Oberlin College Top Questions

Describe the students at your school.

Torry

Oberlin has the widest variety of identities I've seen in a group of people our age. I come from New York City (as do many other students), so I don't see or expect the same amount of racial or cultural diversity as I do at home. I am always surprised by the diversity of style, sexuality, class and personal beliefs. I've learned so much about myself by getting to know my peers at Oberlin.

Anna

Students are diverse but have a very strong common thread, if that makes sense. For example: most students are liberal on the political spectrum, but you could still poll 50 different people about a policy issue and get 50 different opinions and proposed solutions. Another example: One person went to a private school; another went to an inner city public school and is here on scholarship, but they both were drawn to Oberlin by the Jazz program. Most people are pretty relaxed and range anywhere from wearing sweatpants to class to wearing an eccentric outfit made of spandex. Any pretentiousness is usually people trying to be more artistic/indie/hipster; not people trying to show off their wealth or fashion sense.

Carrie

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.

Simon

Like I said before, people are smart. That is something I liked about Oberlin very much. In terms of the 'academic-makeup' of the student body, I don't think there is anyone who wouldn't fit in. I was friends with physics majors, art majors, politics majors, creative writing majors, music majors, etc. There is no type of student that dominates the student body. I would say, however, the while ethnic and personal diversity is abundant, geographic diversity is not. At least 75% of the people I knew were from either the NY metropolitan area, or California. NYC and San Francisco alone make up a large portion of the student body. Can't think of anyone I knew who was from the South. Also, as an Alum, I can safely say that while Oberlin does trumpet its success in sending students on to higher degrees, I knew few people with such aspirations. But perhaps that will change once they see their UG degree won't get them far by itself.

Mariko

Very friendly and helpful, and devoted to learning. They tend to be very imaginative and idealistic.

Aries

Ma'ayan and Aries made a video about a day in the life of an Oberlin student. The film goes from breakfast at the Black River Cafe, class, practicing in the Conservatory, research with the Neuroscience Department and studying in the library.

Sam

The student body, by and large, is pretty neurotic. The only people I knew who had any chutzpah were the drug dealers.

Josh

They are passionate, artistic, politically aware and active, and motivated.

Lauren

I am in the music conservatory which is vastly different from the college. Most of the college students came to Oberlin for the liberal campus; therefore, there is a lot of activism throughout. The students in the conservatory came for the music program, not the politically charged campus, and act a bit differently. I would say that most of the conservatory students are liberal, but tend to follow a less radical form of liberalism.

Greta

weird

Kyle

The students I go to school with are very smart, love to learn, are diverse and open minded.

not

Lovingly insane.

Meredith

The students who come here are different individuals who either wish to become serious musicians, serious arts and sciences students, aware of their blossoming unique identities and sexualities, or party: i.e. Oberlin students are like students at any other school, but with the addition of a more liberal atmosphere and high quality conservatory on campus.

Olivia

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David Arnow

I'm going to pass on this section. I know what I'm talking about in the other sections, because I've kept up quite carefully on that stuff. I've read UNIGO's summary and the things that other reviewers have written and it rings true for what was 35 years ago and in terms of my encounters with more recent Obies so you can probably go by all that.

Arielle

My classmates are smart, slightly neurotic, and moderatley judgemental.

Amelia

Bright, interested, interesting, but not overacheivers.

Elizabeth

Oberlin students think they are very liberal, but at times have difficulty accepting differences- especially political and social. Oberlin is a school of rejects, in that in high school, the students were often outcasts and misfits, but Oberlin gives them a chance to feel like a part of a group. As a result, some Obies are unwilling to accept fellow classmates who remind them of people with whom they went to high school.

Ahmad

I am from Afghanistan and I was respected, loved by my friend and Oberlin students the most. There is no discrimination. Some clothing is weird. But still everything goes well. Life works well. You wake and either move to your class or a breakfast. Then you have supper in one of Dining halls and you enjoy your time. You don;t have to prepare yourself. Most students especially international ones get nice scholarships and there is employment on campus. Don't forget Oberlin students are from political or business family backgrounds and they are the future of America and are hard working. Try to build long lasting friendships. It will help you.

Lorie

Kids here are way too focused on fighting oppression. Lots of rich kids here. A lot of people say there's a lot of class discrimination here. I'm not sure I agree, as a fairly poor student.

Will

HUGE LGBTQ community at Oberlin. It's fantastic. Many gays, many vegans, vegetarians, musicians, nearly everybody either plays an instrument, acts, plays a sport, or will go on to cure an incurable disease. But don't feel intimidated, all are welcome. Oberlin thrives and starves off its students acting as differently and away from the mainstream as they want.

