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Why Oberlin?

August 12, 2020

Cora K. Hasegawa ’19

There are a million tiny things that go into picking a college and it’s a very personal decision. I remember very clearly that in the fall of my senior year of high school I was  struggling to pick which colleges I wanted to apply to. I had been lucky enough to have a mom who helped me do a lot of research on different schools and I was even able to visit a number of them, but the decision loomed over me constantly. As the application deadlines approached, my mom told me to write about why I wanted to go to each school and hopefully that would help me narrow it down. I started with my Oberlin essay and I found it was far easier to write than any of the other ones. I found myself relying on statistics and logic to make the case for attending other schools. The decision to go to Oberlin, however, felt intuitive and natural, and I wrote my entire essay in about ten minutes. Looking back with the insight of experience, I can now see that there are many reasons why it was so easy to write. 

Blue arch over highway with a sign that reads "Welcome to Ohio: So much to Discover! John R Kasich, Governor Mary Taylor, Lt. Governor"
The state line between Indiana and Ohio. 

I remember visiting Oberlin and seeing how kind and accepting the students were, not just on tours but also in the classes I visited. One student even gave me a personal tour of Harkness Co-op! I could tell Oberlin was a place filled with creative and intelligent students who were able to balance their competitive drive with their compassionate nature. During my first visit to campus I sat in on four cinema studies classes. Each professor was very kind and welcoming, but visiting Professor Doran Galili was my favorite by far. He stayed to talk with me after the class ended for over an hour. We discussed the study of film, Oberlin, and what it means to study film in college. The second semester of my first year at Oberlin, Professor Galili returned as a visiting professor for the semester and I was able to take the same class I sat in on with him. On the first day of class he remembered me -- this personal connection was so important to me in selecting Oberlin, and I found it over and over again in my relationships with the faculty here. 

While visiting other colleges, I had the chance to meet a few Oberlin alumni. The one who had the biggest impact on me was a film professor at another college. He had recently graduated from Oberlin and was establishing a film program at another liberal arts college. Like Professor Galili, he stayed to talk with me after class. Afterwards, I told my mom I wanted to go to that school and study with him. She told me I was free to do that, or I could go to Oberlin and become him. I remember being amazed by her logic at the time and I’m still amazed by her wisdom to this day. Her comment was what made me really start to consider Oberlin and has given me a philosophy that I try to share with students who are looking at colleges. 

Cora Hasegawa in a graduation cap with a red and yellow tassel
I graduated from Oberlin on May 27, 2019!

Oberlin was the right school for who I was at 18 and it was still the right school when I graduated four years later. I believe the reason I love Oberlin so much is because it allowed me to grow and change, and it helped shape me into the person I wanted to become. You should pick a college that will help you become the person you want to be in four years. I was able to get a sense of what the impact of this change could have on me when I read an essay by Oberlin alum Michael Dirda where he writes about his love for Oberlin. He ends the essay by saying “Still, if I were ever, like Emily in Our Town, permitted to relive one day of my checkered past, I would choose a beautiful October afternoon in Oberlin, when all the world was young.” Dirda helped me realize how in love I was with Oberlin. The day after I read the essay I chose to apply to Oberlin Early Decision and I’ve never regretted it. This November will mark six years since I made that crucial decision and I have chosen Oberlin every day since then. 

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