Oberlin Blogs

Things To Do Before You Graduate

February 16, 2022

Josh Levy ’94, Office of Admissions

To all of you who've been admitted to Oberlin as an Early Decision applicant, congratulations. This post is aimed specifically at you, although anyone enrolling at Oberlin will find this helpful.

I know -- you haven't even officially enrolled and I'm telling you what to do before you graduate. That's 4 (or 5) years down the road. So much is going to happen between now and then. But as you think about your college home and what you're going to do here, think about ways to make your experience special and distinctive to you.

So, here are some things that you should seriously consider doing before you graduate from this magical institution.

Teach an ExCo

Hopefully you're familiar with ExCo (the Experimental College). Founded in 1968, this program allows students, faculty, staff, or townspeople to teach a class not normally found in the curriculum. You've got to know your stuff, though -- the classes are offered for credit towards graduation.

ExCo classes really fall into two large categories: classes that are academic in nature and classes that are not academic in nature. The academic ones could easily cover information only tangentially addressed in classes. If you are a Cinema Studies major and love Quentin Tarantino films and find that his filmography isn't being covered in class, you could teach an ExCo: watch a film a week and discuss it. I took a class on Zionist thinkers that added to my Jewish Studies major wonderfully.

While the academic ExCo classes are great, the other ones are fun too. One of my colleagues started ToadsCo, the class that teaches basic anuran (that's frogs and toads to you and me) biology and gets students out to hunt for said amphibians. There's TurksCo, an introduction to the Turkish language. There's Onedirexco, a study of One Direction. I taught a class on how to play bridge (yes, the game that your grandparents play).

The sky's the limit with ExCo. Give it a try and you won't regret it.

Take a class because of the professor, not the subject matter

You may have an idea of what you want to study in college. You may even be ready to declare your major on the first day of class. But take a step back, breathe, and try a class totally outside of your comfort zone for the sole reason that you've heard the best things about the professor.

Why should you do this? Because this is what liberal arts is really all about. Try new classes and you'll be amazed at how your thinking can change. Professors can inspire you and open your eyes to new ideas or ways of thinking about things in your other classes.

Go to Organ Pump

Way back in 1992 (yes, when I was a student at Oberlin), a group of organ majors coaxed some students out of line for The 'Sco with the promise of bawdy humor and a good time. Little did they know that they were in for an organ concert in Finney Chapel. To this day, the midnight concerts attract large crowds of students to hear great music, hang out together, and to lie on the floor and feel the vibrations of the stage from the C.B. Fiske organ. It's one concert not to be missed. Don't believe me? Read the New York Times article about it.

Art Rental

Every story you've heard is true. Yes, you can rent a piece of art for $5. Yes, there are works by Picasso and Matisse and Dali and Miro and Chagall in the art rental collection. Yes, in the 80+ years of doing art rental, there has never been a piece of artwork damaged, destroyed, or not returned. So get up on one Saturday morning, wait in line, and see what you get. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Attend an Opera

So you're not an opera fan? You haven't seen an Oberlin College opera. The Conservatory stages an opera each semester (one in English, one in the original language with subtitles). The productions are spectacular, the performances are amazing, and it will cost you less than a new-release movie in a major city. It's a great way to be exposed to some new culture, and if you're not into it, it's easy to skip out at intermission. But you never know who'll be in the show -- our former President, Marvin Krislov, was cast in one of them. Maybe President Ambar will be next?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many amazing things to do on campus: OSCA, Solarity, Fall Forward, play with the cats at Ginko Gallery, work at Slow Train or the Local. The list can go on and on. Early Decision admits -- what are you looking forward to? And current Obies -- what would you recommend members of the Class of 2026 do before they graduate?

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