another thing about Oberlin's location is the beautiful environment. If I remember correctly, my first visit was in fall-- and this was before Oberlin was even on my list of schools. I was just visiting my friend for the weekend, and definitely didn't expect to fall in love with this campus. But as we were walking through Tappan Square, Slow Train lattes in hand, I found myself awestruck. The gazebo was dappled with warm sunlight, and we were surrounded by vibrant autumn leaves. Oberlin is breathtaking year-round, but fall is truly something else. 

I think the final deciding factor was that Oberlin gives you the opportunity to pursue all of your interests. For me, this meant choir, theater, dance, writing, and psychology. The first semester alone I’ve been able to do almost all of these, among other interests I’ve discovered here. Oberlin is special in that I have never felt tied down to just my major. 

So, there you have my first impressions of Obieland and their accuracy (at least, throughout the first semester). I hope this helps in your decision and gives you a better idea of what campus is like. 

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