Don't go to Olin if you are a minority

<p>Don't go to Olin if you are a minority of any kind. Just don't. Well I can't speak for being a straight, white woman, but from my experiences and from talking to friends, being a person of color or someone who is a gender or sexual minority makes you stand out. You will probably be tokenized, and quite possibly feel alienated. It will be difficult to build community around your identity. You will probably lose touch with your identity if you want to fit in, or you'll stay connected to your identity and just feel out of place, which kind of sucks at a place like Olin which is so freaking small. Also, Olin is in Needham. Needham is a safe place, but it's homogenous, and it was a dry town until this past year. That's the kind of fun place Needham is. Now what about going into Boston? Boston is a good twenty minutes away by train, but first you need to get to the train, which is a 12 minute drive away. If you don't have a car, you're stuck at Olin. </p>

<p>I wish, I wish I had gone to a larger school. I feel that not only would I be happier, because I would feel connected to more people around me, I would also have had an easier time focusing on school and achieving my academic goals rather than expending so much energy trying to figure out why I felt so out of place and trying to remedy that. </p>

<p>As nice as people are at Olin, a lot of people just don't get it. And they won't, because they're very smart people who know when they are being offensive, and they are too busy building cool projects to think about such wishy-washy liberal-artsy things like identity, race or politics. </p>

<p>I hope this advice eventually becomes obsolete, but I don't expect it to anytime soon. It's just too damn small. </p>

<p>East - Sorry to hear that Olin has not been a good fit. Coincidentally I just warned in Engineering threads that Olin is a niche-fit, too teeny/limited for most students. </p>

<p>Your location comments are valid. Many of the students that gravitate to Olin don’t mind the isolation. Applicants that would mind should take heed of your warnings. As you point out, on a very small campus this can be a big concern.</p>

<p>I hope you find some ways to have more fun. Try looking into Babson activities too. Good luck! </p>

Can you be more specific about it?

@Camiale OP has posted here exactly once (in May) and never again. I always treat such once-and-done posts with a bit of skepticism.

I understand, however his absence might also signal that because there are in fact not that many minorities at Olin, the kid was identified after he/she posted the above and felt ostracized by the kids in his/her dorm (given that he/she gave away that info). I am just trying to have a fair and realistic picture of the environment to advise my kid in the best possible way. I do believe Olin is unique, and great, but might not be for everybody. It might be that is not that good for kids who want to pursue a Ph.D. or kids who look different than the mainstream. I honestly do not know.

Are Asians minorities?

“Don’t go to Olin if you are a minority of any kind. Just don’t.”

From my visit to Olin, Asians are a sizable population, as are other ethnic groups (non-caucasian). There are LGBT groups that are quite visible. I don’t give this drive-by post much credibility.

No, if I understand correctly, Asians, including Southeast Asians, have been classified as majority in the engineering field, given their massive presence and acceptance rate. I believe the post referred to “people of color” I assume blacks and Hispanics perhaps? Obviously, it would be nice if Hispanic and African American current students can clarify.

So what does “of any kind” mean? Kinda casting a wide net, wasn’t he/she?

I agree with you so much EastHallResident. I wish someone told this to me before I came to Olin. I’m an Oliner now and transferring is just too much effort and it’s a bit late in the game. I just want to graduate and do whatever I want to do at a larger school now. If you are a minority, you’ll be sad here.

She was casting a wide net because minority is a wide net, NoVaDad.

WasatchWriter, I’m not sure why you don’t take other people’s comment on Olin with skepticism but when you look at a comment by a real Oliner, you take it with a skepticism. This is a concern shared by a lot of people of color and international students at Olin. I’m another one of them. We talk about this almost everyday. So instead just appreciate that she took the time to inform people about it.

Oliner, since you only have 4 responses on record, and they are all about how bad Olin is, I don’t really know if you are real or not. I’m the parent of a minority student at Olin who attended a large (40k +) state flagship university before attending Olin. My student didn’t want to stay there and wanted to be at Olin. I can say my student is very happy there and fits in well with fellow Oliners. Perhaps if one doesn’t identify one as a minority (or whatever category) first but as a Oliner instead, one may have a better time at the school.

@Oliner I am skeptical of any extreme post that lacks specifics. See, there’s this funny thing I do. It’s called critical thinking. Vague comments about being tokenized don’t convince me. I want details. They can even be tweaked to preserve anonymity. I just want a reason to believe there is substance behind the complaint.

The reason I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to such posts is that, now and then, a person with a serious grudge will come here and tell flat out lies or gross distortions.

I’d hate to see some high school junior scratch a college of her list because someone like me failed to say, “Wait a minute. Maybe that’s not the whole story.”

As a current minority Olin student, I agree that many of the concerns the OP is raising are valid. The diversity issue at Olin is real. The tiny class size combined with a not very diverse student body does often make minority students feel alienated. Having said that, I should also add that many members of the Olin community, including the administration, are currently trying to address the problem. This could potentially lead to improvements for future classes.

@NoVADad99 Your statement about identifying as a Oliner first (“Perhaps if one doesn’t identify one as a minority (or whatever category) first but as a Oliner instead, one may have a better time at the school”) is rather problematic. A person’s identity as a minority (be it racial identity, gender identity or sexual orientation) could be an important part of who they are and the life they have experienced. Needing them to let their identities go just to conform to an idealistic picture of what an Olin student needs to be just goes to show that Olin is not great at dealing with difference.

I guess the subject of this thread should be changed to, “Don’t go to Olin if you are a minority and need constant reinforcement for you minority identity from your educational institution.” I suppose that’s fair. Just keep in mind that many people are a minority in one way or another – and not everyone needs constant support of their minority identity. And FWIW, I agree with @NoVADad99 – if you’re going to Olin you should expect to have your Oliner identity reinforced. Don’t rely on the school to support your gender/religious/racial/ethnic/whatever identity. It’s not their job. (n.b. Of course the school shouldn’t get in the way of your expression of that identity – but that’s a different subject.)

College life offers students unique opportunities to learn and grow. It would be unreasonable to limit campus learning to technical content only, and expect students to seek other venues for interpersonal and cultural exposure and growth, especially in residential colleges. @kuio909 raises a valid point about personal identity and its significance in one’s life. It would help neither the students nor the institution if we deflected, marginalized, or dismissed such concerns.

Consistent with the boarder mission of Olin (i.e., producing innovators and entrepreneurs for addressing the pressing global challenges), I wonder why students themselves don’t become the main driver behind the change they seek? Some outside-the-box thinking may prove fruitful here. I think Olin would be very supportive of student-led initiatives that further enrich campus/student life.

@Emotive: I agree with your point about encouraging students to create the opportunities/venues where they can explore their identities. But in a non-religious academic institution I don’t see the school itself having much of a role in this effort.

@EastHallResident I completely agree with this sentiment and it will be hard to be reinforced in your minority identity if you need it to be reinforced in a traditional sense. I have found as a current underrepresented minority at Olin that my particular identity is reinforced by other minorities even from separate backgrounds. I think if someone is a minority that does not always need there identity reinforced but are still proud and willing to contribute to Olin’s community then Olin can be a great place. It won’t be easy but I also want to improve Olin as a community.