In the lead-up to our Early Decision deadline, I wanted to take a moment and address some of the frequently asked questions we get from international students.
Simba blogs a lot about what it's like being an international student at Oberlin (one of my favorites is his Thanksgiving blogpost) and, while we do get questions about life at Oberlin, we also get plenty of questions that are specific to the admissions process.
We have two wonderful interns working in our office, answering emails from international students and helping plan the virtual panels that took place earlier this semester. They're great point people, since they're the ones actually living the Oberlin experience, and we turn to them to give prospective students a fuller picture of life on campus.
But there are certain questions that keep cropping up, and I wanted to make sure the answers were out there.
Here are the top five questions we've received so far this fall:
1. Does Oberlin meet 100% of the financial aid I require? What does the scholarship cover? What forms do I need to fill out to apply for financial aid?
Oberlin meets 100% of the demonstrated need for all of our admitted students. This includes US citizens and permanent residents, DACA and undocumented students, and international students.*
Our financial aid packages are made up of grants and scholarships, work study, and loans. More than 80% of our international students receive institutional financial aid, with the average aid package covering about three-quarters of the cost of attendance. Grants and scholarships make up the bulk of our need-based aid. Work-study for students on an F-1 visa means that you can get a job on campus, and there are plenty of opportunities for that!
The loan component is kept pretty low; many of our students will go on to further study after they graduate from Oberlin, and we're not interested in burdening them with so much debt that medical, law, business, or graduate school becomes an unimaginable expense. Too, there are lending opportunities available outside of Oberlin. The Office of Financial Aid can offer advice on those opportunities, if need be.
As far as paperwork goes, we require international students to fill out the CSS Profile and the International Student Certification of Finances. If you need a CSS Profile waiver, please email us at international.admissions[at]oberlin.edu
2. Is the TOEFL required for me?
You are exempt from submitting a TOEFL score if your native or first language is English, or if your primary language of instruction throughout secondary school has been English.
3. What are the admissions statistics for international students?
We have a student body of just under 3,000 students, and 8% of those students are international students (dual citizens and American citizens who attended high school abroad are not counted in this number). It is a very selective process, as our goal is to admit international students from across the world who will thrive in the academic and social environment of Oberlin.
4. Can you waive my application fee?
No need. There is no application fee this year!
5. I'm applying EDI and I just took my ACT+writing/SAT exam. I'm worried that my scores may not get to you in time to meet the ED deadline. Will you still read my application?
Well, this might prove knotty. In our review process, we don't read incomplete files. It isn't fair to the students who have diligently completed their application, and it isn't fair to the students who haven't (yet). If your file is incomplete, we won't get a full picture of you as a candidate for admission.
If we don't have your scores, we'll email you. We may ask you to roll your application over to EDII or to RG, depending on when your scores are expected to arrive. This doesn't mean you're at a disadvantage in the application process. It certainly doesn't mean that we won't read your application.
What it means is that we want you to have every advantage in this process. We want to get the fullest picture of you as a student and community member as possible, and that means waiting until your application is complete.
In extreme cases, we will read your application without your score report. You have to request this of us, and even then we will advise against it. With a competitive applicant pool full of students who are sending us their test scores along with a whole host of other information, it simply isn't to your advantage to be missing any piece.
Our application review process is holistic. This means that we look at every single piece of your application: we read everything you send us. Creative writing sample. The extra recommendation letter you ask your coach, or mentor, or music teacher to send in. The certificate from elementary school that proclaims you a "kind and sweet" student (wholly unnecessary, but we'll look it over).
We read it all. We want to see you, as clearly as we can, and make our determination based on all of that information.
This year, you can actually check the status of your application materials online, so you'll know which pieces of your application we've received and which have yet to get to us. The email prompting you to establish your login credentials should reach you within 2 days of submitting your Common Application, so keep an eye on your inbox for that. If you still have concerns or if you can't access the portal, please email us.
We also have a robust FAQ page for international applicants, but there are always concerns that are so specific and individual that we can't answer them on the website. As ever, we're here to answer your questions!
* Quick note on this: we adopted a new policy this past spring wherein DACA and undocumented students are no longer read as part of the international applicant pool, but are included with the domestic pool of applicants.