Oberlin Blogs

My 'Why Oberlin?'

December 9, 2023

Chloe Martin '27

My junior year of high school was filled with college tours all over the country. My last trip brought me to the Midwest and, not unexpectedly, Oberlin.  I was worried, we were down to the last few colleges and I hadn’t felt that gut feeling at any of them so far. The gut feeling my friends had all described as that intuitional sense they had when they knew a college was right for them. Of course I knew that not everyone would get the coveted epiphany moment when they decided on their top choice school, but I still couldn’t help but want it. 

Me as a 2nd generation Obie.
Die-hard Obie at age 8.

When I toured Oberlin I was greeted by an enthusiastic tour guide who immediately asked what my personal interests were, and why I was interested in Oberlin. My interest in literature was met by her telling me about The Grape, Oberlin's student-run magazine. My question about how to fill my weekends at Oberlin was immediately followed by her telling me about all the concerts, clubs, and events that were available on a daily basis. I was struck by how every interest I had seemed to have a corresponding class, club, or activity at Oberlin. 

Me in front of the Oberlin mural during my first tour.
Touring Oberlin!

The tour guide talked about classes, professors, and what the classroom environment was like. As a self-proclaimed ambivert, I thrive in small, personal environments in which I know the names of all my classmates and feel comfortable speaking up. I wanted teachers who cared about me as a person and could support me when I was struggling. I wanted classmates who were passionate about being there, and were excited to learn. Most of all, I wanted to be able to learn more about myself through these classes. Oberlin fosters an environment of acceptance and learning, mistakes are viewed as an opportunity, and success is viewed as a stepping-stone along the path of one’s individual potential. I wanted that. 

I was also struck by how so many Oberlin students went outside their comfort zone. They impulsively auditioned for the musical despite being tone-deaf, they ran ExCos even though public speaking terrified them, and they took a random language simply because they could. At Oberlin, students chased passions and found new ones. Risks were often rewarded with the discovery of new passions, and students thrived in that. 

The biggest thing that I was struck by during the tour was the visceral energy of agency and activism on campus. Students wanted to give as much to Oberlin as they would take away from it. Students wanted to better themselves, their college, and their general community. I didn’t believe one person could change the world before touring Oberlin, but after hearing the students speak so passionately about their goals for changing the world, I left convinced that they could.

When the tour ended, I realized that I had been smiling the entire time. I knew then that this was what it felt like to know undoubtedly that a school was right for me. Oberlin had been waiting for me all along, eager for me to discover it. I applied Early Decision to Oberlin not just because it was my top choice school, but because it felt like home from the moment I stepped on campus, and it still does.

A very excited Chloe after getting into Oberlin
Me getting into Oberlin! 

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