Frequently Asked Questions
Can I transfer AP or IB credit?
Yes, depending on your exam scores. Each academic department determines what scores they will accept and whether they will award transfer credits, advanced standing, or both. Typically credit is awarded for a score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam, or a score of 5 or higher on a higher level IB exam. Download the information sheet for a summary of the policies for each department.
Do you have study abroad? What study abroad opportunities are available to Oberlin students?
Approximately 40% of Oberlin students study abroad, either taking a semester or full year abroad, or participating in an international Winter Term project. There are several programs in which Oberlin professors teach classes abroad, such as the Oberlin-in-London or Oberlin-in-Italy Programs. We are also associated with approximately 100 programs all over the world for which credit and financial aid transfer directly. If those aren't enough options for you, you can always arrange your own study abroad. For more information, visit the Office of Study Away.
Is there a core curriculum?
No. We have no required courses, but we do have some general distribution requirements. You are required to take 9 credits (about three classes) in each of the three main academic divisions: Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences & Math. Additionally, you must satisfy Writing and Quantitative Proficiency requirements, and earn 9 credit hours in courses with a Cultural Diversity designation. For more information, please consult the graduation requirements section of the course catalog.
What are your most popular majors?
For the graduating class of 2009, our ten most popular majors were: Biology, English, Politics, Art (including Studio, Visual, and History), History, Psychology, Environmental Studies, East Asian Studies, Economics, and Neuroscience.
What is Winter Term?
Winter Term falls between Fall and Spring semesters, during the month of January. No regular classes are held at this time, and students pursue individual projects. Winter Term is an opportunity for students to explore something they couldn’t usually do during the regular semester, and can either be a continuation of a previous interest or something completely different. Projects do not have to be traditionally academic in nature, but they must be approved by a faculty member. You must complete three Winter Term projects during your time at Oberlin. For more information, visit the Office of Winter Term website.
What kind of support services do you provide?
We provide a wide variety of academic and non-academic support services. The Student Academic Services Office serves as a resource to connect students to all available resources. Academically, every student has at least one faculty advisor, and incoming students are assigned an Academic Ambassador, a current student, to help navigate academic issues. The Dean of Studies Office assists with academic advising and support. Students needing assistance with their coursework can also turn to the Writing Center, departmental tutors, or their professors' office hours.
For general student life issues, dorm Resident Assistants provide support and referrals to campus resources. Class Deans provide an additional resource for academic or student life issues.
Other support services include Disability Services, the Dean of Students office, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Counseling Center, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
Tell me about financial aid.
Our financial aid policy is simple: we meet 100% of demonstrated need. You fill out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, and our financial aid office calculates your estimated family contribution. Any difference between that amount and the total cost of attendance we will meet 100% with financial aid. Typically 70-80% of an aid award is comprised of grants or scholarships, with loans and work study funds making up the remainder.
Do you have merit scholarships?
Yes, a limited number of merit scholarships are available. First-year applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships when they apply for admission--no additional application is necessary. We also offer small scholarships to National Merit Finalists who designate Oberlin as their first choice college. Merit aid is not available to transfer students.
How can I learn more?
Does my application need to be received or postmarked by the deadline date?
If you are submitting your application by mail, it should be postmarked by the application deadline. You are also encouraged to submit your application online, through the Common App website.
What if my teachers don't submit their recommendations in time?
We understand that the submission of some of your application materials is beyond your control. If your teacher recommendations arrive slightly later than the application deadline, we will still give your application equal consideration.
Will you let me know if my application is incomplete?
Yes, we will contact you if we are missing required parts of your application.
Can I take a gap year?
Yes, a student admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences may request deferred enrollment for up to one year. First year students must defer for an entire year, but transfer students have the option of deferring for a single semester. To request a deferral, you must submit a written request to the Dean of Admissions that includes a brief description of your plans for the interim. Requests must be submitted prior to June 1 from first year students or from transfers accepted for fall enrollment. Ordinarily, deferral requests will be granted, but we reserve the right to ask for additional information and/or to deny your request. During your deferral, you may take up to six semester hours of credit per term for a maximum of 12 semester hours of credit at another accredited institution, but full time enrollment at another college or university is not permitted.
