Oberlin College and Conservatory
BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity Biracial: White and Hispanic
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Private high school in Colorado with a graduating class of about 60 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I play a varsity sport.
What impact did your sport have on your experience?
It’s focused on team bonding, and a lot of my friends are on the team. I’m with my teammates a lot of the time with practice every day. It’s something I’m used to, coming from a high school where I played multiple sports.
Is there anything you feel Oberlin has done especially well or poorly academically?
Especially well, I think the connections with teachers. Smaller student classes have been very beneficial because you get to know the teachers well. You can easily go into their office hours and have a conversation with them about something, and it’s not stressful. [78% of classes have fewer than 20 students.]
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative. It is a competitive school, but compared to some other friends I’ve talked to that have parents working at more prestigious and competitive schools, they really enjoy the culture at Oberlin more. I do a lot of collaborative group projects. In Biology, we take one test individually, and then we re-take the test in a group format, which makes up 30% of your grade.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Some more than others, but they’re pretty accessible through email. The ones doing research are a little harder to get in contact with, but being in a collaborative environment, you can ask almost any student there to help you. They also have OWLS, which are third or fourth-year students majoring in the subject that host late night study sessions between 6 and 9 PM. You can go in there and ask a question.
What is your favorite class you’ve taken at Oberlin?
My Biology classes have been my favorite. I’ve enjoyed how the professors teach the material. They give packets with more detailed information, so you can understand it if you missed it in lecture. I’ve enjoyed incorporating learned concepts in real-life, and understanding how things are working in my body and the environment.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I’d say so. There’s a big variety of classes. So far, I’ve taken the History of China, History of Rome, and the History of the Caribbean. It’s a pretty notoriously liberal school that has liberal views. A lot of professors stay away from that.
How was transitioning academically as a freshman? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
Because I’ve been a student-athlete for all four years of high school, I’ve learned how to manage my time better. I’d say working with friends, teammates, and the OWL sessions have been very beneficial for me.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Robert Lewis Kahn Hall with one roommate.
How was transitioning from Colorado to Oberlin, OH?
It’s a big difference. I don’t see many stairs or hills, so it’s a lot flatter. I can always go home if I want to or if I need to. The weather is similar to Colorado because it’s cold.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
There’s really good safety. I haven’t had problems with that. It’s a small town, so we’re not having bigger town problems. Cleveland is only 30 minutes away if you want to go there. You can get text messages from campus safety, and they do a good job of keeping everything calm.
Pros and Cons of being in Oberlin, OH?
1) There aren’t many city people walking through the campus.
2) Cleveland is only 30 minutes away.
3) We still get all of the seasons here. You won’t get snow like Colorado, but you’ll get cold, warmth, fall, and spring.
1) We are kind of in the middle of nowhere.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I usually go to one of the sports houses for nightlife. The parties are definitely smaller than your normal DIII liberal arts schools, but you get to know the people so it’s nice. Coming from a small high school, anything bigger then 60 students in your graduating class is going to be fun. Nights that everyone goes out are Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The school is based on a lot of music and incorporating the student body in selecting artists to play at the school. There is a lot of live music on Wednesdays. The Conservatory is a big part of the school, so you can go to student Jazz concerts. Student Council hosts the bigger name artists that will come in.
What’s the impact of sports teams on the nightlife?
The Northern campus parties are focused on sports and are at the athletic houses next to the sports fields. South campus has more co-op houses where you aren’t on a meal plan, so people make food for their house. I haven’t gone to those parties yet, but they’re a little different. There’s live music at them, opposed to a classic stereo system at an athletic party.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with it. If I want to go to a bigger party, there are bigger schools around us. Michigan is two hours away from us, Miami of Ohio is South of us, and Indiana is fairly close. I like the small vibe where I see everyone at parties. I get to speak with them, and it’s not just a new person every day.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my sports team. I’ve also gained a lot of friendships with other athletes through the classes I’ve taken. Branching out is key.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Oberlin?
Very good. I’d say it’s done a good job how everyone collaborates in classes, and no one really keeps to themselves. Everyone is outgoing, and you can see that vibe throughout the entire campus.
How would you describe the student body?
Being a more Liberal school definitely plays a part in it. You see a lot of people are themselves, and nobody is trying to hide who they are. It’s definitely a weirder school, but it’s nothing somebody can’t adjust to. I’ve adjusted to everything and have enjoyed it.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think very well. With the nature of everyone being open and accepting, you might notice it, but it doesn’t keep people apart. Everyone is outgoing and accepting of each other, and I tend to see diverse groups of friends. [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?
There are just under 3,000 people. Coming from a small school it’s much bigger for me, but it’s not so overwhelming like somewhere with 30,000 undergraduates. [The class of 2022 has about 800 students.]
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
The financial aid is very good. That was a big factor for me coming to this school. I haven’t gone to the office, but communication with them is easy and prompt.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Oberlin before entering as a freshman?
You don’t have to have a major in mind right away. Because it’s a liberal arts school, you get to declare your major after your second year, so it gives you time to branch out and figure out different courses you like. You don’t have to come in with a set mindset.
What is something that a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
It’s just like high school where everyone is still developing. It’s not that you have to come in and be the best athlete you’ve ever been. The freshman here are like the freshman in high school, where you’ll be much better by senior year. You have to work hard to get to a starting level, but development is still key in an athletic setting.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The nightlife and social setting. With a tour, I stayed with one of the teammates on my visit, so I got to experience that and see what a party was like.
Reasons to attend Oberlin College:
1) There is good financial aid.
2) It’s a close and open setting. You’ll have good friendships, and you can be open about who you want to be here.
3) It’s a smaller school so you can have better relationships with your teachers. They’ll know you on a first name basis, and will know who you are as a person.
Reasons to not attend Oberlin College:
1) The social life might not be the classic college scene with huge fraternity parties. There aren’t fraternities here.
2) The setting is outside of Cleveland, so it’s more rural. On the flipside, you’re close to Cleveland.