I was recently invited back to the research program I participated in as a high schooler to talk about my college application process to current high school students. I am always excited to talk to students and help them navigate these times. When I was asked why I chose Oberlin, I found myself reminiscing and gushing about all the reasons I came to Oberlin (and Oberlin possibly chose me!).
As a freshman, I knew I was living my dream coming to Oberlin. As a rising junior now, I often catch myself feeling rather frustrated and cynical towards the college and its choices. I do firmly believe that frustration is often warranted, and disappointments are real. However, a small part of me still doesn't want to forget the exhilaration I felt, almost falling out of my bed in Mumbai when I randomly logged into the admissions portal at 2:45 am to see a 'YOU ARE ACCEPTED' welcoming me.
Whenever I travel out of Oberlin on a break (which is not that often) and come back, I feel this sense of 'coming back home', which heightens my sense of belonging to this place.
Which makes sense given that Oberlin is where I spend most of my time and foster meaningful relationships. It is the only 'home' far, far away from home (Mumbai, India). With that reckoning comes the realization that it is tough to walk around resenting your home away from home.
That is why I want to take a moment to reflect back on a few reasons why Oberlin was the best fit for me two years ago and continues to be the right fit for me now.
- Community: Since I got here, I found myself surrounded by students who are interested in learning everything literally; being a nerd was 'cool.' I constantly felt inspired by my peers and teachers who share similar interests and hold tons of empathy. Little did I realize the value of community back then, but I sure do now. Oberlin offers a wide variety of things to do (something for everyone!), but enjoying it with folks who care about the same stuff and are down to have fun makes it all the more worth it! By no means do I imply it is easy to find a community YOU thrive in. The first year (or years!) are probably the most challenging navigating social dynamics and just finding your footing here at Oberlin. Still, I promise, with patience and giving people the benefit of the doubt, things will fall into place.
- Faculty and staff support: At Oberlin, I found people who care. Right from reassuring me in Mumbai (shout out to Sophie, International Admissions Director) to providing me immense support on-campus figuring things out for the first time (shout out to Anna, Dean of Students) and making me feel at home with professors inviting me over to their homes during big holidays. There was always someone supporting me at each step of my journey, for which I am very grateful to Oberlin.
- Interdisciplinary learning: Taking classes from various departments right from the dreading but pushing through Chemistry 102 to Chinese & Japanese art history, poetry, and environmental studies, Oberlin has provided me with ample opportunity to enjoy learning for the sake of learning. I learned to respect the complexity of various disciplines and recognize that there are more similarities than differences. The variety of learning activates different parts of the brain, leading to overall growth.
- Big picture & critical thinking: While it is cool to learn the theory in class, what made learning more impactful was its application to the world we currently live in and some actionable steps we could take 'now' to see the change we so badly want to make. Learning about the environmental policies, but then also going and getting our hands dirty in the fields and volunteering to provide community support, and going to marches and protests, gave me the chance to solidify my learning.
- Alumni: Lastly, during my time here at Oberlin, branching out to alumni and having meaningful conversations and interactions has given me a glimpse into what a future after Oberlin might look like. Only at Oberlin do you find alumni who genuinely care and go out of their way to help Obies in their endeavors. This just shows the kind of relationship the college campus provides to students, which continues even years after they have left Oberlin.
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