"Oberlin College? Never heard of it..."
Honestly, when I was trying to decide on my post-high school plans, I never even thought about going to a school like Oberlin College. Growing up, I was chasing my "Hoop Dreams," which for me meant trying to land a Division 1 basketball scholarship to college to play at the highest level and get a "free" education. Oberlin College is a Division 3 school so they don't offer athletic scholarships. For me, landing a basketball scholarship was so important not only because I (and basically all of my peers) perceived it would be the time of my life, but also because I wanted to use that opportunity as an investment so that I could later provide financial stability for my mom and my sister (we had moved around a lot and our financial situations were all over the place from year to year). Catching the eye of just one coach would allow me possibilities that I wouldn't otherwise have--mainly opportunities that would allow me to be the breadwinner for my family.
I didn't think paying for college out of pocket would really be an option--most of the people I knew that went to 4-year universities were people I considered to be "rich kids." My mom had taken some classes at a community college and my dad had gotten some degree way later in his life, but we never had much of a relationship and I hadn't spent much time with him, so when I looked at my situation, I considered myself (although I didn't know this language at the time) a "first-generation college student." My mom and I didn't know much about applying to college, and I saw that basketball scholarship as something like a guarantee.
When I got an email from one of the coaches here at Oberlin, I was immediately... disinterested. I had never heard of Oberlin, and I had actually finished high school in the same state. He told me it was actually the best school in the state, and I'm pretty sure I didn't believe him. I guess prestigious liberal arts schools just weren't on my radar yet. Besides that, they were in the middle of nowhere (Ohio), a small school, and the athletics here seemed to be subpar to put it nicely. The coaches recruited me, and I always made sure I was polite, but I never actually wanted to come out for a visit. However, they (and other coaches from other small schools) taught me about the college application process, as they wanted me to apply to their schools. I applied to Oberlin just in case, and ended up being accepted before I had ever even visited. By spring, I hadn't made a decision yet, so I finally gave in to the coaches' urging to come out for a visit. I actually visited here just to make sure I didn't like it, so I wouldn't have any later regrets. And... also because my travel and food would be taken care of by the Multicultural Visit Program (MVP). Anyways, since it was pretty late in the process (just days before I would need to make a decision) I decided I would go visit for the free trip and free food. If I didn't like it, I would attempt to go to a prep school to spend a year trying to improve my stock as a basketball player in order to land an athletic scholarship.
I got to campus on Thursday night for my visit. By Saturday, I knew I would be coming here. I fell in love with it. The people here were what I considered "cool nerds." I guess I thought they weren't just smart for no reason, they wanted to use their education to do actually do some good. I knew this was the place for me. I was interested in growing as a person and a student. I could see the ball team was improving and I wanted to be a big part of that process.
My experiences so far have been so much more than I imagined. At Oberlin College I've made friendships that will last a lifetime and grown more than at any other time of my life. I really couldn't see myself anywhere else.