Oberlin Blogs

Info Sessions, etc.

February 11, 2009

Elizabeth Houston ’06

I've noticed that we admissions folk haven't really been holding up our end of the blog site lately, so I thought I should pop in and say hello. To be honest, we've all been particularly busy for the past few weeks, hunkering down and trying to get through the stacks of applications waiting to be read. Preliminary numbers indicate that this year will be another record-breaking year for applications submitted, inching us ever closer to that "approximately 6000" number that we throw out during info sessions.

Speaking of info sessions, you might be wondering what you're missing out on if you haven't visited campus and attended one of our daily information sessions (1:30pm Monday - Friday, and 11:15am on Saturdays). If you've been on many college visits, you may have experienced the dull monotony of generic information sessions, where some admissions hack goes on and on about the merits of a liberal arts education and repeats all the facts and figures that you already know because you took the time to glance at the college's promotional mailings and/or website (or at a very minimum, a college guide) before making the commitment to travel significant distances to visit campus. Or...maybe not, but that's what I remember from the dim haze of my pre-college visits.

Let me reassure you that Oberlin's info sessions are not like that. We like to focus on things that make Oberlin stand out from other generic liberal arts schools you may be considering, things like the Conservatory, Art Museum, Co-ops, ExCo's, science facilities, environmentalism, Winter Term, and the overall vibrancy and activism of life on campus. You're more likely to hear stories than statistics, as we might tell you about how Ben Sulman used our supercomputer to discover a pulsar or explain why hardly anyone leaves campus on the weekends.

The exact content of your info session will vary depending on the day you visit. The responsibility for giving each day's info session rotates among the twelve admissions counselors, which helps us to keep our talks reasonably fresh and interesting. Also, in typical Oberlin fashion, we value individual creativity and trust everyone to do a good job, so there is no official "admissions script" we must adhere to. (Actually, there's not even a sample script, which makes life a little interesting as a new counselor--we learn what to present by attending the info sessions of several different senior counselors.) Of course, we all end up covering the basics, but we're likely to structure our talks differently (Joel has this fancy logical progression where he starts off placing Oberlin historically, then geographically, then in some other way...I just start off with things I think Oberlin does better than other schools). We're also likely to focus in on different topics, depending on our interests or just how we're feeling that day. For instance, Chuck really likes our advising system and tends to talk about it a bit more excitedly than the rest of us. As a former co-oper, I tend to talk up our student co-op system a bit more than some others. So, really, you never know quite what you're going to get.

The most important part, however, is that you will get your questions answered. Answering questions is really the heart of our info sessions, because we can go on and on and on about things we think are cool, but we'd rather talk about the things you want to know. Jill even explicitly structures her info sessions to be conversations, where she's talking in response to questions almost the entire time. So, come prepared with things you want to know, or feel free to ask for more information on something we mention or something that you encounter during the rest of your visit. Don't be afraid to be the active engaged-learner Obie that we know you want to be!

On a completely unrelated note, on my way home yesterday I saw a guy riding his unicycle down the sidewalk. I mention this because what caught my attention was not, as you might expect, the fact that there was a guy riding a unicycle down the sidewalk--that wasn't particularly surprising (It's not common, exactly, just not rare enough to be surprising). Instead, I was mostly just interested in the type of unicycle this person was riding--it wasn't one of those delicate-looking, made for graceful maneuvers type of unicycles I've seen before. Oh no, this was a rugged unicycle, with a really big wheel and a thick tire, the kind of off-road unicycle it makes sense to be riding down a snowy sidewalk. I'm sharing this so that you'll realize that this is what Oberlin does to you--it makes odd things like unicycles on sidewalks seem so normal that find yourself noticing even more ridiculous things, like the type of unicycle on your sidewalk.

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