Jenny

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.

Harper

I was impressed by how often you could pick out Obies outside of campus by the frequency of their use of the words "literally", "xenophobia", "heteronormal", and "juxtaposition". I am so tired of most Oberlin students. But, some Obies are my favorite people in the whole world. LEFT of center, good god.

Harper

It's a huge mix at Oberlin. I think there are more women than men, but its pretty even. I have friends from abroad, older, younger, gay, straight, bi, liberal, conservative, petty much every major out there, including Independent major. Some are on aid, some aren't. Some love stake, some are totally vegan. People are mostly leftys, and after Ohio residents from coastal cities or nearby areas (NYC, LA, the Bay Area, or Chicago), it influences their outlook. But I for one, coming from SF, welcomed the chance to be in a totally different environment, demographically, climatically, geographically. I learned a lot just from being there.

Harriet

Oberlin students are very liberal and very socially aware but they do not tend to be nearly as radical as their stereotype makes them out to be. We have a lot of vegetarians and vegans -sometimes I feel like more than half the people I know are vegetarians- and a lot of concern for LGBT and environmental issues. Oberlin students are generally extremely nice, well adjusted, and down to earth. There is very little clique-ishness - I always feel comfortable introducing myself to the person next to me in class. No one makes a big deal about wealth. I have no idea what socio-economic background my friends come from. It would be safe to assume that we are all well-off (it is a private college after all) but the campus is almost completely free of designer label-like status symbols.

Sydney

The student body is not quite as diverse as the college claims it to be, but it is an extremely open community and everyone is very friendly and accepting. Of course there is a very specific atmosphere on campus that may not be for everyone, but I'd find myself hard-pressed to think of one TYPE of person that wouldn't fit in, and I was very impressed when I got to campus freshman year with how open everyone was- and still is! I think it's more of an individual thing, althought you may find yourself in more than your share of debates if you are a raging conservative republican. I think that the most represented states on campus are New York and California, although most of my friends ended up being from the Midwest and the South, so I'm not sure it's really all that important... The most important thing about Oberlin's student body is that its priorities are in order. Students are passionate, and they're willing to pick majors and extracurriculars that truly interest them, that will truly benefit the world, no matter what this means in terms of being rich in the future.

Justin

The Student Body really makes Oberlin what it is. I've heard many times that we're the school's biggest asset and as corny as it may sound I tend to agree. Oberlin prides itself on its commitment to diversity yet it's something with which the school has constantly struggled. It gives out a lot of money in Financial Aid and admits a good number of students from lower income families but as tuition as grown this has been harder to do. Part of Oberlin Strategic Plan is to admit more full paying (i.e.rich) students. Racially things could be a lot better. Oberlin does make an effort to recruit minority students. As an African American male I found that I was a valuable commodity at Oberlin but valuable primarily because we're so rare. Oberlin has been admitting African American since 1835, one of the first schools to do so but in modern times it seems to have dropped the ball a little. The desire and commitment to diversity is there. All that's lacking is the diversity. As I mentioned above Oberlin is an accepting place if you're part of the LGBT community though our numbers are somewhat exaggerated. There does seem to be a large number of lesbians, especially on sports teams, but the gay male community seems a little anemic. This might be because Oberlin is a majority female school and a good number of those females are willing to experiment. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of most guys. Transgender people also have a small but strong community on campus. It's not perfect but I'd consider Oberlin one of the best places for Trans folk.

Bryan

Diversity is stressed within Oberlin. I won't lie - there might be times where you feel alone, depending on who you are. Of course, this is only if you go by appearance - there are definitely students on campus that are just like you, but they might not look like you at all. This encourages students to approach others on campus and to interact with each other. It is a little tough for some students to accept all of this change at once, and there might be times where you encounter people who share a completely different viewpoint from you based off of their own background. (We're all human, after all.) However, even if the largest body is upper-middle and Caucasian, they are nowhere near overwhelming, and the college stresses diversity based off of several factors. Oberlin is definitely politically active, and know that most of the student body is indeed left. Again, Oberlin is a place where we all learn to grow as individuals, and this tests us to see how we go about in making it happen.

Tristan

Oberlin is very diverse. Of recent, I feel like it has been getting slightly more homogenous in terms of economic background, with students being richer and richer, but I can't say for sure. Someone looking for a frat/ party school may not fit in to Oberlin right away. Most students don't care what they wear to class, but some people where onesies, and other people get decked out in 18th century garb on occassion. It just depends. A lot of Obies (oberlin students) are from California, New York, and Chicago. It's not too cliquey. A lot of students are politically active. mostly left. Not too many people are worried about money until after graduating, like me, for instance. I just graduated, and now I am just starting to worry about money. It depends on your background of course, but most people are more worried about other things than money. They want good opportunities and rich experiences. Money comes secondarily to that.

