Mmm well, I could definitely write a novel in this category, and I am a freshman. But for lack of time, energy, and concentration I will answer the "big picture" question in small parts. The best thing about this school is you can truly be Whoever and Whatever you want to be. Define your life, yourself, your goals, your dreams and you can make it work here. Not only that but you will be both appreciated and encouraged to be that individual here. If I had to change one thing it would be my freshman dorm room. Obviously, this is a given. But it's small and I want the lap of luxury, hey, I dream big and freshman get screwed in the housing lottery. I spend most of my time on campus in one of three places (it's pretty evenly divided). Numero uno - my room. Numero dos - my classes. And numero tres - the gym. The town is such a blessing in disguise. Upon first glance the town of Oberlin, which is basically puzzle pieced right into the school, seems small and unexciting. But it truly has everything I need/want/have time to enjoy. In terms of food there are like, 6 pizza places, 4 Chinese places, and various other culturally diverse and mainstream dining options. There are Great shops to by interesting gifts, books, art supplies, pet kittens, find vintage clothes, get your nails done, hair cut, and find that purple lip gloss you've always wanted. There is the cutest old-fashioned theater which plays a new and popular movie every week (alcohol is easily smuggled in and usually consumed here) where students enjoy a little taste of life outside the bubble. And if you get sick of the small town atmosphere Cleveland is easily accessible and there you're heart will be content. Oberlin also has a few drug marts and a grocery store if you need them. The administration: well, I haven't had my fair share of experience with everyone yet but I have good things to say thus far. Everyone is incredibly intelligent, helpful and willing to help you succeed in life. What more could you ask for. The new president is a great guy who has made a point of becoming Super involved in the short time that we've known him and is also very open to listening to what students want and need. Administrative members are accessible and easy going. They have their days but they seem to love it here and that definitely shows. The biggest recent controversy on campus dealt with the treatment of students, school policy enforcement, by campus security. A few students were apprehended after a party in a manner which was seen by some as harsh, even unethical, and this caused a big stir across the campus. School pride almost goes unspoken here. We know that we're from a well respected school, that we've helped mold that respect and earn a good reputation so we are proud to say we go to Oberlin. There is definitely a wide array of excellent Oberlin parifinelia and not a day goes by without a number of your friends sporting some great Oberlin sweatshirts. As far as unusual things about Oberlin, that list can get pretty extensive. But the unusual things are definitely positive. We have co-op living, tgif (the best way to spend your friday), gender-neutral bathrooms, self-designed majors, no (class specific) 1st year curriculum requirements, really crazy-cool and very nice people who will teach you more than your wildest dreams could reveal, and professors who make legitimate analogies between ferris buellers day off and your subject matter. From my Freshman year I will always remember going to my first organ pump concert at 12am and laying on the stage of Finney chapel with a hundred or so other students in darkness and silence, feeling the vibrations of a gigantic organ through the floor beneath me. It's unreal. As for complaints, I mean, No One wants to write that 10 page midterm or miss dinner to practice Bach for 5 hours.
The best thing is that everyone is open-minded so it's easy to feel comfortable being yourself here. Also, most people are genuinely excited about learning, and that makes it fun to be here and talk to people. Which brings me to the thing I'd change- I wish people were more extroverted here. It's not true that everyone is awkward, but it can be difficult to initiate friendships with people. I really like the size- it feels big when you start but by the time you're a senior, often when you meet a new person you realize you're somehow connected to them or have met them before. People's reactions to telling them you go to Oberlin: Either they've never heard of it, or they've only heard of the Conservatory and ask you what instrument you play, or they know someone who's gone here and offer kudos on going to an awesome school. I spend a lot of time in my dorm- my friends here are like my second family. The college town is basically one street with a few restaurants and small shops. There is 1 bar, and the closest hard liquor store is basically driving distance, or quite a long walk (though you can buy beer and such at one of the shops in town which is much closer). The administration is going through some major changes right now, but in the time I've been here the biggest complaint is that the college sucks at handling money. It seems like there's never enough of it even though it costs an arm and a leg to go here. I feel like there's not a lot of controversy because we're all very liberal. But, race/ethnic relations can get a little touchy because some of us are very PC and some of us are very not. There is not a lot of school pride and people are very anti-traditional, which can be a drag sometimes. Oberlin students would rather discuss what could be improved about our school than what they love about the way it is. Everything about Oberlin is unusual! Don't miss Drag Ball, the biggest event on campus, held every spring.
I adored Oberlin. I got to delve deeper into the subjects I wanted to build my career on and hone my skills in those fields, but I also got to try new subjects I hadn't had the chance to do before. I loved expanding my horizons, and getting to choose how I did that because of how the distribution requirements are structured. They don't require a language, which I think is actually too bad, but I took Latin for the first time and loved it, and I lived in French House -never took a French class there, but I sorta didn't need too. Some of the best friends I have in the world are from Oberlin. And we're all so different! From different states, different majors, different dress styles, different genders and sexualities, different tastes in food and music a lot of the time. But I think our minds function on a similar plane; we are hungry for life and to explore, and having people with such varied skills and interests but which some common passions around helps you do that so much better. The college has a new president, so where its headed could changes a bit. But I really like the president; he's very visible and has really been interacting with the students and the college itself. I met him at a study break, I see him at school shows and exhibitions. He even read Yertle the Turtle aloud at the Doctor Suess Day at the TOWN's public library. I think he will be good for the school. Oberlin students do like to argue and complain, but its almost like a sport sometimes, no real rancor, but there is a lot of school pride.It shows in unusual things maybe more than traditional baseball games or something like that. It's at the women's rugby matches in the rain, or streakers through the library during reading period, or the rush to sit on the stage during an organ concert to the feel the floor vibrate under you as you're crammed next to three hundred other Obies.
