Eclectic and ridiculous. You can find your people here. Vegans, hipsters, indie kids, vegetarians, jocks, hippies, artists, writers, musicians, computer programmers, comic book nerds, Japaniphiles, circus kids, theater kids, theater tech workers, LARPers, LGBTQ youth... they're everywhere. The student body is really accepting, and while there are a few cliques around, most friend groups will welcome you happily. Everyone is excited about something, and it's pretty easy to find someone who has that in common with you. Campus is predominantly left, though being right wing only means you'll have more political discussions (probably).
Oberlin's student body is comprised of people who scored well on their SAT's and consider themselves to be quirky and/or awkward and want to be in a place where they feel normal because other people are more quirky than them. I am like this, except there are no people here that are quirkier than me perse. I need to take action, and I only kind of like that. Most Oberlin students are from Maryland, Ohio, and California. I'm not from any of those places. I really dislike the Ohio landscape topographically. Do different types of students interact? No. But there are very few types of students at Oberlin.
Oberlin is much less diverse than the college likes to advertise itself as. There are a lot of white kids -- a lot of upper class white kids who like to rebel and act like they are poor. Everyone wants to be poor at Oberlin. That sounds like a strange statement, but there is a certain shame of being wealthy here. People don't flaunt money here as much as they do at larger public universities. They don't cruise around in expensive cars or flaunt pricey designer clothing or accessories. There is also often a lot of self-segregation of people from different backgrounds -- ethnic, racial, religious, interests, etc.
Oberlin welcomes everybody no matter what your race, gender, religious views, financial background, etc., etc. Honestly--the atmosphere is incredibly open! You might only feel really out of place if you would describe yourself as extremely fundamentalist in your religious beliefs, really mainstream in terms of career aspirations, a huge jock, or if you're pretty conservative in terms of political philosophy. Even if you belong to one of these categories, it is definitely still possible to enjoy your time at Oberlin. I've known students from these "categories" who have done quite well.
The school is predominately white, upper-middle class. A large percentage of the student body seems to come from the east coast, but you will find people from all over the country, and the world! The student body is a lot less radical-liberal than the Oberlin stereotypes suggest...and I believe this is part of a conscious effort by the college to market Oberlin as more "mainstream" and less "out there." Do not be fooled! We welcome freaks, outcastes, anyone who wants to just be themselves! We are not fearless! We are afraid, and we just want you to like us. More hippies please!
Many attest that the student body can be divided into the connies (conservatory students) and everyone else (college students). Overall, the connies tend to be very passionate musicians and are, in general, more conservative than the college students. They tend to form tight knit groups within their studios and instrumental groups. The college students are generally more liberal and cover a large range of personas. Oberlin draws a wide variety of students, but two overarching terms used to describe our student body are awkward and unique.
Students appreciate the value of education, and pursue knowledge in a way that is supportive of those around them, rather than trying to gain a competitive edge. This takes a lot of pressure off when compared with similarly rigorous curricula at other colleges. The mindset of the students is truly what sets Oberlin apart, with the majority of students being open to non-conventional thought processes and forms of self-expression. In other words, Oberlin is a place where the "weird kids" from high school (me!) can feel completely comfortable.
I hate to say it, but Oberlin is an ugly college. Many kids don't dress well, and often don't take showers. The campus is somewhat hostile to main stream views, people with money, and men. This is changing and not everyone feels this way. These feeling vary by department. Some professors down grade for "wrong" political ideas and some students glare at you for liking "normal" gender roles. Other professors encourage intelligent thought and other students respect everyone's choices.
You're going to feel out of place at Oberlin if social issues pertaining to race, sexuality, and socio-economic status are completely foreign to you. I had a roommate (who ended up transferring) who was from a smaller town in Wisconsin and had never knowingly met a homosexual. She learned a lot during her two years at the school and became much more open-minded, but she just couldn't get used to it. She was also a little more politically conservative than most students at Oberlin.
Oberlin has -people from every socio-economic group -A large number of people identifying with the queer spectrum -a large number of Jews -a large number of churches -a significant number of new yorkers and californians -a variety of clothing styles -lots of politically active liberals -a republican club -lots of coooooool club sports (like Quidditch!!!!!!!!) -sooo much access to organic and locally grown foods! -a HUGE amount of love