All Roads Lead to, and Back to, Oberlin
One of our spring rituals is underway. It takes place in April, when admitted students and their families visit the college and the conservatory during the admissions office’s annual event, All Roads Lead to Oberlin.
Think of All Roads as the next generation of Oberlin students and their families coming to meet our family. Every contact, every class, every smile can become an important piece of information for those trying to decide whether Oberlin is the place—and the community—where they will live, study, work, and play for the next four years.
At the same time, other rites of spring are happening. With graduation fast approaching, seniors are wrapping up their capstone projects, preparing their Senior Symposium presentations, writing their final papers, perfecting their senior recitals, rehearsing and giving one last performance, and finishing their final season in an Oberlin uniform on a successful note.
After Commencement, they, too, will be traveling all roads. Some grads will stay in the area. Many more will scatter far and wide in this country and the world. Ah, the places you’ll go …, to quote Dr. Seuss.
For those seniors whose plans are still being formulated, I have a suggestion: visit the Office of Career Services. The folks there will help you brainstorm, get your résumé in order, and get your priorities sorted and focused. They can also connect you with our alumni. Many Oberlin graduates are more than happy to talk with you about your career path and to help you along the way. So take the opportunity. And, please don’t forget those who have provided you with teaching, advice, counsel, and friendship over the past four years, whether they are faculty, staff, other students, or recent alumni. That’s your Oberlin community, and we’re happy to help you figure out your next steps in life.
Seniors, I hope you also think about what has made your Oberlin years special, what has meant the most to you here. Take a moment to reflect on the people and places that have shaped you, and that you have shaped in turn. Run to the concert, the museum, the gallery, the lecture, the game, the dance, for you may never again have the chance to experience such a concentrated richness of opportunities—almost all easily accessible and free of charge.
Think, too, about the challenges you and our community have faced and overcome since you arrived here four years ago. Despite its utopian beginnings and leanings, Oberlin is not a perfect community. I don’t know any place that is. But what Oberlin has always stood for is the aspiration and determination to make our community and our world better for everyone. Oberlin—the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music—exist to achieve, and enable our students and faculty to achieve, academic, artistic, and musical excellence. That excellence encompasses the highest standards for liberal and musical education, diversity, inclusiveness, and social engagement. Our shared commitment to that mission and those values is what sets Oberlin apart and defines us—students, faculty, staff, and alumni of every generation—as a community unlike any other.
As the class of 2017 comes to campus, takes shape, and prepares to create its own Oberlin community and memories, please make them feel welcome. And please know that wherever you go, the roads that brought you here in the first place can always bring you back. No matter how many miles your journey takes, this community—described by our cofounder the Reverend John J. Shipherd as being “…peculiar in that which is good,” will still embrace you.