Oberlin Blogs

Planning Your Visit

October 11, 2008

Alice Ollstein ’10

First of all, when the girl wrote to me saying she liked my blog, my first reaction was, "People read my blog?" The lesson here for all you out there is LEAVE COMMENTS. Otherwise I feel like I'm just writing for my own amusement. The second lesson is, if you'd like to meet up with me when you come to campus, just let me know. I love showing people my favorite Oberlin sights.

Now, my first and most controversial piece of advice for campus visits is come alone, sans parents. That way you can do what you want to do, see what you want to see, immerse yourself in the campus culture, and ask those embarrassing questions you could never ask in front of Mom and Pop. I used to give campus tours, and it was one sullen teenager after another skulking behind their boisterous parent. I came to visit Oberlin alone during my senior year of high school and I had an incredible time. In fact, Oberlin was pretty low on my list before said visit. I flew into Cleveland, took the cheap and efficient LCT bus that goes straight to campus, met up with my host, and spent the night on her floor.

I strongly encourage visiting hopefuls to get a taste of dorm life. Don't stay in a hotel with your parents! The most fun I had during my visit was sitting in the hallway, chatting for over an hour with friendly strangers about Oberlin life.

Though the visiting prospie last week did have a parent in tow, she stole away to spend some time wandering around with me. We had lunch at my glorious co-op, Old Barrows:

There she got to sample not our our fresh, delicious, home-cooked food, but also how we run the show. She happened to visit while we were having our food policy discussion, and because every decision has to be made by consensus (i.e. if one person isn't comfortable with a proposal, it doesn't pass), it can get lengthy. On the other hand, voting to only buy local, seasonal, organic produce is awesome.

After that, we spent some quality time chilling in Wilder Bowl, the gorgeous central grassy campus spot. Some of my friends strolled by, and I waved them over to tell the prospie about Oberlin, which they enthusiastically did. We must have sounded corny, saying things like "At Oberlin, you always feel comfortable being yourself" and "I could never imagine myself anywhere else," but even for us three jaded juniors, it was 100% sincere.

The girl unfortunately had to leave just before TGIF, the weekly Friday afternoon party, got into gear. The last lesson to all prospies should be, for goodness sakes stay all Friday afternoon and evening if you can. That way you can hit up TGIF, co-op pizza night (enough delicious homemade pizza to stuff you silly), and all the various concerts, plays, improv shows, and parties that inevitably pepper a Friday night at Oberlin. Thus, when you ask, "Can I see myself being happy here?" you'll have an easier time coming up with an answer.

Responses to this Entry

Hello, I'm planning on applying early decision to Oberlin but I haven't really talked to any students or had an interview or any of that yet, so I thought I'd hit you up with some questions. I read a couple of your entries a few weeks ago and I think I remember one of them saying that one of the reasons you preferred Oberlin over some East Coast schools was that it was more laid back and had less of an elitist atmosphere. I'm from Seattle and I actually visited a few schools on the East Coast near the end of summer and wasn't sure what to think in that regard. I want to go to a prestigious school, but I don't want to be in a pretentious environment (I hope that's possible.) Anyway, I go to a pretty low-grade public school, neither of my parents went to universities. I've sort of taken it upon myself to do a bunch of research about schools and I've pretty much narrowed it down. Originally, Oberlin wasn't very high up on my list but recently I've become really, really interested in the school and as I said before I think I'll apply early. From what I've read/heard the arts and activism are a really big part of campus live (BIG PLUS and the arts part isn't surprising because of the conservatory and the activism really isn't either given the history.) I don't have so much have a lot of definite questions but I'd like to hear what you have to say about the school and why you chose it personally. I've looked at a lot of alternative-y schools (Sarah Lawrence, Marlboro, Hampshire, Bard, etc) but I'm really skeptical about those. I also like schools similar to Oberlin mostly in regard to academics (Wesleyan, Swarthmore, etc) but most of them (maybe all of them?) are in the Northeast which I'm also unsure about. I am wondering, though, about the events on campus and in the surrounding town. Also the relationship the school has with the town (it sounds like it's really good.) So that was pretty disorganized but maybe I'll be more clear in my next message (that is if you reply.) Thanks! Erin

