An Interview On
Oberlin College and Conservatory

Background

Interview Date:

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private high school in Brooklyn, NY with a graduating class of about 80 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Physics with a concentration in Astronomy
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m on Club Soccer and Club Cycling.

What impact did your club sports have on your experience?
The first year I made a lot of friends, especially through club soccer. A lot of my social events were based around this. The Cycling team is pretty small, but I’m a bike racer so I ride every day.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
The coursework is pretty moderate. There’s generally one problem set per week for both Physics and math. It’s a lot of reading and working in the textbook. The major graded assignments are labs, problem sets, and exams.

Is there anything you feel the Physics department does especially well or poorly?
It’s relatively small, so you get to know the professors really well. [78% of classes at Oberlin have fewer than 20 students.]

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s both. People are pretty friendly and willing to work together, but there’s also a lot of competition, and people are very smart. There’s a large group of people in the class working very hard, and it’s hard to keep up with them. There are also people not doing great, and then some in between.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They’re pretty accessible. They’re very friendly and willing to talk, but it depends on the professor. The one I have right now is a little hard to meet up with, but they’re mostly good.

What is your favorite class you’ve taken at Oberlin?
Introductory Astronomy.

What is your least favorite class you’ve taken at Oberlin?
Calculus I or Calculus II.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
My high school was [not focused on science]. Everyone was creative, and there was lots of writing, music, and art, so I didn’t learn much math in high school. I was in a pretty hard position where I had to learn all the math I needed at Oberlin, and then I’d be able to start taking Physics. Overall, it’s been a little tough for me in terms of doing well and keeping up with the materials, because I didn’t have the math background the other students did. I’m getting by, but my grades are pretty crappy.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Max Kade German House with one roommate.

Sophomore: South Hall with one roommate.

Junior: South Hall in a single.

What was your favorite living situation?
Right now in the single.

How was transitioning from Brooklyn to Oberlin, OH?
It was a nice change for me. I didn’t have too hard of a time transitioning. It’s a good break from New York, but I do miss it sometimes.

What is your favorite off campus restaurant?
Kim’s, a Korean restaurant.

What’s your favorite place to get away from campus?
I ride my bike every day, so I leave campus to ride around. There’s a nice forest area called the [Arboretum] which is nice.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve always thought it was pretty safe. Occasionally you’ll hear about theft, but nothing too bad.

Pros and Cons of being in Oberlin, OH?
Pros:
1) The snow is nice if you like winter. It does get pretty cold though.
2) It’s a beautiful campus, but it’s a little isolated.

Cons:
1) Location. It’s nice here but is a little far from Cleveland. It’s about 30 minutes by car.
2) It’s a little small. Sometimes you feel like you’re running out of people to meet.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I go to parties occasionally. Not all the time, my friends go more than me. There’s normally a couple of things happening, but we don’t always end up going out. We’ll go to a party in someone’s house, or a music event if a band is planning. Oberlin has a Conservatory of Music school, so there are lots of conservatory bands playing.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things? Are there regular places you go or things you do on certain nights?
Friday and Saturday. On Wednesdays, there’s a music and dance event hosted by the school called Splitchers.

How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at Oberlin? Is there anything you would change if you could?
There’s often some kind of party going on, but it’s not always the right environment, so you end up hearing about things and then not going out or not wanting to go to a certain party.

What have been some of your favorite times at Oberlin?
We get a lot of funding through the school for the bike team, so we’ve done a lot of races in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This has been a lot of fun. I also like the music stuff a lot. My friends book shows at the local Oberlin venues, so we get to bring in artists we like, and often meet and hang out with them.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
The first week during orientation I ran into some kids while it was raining. We were gathered under a tent and I started talking to them.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Oberlin?
Especially when you start there are lots of big groups of friends. When you get older, you kind of whittle down the people you hang out with and form other relationships. There are lots of social groups of people. People are friendly and inclusive, but you kind of hang out with the same people after a while.

How would you describe the student body?
Everyone is very different and unique. There’s lots of creativity and spontaneity. It’s a very diverse student body of diverse interests.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
There’s a good amount of mixing, but there’s not as much as Oberlin as a school would hope. It’s a little divided, and people hang out with people similar to them. [Oberlin has a 62% White student body.]
How do you like the size of Oberlin? How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
I wish it were a little bigger, and some others would wish the same. I feel like you run into the same people every day. It’s my third year and I feel like I know mostly everyone. It seems like I’ve run out of possibilities of people to meet, even though that’s probably not true. [The class of 2022 has about 800 students.]

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people leave loving your school?
I wouldn’t say they leave loving Oberlin, but definitely not hating Oberlin. There are a lot of great aspects most people recognize, but also people aren’t normally ecstatic about it.

Careers

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I learned a little Excel through my Physics lab. I also did Python for a Winter Term project. You pick any topic and do it all of January.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Oberlin before entering as a freshman?
I visited and I knew some students here beforehand. We hung out and had a good time, and I felt like the social life was super vibrant and fun. It’s a good place, but it’s not like how I saw it when I first visited. I remember hanging out and meeting a bunch of different people, so I thought people were more sociable and open to meeting you.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I really like the Arboretum, which is the forested area. I like nature and parks, so that’s a nice place to go.

What is something we haven’t touched on that might be beneficial to include?
I think it’s more of an athletic population with a divide between athletes and college students. There’s also a divide between college students and conservatory students. I didn’t realize there was that strong of a divide, but there definitely is.

Reasons to attend Oberlin College:
1) For the music.
2) There are lots of opportunities to do extracurricular things. There’s a whole club counsel, so you can get funding if you have a good idea for something to do over Winter Term.

Reasons to not attend Oberlin College:
1) A lot of people complain about the location. It would be a little better if we were closer to Cleveland.
2) It’s small, and I think I had an easy time meeting friends, but I know other people can have a hard time socializing and meeting people.
3) The Psychology and the Creative Writing departments are both small and notoriously hard to get into. I actually was going to be a Creative Writing major, but I didn’t get into a class and I never ended up taking it.

Notice: Oberlin College and Conservatory is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Oberlin College and Conservatory.

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