Oberlin Blogs

Oberlin > Harvard.

November 22, 2009

Alicia Smith ’10

Some of you read the title of this post and thought, "What? But US News and World Report ranks Oberlin as the # 22 liberal arts school and Harvard as the # 1 national university! How can this be?"

Folks, the truth is that US News and World Report is not the Bible. These rankings were not sent down by a higher being. Rather, they were written by mere mortals. Many naïve souls read the college rankings as though they are somehow correct. I will admit that I once was a follower of these rankings, but I have been saved. I am about to open your eyes as to the top 5 reasons that Oberlin is actually (way) better than Harvard.

1) I can wear whatever I want to class.
--Sure, you could technically wear whatever you want to class at Harvard, but you may be stoned (or just be the recipient of some judging glances). When I get up in the morning, I wear whatever the heck I want because I know nobody cares. 75% of the time, there are two factors that determine what I wear: 1) the weather, and 2) what color hooded sweatshirt I feel like wearing that day. I will confess that (on extremely rare and secretive occasions) I will even go to class in what I wore to bed.

I've seen people wearing cat ears, no shoes, and bathrobes to class. Some of you may be thinking, "Oh no, am I not going to fit in because I like wearing 'mainstream' clothing?" My answer to you is a no, of course not. 25% of the time, when I feel like making an effort, I wear 'regular' clothes. Many, many, many Obies wear 'regular' clothes far more often than me. What I am attempting to illustrate is the level of diversity in 'fashion' on our campus.

My younger brother, a freshman at Harvard, frequently gets called "Carlton" [as in Carlton on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'] by his older sister/me, because of his new daily wardrobe that he and his fellow Harvard-ites frequently wear. I rest my case.

2) We have a mascot.
--A color is not a mascot. Crimson? Is that tangible? Does it have the ability to go into battle? I tell you what, if you sent a Crimson into battle with a Yeoman/woman, I'd choose the Yeoman/woman in an instant. I am not biased--colors simply cannot fight. When have you ever heard of pink fighting magenta? Or orange duking it out with turquoise in a back alley? Never.

Farmers, on the other hand, are fully equipped to plow down the competition. Plus, we can shorten our nickname and yell "Go Yeo" (pronounced 'yo') at sports games. What do they say at Harvard? Go Crim? Lame.

3) Ohio has a lot of corn.
--I will admit, I have not actually researched the statistics on the amount of corn production in Massachusetts in comparison to Ohio, but I'm going to go with my gut and say that Ohio has more corn. Why is this important? Because everyone loves corn (seriously, I've never met anyone who doesn't like corn), and it is so versatile. There's popcorn, corn on the cob, canned corn, corn tortillas, cornbread, creamed corn, and cornflakes--just to name a few. What does Massachusetts have--tea parties? A state name that takes too much thought to spell? I'd choose corn and a four-letter state any day.

4) We're better at sneak attacks.
--If someone says, "I go to Harvard," they are immediately expected to save the world or cure diseases one day. If someone says, "I go to Oberlin," people may respond, "What's that?" or "I thought you quit the oboe awhile ago!" or, my favorite response, "Is that a community college?" While it is kind of annoying sometimes that some people do not understand what Oberlin actually is, and that you don't necessarily have to be musically inclined or a hippie to go here, it is also kind of cool in a way. We can make a sneak attack in life later on. We graduate from here and take over the world. We're teaching for America, earning more PhDs than anybody else, inventing the coolest ice cream flavors (thanks Jerry [and Ben]) and being hilarious on "The Office." Who doesn't love the hilarity of Ed Helms?

Oh, AND we go on to do the same disease curing and world saving as Harvard grads. Boo-yah.

5) Drag Ball
--C'mon. Drag Ball is just awesome. And Harvard doesn't have it (as far as I know).

I could go on all day, but I don't want to get sued by Harvard. They can't sue me, though, because I speak/am the truth. Crimson, YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

Responses to this Entry

As someone who's had pressure their entire life to get into Harvard (or another Ivy) or the cheapest option possible, I found this post inspiring. I spent the summer semester at Harvard this summer and wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be.

Oberlin on the other hand, while also having fantastic Classics and Creative Writing departments (where my main interest lies), seems magical to me. Every thing I've read about it seems fantastic and too good to be true - well, aside from the possibilty of gender-neutral bathrooms. But on the grand scheme of things? A welcoming environment, intelligent students, and open minds mean much more than that. Of course there's other things which obviously (as you've mentioned) are amazing about Oberlin. Just being general.

Thanks for your post today - it's things like these which make me count down the days until I can move out into the world and away from peer pressure.

Posted by: Anonymous on November 22, 2009 10:43 PM

I am so glad you could find inspiration in this post--that makes me really happy. All jokes aside, I think choosing a school based on rankings or name-recognition would be a mistake. I'm sure Harvard is a wonderful school, but not the best fit for everyone. Go somewhere where you are happy and can see yourself thriving academically and socially for four of the best years of your life. By the way, even if everyone hasn't heard of Oberlin, employers and grad school admissions people have--so that's what really matters!

Posted by: Alicia on November 23, 2009 9:11 AM

On the subject of gender neutral bathrooms, it's a matter of economic efficiency.

In most dorms, the bathrooms are pretty much symmetrical, having like 2-4 stalls, sinks, and showers. If whatever you're looking for is fully occupied in one bathroom, just go to the other one. I would suggest embracing it. Once you get used to it, visiting another dorm/building that doesn't have co-ed bathrooms will seem arcane and frustrating by comparison.

