Bates vs Oberlin

I’m a senior and I’m deciding whether to go to Bates or Oberlin. Oberlin gave me 28k a year and Bates gave me nothing, but I might be able to ask Bates to match Oberlin’s offer. Either way, cost isn’t the deciding factor for me but not having to pay full tuition would obviously be preferable. As of right now I want to major in International Relations but neither school has that as a major (Oberlin has an International Affairs integrative concentration). I know I will probably change my major in college a million times so I don’t really see this as a barrier because both schools have a politics major (other majors that I’m considering are econ, history, math, or anthropology). Oberlin’s undergraduate population is 3000ish (which I prefer) and Bates’ is 2000ish. I definitely prefer Maine to Ohio (although I’ve heard Lewiston is not particularly nice). Also, I hope to study abroad at some point. Any advice on this and any information about academics and the overall vibe of the schools would be GREATLY appreciated.

They are both great schools, and as you’re undecided, both would give you the opportunity to explore different paths. Please note that if the 28K from Oberlin is need-based aid, you might be able to appeal, but Bates doesn’t offer merit aid at all, so they wouldn’t match a merit offer. As it seems like you don’t have a strong preference, and you might be drawn toward a slightly larger school, I’d suggest following the money to Oberlin!


$28,000 x 4years = $112,000.

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Lewiston is fine. Please read this thread:

Bates is unlikely to give you anything close to $28k, assuming that’s financial aid you got, and not merit aid, which Bates doesn’t offer. I am a big fan of Bates and my kid is a 2020 grad, but I would have a hard time turning down Oberlin given the cash incentive. However, they are very different places. @mamaedefamilia can give you more insight into Oberlin, as her D is a senior there.

Bates has great study abroad programs which are very popular. It will be excellent for all the majors you are considering studying. My daughter had a fantastic experience there and loved her classes and professors. You don’t say much about the environment you are looking for. Oberlin students are known for being creative, progressive and into social activism, maybe also non-conformist. Bates students are known for being a bit outdoorsy, a bit sporty, friendly, also creative, and a mix of urban and rural kids from all over.

Spend some time on Niche or look at a Fiske guide to help give you a better idea of students and the vibe on campus. But I would be very sure before turning down that kind of money.

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@lindagaf is correct - the vibe at Oberlin is politically liberal, nonconformist, idealistic, change the world types. They are also friendly and kind. The town is nicely integrated with the college. It’s a typical downtown with a Main Street and several cross streets with the usual restaurants, bars, galleries, coffee shops, movie theater, etc. Everything is walkable. Cleveland is only 45 minutes away but not readily accessible through public transportation. There’s a campus shuttle that heads there (and to the airport, which is only 30 minutes away) periodically but most students do ride shares if they are going to Cleveland. Before COVID the college was trying to develop a better relationship with the city of Cleveland and to organize internships and other career opportunities. I imagine that will resume post COVID.

The academics are great - I have heard good things about the math and history departments, don’t know about the others. Study abroad is well supported - check their website - they have reciprocal agreements with many other colleges and universities for study abroad.

As others have said - if it’s a merit award from Oberlin, Bates is not likely to match unless you happen to qualify for need-based aid too.