Oberlin Blogs

I Went Back to High School

January 4, 2024

Ozzie Frazier '27

A few weeks back, I opened my phone to see a message from my high school groupchat. One of my friends had forwarded an invitation entitled "Hello Alumni!" asking us to join a panel at our high school and share about our college experiences. During the panel, we met with a group of current juniors for about an hour and did a Q&A. Over the course of the hour, I was heavily reminded of my own college search process. As a result, I decided to write up some of my answers in hopes it would be helpful to anyone else who is going through that process (or currently finishing up applications).

Q: What was your Common App essay about? Do you have any tips?

A: When I was first asked this question, I had to think about it for a minute. I finished and submitted my Common App over a year ago now, and I haven't considered it since then. What I do remember is that it involved reflecting on my experiences as a circus athlete and what I've learned from them. Honestly, it didn't feel like the essay was the most important part of my application, but my main advice would be to brag about yourself at least a little bit. Whatever you choose to write about, make sure to connect it back to yourself and why you would be a good fit for the school you're applying to. 

Q: How did you decide to go to school so far away? How do you feel about being far from home?

A: This was sort of a funny question, as one of the other panelists in my group spent her first semester studying abroad in London, but it was also relevant to me. A lot of kids from my high school end up in Boston or somewhere else 2ish hours away, so by comparison my commute is pretty significant. It's about a 10-hour drive (or a 3-hour flight) for me to get back to western Mass, so I only ended up coming home once during my first semester. When I first started the college search process, I had imagined I would want a school within a 3- or 4-hour drive, but as it turned out I was pretty willing to sacrifice that priority. Looking back, I can hardly imagine what it would be like if I was that close to home. I probably would have visited my family too often, and it wouldn't have given me a good chance to settle in and get to know people at school. Ultimately, I'm perfectly happy with my choice to be far from home... although I do miss my cats sometimes. 

Q: What are parties like on campus? How do you navigate balancing your social life with academics?

A: The party scene is a major factor in many students' college decisions. To be honest, Oberlin doesn't have a reputation for being a big party school, but there's usually something happening on the weekends if you know where to look. I'm not a huge fan of partying, but on the handful of occasions when I have gone out I haven't found it very challenging to balance with my academics. Oberlin has a culture that heavily prioritizes academics. As a result, most of my friends are willing to rally and spend a few hours at the library on a Saturday morning, even if we went out the night before. I also think it's really helpful to make friends with people with similar studying habits to you, so you can all go out or stay in together. That way, you can be social and get work done simultaneously.

Q: What was the financial aid process like? How did you prepare financially for college? 

A: I won't lie; the financial aid process is tedious at best. The good news is you only have to do it once a year. At Oberlin, there's a few additional forms you have to fill out before your first year, and then it gets simpler after that. My advice is to take it step by step. Take breaks when you need to! There's no need to do it all at once. Generally speaking, the sooner you fill out the FAFSA, the more aid will be available, but this isn't always the case. It's worth noting that you may receive less financial aid if you apply Early Decision, depending on your school. This won't be true everywhere, but it is something to keep in mind if you feel confident you can get in Regular Decision. In terms of my own finances, I actually worked three different jobs the summer before college. I wouldn't totally recommend that path, but if you're currently in high school and have time to get a job, I would suggest starting early. Everything helps!

Q: What surprised you the most about college?

A: Quite honestly, I was most surprised that I wanted to go to college at all. By January of my junior year, I was struggling with academic burnout and I didn't feel ready to jump into four more years of school. That all started to change when I went on my first college tour a few weeks later—surprise surprise, it was at Oberlin. I'll talk more about that story when I get around to writing a Why Oberlin blog, but the long and short of it is that I just needed to find the right school. Other than that, college has been surprising in all sorts of exciting ways, but I think that's pretty par for the course. 

I hope this Q&A has been helpful for you! If you're in the college search process and you have other questions, feel free to shoot me an email: ofrazier@oberlin.edu. I'm happy to chat anytime. Maybe I'll even write up another list of questions if I brainstorm some more. In the meantime, best of luck with whatever the application process holds. You got this!

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