The best thing is the atmosphere. Everyone wants to learn, everyone is passionate about something and has talent. It's just too big to get to know everyone, but you feel like you can almost do it. In the conservatory, it may be possible to know everyone. The reactions I get after telling people I went to Oberlin vary depending on who asks. People who haven't heard of Oberlin say, why do you go to school in Ohio? Doesn't the weather suck? For me, there are other reasons to go to school than for good weather. I always tell them that although Oberlin is in Ohio, it is not Ohio. It has a very different feel from nearby areas. If they have heard of Oberlin, they usually ask what instrument I play. If they are a professional scholar, they usually say, Oberlin, yes, that's a very good school - good sciences, and good humanities. The town surrounding Oberlin College is very small and has its issues. It's cool to try and help out for after school programs and tutor struggling students at the high school and middle school. I like the new president and the people at the registrar's office, but other than that, I do not like the administration. The conservatory makes Oberlin great. There are concerts all the time. Amazing music. I'm going to remember the Bela Fleck and the Flecktone's concert probably for a long time coming. I'm pretty sure a blur of spandex parties will be lodged in my cortices floating around for a pretty long time, too.
Oberlin provides a well rounded academic experience in a comfortable setting. However, I hope that the College employs its resources to better prepare students for life after Oberlin and maybe instates new practices to acheive this goal. Sometimes Oberlin can feel like high school, but after Oberlin one realizes how nice it was to easily see and be with close friends. Most people are very impressed by the name Oberlin in the real world- while in Oberlin the majority of my time was spent at the Art Museum- Art Building, occasionally the gym. I am from Oberlin, and I do wish the College would work harder to bridge a serious relationship. Oberlin's administration could use some serious closer examination. The biggest recent controversy on campus that I heard about ironically enough involved an Oberlin police officer and a number of african american students. I think situations like this leave students with a sense of less college/town pride. Oberlin is an unusual place, or atleast most people believe and feel this way about Oberlin College and the town. My most memorable experience at Oberlin was September 11th. A campus full of New Yorkers, the tragity was felt hundreds of miles from Manhattan.
Oberlin is small enough that you know a large portion of the student body but not so small you feel smothered. There are also a lot of opportunities for things like research and getting published that you might associate with a larger university. And instead of graduate students you the undergrad get that close personal relationship. The majority of people don't know about Oberlin when I tell them where I go but if they do I always get an overwhelmingly positive response, whether they know only of Oberlin's conservatory, know an alum or are an alum themselves. I've found alums in all kinds of places from my mother's doctors to my uncle's fellow lawyers. The town of Oberlin is small but alive and generally likes the input of students in the community. We have several parades and festivals in which both community members and students participate. A lot of profs live in town or close by so they are also involved in the community and encourage students to be as well.
I love the library. It helped me decide to come here. It's funky and AWESOME with crazy nooks and crannies, and possibly ever book ever written. Oberlin is great because it's small. I was worried it would be too small for me- i'm very social and was worried i'd "go through" everyone here quickly and then be like "where are all the people?!" When I narrowed down my school choices, it was between Oberlin, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. Pretty much, two HUGE school + Oberlin. But the fact that it's small just makes socializing all that much better. My friends at large schools only hang out with their nuclear group of friends they made freshman year; I can hang out with pretty much anyone, and it's not weird to make new friends daily, or to make those new friends your new best friends. Also, no matter where you go on campus, you find someone you know. it's really great when you're having a bad day and you run into that cute boy from your econ class, ya know?
I find it interesting and slightly disturbing that many (I hesitate to say most, because I don't know for sure) of the students at Oberlin hail from fairly affluent families, but the town of Oberlin does not have nearly that same level of wealth. Many strange tensions exist between the college and the town (for example, when the college builds, the issue of encroaching upon the town's space seems to come up fairly frequently.) Despite the example I gave, Oberlin spans a few blocks at most, making for a tight-knit, almost summer-camp feel (give or take frigid winters). Oberlin students have a reputation for having problems with authority, and this manifests itself (albeit fairly tamely) in almost every interaction with the administration. Someone always stands by when the college does anything and has some moral or philosophical (and maybe even valid!) reason to object or complain.
BEST Thing- you can be whoever you want and be loved. Id change the location. Its cool that this microcosm is in the Bible Belt, but not having to fly home to the east coast would be nice. Just right said goldie locks. Depending on who.... they say "Where's that?" or "Do you know so and so..." Spend most time in/outside dorm with friends. "what college town"- but you gotta love every bit of it. Administration has got to let us kids do our thing. stop changing what is awesome about these 4 yrs. Controversey? Drag Ball. Look it up in rolling stone Yes. people are SO proud to go here and should be and its wonderful...not so much team spirit though I will always remember dancing in a lightning storm and drinking beer and smoking hookah on the first warm night in spring. ITS COLD! ITS SNOWY!
The best thing about Oberlin are the professors and the courses they offer each semester. The professors are willing to help you with almost anything if you go to their office hours. I found that they were very helpful for talking about topics for long research papers and with finding sources. The classes are never boring, because the teachers are very passionate about their chosen topic. The main "problem" with Oberlin is the town. I believe that potential students need to be prepared for the fact that the town is tiny and does not have a variety of restaurants or entertainment. There are three Chinese restaurants and a one room movie theater. It's not a very big town, the the prospective student needs to be prepared to live a "small town" instead of a "city" lifestyle.