Wooster vs Oberlin, for artsy, intellectual, introverted student?

Any thoughts, experience, or opinions on the similarities and differences between these two schools? D21 considering both. We may consider a spring break road trip, to visit both campuses in person.
it may come down to the financials.
Would love any thoughts on what is similar, different, better, or worse, for my daughter: cerebral, artsy, fairly nerdy introvert . Both schools seem like they might be great fits, but perhaps there are nuances of difference that you fine folks here in forum land can share.

What major ? Oberlin is nationally known. Wooster known by no one.

Wooster likely cheaper.

Music related Oberlin. Otherwise I’d give a nod to the cheaper one although if you visit both you can track fit too …if either gives you a spark. Did u apply to others such as Dennison and Kenyon ?

She will be majoring in languages ( German and Japanese) and is interested in International Relations. She writes/ draws graphic novels as a “ hobby “ and will no doubt try to take some creative writing and studio art classes as well.

Also, curious if anyone is familiar with the towns surrounding the two schools?

Thought about applying to Kenyon but didn’t; it also looks amazing but she thought the vibe was too sporty for her.

If your daughter wants to study German and Japanese, it seems like Oberlin is the only choice between the two colleges (Wooster doesn’t offer Japanese).

@IndigoOwl My daughter (who sounds very much like yours) applied to both and chose Oberlin although I think she could have had a good experience at either one. We got the sense that Wooster remains more of a regional college (although a very good one) and Oberlin has more of a national reputation. Oberlin also has the conservatory and excellent programs in theater and creative writing. It has a long history of Asian studies and languages (and study abroad).

Wooster is located in a large town/small city with a downtown that is revitalizing. The campus is located a couple of miles from the town center, probably not easily walkable but no problem on a bike. Oberlin is in a small town (population 8-10K) and about 45 minutes from Cleveland. The college and town are integrated with one another through a public park called Tappan Square. The main street and shopping area is easily accessible.

I will send you a private message if you would like more details.



i did find out from D that apparently Wooster does some sort of cross registration if a student wants to study something they don’t currently offer, for example the alumni who interviewed her studied Chinese, which at the time COW did not have, and they offered it to ( the student) through Middlebury.
Not sure how often this happens, or how persistent a student has to be, but I found that interesting.

I also should mention that daughter wants to major in German, study Japanese as a minor or side interest.Was not as specific as I should have been.


The idea of cross registration is interesting, I hadn’t heard of that at Wooster when my daughter toured during her college search. If your daughter is serious about wanting to study Japanese, she may want to follow up with someone in Admissions about cross registration or the Asian studies department directly. If the East Asian studies is more of a ‘nice to have, not necessary to be Japan focused’ than Wooster may well work for her.

One of the things my daughter did when trying to figure out which schools she was interested in applying to (she ultimately went ED with her number 1 choice and was admitted) - was to read the course descriptions in the departments in which she planned to major. Reading the course descriptions was truly illuminating as each school had distinct differences in how they structured their course work and from what perspective the material was taught. She would read course descriptions ostensibly regarding the exact same topic and would know that at one school she would love to take the class and at another the class sounded as fun as having fingernails pulled out. Your daughter might want to read the German offerings from both schools to see if one sounds better to her than the other. She might be surprised by the information she can get from those descriptions.

Here are some of the impressions I wrote down when my daughter was looking at Wooster (she didn’t tour Oberlin as it didn’t appeal to her on paper. We did the Denison, Wooster, Kenyon tour of Ohio).

Very pretty campus that feels larger than the school is while also being easy to get around

Engaged, hands-on teaching from impressive faculty

Pretty diverse campus with over 20% being domestic students of color, another 20% being international. Split between men/women on campus is close to 50/50

Good merit offered, up to $39k a year (merit scholarships can be stacked - offer performance merit for both music and dance) This may have changed since my daughter toured

Cons (Depending on your tastes):
We were told a story about homecoming game changing from a football to a cricket at the last minute due to scheduling difficulties. Great if you like cricket, not so great if you are looking for traditional rah-rah

Fairly small departments, not as much depth/breadth as some other colleges like Denison.

Greek life is local only, no national greek fraternities/sororities.

Limited on campus dining options (only 1 dining hall, couple other small “grab and go” cafes around the campus). There are some cute restaurants in the downtown which is about a 20 minute walk from campus.

Feels very rural when driving to it. Wooster is a (small) city, but it is in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

Wasn’t clear what the social scene was/would be. Not a lot going on in town for college age students, I think you would have to be content with the campus offerings for social stuff.

Could go either way:
The IS program (Independent Study). Every student completes year-long independent research project their senior year. There is also a smaller (semester long) Junior year IS project to be completed as well.

The fairly structured common core requirements. Fairly time consuming if you aren’t interested in taking courses across subjects unless student in coming in with AP credits to apply to some of the core requirements.

School pretty liberal leaning, town and surrounding area extremely conservative. A lot of “Trump 2020” signs up when we visited early winter 2019 on the car ride through that area of Ohio.

Test scores needed for credit or placement in AP are fairly high (need 4 or 5 for placement or elective credit).

Can bring a car as a freshman; basically need a car to do any shopping easily if you need to get to the Walmart shopping district north of campus (several miles away).

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A lot of overlap and similarities in these schools. A student admitted to Oberlin would likely get good merit award from Wooster, so Wooster would likely be cheaper.

My kid visited both multiple times as a prospective athlete (and artist and musician) and found a lot to like about both. Both campuses have town streets intersecting campus, which creates a slightly more active vibe, though the town of Oberlin adjoins campus whereas the “hip” part of the town of Wooster is more of a bike ride/car ride from campus. Wooster – to us at least – seemed to have a slightly more mainstream vibe than Oberlin. While there are lots of quirky nerdy kids at Wooster, the prospect of being an athlete at Wooster seemed a little less marginalized than at Oberlin. Wooster is known for its mandatory independent research project for all students, which is part of the culture of the school. We know a number of Wooster kids whose parents are faculty at leading colleges and universities who chose Wooster because of the commitment to capstone projects and mentoring , and who were very happy with their choice. Oberlin is a wonderful school, and not necessarily as “odd” as some on CC perceive. While my kid went through recruiting at both schools, he chose another school within the same athletic conference, so we saw both Wooster and Oberlin during athletic competitions for four years.


Thanks for all the great feedback, everyone. It does seem that either of these schools will be a good fit for QD ( I am gonna refer to her as QuirkyDaughter , lol

I do believe QD has dug a bit deeper into the language programs at both schools; I need to do so myself-


Oberlin has speciality German housing, typically hosts a German scholar in residence (interrupted due to COVID-19), and if you scroll to the bottom, their students seem to do well in obtaining German-related fellowships.

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