Sam, one of our summer interns, shares a piece of his journey to Oberlin and tries to answer the ever-important question, "what makes an Obie...an Obie?"
Working in Oberlin's admissions office this summer, I've found that almost every parent I've encountered asks the same question: how would you describe the quintessential Oberlin student in one word?
I've tried to come up with a number of different answers, but it seems to me that the most accurate one is PASSIONATE.
Passion abounds at Oberlin, from the Conservatory students trudging through the snow in February toward the warm solace of the practice rooms to activist groups demonstrating on Professor Street. In fact, passion is such a prerequisite to coming to Oberlin that in our admissions office, we often tell prospective students that what they choose to do with their time in high school isn't all that important, as long as they pursue it with capital-P passion.
Looking back on my time in high school, I don't see myself as overly passionate. I participated in a lot of things and got pretty good grades, but only two things really lit my fire: reading (which is probably the most boring-sounding exciting thing in the entire world) and playing soccer. When I was looking for schools, reading didn't exactly play a large part in my decision, for I knew if I was anywhere without a book, I would likely be taking the wrong courses. So, soccer became an important part of my college search.
Throughout high school, I attended soccer camps around the country, and visited multiple campuses to meet college coaches and current players. For some reason, Oberlin stuck out like an ogre hiding behind a sunflower. Whereas at most of the other schools I visited, the players seemed solely drawn together by soccer, Oberlin's squad felt like family. Instead of discussing the relative merits of a 4-4-2 and a 3-5-2 at dinner, they debated the relative importance of Ron and Hermione to Harry Potter's hero's journey. Don't get me wrong, the Oberlin soccer team was serious about the sport it loved; it was merely able to think about and embrace other — wait for it — passions. As I weighed my college options in the fall of my senior year, this characteristic, this unique characteristic of the Oberlin Men's Soccer team, pushed it near the top of my list.
Then I saw the video that shoved it over the edge:
For some reason, this wonderful, ridiculous video solidified everything I thought about the men's soccer team. They were fun, funny, and creative, on top of being academically serious and madly in love with the same sport I adored.
After I graduate in 2016, I will have played with over 50 different men at Oberlin, hailing from dozens of states and bringing a huge variety of personal experience to our group. It would be a blatant lie to say soccer hasn't drawn us together from such disparate places; it has. But soccer is only part of the glue that holds us together. Passion, curiosity, and love define us, and I think ultimately define Oberlin. If you decide to come to Oberlin, I understand not everyone is interested or skilled enough to play varsity sports, but I implore you to find your group. Join the circus, live in SciFi Hall, play steel drums. After all, what you do isn't all that important. Just do whatever it is with PASSION.