Oberlin Blogs

Sometimes parents understand.

March 1, 2010

Alicia Smith ’10

Right as I was about to enter the first floor restrooms in Mudd last week, I received a call from a professor at Syracuse's journalism program. To my pleasant surprise, she delivered the good news that I am one of twelve semi-finalists for a minority fellowship for their graduate program. [Please hold your applause. I am merely laying the groundwork for the topic of my post.]

As she was telling me this, I was talking ten too many decibels too loud for a library setting, but I didn't really care because that very library had put me through many an hour of torture so that I could have a celebratory moment like this.

A few hours later, I reflected on this memorable phone call. Thoughts started racing through my mind:

Can I handle the snow of northern New York?

Are there vegetarian restaurants in Syracuse?

Am I really leaving Oberlin for good in a few months?

And most importantly:

Are they already accomplished journalists?

Are their GPAs higher than mine?

Are they nerdy?

Are they awesome?

Can I write as well as them?

This whole situation reminded me SO much of when I got my acceptance letter to Oberlin in December 2005. Initially, I was ECSTATIC that I was accepted to Oberlin. I had applied early decision because after my overnight visit, I knew Oberlin was right for me--I truly felt at home. Moments after I joyously read my acceptance letter aloud to my father, he ran upstairs to grab the camera. What better photo-op than this?

As the weeks went on, my excitement, anxiousness, and worry all grew exponentially in anticipation for the fall. I was SO excited to end the high school chapter of my life and move onto the Oberlin chapter. At the same time, questions were running through my head:

What if they admitted me by mistake?

Am I liberal enough for this college?

I'm not a hippie, is that okay?

Am I smart enough to go to Oberlin?

I started examining the members of the growing Oberlin Class of 2010 Facebook group. As I looked at people's profiles, I made quick (and unfair) judgments as to whether or not I would be friends with the people, how nice they were, and how cool they were. Call me shallow, but give me a break--we all do it to a certain extent.

As I browsed the profiles, I started to panic:

[Random member of the Class of 2010] has so many favorite books--they must be so smart.

How does [random member of the Class of 2010] like so much music? They are so cultured! I am lame.

Wow, [random member of the Class of 2010] just updated their status to say that they are studying for their five AP tests--I'm only taking two! Am I prepared for Oberlin?! Maybe I incorrectly wrote something on my application.

Fears were constantly running through my mind that I wasn't smart enough, good enough, creative enough, cultured enough, or hippie enough for Oberlin. As much as my parents tried to convince me that Oberlin admitted me because they knew I was a good fit and that I wouldn't have been admitted if I couldn't succeed there, I wasn't going to fully believe them until I got there myself. Like The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff once said, parents just don't understand. But maybe in this case, they did!

What seemed like the longest eight months after I received my acceptance letter, I moved to Oberlin.

During the first week, it was a little hard adjusting to a new environment, new people, and my new life. But after the first week, I LOVED Oberlin &mdash and that hasn't changed since.

My parents were certainly right &mdash Oberlin admitted me because they knew I could succeed here, and that I'd fit in. Over the past four years, I have been successful, I've fit in (I've got the friends to prove it!), and I've had an awesome time (while learning a lot about so many subjects, including myself).

To any high school senior out there questioning whether or not Oberlin fits them, my advice to you is to stop wondering. Chances are that if you are seriously considering Oberlin, it's because you have examined the school and you like what it stands for and what it can offer you. Do an overnight visit and see if it feels right. If it does, and you are admitted, Oberlin is certainly a good fit for you. So stop over-analyzing the Oberlin Class of 2014 Facebook group and just go with your gut.

In the meantime, I will keep scrounging around Facebook to see if there is a Syracuse Journalism Class of 2011 group... I don't believe in the whole practice what you preach thing. But I no longer doubt my abilities, and am confident that no matter where I end up for grad school I will be da bomb.

[You may now applaud.]

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