Oberlin Blogs

Indecision Day

April 30, 2014

A Shameless Plug for Coming to Oberlin, or, Why You Made the Right Choice, or Why, if You Chose to Attend Some Other School But Are Still Reading the Oberlin Blogs, Which is a Super Good Idea as They Are Very High Quality, You Should Transfer Here at your Earliest Convenience, or at Least Keep Reading the Blogs

Good day, prospective students.

Perhaps you have just chosen to attend Oberlin. In this case, I congratulate you on a choice well-made. Congratulations. Oberlin is an excellent and rad school. Alternatively, perhaps you have procrastinated on this decision until the very last minute. Can you still even do that? While I cannot congratulate you on this, I can relate to it, as I probably did that too. If you do in fact fall into the latter category, allow me to relate to you several things that perhaps you have not heard in the hopes that they might convince you to attend Oberlin. If you are in the former category, these reasons will hopefully serve to convince you that you made the right decision.

No doubt you are aware of such wonderful features as small class size, availability of professors, the proximity and opportunities of excellent music education, the second-largest student co-operative organization in the country, a history and campus culture steeped in social, political, and environmental activism, forty-seven undergraduate majors, albino squirrels, a winter term program where you can design your own coursework and schedule for a month, one of the first undergraduate neuroscience programs in the country, an incredible art museum and art rental program that lets you hang works by Picasso, Dali, Chagall, and more in your room, the exco program where you can take or teach a class (for credit!) in anything from Calvin and Hobbes to the prison-industrial complex, a language lab with birds in it, a Frank Lloyd Wright house not a mile from campus, a plethora of research opportunities, a plethora of study-abroad opportunities, brilliant and inspiring peer group and professors, an incredible array of speakers and performers.

But enough of that.

The reasons you come to Oberlin, however legitimate, may not be the same reasons you stay at Oberlin. I know people who switched from neuroscience to environmental studies. I know people who switched from environmental studies to creative writing. I know people who came in thinking they would be English majors and instead going into geology. I know people who came into the college and switched to the conservatory or to double degree. You'll probably find yourself doing things you never expected to do. I had never stood on a stage in my life, and then one day I followed my friend Sayer to the improv comedy exco. Now every month I get up and say goofy stuff in front of maybe a hundred people. Sometimes it's funny, too.

Another time my friend Max asked me if I played volleyball. Our conversation went a little like this.
Max: Do you play volleyball?
Me: No.
Max: Have you ever played volleyball?
Me: No.
Max: Have you ever felt a strong desire to play volleyball?
Me: Not really.
Max: Want to join the volleyball club team?
Me: Yeah, okay.

I don't think you have to change, but you probably will, and you probably should. This is why Oberlin is great. It lays down a buncha different paths in front of you to choose from, and then you can switch between them. Oberlin will take you places you didn't expect to go. Kinda like The Wrong Trousers, but not as sinister. Imagine like the Wrong Trousers are big comfy sweatpants. These super roomy sweatpants. You can change all you want and you'll still fit in. Apparently that was the best analogy I could come up with.

Still not convinced? Allow me to relate to you an anecdote that is only peripherally related.

When I was studying abroad in Paris, last fall, I took a bus one weekend to Brussels to meet up with a friend of mine from high school, Karl. Karl was traveling with a friend of his, Jane, with whom he had gone to McGill, and we were all going to stay with Jane's friend, Curtis, who was doing a post-doc in (I believe) physics at the University of Leuven. Okay. Anyway, we all got to Brussels and met up with Curtis. Brussels was all snowy and gray, and we ate waffles and went to this absurd pub and went to a market and bought goat's milk and cheese and fruit and went into cool churches and gardens and took pictures of the Atomium, a huge sculpture of a molecule, and the Palais de Justice. It was truly a great time, the sort of thing that you only realize it's great afterwards cause you're too busy being there.

Curtis had this super cool apartment close to downtown, and we hung out and ate cookies and drank tea and talked about stuff. At one point someone asked Curtis where he had gone to college.

"Oh," he said, "it's this tiny liberal arts college in Ohio. You probably haven't heard of it."

I spewed tea all over the table. "Try me," I said.

Why do I recount this tale? Mostly cause I just kinda felt like it, but also because it highlights the following: Being an Oberlin student has given me the opportunity to have experiences both rad and formative, the likes of which I had never known nor expected. And also Obie alums are all over, doing cool things, and you will run into them, and eventually (provided you come here) you will become one, and you will start doing cool things of your own.

It's not a perfect place, but is there such a thing? In the end it's not about renting a Chagall, or hanging out with albino squirrels, as wonderful as these things are. It's about figuring out who you are and all the things you can do. I can't imagine a better place to do that, frankly, and I've never felt anything but incredibly lucky to go to school here.

P.S. I highly suggest reading Griff's blog post, which should be right next to this one in the big ol column of blogs, and talks about some weightier and very important things I don't address here.

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