4.5 out of 5 Stars
The term 'exceptional' is probably the best word for the academics at Oberlin. They are unlike anything I've ever experienced and they are as challenging as I imagined them to be when I was in high school. The 'core requirements' can be as diverse as the kinds of minds that attend the college: it is all about the student. Class size never goes over 100 students and the majority of our classes are capped at 30 or 40 students The best way to describe 'competition' at Oberlin is nonexistent. I don't think I've ever been asked what my grade was; students are competing with the best they can do personally, not other students. Study abroad is probably the best part about Oberlin. I was allowed to study in Prague and Southern Africa in the same year! I will still be able to finish two majors and I am an honors candidate in both! This year has been the most influential in my life so far and I owe it to Oberlin.Quality of Life
Cost of living is definitely lower than where I'm from (New York City), though it is tempting to eat out because - believe it or not - there's some really good food in Oberlin. I Love being on campus. From the womb chairs in the library to any event taking place after classes, I typically never do the same activity twice.Admissions
You fill out the common Application and then there is an application supplement with questions like, "What do you see yourself doing at Oberlin?" and "Why Oberlin?" When I was applying, Oberlin offered early decision for both the conservatory as well as the college. I believe there are two dates of ED for both departments. Regular decision is usually the preferred mode of application. What I was initially impressed with was how many ways there were to get to know the school: tours, interviews (my favorite) and a lot of online material. Now, Oberlin has all kinds of blogs online for each department and each year some form of "Class of ____" shows up on facebook. The application process can be fun and, most importantly, informative.Level
We have pretty good facilities but are required to live on campus. It is not enjoyable to live in dorms for three years and the fact that the school is trying to keep people in dorms makes living less attractive. We have a great cooperative association. The community is safe. The library has incredible resources. The community relations are OK. We are working on a town wide green initiative but need to increase the quality of life in the town.Admissions
I did an interview and applied early education. It was the common application with one extra question which was simply "Why Oberlin."Level
There are no core classes, but there are general graduation requirements. You must take 9 credit hours in each of three areas: natural science, social science and humanities. You also must fulfill the cultural diversity, quantitative proficiency, and writing requirements. All of these requirements are easy to fulfill, and they promote interests in fields you might not have previously considered. I love that there are no core requirements. I still feel like I'm taking a wide variety of classes, but I'm not "wasting time" on a class that doesn't fit my interests at all. I have taken classes that I didn't think I would like but tried them because I'd heard the professor was great and ended up loving the field!
Class sizes are for the most part really great if you like a discussion atmosphere. Intro courses are usually larger (between 50 and 100 students). But as soon as you get past those, many classes include at least some participation. Personally I love this aspect because it not only fosters community, but allows students to learn from each other in addition to the professor. Further, professors like learning from students, which allows for constant flow of ideas and information.
There are plenty of research opportunities, and professors are always more than willing to talk about options and possibilities.
Oberlin students are not competitive with each other... we are more competitive with ourselves. I've found that students are incredibly supportive of each other and truly want to help each other do better. Study groups, peer editors, and student tutors are the norm. Students here are helpful and really love talking about classes and what they are learning.
Grading depends on the professor but I've found that it is usually fair.
The workload also depends on the combination of classes. Oberlin is a hard school... professors have high expectations, but I've found that I love doing the work and readings that are assigned.
Professors here are incredible! Most have become my role models! They really care about their students and are dedicated. Honestly, the professors and students are tied for first in terms of the best things about Oberlin.Admissions
The essay question was fairly normal, but I loved that the interview was with a current student. That gave me an opportunity to have a low pressure conversation with a current student; it also showed me that the college truly values its students' opinions (they trust the students enough to interview prospective students). Having a current student conduct the interview proved that Oberlin respects, values, and trusts its students' views and opinions... that was important to me in choosing a college. Further, I didn't apply for a scholarship, and my family didn't qualify for financial aid, but I received a merit based scholarship with my acceptance letter. Needless to say, that was a plus!Level
999 distribution requirement in natural science, humanities, social sciences, quantitative proficiency, writing proficiency, studied abroad at BADA in London this semester, 20:1 teacher:student ratio, tons of research ops.Quality of Life
pretty expensive living, wish there was more offcampus opportunity so we could get the chance to see what housing in the real world is life. not much crime. great libraries.Admissions
Common application, essays, regular decisionLevel
The general requirements for graduation are pretty flexible. In the sciences, professors are extremely available. In my first year of Chemistry, I was able to join a group doing research for my fall semester professor. In my second semester of Chemistry, my professor was so enthusiastic and good at what she did that I now hope to model my teaching after hers.Quality of Life
OSCA (Oberlin Student Cooperative Association) is possibly the best thing to ever happen to a school. It's a student run corporation which offers both housing and dining options where work, such as cooking, running cleaning schedules,etc., is shared by students and all decisions are made using cooperative principles. The communities are grade, the food can be even betterLevel
Students apply through the Common Application, to which Oberlin adds an Oberlin-specific supplement. This supplement includes questions about family who may have attended Oberlin; what, of a number of choices, had the greatest impact on a student choosing to apply for Oberlin; whether they are interested in financial aid or early decision; and an essay that essentially asks "Why Oberlin?" If a student is interested in early decision, they send in the supplement. If they also check that they're interested in financial aid, a student would be sent an early estimate of their aid package, including merit aid, before signing the early decision agreement. This allows all students the freedom of making a choice with full knowledge of their financial aid.
