Oberlin College

Oberlin, OH: Visiting Oberlin College as a prospective student was like being “queen for a day.” I was provided with information about every aspect of the school and everyone I met was pleasant and eager to help me. It only took me a few minutes to feel at home.
When I arrived, the weather was amazingly clear and warm for a December day. It’s always like this, I was quickly assured. Looking around I could tell I was in beautiful surroundings. An immense arboretum was in the center of the town, and spread out in all directions were stone buildings of various styles. Some of the buildings are part of the campus and some are homes, I was told. I liked the town immediately. Some students felt it to be extremely boring as far as social experiences go, but coming from a small town myself I thought it was wonderful and safe.
The office of admissions gave me a pass card and a really nice hostess – Martha, a freshman majoring in voice – who was patient with all my questions and gave me a lot of her time to show me around. Martha introduced me to her friends, who were quick to include me in their conversations and private jokes. They pointed out the edible college food and took me to a concert. The concert was incredible enough to make anyone wish to go to Oberlin and in addition to listening to the music, I also met two instrumentalists who told me exactly what going to college there was like.
I got to see the campus through self exploration and by tours. No one seemed to mind that I was poking into hallways, rooms and libraries. Either I looked like a student or I was branded with “prospective” and was left to explore undisturbed. I visited cooperatives, science buildings, student unions, libraries and the Conservatory. Since the main reason I had come was to see the Conservatory, I was pleased to be invited in to listen to the orchestra rehearse. I was seated in the back near the bassists who talked to me during the rests. Nearly all the practice rooms had pianos and there were several small auditoriums for recitals. As a future performance major, this appealed to me.
The only class I sat in on was an Italian class. I didn’t learn much from the class since I came at the very end of the semester and I also don’t know Italian. But I was given the same materials as everyone else and I got to participate. The class was the size of my high school classes and the students seemed to feel quite comfortable with the professor.
Although the business area of Oberlin only took up two blocks, I discovered that all the essentials were there. I visited the art museum and saw a display of modern art. Close by was a block of stores including the most amazing bead shop I’d ever seen and a book store with books on nearly every subject imaginable.
The most interesting thing that I learned about Oberlin’s scholastic policy was the recently adopted honor system. Instead of having proctored final exams, everyone is allowed to take the test home and do it whenever one feels the most prepared to take it. It is expected that no one will cheat and since everyone is trusted, there is a minimum of cheating.
Oberlin has a unique program for January term that gives everyone a chance to try something new, or to become involved with something that they are interested in. The January term is required for credit and anything that will expand a student’s knowledge is an acceptable topic. Some possible projects included one student’s visit to another country where she spent a month teaching violin. Another person worked on a quilting project involving research about the history of quilts and the actual sewing of a quilt.
There was such a wide range of courses, people, and opportunities I encountered during my stay at Oberlin that I feel anyone could easily belong. I left Oberlin with a feeling that it was a place where I’d like to return. f