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Oberlin vs. Smith

frenchvanilla22frenchvanilla22 2 replies3 threads New Member
I am currently trying to choose between Smith College and Oberlin. Im having a really hard time making a decision. I live in NYC and have had the image of having the typical college experience being a big suburban co-ed campus with a cute college town, and smith fits that description minus the fact that it is an all girls school. That is the biggest thing that is acting as a roadblock in my mind which is making the decision so hard for me. All of the adults in my life besides the ones from school are leaning towards smith because of the reputation that it has and the alumni network of the sister schools. Is the reputation and network that important and prevalent for Smith?
Being from NYC, I am afraid of the culture shock that going to Ohio may bring since I'm coming from a diverse background of people to a place that is very very liberal and left leaning (not to mention white).
Does the fact that there is nothing outside of the Oberlin campus have a large effect on student life? Are those limitations note-worthy and do students feel like they are missing out by being restricted to their bubble of the campus and the town of Oberlin?
For anyone who can speak to this, what is the social life like at Smith, it being an all girls school. A concern for me is that I won't be able to make strong hetero friendships at Smith, and I know that the 5 college consortium brings opportunities to some extent but is that actually possible given that most of my time will be spent at Smith with the other women there. Is the
Another thing I am curious about is what the LGBTQ environment like. I am in a group chat for admitted students for the class of 2024 and it seems to me that most people are a part of that community and are excited to embrace that part of themselves in college (good for them!) so I want to know, given that, what is the social aspect on campus with this community among the other girls?
How do the academics at the two schools compare? I am most likely going to be studying something in the sciences like neuroscience or psychology. I know that both schools are strong in the sciences but does one pull more weight than the other?
I think the biggest concern for me overall is the fact that Smith is an all girls school. I was excited to go to college and make more friends and more importantly, different kinds of friends, be it male, female, international students, and basically have more of a diverse social experience. I feel like Oberlin will offer me that more than Smith. Is that assumption true? Should I be taking this aspect more lightly than I am?
At the end of the day I want a balanced social and academic college experience and I want to pick the place that will give me a good mix of both.
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Replies to: Oberlin vs. Smith

  • InflamedFaceXxInflamedFaceXx 1 replies0 threads New Member
    edited March 31
    Heyo! First of all, congrats on your acceptances. Those two institutions are both amazing! You should be so proud of yourself and I understand why you might be having trouble figuring out which of these two might be a better for you.

    As you said you are from the city, I understand that you are used to having a social life and many things outside of your school or campus. I’m sure oberlin will have enough activities to keep you engaged on campus

    I’ll be blunt, college is what you make of it. There’s only so much the school can offer, but you truly make the experience when it comes down to it. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut.

    Have you visited these schools? If not, I would suggest you attend some sort of virtual tour to see if you feel like you would be a good fit for these schools. You clearly are academically qualified.

    Let me tell you one thing, academics will be pretty much the same across the board. In this age, we all can teach ourselves or learn from a textbook. The college experience is indeed about the people you meet and the connections and support network you build. It is also important to note to that, people come and go in your life. So try to figure out what school would give you more
    Of that balance you’re seeking. And if you feel like you won’t necessarily fit-in in the social scene at smith, I would suggest that you consider oberlin.

    As for networking, there will always be opportunities, no matter where you go. In NYC, I’m sure there are a myriad of opportunities you can pursue in the fields of neuroscience.

    I know that you will do well in whatever institution you are at. The institution you selected only reflects the high school you. Trust your gut
    Feeling, If you will feel more comfortable at oberlin, then go for oberlin. You cannot do well In academics if you are unsure about your future support network.

    You will be fine! Again, congratulations on your accomplishments. And I hope we can all get through this challenging time.

    May I suggest you make some sort of visual with pros and cons of each institution?
    edited March 31
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3568 replies85 threads Senior Member
    It really depends on your personal perspective. Smith is small, New Englandy, in an adorable town, and has access t the 5 colleges (now about 4.5 colleges). Oberlin has a wonderful music program and is storied in and of itself.

    Smith is an all women's college as you mentioned but you can take classes and go to parties with men in the consortium. Oberlin is wonderful, full of quirky people who are smart -- but it is in the middle of ... Ohio. A LOVELY STATE but to a NYer it can feel a little .... not New York.

