Oberlin Blogs

Why Not?

April 5, 2024

Ozzie Frazier '27

Now that spring break—and Oberlin's decision day!?—is a few weeks in the rearview, it feels like the end of the year is right around the corner. We've already had a few accepted students days (or "All Roads" as we like to call them) and I've even gotten to speak with a few prospective students in person. These conversations have prompted me to reflect on my own time as a prospie and now seemed as good a time as any to write a Why Oberlin blog. So here it is!

The story begins in my junior year of high school, when I had just returned to in-person classes for the first time since 2020. I was feeling burnt out from Zoom classes (and a nasty breakup) and struggling to imagine two more years of high school, much less four years of college. Nonetheless, I obliged when my guidance counselor recommended I start looking at schools. I figured that, worst-case scenario, I could always take a gap year if I needed some time to breathe.

So, naturally, I made a spreadsheet. For each school I was interested in, I wrote down its average GPA, student population, application deadline, and pretty much every other stat you can imagine. After a few weeks of research, my list was looking pretty good. (If you want to read more about applying to small liberal arts schools, you can check out my last blog.) 

At some point, my mom looked over my spreadsheet and suggested we schedule some college tours over my school's February break. Overwhelmed by my honors course load, I agreed, happy to ignore college applications for a while longer. As the year went on, I got my driver's license, gave myself a buzzcut, and finally got my braces off. It felt like my junior year was starting to look up. Then, a week before February break, my grandmother died.

It was decided that my mom and I would road trip to Akron, Ohio, where we spent several days celebrating Mimi's life with family. As we braced ourselves for the long car ride home, we decided to schedule a few stops on the way back to Massachusetts. To maintain our original touring plan, my mom figured that I should consider at least one Ohio school, so I begrudgingly followed her to my first-ever college info session at—you guessed it—Oberlin. Prior to that day, I knew nothing about Oberlin whatsoever. I didn't really think I even wanted to go to college (and certainly not in Ohio). But, as the day went on, I slowly found myself drawn in by the dreary winter slush and overcast sky.  And the rest is history! 

Okay, not really. There are quite a few things that drew me to Oberlin specifically, and seeing as this is a Why Oberlin blog, I figure I should talk about them. So, here is the list of things that eased my transition from "I don't want to go to college" to "I'm applying Early Decision."

  1. Distribution requirements. As a self-proclaimed dabbler in many subjects, I felt really constrained by the pre-established course schedule that many universities offer. Oberlin, on the other hand, just requires all students to take classes in Arts/Humanities, Natural Sciences/Math, and Social Sciences. There is not a single course that every Oberlin student must take. We also have requirements for cultural diversity, quantitative & formal reasoning, and writing-intensive courses. 
  2. Pronouns and pride flags. Every single person I met on my tour here introduced themself with their pronouns. Oberlin also flies a pride flag year-round in the town center, right across from the admissions office. Although many schools have started shifting towards more inclusive language, Oberlin is, by far, ahead of the curve. While this level of inclusivity may seem small to some, I cannot emphasize enough how important it has been in my experience here.
  3. Art rental. I loved the idea of getting to have real, framed art on my wall for just $5 a semester. It really makes a dorm room feel like home.
  4. Blogs. More specifically, Loop Theory. After my tour and info session, I had quite a lot of time to kill on the drive home. Six hundred and nine minutes, to be exact. So, I pulled up the Oberlin website and found myself digging through the Oberlin Blogs website. I was so excited to read about everything current students had to say. I still am!
  5. Yeobie. Yeah, our mascot is a nonbinary albino squirrel. What about it?
  6. The Sustainable Infrastructure Program. You may know that Oberlin has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. (That's next year!) As an environmentally-anxious high schooler, I felt massively reassured by the idea that my college would offer composting, sustainable housing, and a living machine. Plus coops, which offer locally sourced homecooked meals made by students!
  7. Historical significance. Oberlin was the first college in America to admit Black students and the first to offer a co-ed bachelor's program. Our legacy of inclusion and influence in higher education makes me proud to be an Obie. 
  8. Identity housing. Speaking of historical significance, Oberlin was also one of the first schools to introduce co-ed housing—a move so scandalous that it landed us on the cover of Life magazine in 1970. That being said, I love that Oberlin still offers small, identity-based communities to live in.
  9. The academic environment. Feeling adequately challenged in the classroom was something that I really worried about in my college search process. I find that Oberlin is unique in that students work hard in the classroom, but also know how to relax and have fun. The coursework is rigorous, but each student is here to learn rather than to compete with those around them.
  10. Free laundry. This one's self-explanatory.
  11. 500 concerts. If you've ever been on a tour, looked at the website, or talked to an admissions counselor, you know that Oberlin boasts a massive 500+ performances a year. As a prospie, I was skeptical of this number, but it has proven to be absolutely true. Students here are constantly creating art and music. It's awesome.
  12. OCircus. I started taking circus classes in kindergarten, and I really thought I would have to give up my dreams of becoming a circus performer in order to go to college. Oberlin offered me circus AND an undergraduate degree at the same time. What more could I ask for?

I wonder sometimes if my grandma knew that Oberlin is where I was meant to be. I certainly wouldn't have ended up here if it weren't for her. And, while I could probably write forever about all the things I have come to love about Oberlin since I got here, this blog is about what made me choose Oberlin in the first place. So, the real answer is this: when I asked myself "why not?" the only real thing on my cons list was that it was far away from my cats. I decided that some things are worth compromising for!

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