Oberlin Blogs

Why Am I Here?

April 6, 2021

Lanie Lee Cheatham ’24

Oberlin wasn’t my top choice. I didn’t even have a top choice, or really any semblance of an idea of where I wanted to go to college, but I knew I was going to go. I also knew I wanted to get out of my home state because I never felt like I fit in. In high school, I was laser-focused on doing well in school and taking part in extracurricular activities for my own personal fulfillment and to craft a resume to appeal to selective out-of-state colleges. My college list started as a random list of schools I knew of, then was pruned into a list of mostly liberal arts schools and some elite colleges. Oberlin made it on the list because my dad went for a little over a year, then transferred to another school to follow his girlfriend, and because I received emails and mail from Oberlin that made me interested in the college. 

Before applying, I visited Oberlin for Fall Visit Day. It was a cold snowy day during November of my senior year of high school. I thought the campus and students were nice, but I did not have the immediate feeling of “this is where I belong” that I had hoped I would feel on the campus I would call home for the next four years of my life. Still, I enjoyed my short visit and ended up applying to Oberlin regular decision. I went along my merry way finishing high school, until around March 13th when, well you know, the COVID pandemic forced my school and the whole world into lockdown. 

Isolated in my house with my family and doing classes on zoom, I received my college acceptance letters through online portals, one of them being from Oberlin. Like many of you reading this blog post, I had to decide where I would attend college without being able to visit all the schools I got into. Deciding where to go to college was a stressful experience, to say the least. I always try to make the “best” decision possible, and it is so hard to figure out what to do when making a big life decision. I looked at so many college-ranking websites, college blogs, and youtube videos that my head spun. There were so many factors I thought I had to take into account. It got to a point where I could have decided randomly and anywhere I chose would have had characteristics that made it a good fit for me. 

But my mind kept taking me back to Oberlin. I kept thinking about a little booklet that Oberlin had sent me very early on to try to get me to apply. In the middle of the information booklet was a picture of people having a water fight in Wilder Bowl, one of the main green areas on campus. It was just a picture, but I could feel the joy of the students in it. They all looked so genuinely happy and real. From my visit and spiral into the depths of the internet, I learned that Oberlin students are engaged in activism, environmentalism, and art. They are not afraid to express themselves and are open and accepting. This picture showed me that. I didn’t want to go to a school with an air of judgment and preppy attitudes. Oberlin seemed like a place where I could become myself rather than learning to be someone else. 

Still, my mind was clouded with rankings, prestige, and fear of the unknown that all precluded me from being fully confident in making the decision to go to Oberlin. My high school was very competitive, so I was afraid that going to a school that not many of my peers had heard of in the middle of Ohio would make people think less of me. But, eventually, I learned more about Oberlin and started to understand that it was a place I wanted to be even if I thought other people didn’t want me to be there. From the summer online course that Oberlin offered, Uncovering COVID-19: Critical Liberal Arts Perspective, I was able to meet prospective Obies and understand what Oberlin's classes and professors were like. I was also in contact with multiple current students who were all such genuine people so willing to help me decide if Oberlin was right for me. I talked to an Oberlin alumna getting a psychology Ph.D. who was so enthusiastic about Oberlin I couldn’t not be excited as well. All these things pushed me towards Oberlin. 

I never had the "Aha!" moment when deciding where to go, so I had to take a leap of faith. I committed to Oberlin the day that I had to, May 1st. Reflecting on my decision, I know Oberlin was the right choice for me and I am so happy that all roads led me here.

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