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Decisions, decisions...

greycatgreycat Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
edited June 2011 in Oberlin College
I just got off the waitlist at Oberlin a couple days ago, and I'm having a really tough time deciding between Oberlin and Hampshire, where I'd sent in my deposit. One of the major things that's drawing me to Hampshire is that they seem to have a much more politically active student body. Does anybody have any insight into what student activism is like at Oberlin? How active is the Ohio PIRG chapter?

Thanks so much! I have until Thursday to decide, so I'm stressing out here a little. :)
Post edited by greycat on

Replies to: Decisions, decisions...

  • maayanplautmaayanplaut College Rep Posts: 65 Junior Member
    @greycat - I'm going to offer up a few places where there are students/alumni testimonials of Oberlin's social justice and activism:

    - The Oberlin Stories project - this link leads you to the category on social justice and activism.

    - The Oberlin blogs- this link is a collection of student/faculty/staff blog posts on the topic of social justice/activism, and this link is for the community service section of the blogs.

    There was also a blog post with the past month by one of the co-chairs of the OCDemocrats, too.
  • radannieradannie Registered User Posts: 602 Member
    Oberlin ALL THE WAY! first of all, it is a much better school academically speaking. And the student body is quite politically active....not sure how you would not be aware of that tidbit.
  • macmillmacmill Registered User Posts: 422 Member
    Academics at Oberlin are significantly superior to those at Hampshire.
  • greycatgreycat Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    I'm curious why everyone is saying that academics are much better at Oberlin. I was honestly much more impressed with the class I sat in on at Hampshire--at Oberlin, there was zero class participation--I don't think anyone even asked a single question. I know the average SAT scores are about 40 points higher at Oberlin, and its programs are obviously more traditional, but are there other reasons?

    I know that Oberlin students are probably more politically active than the average student, but I'm comparing them to Hampshire students specifically. Thank you for the links, Ma'ayan--it did seem that a lot of the stories focused on community service, which is wonderful, but not quite what I'm wondering about.

    Also, on an almost-completely-unrelated note: I've had trouble figuring out what the relationship of Oberlin to the George Jones Farm is. Is it owned by the college? Do many students work there?

    Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
  • quaerequaere Registered User Posts: 1,264 Senior Member
    Ehhh. I considered both Hampshire and Oberlin as a prospie -- though Hampshire dropped off the list fairly early -- and have a few friends who now go to Hampshire. I've never gotten the impression that Hampshire is academically inferior to Oberlin, just that they're really different. (And I don't think you can judge the academic quality of an entire school from a single class session.) Obviously Hampshire's curriculum is much less structured, and different students respond to that in different ways. Some people have the motivation to create challenges for themselves and really thrive; others don't have their limits pushed as much as they would under a curriculum like Oberlin's.

    It's worth thinking seriously about how you would respond to a system that gives students a lot of individual initiative -- and, if you know what you would want to major/concentrate in, what that would look like over the course of four years at Oberlin vs. at Hampshire. There are Hampshire-esque opportunities at Oberlin -- you do at least three Winter Term projects, you can create an individual major, it's really easy to set up a private reading, many students do some kind of senior capstone -- but it's not quite the same thing.

    I don't think I can comment about activism, unfortunately -- I don't know enough about the political scene at Hampshire to make a fair comparison.

    As for the Jones Farm: it's owned by the college but run by a group called the New Agrarian Center. Lots of students volunteer there, and they often hire student workers, especially over the summer. They also have a close relationship with dining operations on campus: OSCA sends compost there and has gotten produce there in the past, and I think CDS serves some Jones Farm veggies as well. I wish I had more time to spend there -- I spent the Day of Service weeding their kale beds during first-year orientation and had a fantastic time :)
  • greycatgreycat Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Yeah, I assumed that the class I visited at Oberlin must just have been a fluke, because what I've heard is basically the polar opposite of what I saw.

    It's great to hear that students work on the farm--I'm looking forward to volunteering there if I do end up at Oberlin! :)

    Forgetting about Hampshire, what is your view of the political scene at Oberlin? Is much of the campus apathetic?
  • maayanplautmaayanplaut College Rep Posts: 65 Junior Member
    @greycat - I'm glad you took a look at those links. Obies are social justice oriented above straight-up politically oriented more of the time.

    Defining political activism specifically is a difficult thing here. My dad went here in the 70s, when there was much political upheaval everywhere, which meant that campus was a hotbed. His stories are crazy: draft card burnings, sit-ins, tear gas. Being the politically minded alum that he is, he actually thinks that our campus is tame today. He wonders constantly why we're not protesting the wars currently going on (I don't ever have a good answer to this, even after four years here as a student). His reunion is coming up this weekend, which means that I'll probably be hearing such intense stories of those times, and be secretly very thankful that I'm hearing them and not participating in what they're talking about.

    Nowadays, there isn't that same level of national unrest, so we aren't seeing that magnified here. However, with all the union-based bills occurring in Ohio right now (SB-5 here, similar to the craziness that went down in Wisconsin a few months ago), there are a great number of discussions, panels, and protests around campus and in the community, and that's just a start.

    There are many active groups on campus that deal with political issues, but that is a very wide spectrum. We have the OCDems and the OCLibertarians and Republicans, and both bring a fair number of speakers from the middle of the road to very controversial, and this usually brings about much conversation surrounding their visits. But if you step out of the parties groups, you'll find groups that are interested in immigration issues, the issues surrounding the American identity, food politics, environmental issues, Planned Parenthood (the the New York Times article pictured three of our current students!), and many more.

    I like to think that we're active, but we're interested in the greater good more than we are interested in specific issues.
  • greycatgreycat Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Thank you so much, Ma'ayan! That was actually really helpful in making my decision. I did end up declining the offer at Oberlin today, but not without regret that I couldn't clone myself and go to both schools.

    Thanks for everyone's input!
  • intemisterintemister Registered User Posts: 509 Member
    Frig Oberlin! Rejected off waitlist
This discussion has been closed.