Oberlin Blogs

A Visitor's Guide to Oberlin: Thinking Outside the Box

December 3, 2010

Patrick Doherty ’11

Welcome to the final installment of my posts on visiting Oberlin!

Part 1: Planning Your Visit, can be found here
Part 2: Welcome to Admissions!, can be found here
Part 3: Tours and Interviews, can be found here

The first three parts of this series focused on official admissions office-related activities. Now it's time to discuss amazing things to do outside of admissions activities. My advice for this? Think outside the box!


First and foremost, you should always check the events calendar to see what concerts, performances, speakers, workshops, and other activities will be happening during your visit. If there's a performance that you're interested in, then GO.

I try to attend as many conservatory-related events as possible. I love music. There have been countless incredible concerts while I've been a student here - from the Cleveland Orchestra to Nathan Gunn to Joshua Bell. Going to events will give you an opportunity to interact with students that aren't official admissions representatives and get an even better feel for Oberlin's community and what Oberlin has to offer in terms of non-academic life. Numerous prospies and parents have told me how surprised they are by how welcoming Oberlin's community is. I'm not really surprised by it anymore, but I have spent the last four years of my life here.

Another great way to find out what's happening on campus is to check out posters that are hanging on campus. Look in academic buildings, especially King, the Science Center, the Conservatory Lounge (located in Central - one of the Conservatory buildings), and Wilder Hall (the student union building). For example, Ali, who Ma'ayan blogged about, has been hanging these posters to advertise her art show on Friday. As great as the events calendar is, it never has everything that's happening on campus.


On campus for lunch or dinner? There are so many different places to eat! First, check out the co-ops. They have lunch at 12:20pm and dinner at 6:20pm. If you're here on Friday night, it's co-op pizza night for all the co-ops except Kosher-Halal and Third World Co-op. The co-ops that DO make pizza will have delicious pizza made from unconventional pizza ingredients. I've been to Keep's pizza night many times and it has always been tasty. Kosher-Halal does Shabbat dinner on Friday nights. All are welcome.

The best part about visiting a co-op? It's free! If you want to earn some extra brownie points, offer to stay after the meal to clean up. It'll give you a chance to show your appreciation while interacting with yet another group of awesome students. Many of my favorite people have been or are currently members of OSCA.

Want a place to eat downtown? There are several wonderful places to eat, but here are some of my favorites:

  • The Feve: The Feve is a bar and grill that has lots of tasty food. I recommend their burgers, but no matter what you order you MUST get (tater) tots with your meal. Their tots are legendary. My favorite are stinky tots (tots with garlic salt), but feel free to experiment with flavors and dipping sauces!

  • Black River Café: One word: pancakes. Black River Café specializes in breakfast-related food. A well-kept secret is dinner at the Black River Café. They class up the joint and offer some excellent, high quality food for relatively low prices.

  • Agavé: Its full name is Agavé Burrito Bar & Tequileria. To fit in, though, call it Agavé. Think Chipotle without the nastiness of Chipotle. Also, they do awesome live music late at night. Ask about it when you visit. It's not uncommon for students to play shows here. There are some awesome musicians who live in town and they often do shows here as well.

  • The Mandarin: Brandi and I love this place. We have lunch here every week ($5 lunch menus are a feature at many of downtown Oberlin's restaurants). They know us (and our favorite orders) now. Their food is tasty and the people are friendly.




Yet another great way to interact with students is to explore various social spaces on campus. Here are some key places where we Oberlin students tend to congregate:

  • Wilder Bowl: When it's warm (in the winter, this counts as anything above 50 degrees) and/or sunny, there are always people hanging out in Wilder Bowl. Whether studying outside, napping in the sun, hanging out with friends, playing frisbee, juggling, or many other, sometimes bizarre activities, there are always people around. On Fridays starting around 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon, we have TGIF, which includes music, beverages, and general merriment.

  • North Quad: Surrounded by various dorms and residence halls, this is an ideal space for social life (weather permitting, of course). I lived off north quad for my first three years, so it holds a special place in my heart. Pickup soccer games, frisbee, and other fun things happen on north quad.

  • South Quad: It's like north quad but for south campus!

  • Conservatory Lounge (Central): The ideal social space if you're interested in learning more about the conservatory. It's smack dab in the middle of the conservatory, so there's a high flow of foot traffic, and people stop here to hang out between classes, lessons, rehearsals, and every other activity imaginable. Receptions after recitals take place here, too!

  • Decafé (Wilder Hall): Food, caffeine, and delicious sandwiches and smoothies combine to make a space where I personally spend a lot of my time. If you do visit here, PLEASE get a sandwich or a smoothie. Or, if you're feeling ambitious, BOTH.

  • Sky Bar (Kohl Building): The Kohl Building is pretty new, and Sky Bar is still emerging as a social space on campus, but it's another place to go to find Conservatory students in a high concentration. It also has some awesome views of Oberlin.

  • Perlick Commons (Science Center): As its location may suggest, Perlick Commons, commonly referred to as the "Science Center Atrium," is a space where a lot of students who study the sciences will hang out and study.

  • Academic Commons (Mudd Library): Though it technically is supposed to serve as a study space, most people, myself included, who are in the Academic Commons are there to socialize and procrastinate.

  • Azariah's Café (Mudd Library): Caffeine means college students. Azariah's is a more noise-friendly area of the library, so people congregate in relatively high numbers. It continues to be one of my favorite places to study and write papers.



As I've said before, think outside the box. I can always find something to do on this wonderful campus when I need a break from my work. If you happen to run into me before I graduate, feel free to stop me and say hello!

Quote time!

"I am thrilled to be back at Oberlin. Why? Lorenzo's pizza. Movies at The Apollo, a single-screen movie theater. Concerts by world class musicians like Dave Brubeck, Denyce Graves, Marilyn Horne, the Cleveland Orchestra, Bela Fleck, or Yo-Yo Ma. Speakers like Ed Helms, Ishmael Beah, Adrian Fenty, and James McBride (all Oberlin alumni). The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Student opera or theater productions. The list is endless." - Josh Levy '94, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions

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