Double Degree applicants should note that the Conservatory of Music generally does not grant deferred enrollment.
Can I submit extra items (art portfolios, CDs, large sculptures, etc.) to supplement my application?
Because of the large number of submissions we receive, your supplement does not leave the admissions office for a member of our faculty to review. Despite this, submitting a small arts supplement is a great way to augment your application and to demonstrate a special accomplishment, talent or interest.
What format should I use to submit them?
We aren’t necessarily particular, but it’s helpful if the format can fit into your application file (a manilla folder). In the interest of the environment, please limit your submission to two printed pages.
If you have submitted your Common Application Arts Supplement online and included music or art materials residing on an electronic Web site, please include with any additional materials that you send through the mail a copy of your Common Application Arts Supplement.
Label all submissions with your full name.
If I am interested in Theatre, Art, Music Studies in the College do I need to submit a CD or portfolio?
Only the Conservatory of Music requires an audition. Again, you are welcome to augment your application and to demonstrate a special accomplishment, talent or interest.
Where should I arrive?
All campus visit events (tours, interviews, information sessions, etc.) begin in the lobby of the admissions office. The Admissions Office is located in the Carnegie Building at 101 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH, 44074. Please follow the signs directing you toward the Professor Street entrance. Parking is available on the street and in the lot behind the Carnegie Building, which has entrances on Lorain St. and Professor St.
Do I have to register to take a tour?
No, registration is not required for tours and information sessions.
How do I arrange a class visit?
Prospective students are encouraged to sit in on classes--please see the Class Visit section for more information.
Can I eat in the dining halls?
Meal tickets for the dining halls are available for purchase at the front desk of Wilder Hall--parents and students are all welcome to enjoy a meal. Prospective students staying overnight with a Dorm Host are provided with complimentary meal tickets.
Is an interview required?
No, interviews are not required, but we do encourage all applicants to participate in an interview. Interviews give us a chance to learn more about you, and for you to learn more about Oberlin. Students who are not able to participate in an admissions interview are not at a disadvantage in admissions decisions.
Who does the interviews?
Most on-campus interviews are conducted by student interns, and some are conducted by admissions counselors. Off-campus interviews are conducted by alumni representatives.
Does it hurt my chances if I have an interview with an alum (or student intern) vs. an admissions counselor on campus?
No, students who interview with an admissions counselor do not gain an advantage in the application process.
Can I have more than one interview?
No, each student is allowed only one opportunity to interview.
What should I bring?
Please do not bring resumes, transcripts, or other items that will be included with your application. We simply wish to have a conversation with you--no extra materials are required.
Is there a dress code?
As our interviews are largely informal, we do not expect students to dress up for their interviews. Please use your judgment in selecting appropriate clothing.
How hard is it to get to Cleveland/nearby towns?
Aside from personal transportation and carpooling (it's about a 45 minute drive to downtown Cleveland, and about 15 minutes to the nearest mall), students also commonly use CityWheels (a car-sharing program), Lorain County Transit buses, and the airport shuttle, which connects to Cleveland public transportation. For more information about getting to or around Oberlin, please click here.
Are freshman permitted to have a car on campus?
Anyone may bring a car to campus, but most students find that they have little use for a car during the semester. Campus parking is limited.
How do I get to campus from the airport?
A college-sponsored shuttle bus runs directly from Oberlin to the Cleveland/Hopkins Airport, about 35 minutes away.
If I am enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences can I participate in lessons/classes/activities at the Conservatory?
Absolutely! All of the musical resources of the Conservatory are available to you as a College student. You will have full access to the Conservatory facilities (including the practice rooms and library), and will be able to register for classes, take private lessons, and participate in groups and ensembles.
Can I try out for musical groups or are they only for Conservatory students?
Conservatory ensembles have open auditions for all students, including those in the College. College students often participate in Conservatory groups. In addition, there are many groups on campus (including a string orchestra) designed specifically for college students.
I'm not interested in (or good enough for) the Conservatory but I really want to play music. What opportunities are there for me?
