Oberlin Blogs


June 5, 2024

Kate Magnacca ’26

We all know that college is for learning. Most everyone also knows that the learning we do in college extends far beyond the classroom. It can be easy to lose sight of that sometimes, though, especially somewhere as fast-paced as Oberlin. We all get so wrapped up in our classes and papers and finals that real life can get neglected and pushed to the side. We might need a reminder to actually live it. Luckily, that’s what friends are for.

Last night, my partner and I had a movie night with one of our friends, our last one before leaving for the summer. Predictably, the movie night was less movie and more chatting (which in my opinion, is exactly how it should be). Eventually, someone pulled out the big question: “what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from this year?”

For a good minute, we all sat there in thoughtful silence-- because, seriously, how do you consolidate an entire year into one lesson? Then again, things are often less complicated than they seem in the moment, and upon reflection we all realized there really was one standout lesson for each of us.


“I think that this year has been a lesson in learning to trust myself. To take the leap, do the trust fall, and know that I’ll be there to catch myself, if nothing else. When I think about what stands out from this year, that’s what it all comes down to. Like, my internship and volunteer work with ANAD. It’s been so life-changing in so many ways. I only have it because one day I got fed up with waiting to do this kind of work. I applied for more internships than I can even count in one evening-- I went out into the universe and asked for what I wanted. And it worked out! Another huge part of this year was acting in All in Your Mind. That was my first lead outside of my high school environment, and I was scared out of my mind. I had to figure out how to build up my confidence, avoid seeking external reassurance, and trust that I knew what I was doing. That I could even do it at all. That took a lot of work, but was also part of what made that experience so fulfilling and incredible. I also had some really difficult coursework this year with research methods, and getting through those classes instilled a new level of confidence in me that if I can do that, I can do quite a lot. That’s my big takeaway.”

Anonymous friend:

“Basically what I learned was a.) Don't date someone unless they’re sure about being with you from the get-go, and b.) your real friends are the ones you hang out with on purpose, not just the people you happen to be adjacent to, so put energy and trust into the people you actually connect with and vibe with."


“I feel like I learned how to slow down this year. For a while now, I’ve been acting on my first instinct, which has led me to some pretty alright outcomes at Oberlin. I was able to discover a lot of different communities here that way. I just jumped at a bunch of opportunities and soon I found an a capella group, new friends, and fulfilling performance experiences that all gave back just as much as I had put into them. However, this sporadic decision-making didn’t always hit a bullseye. I found myself making some connections that weren’t beneficial to my mental health, and I started to realize that being at such a small school meant that I could closely witness the effects that my actions had on my peers. But it wasn’t until winter term when I took a moment to think about what was going on in my life and what was it that I really wanted. What kinds of performance experiences did I want? What kind of people do I want to surround myself with? I was then able to make my friendships a lot more healthier and I found a production that led me to even more special connections. I’m not saying that I have perfect intuition now, but I feel much more stable and safer by the time I take to think about my actions.” 

So, there are our main takeaways. This late-night conversation was a lesson in and of itself, reminding me to pay attention to what Oberlin is teaching us beyond the academic sphere.

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