Posted by: Erin on November 14, 2008 1:28 AM

Hello Erin! Thanks for posting. I don't really know where to begin on answering all your questions. I guess I'll start by confirming some ideas you had. 1. Oberlin is more laid back and less pretentious than most schools. Definitely true! It was incredibly easy to make a ton of great friends here, and though everyone is brilliant and talented, they don't rub it in your face. 2. Arts: I couldn't imagine going to a school without a Conservatory. I've gotten so spoiled by all the wonderful concerts, operas, play and jam sessions that when I go home and I have to drive a long distance and pay a lot of money to see a good show, I grumble and wish I was back on campus. 3. Activism: Yes, yes, yes. I went canvassing for Obama yesterday with a bunch of friends, and it was really inspiring to see so many giving up their time (during midterms, no less) to influence the future of the country. People also hold random events/fundraisers/rallies for causes of their choice, whether it be violence in Burma, malaria in Africa or AIDS right here in the U.S. 4. Events on campus: So far this year alone I've seen Ratatat (famous electronic music group), Steven Sondheim, an incredible "Death of a Salesman," Newt Gingrich and blues legend Taj Mahal. And that doesn't even count all the student shows. Basically, there's so much to do that I only left campus to vote. Well, if you are wondering about anything else, please let me know! -Alice

Posted by: Alice on November 14, 2008 1:29 AM

oh im so honored to be mentioned in your blog! thank you so much for that wonderful yet brief visit. im almost certain of applying early decision and cannot wait to see you next year at ol' b. be well! becky p.s. erin-- i feel ya. email me if you want to share some thoughts... i think we are going through some similar times: beckham5@sbcglobal.net

Posted by: Becky on November 14, 2008 1:29 AM

I read your blog! haha. I'm a prospective Oberlin student, applying Early Decision I. Like everyone else it seems, I didn't really like Oberlin at first. I visited it on a whim and ended up falling in love. Hopefully I will get accepted and get to meet all of you.

Posted by: Alyssa Cypher on November 14, 2008 1:30 AM

Hi Alice. I'm a prospective student this year, and as I read more about Oberlin it has materialized in my mind as a perfect fit for me to explore and learn. From all the student testimonials that I've read I just can't get enough! I'm from Venice Beach, California and my biggest concern about Oberlin is the Ohio climate (I'm looking at a lot of northeastern schools though, and I think I want to experience some actually seasons!!) and the lack of substantive surroundings (although I understand that the campus is a microcosm of boundless activities). I lovee music and music festivals, every year I go to Coachella. Anyways, your blog is chalk full of reasons and confirmations of why I want to be an Obie!

Posted by: Elliot Goldstein on December 3, 2008 1:34 PM

So, I visited Oberlin and fell in love. Every college or post-college person I've talked to, who has Oberlin friends, said their friends love the school. So just a couple questions: one kid I know said he heard Oberlin was real strict... what do you think of that comment? Also, is Oberlin's small size ever a... I dunno, bummer?

Posted by: Emily Voelker on January 13, 2009 11:53 PM

Glad you love Oberlin! As for Oberlin being "strict," that's a pretty vague term. Do you mean academically? Drinking policy?
Also, Oberlin's small size has NEVER been a bummer for me. It's great to be able to have small classes and get close with so many people. I'm in Tucson now and seeing the University of Arizona (about 50,000 students) gives me an ulcer.
Write back with any other questions!

Posted by: Alice on January 17, 2009 12:38 AM

I don't know what I meant by "strict," to tell you the truth. I just heard someone (who has no connection to Oberlin) say that, and I thought I'd ask. Besides, everyone I know who has friends at Oberlin are crazy about the school, so I'm not gonna let one comment from one person saying the school is "strict" bother me. =] And thats cool about the size; I go to a high school of about 1200ish people, but I think that even if Oberlin was as small as my school, it would feel a lot bigger.

Posted by: Emily Voelker on February 8, 2009 3:03 PM

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