There are countless opportunities for college students to play music on campus! All of the conservatory ensembles have open auditions. In addition, there are several ensembles composed primarily for college students. For instrumentalists, the two main non-conservatory ensembles are College Community Winds (a wind ensemble) and College Community Strings (a string orchestra). For singers, the largest ensemble is Musical Union (a large choir). In addition to playing in ensembles, college students can take lessons from conservatory faculty members or students. To take lessons for credit, one must audition in front of faculty members and will be placed either in a faculty member's studio or with one of the upper-level students in a studio. Lessons taken for credit allow a student to earn 2 credits hours within the Arts and Humanities division of the college. If you don't want to audition or you don't want to take lessons for credit, you can sign up to take lessons from a student. The price is a mere $7.50 for a half-hour lesson. This is a practical, inexpensive way for college students to continue to pursue their musical studies while at Oberlin. In addition to participating in large musical ensembles, many College students take the initiative to create their own ensembles, a cappella groups, or informal bands.
What is the relationship between the college and the conservatory like?
College and Conservatory students share campus, living in the same dorms, eating in the same dining halls, and participating in the same extracurricular activities. Both divisions are integral parts of the Oberlin community, and students form friendships and pursue activities without regard to divisional affiliation.
Will I be able to participate in <favorite activity> at Oberlin?
Probably. We have over 150 official student organizations on campus, and if we don't have an existing organization that matches your interests, you'll find it easy to start your own. Teaching or taking classes in the Experimental College (ExCo) is another great way to pursue or share your passions. We're also close to Cleveland (a major metropolitan area), where you are likely to find additional opportunities to pursue your favorite activities.
What are weekends like on campus? Is there a lot to do? What is there to do?
What isn't there to do? There are concerts, lectures, conferences, community festivals, club happenings, an incredible art museum, cheap movies, in-hall events, community service opportunities, sports, dances, theater and opera productions, improv shows, bowling and pool, and food of all sorts. If all else fails, you could, you know, do homework.
What is the relationship between the town and the college like?
The town and college are fully integrated geographically, and generally co-exist with few problems. Many community members have ties to the college, and often college students find ways to get involved in the local community. The city and college were founded at the same time, and we are known for having positive town-gown relations.
How many people live on campus?
Most Oberlin students live on campus. Housing is guaranteed for four years, and only a small number of seniors are permitted to live off-campus each year.
Will I fit in at Oberlin?
Oberlin has more communities than you could count, and a lot of folks here find themselves fitting in with more than one group on campus. We're more than just hipsters and hippies - we're future MBAs and lawyers, comic book geeks, athletes, poets, scientists, and so on. Most Obies shirk labels, and tend to form groups of people they like for who they are, not what they are. So - mainstream, counter-culture, or anywhere in between - you'll find like-minded souls at Oberlin.
What is the political atmosphere like on campus?
Oberlin is known for having a politically engaged, left-leaning student body. On campus, you will find a wide range of political views and levels of involvement. We have more than 15 student groups related to politics or activism, ranging from Amnesty International to the College Republicans, and both passionately committed and politically uninterested students find a home here.
What is the weather like?
Depending on your perspective, winters here are either frigid or balmy, with average highs in the 30s (Fahrenheit) December-February. We’re just outside of the Cleveland/Lake Erie snow belt, so we typically get several large snowfalls (a foot or so) each year, and often have small amounts of snowfall throughout the winter months. The weather is quite pleasant in the Spring and Fall, with average highs in the 70s in May and September.
What are my dining options?
All students are required to participate in an on-campus meal plan. Campus Dining Services offers a range of meal plans that include a combination of dining hall meals and Flex Points that can be used at additional locations on campus. About 20% of Oberlin students choose to dine in student-run co-ops instead of eating in the regular dining halls.
I heard you have a dance club on campus. For real?
For real. The Dionysus Disco, or ’Sco, is open weeknights, generally until 1am. Student DJs provide music, with theme nights ranging from hip-hop to salsa. The 'Sco also frequently hosts outside bands and various campus events.
Do students go into Cleveland very often?
No. Seriously, with over 500 concerts, a calendar full of free or nearly free events, and 2,800 fascinating people to hang out with, who needs Cleveland?
Still have questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at (800) 622-OBIE.