Carrie

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

Chris

Oberlin is very politically correct. Not oppressively so (people still appreciate off-color jokes about race and the like), but there is a constant awareness of race and gender relations on campus. Lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and genderqueer students are an accepted part of the Oberlin community, and for those who undergo an identity shift during their years at Oberlin, there are great support systems in place. As far as social interactions with LGBTQ students, the best thing to do is listen first, to pick up on the particular pronoun that person wishes to be identified with, though no one will be offended if you just ask. Likewise, if someone you know changes identity, they won't get offended if you mess up a couple times. Religious groups on campus are rarely evangelical, and seem to function more like support groups. They are non-exclusive (anyone can come) and are often a really great way to learn about other faiths. In a somewhat symbolic way, the Kosher/Halal Co-op cooks food specific to the religious dietary requirements of both Jews and Muslims. At the dinner, Jews and Muslims sit together, and prayers are said in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Mia

You can be who you are at Oberlin and you'll most likely find someone else who can relate. It's easy to find support groups is you need them and interest groups is you want them. For the most part, students seem to come from upper middle class backgrounds and this can seem limiting but I've met people from all over who fall all along the socio-economic spectrum. As long as Oberlin continues to provide lots of financial aid for those who need it, diversity can be maintained. I've heard it can be hard to have highly conservative socio-political views at Oberlin but, as long as you don't mind being in the minority, there are others with similar outlooks.

Brett

If you're a frat boy or a sorority girl, leave now. We dont have any frats or sororities. If you love to party, ehhhh, I'd try somewhere else. We have some, but, not enough to destroy you. Everyone at Oberlin is politically left. Sadly, Oberlin has started to become dominated by upper-middle class white kids who can afford the tuition. That's not to say we aren't diverse. We have people from all parts of the world and try to maintain that at all times!

Emily

the "typical" Oberlin student can be summed up in three words: -smart -musical (this does not mean you are in the conservatory - over 50% of my non-conservatory friends are involved in bands or play an instrument in some way - it is a very musical community and the quality of the conservatory only adds to the environment with extremely famous and talented visiting artists and frequent concerts and operas put on by the students at a very high level) -liberal (there are conservatives here, but they are an extreme minority. many have had no problem being a conservative at Oberlin - the class of 2008 president was a republican - but there are instances of political pressure from the students. for instance, in the 2004 presidential elections, people who openly admitted to intend to vote for Bush often faced a LOT of pressure to just not vote from their friends and peers, or had students attacking their views and forcing them to defend themselves against a barrage of liberal viewpoints) If you fit this description exactly, or would describe yourself with two or even one of these words, you will most likely be quite happy at Oberlin. The one thing I would say is that the most important word up there by far is "smart". Oberlin is a very intellectual atmosphere, sometimes almost pretentiously intellectual, and there isn't a lot of respect for dumb people or people that pretend to be dumb. Actually, that's not entirely correct - you can be dumb as long as you are an extremely gifted musician in the conservatory. oh, and if you aren't gay and transgendered friendly, don't come here, please.

Alison

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.

Hunter

Oberlin is a very accepting place. I think you can find representatives of almost any group. However, I think it is probably disproportionately Caucasian and wealthy. Students wear anything to class. I've seen everything from hooker boots to rollerblades to no shoes. Some of the buildings post signs obligating people to wear shirts. Sometimes it's an issue. There's a good deal of social overlap at Oberlin, but there are still some easily identifiable groups. The football team is pretty exclusive/excluded. Then there's the general "other athletes" group. The conservatory kids generally stick together also. However, none of these groups have hard boundaries.

Cody

The student body is not as diverse as you would expect from a school this open-minded. Idealologically, most students are liberal, but there are enough moderates/economic majors to foster lively debates. There are a lot of students from big cities, which makes for very interesting people watching in a small town. People who are jocks through and through sometimes have a hard time fitting in here.

Anna

For the most part students at Oberlin are smart and hard workers but fully enjoy their fun time. There are lots of student groups for all kinds of people. They are pretty active and hold concerts, fundraisers etc to raise awareness. They are all welcoming as far as I know. Students wear whatever they feel like, from sweats to high heels. I dont know about other colleges but it seems that at Oberlin there are many types of people and you can find just about anyone. Well no staunch republicans but there is an active republican club. Students are from all over the country and world. Students have aspirations beyond what they will earn but do talk about that sometimes.

Briana

Not much religion. There are a lot of wealthy white New Yorkers. Ruled by hipsters. Tons of support for LGBT students- huge population.

Sophia

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.

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