Posted by: Leo Park on November 23, 2009 11:55 AM

GREAT entry. I laughed out loud again. (Go Crim...HAHA)

Posted by: C on November 23, 2009 12:03 PM

I must agree with Leo. Gender-neutral bathrooms are incredibly convenient. It may seem odd to an outsider, and I will admit I thought they were a little strange when I first got here. However, it took me less than a week to get used to them. Not an exaggeration.

Posted by: Alicia on November 23, 2009 12:14 PM

I went to both Oberlin and Harvard and also took some classes at MIT. Each of these three schools has different strengths and weaknesses depending mostly upon what one wants to do.

However, each of these schools have roughly the same weather and are not in beautiful rural settings (which I prefer). Clearly, the best school ever is preschool because you get to play, have fun and not have to do any homework.

Posted by: Charlie Stromeyer on November 23, 2009 2:01 PM

I will admit that Harvard does seem like a cool place--just not as cool as Oberlin (in my biased opinion). I'd like to visit my brother at Harvard to see what its really like, and maybe I can even swing by MIT. Then I can write another blog entry about my adventures at Harvard. Until then, maybe a
Preschool > Oberlin > Harvard entry is next...

Posted by: Alicia on November 23, 2009 2:23 PM

Oberlin would really nail this if you could get Tom Lehrer to write us a fight song too--my favorite part of the one for Harvard is "be careful not to injure them! But fight, fight, fight".
Or maybe it's "we shall invite the whole team up for tea, how jolly".

/Roland, '77

Posted by: Roland Pesch on November 23, 2009 2:52 PM

Fight fiercely, Oberlin!
Fight, fight, fight!
Demonstrate to them how awesome a coop is.
Albeit they possess sweaters tossed over their shoulders,
Nonetheless, we have Trekkie parties.

True Tom Lehrer poetry, amiright? And I don't even go here! I just have a lot of feelings.

Okay, I'm done now.

Posted by: Dylan on November 23, 2009 8:48 PM

Dude. Oberlin is TOTALLY better than Harvard. I talk about this most days of the week.

Posted by: Helena on November 25, 2009 5:44 PM

Haha. I don't go to Oberlin ,yet, but this is rich! I love it!

Posted by: Jenna on December 1, 2009 1:50 PM

When thinking about a college experience for my child, I certainly do not envision classes with bathrobe-clad students. You may consider it "hip". I do not. Your admission email certainly has not made a good impression on me.

Posted by: Mom of Prospective Student on March 18, 2010 9:37 AM

Re: upset mother -

Excuse me if this is a bit forward, but what students wear to class isn't nearly as important as what they're GETTING out of class. I'm terribly sorry that you have gotten a poor impression of life at Oberlin, but the final decision really should be made by your child...who might totally want to spend four years with crazy bathrobe kids.

Posted by: Helena on March 18, 2010 11:24 AM

@Mom of Prospective Student- It is unfortunate that you have been left with a bad impression of Oberlin from hearing about the bathrobe-clad students that exist here. Oberlin is SO much more than that, and not to startle you, but I've seen much stranger things worn than bathrobes...but that is in part what makes Oberlin so unique and accepting. If its any consolation, I will say that I have never worn a bathrobe to class, never will, and most people don't. Bathrobes have played no role in my Oberlin experience. I don't even use one to go to the shower (I prefer the towel-wrap method).

Coming here was the best decision I've ever made, and the past 4 years have arguably been the best of my life. I have learned more than I ever imagined I would, grown exponentially as a person, and met some of my best friends for life. I hope that you and your child will visit campus if you haven't already before ruling Oberlin out because of a few bathrobe wearing students.

Thank you for your feedback--I'm sure you are not the only parent/prospective student that feels this way.

Posted by: Alicia on March 18, 2010 2:04 PM

My son and I toured Oberlin two years ago during his college search. We had a private tour in November on a snowy day. Our tour guide was a very nice young woman who was.....wearing her pajamas and a hoodie! I was bundled up in my parka and she was happily sharing her joy about Oberlin in her slippers. I don't really care what students want to wear to class and think that pajamas are far more acceptable than lots of other stuff. I came away from that visit so impressed with how students at Oberlin are free to be individuals, at how they are empowered to impact their educations and at what a nice community it is.

Posted by: eab on April 1, 2010 1:45 AM

thanks so much for your post! it just makes me want to par of the oberlin community! i have a question though that might seem a bit strange, but since i can't find it on the oberlin website, might as well ask here! here goes: who's the mascot and what's his name?

Posted by: brittanie on October 31, 2010 7:44 AM

Hi Brittanie!

We are the Yeoman, which harks back to our motto, Learning and Labor.

Our unofficial mascot is the white squirrel, which you'll see humorously on some of our new Oberlin apparel.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on October 31, 2010 2:33 PM

A thought for "Mom of Prospective Student": I think Alicia was using the bathrobe as an example of how Oberlin is not stodgy or stuck-up. It's not a typical thing by any means, but it is also something that doesn't raise too many eyebrows--not because it is common, but because people think, "Why not?" People at Oberlin care deeply and passionately about what they do (classes, activism, jobs, research, games with friends) and not so much about appearances.

If by "hip" you mean "Trying too hard to be edgy," Oberlin definitely isn't. When I was a prospie, I toured other schools that were very self-consciously "hip" or "edgy." Oberlin isn't like that. People just kinda do their own thing without worrying about the shock value (or lack thereof) it may have. When we are self-conscious, it seems to be a more bashful, self-deprecating humor. See someone selling a guitar so they can buy a unicycle? "Ah, Oberlin."

Posted by: Tess on April 14, 2012 5:07 PM

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