Oberlin meets 100% of need, based on the FAFSA and CSS Profile, through mainly grants, generally less than $5,000 in loans per year, and a small amount of work-study. Merit aid, therefore, is based entirely on academic merit in the College of Arts and Sciences. (The Conservatory of Music bases its merit aid on musical ability.)
Interviews are recommended, but not required. Interviews are fairly casual, with the interview and student asking questions of one another. Interviewers may be admissions staff, student admissions interns, or alumni. Visits and overnight stays are encouraged as a way to get to know the school.Graduation Year
The major rule is the 9-9-9 requirement. We have to take 9 credits (about 3 classes) each in the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. I fulfilled these without really trying and by taking only classes of interest to me. We also have writing and quantitative proficiency requirements and a cultural diversity requirement. Again, these are fairly simple to fulfill. There are really no "core classes" to speak of. Each major has their own requirements, but they are generally about 30 credits (or 9-10 classes) within the department. There are several interdisciplinary majors that may be trickier to figure out, but your advisor should be able to help you with that. Professors are extremely accessible and generally willing to talk to you about anything of interest, regardless of whether it pertains to your class topic or not.
Perhaps the best aspect of Oberlin's academics is the nature of competition. As students, we tend to strive for excellence, but tend not to be competitive with each other. Because of this, we end up talking about or classes and the subjects we're studying outside of class quite a bit and generally makes for a more productive atmosphere.
Study abroad is fairly easy. Oberlin has several programs itself and many affiliated programs. We have a library that is filled with student-written reviews of all the programs students have ever gone on. As a Russian major, I've received a lot of support and guidance in finding the right study-abroad program.Quality of Life
College housing and dining is decent, but OSCA is the place to be. OSCA hands down the best and most distinctive part of Oberlin, not to say there isn't a lot of competition for that title. Food here tends to be pretty cheap, especially compared to the cities most people come from. The town is small, but cute. If you get claustrophobic, find somebody with a car (it's not that hard) and go to Cleveland. You'll be reminded why you like Oberlin. Overall, Oberlin is a really safe campus. I'm a girl, and I feel completely comfortable walking across campus by myself at three in the morning.Admissions
Oberlin's application process is fairly straightforward. In addition to the common app, they have the typical "Why Oberlin?" question. I also had an interview with a Senior Admissions Intern, a current senior at the college. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the college and to get a chance to talk to a current student one-on-one. Oberlin doesn't require you to apply separately for scholarships which made the process much simpler.Level
Classes are not as difficult as I expected, though that could be because I'm only a first-year and have taken mostly introductory classes. Everything is interesting and the professors are CLEARLY interested in what they are doing. Some are INCREDIBLY engaging and passionate, which makes their classes outstanding.
Most classes are small--30 max. The biggest is intro to psychology, which is a little over 100 students; this is HUGE for Oberlin.
There are opportunities for science students to work on experiments with professors--similarly for Psych students.
Every student has at least one adviser (one per major; triple-majors have three!).Quality of Life
People are friendly and helpful. The CDS food is good, and if you don't like it, you can eat in a co-op. The crime rate is low, we get on okay with the town (though there's some mutual incomprehension, I think), and people seem really happy in general.Admissions
-Oberlin supplement to Common App
-no early action, but Early Decision exists
-meets all demonstrated nee
-gives merit scholarships (good ones!)
-no athletic scholarshipsLevel
Good academic advising and clear major/minor requirements. Small class sizes, and accessible professors. Fair grading and honor code system.Quality of Life
Nice housing and dining options, good neighborhood/area.Admissions
Small supplementary application with an essay about why I wanted to attend Oberlin College, along with the Common Application. Have early decision option.Level
Some unique app questions and essays, plus the Common App. An interview which doesn't really make much of a difference to the admissions process, but is more to allow the interviewee to ask questions. I applied Early Decisions. There are a lot of financial aid and scholarship opportunities, to my knowledge.Graduation Year