    Speaking as someone from NYC who has had both schools on lists at various times, i strongly feel that women's colleges are really great for women. It's a unique experience in which you're prepared for the world in a unique way. Again, Oberlin is on my current list for a current person, and it's a great school, But this person is male and over and over I keep thinking: If only there were a Mt. H or a BMC or a Smith for this person, that would be perfect.

    In the end only you will know the best thing to do. As soon as you can travel perhaps visit. If you don't have time for that, perhaps talk to alumni--the admins should be able to provide plenty of names. All of them will tell you that X institution is best, but you will hear subtle things in their voices that will tell you the best one for you.

    Best wishes.
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  • ultimomultimom 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I went to an all women’s college, also one of the Seven Sisters, in spite of it being a women’s college. No regrets. There are plenty of men interested in attending parties at women’s colleges and you also have the opportunity of taking classes as other coed schools. Both Oberlin and Smith will have strong LGBTQ communities and I bet some students from less liberal high schools are very much looking forward to going to a college where they can comfortably be out.
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3681 replies24 threads Senior Member
    @frenchvanilla22. My kid goes to Oberlin and has been very happy there. There is plenty to do there and you are unlikely to get bored. A substantial number of students there are from NY/NJ and CA. TBH, the town of Oberlin is not all that different from towns of a similar size in the mid-Atlantic and New England states.

    The college has been working on developing closer connections with the city of Cleveland (Connect Cleveland) through internships, community service, etc. While Cleveland is not Manhattan, it has the usual urban amenities, museums, shopping, sports, etc. From Oberlin campus, it's about a 45 minute drive to Cleveland and about a half an hour to the Cleveland Airport.

    Northampton and Amherst are cute college towns, but hardly bustling metropolises. It will take you 2 hours to get to Boston.

    Both campuses will be left-leaning, both will have a significant LGBTQ population, both are likely to skew relatively wealthy and white, and both have outstanding academics. They are really more similar than different (aside from the fact that Smith is a women's college).

    Congrats, these are both great options!
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10384 replies574 threads Super Moderator
    Two great choices, and it’s hard to say which is best for you, but I’ll give it a shot..

    I honestly don’t think you will get bored at Oberlin, there is a lot to do, and a major city is very close by, only 40 minutes away. Smith is a wonderful school too, but it’s an hour and 45 minutes to Boston. It’s wayyyy more isolated than Oberlin. The other colleges In the consortium help make up for that a bit.


    I do think you are overthinking. You can have straight and gay friends at both schools. Oberlin has a good reputation too. Smith is probably viewed as being more traditional than Oberlin.

    Kids at LACs do live in a bit of a bubble, but it’s a great bubble, and they love it for the most part. But I’m going to recommend Oberlin, mainly because you said this:
    “At the end of the day I want a balanced social and academic college experience and I want to pick the place that will give me a good mix of both.”

    I think you should be at a school with both sexes, because Smith can’t give you the one thing you say you really want, which is balance. Smith also can’t easily give you the same social opportunities you say you want. Good luck!
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  • merc81merc81 11638 replies199 threads Senior Member
    I live in NYC and have had the image of having the typical college experience being a big suburban co-ed campus with a cute college town, and Smith fits this description minus the fact that it is an all-girls school.

    Note that both Smith (#23) and Oberlin (#19) are included in this Newsweek article, "The 25 Most Desirable Suburban Schools":

    https://www.newsweek.com/25-most-desirable-suburban-schools-71867
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  • StJohnnyStJohnny 38 replies0 threads Junior Member
    From your long post, I feel you don't have your heart set on Smith. All things being equal, go where your heart is.
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3568 replies85 threads Senior Member
    edited April 13
    "In this age, we all can teach ourselves or learn from a textbook. The college experience is indeed about the people you meet and the connections and support network you build"

    Uh -- just thought I'd mention that many things at colleges are NOT teachable online @InflamedFaceXx, or through text books. Not sure what your major is--psych or neuroscience-- OP or something completely different once you begin classes, but many things you really need to be present for in the classroom and otherwise. Both of your possible majors require labs and/or clinical work. I have two kids at home from college currently because of the Virus and they are suffering because of the online work--they can't access labs and other hands-on work--some majors require lots of field work experience. (One of my kids at school is in the field almost every weekend and during some of the holiday periods.) So you may want to also consider the facilities and field opportunities as part of your decision. For psych, the Five Colleges I know are extremely good. Smith has a social work program at the grad school level. This may influence you somewhat if you look at their faculty. The Five Colleges have other excellent psych resources.
    edited April 13
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