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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

School Spotlight: Oberlin College

Updated: May 8, 2023

If you are looking for a college that offers an outstanding liberal arts education within a personalized, supportive and collaborative community, take a closer look at Oberlin College. Oberlin offers a College of Arts and Sciences (2,225 students) and a Conservatory of Music (540 students) with about 40 new students entering the Double Degree program each year. Oberlin graduates are highly sought after by both employers, as well as graduate and professional schools. Here are 5 things that make Oberlin unique:

1) Oberlin's Peer Advising Leader (PAL) program connects first-year students with upperclassmen to facilitate the transition to college. PALs lead a cohort of 15 students and are a terrific support system for new students as they navigate any academic, social, and emotional challenges and work to find their way through their new life on campus. The same cohort of students will participate in the First-Year seminar program together as well. The seminar program introduces students to the liberal arts approach to education and gives them a chance to explore an area of interest. Fall 2021 courses include titles like: "Deconstructing Disney," "Justice in America?,""The Nature of Human Language," and "Transportation in the City."

2) As an undergraduate-only college, students have ample opportunity to participate in research with faculty and their peers. About 2/3 of Oberlin students engage in some sort of research. Oberlin has a long history of strength in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the National Science Foundation has awarded millions of dollars in research grants to Oberlin. Many students will use their Winter Term to engage in research. Oberlin's academic calendar has a four-week Winter Term each January, giving students the chance to explore their passions. This could be through a study away opportunity, a job, a research project, a volunteer project, or anything else the student envisions. 75% of students will study away at some point during their Oberlin experience.

3) The Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin has been recognized as a top 5 academic art museum in the country. Twice a year, Oberlin students can rent original art for a semester through the Art Rental program, giving them access to world-class pieces that they would never otherwise be able to own. Students camp out overnight to get in line, as the early bird catches the worm with pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and other masters available for rent!

4) Through Experimental College or "ExCo," students can take or teach courses for credit that have been designed by their peers, administrators, faculty or local townspeople. ExCo courses give 1 or 2 credits, are typically taught once or twice a week and give students a chance to explore topics that are not otherwise offered through the curriculum. The sky is the limit with these topics, as previous courses have included Tolkien 101, Drugs and Harm Reduction, True Crime and Media, Video Games as Art, Hip Hop, Intro to Pottery, and Intro to 1980's Aerobics.

5) Oberlin's Career Communities help students explore potential career paths and develop the skills necessary to succeed throughout the job search process. Students will select a career community that resonates with them and take workshops with faculty, staff, and alumni in the particular career sector. Each year $300K is awarded to students so they can pursue summer internships or research projects in their desired fields.

Regardless of your musical abilities, music is a big part of the culture at Oberlin. Students who are not in the Conservatory can choose to participate in the Arts and Sciences Orchestra, take the Steel Drum Exco and join the Oberlin Steel, work at the campus radio station or just admire the talents of their peers and community members as a spectator at one of the 500 concerts performed each year.

Tips for students wanting to apply can be found here.

Sign up to visit Oberlin here- virtual and in-person opportunities are available.

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