An Oberlin education is designed to help you become an independent, self-directed, lifelong learner. It is designed to sharpen and strengthen your intellectual, social, and spiritual capacities, as well as your political and communal responsibilities. This lofty purpose will take different forms for each of you, so we invite you to be actively involved in shaping your education. Like any road map, this one is not exhaustive. It provides you with guidelines, and should help you think concretely about how you can make the most of your experience at the college. It provides you with a big-picture view of how you can develop personally and intellectually, from your first year through your last year, along with some concrete tried-and-true suggestions with links to useful information.
With an actual road map, it's most useful if you have considered your destination, as well as the sights you would like to see along the way. With this road map, though, the destinations are many, and it will be most useful if you revisit it during your time at the college. The sights of interest and the realm of possibilities will vary from year to year. If you sense you have made a wrong turn, please stop to ask for directions. Take this document with you to appointments with academic advisors, faculty, and staff. Your mentors will be able to highlight points of interest that you have yet to consider, and direct you to resources that are essential for your work at Oberlin.
Keep in mind that an Oberlin education takes place inside and outside the classroom. With a holistic sense of your liberal arts education in mind, you may think of your year-by-year progress through Oberlin in the following stages:
Year 1: Explore new horizons by way of the academic curriculum and other opportunities for growth. Year 2: Connect your ideas, values, and interests to your coursework and your co-curricular activities. Year 3: Deepen your connection to your fields of study and to the communities in which you live. Final Year: Develop independence in your lifelong pursuit of intellectual, artistic, and personal growth.
These stages will coincide with one another, but largely as a matter of successive progression. While no two students will experience the same journey, there are many common experiences for students in their first, second, third, and final years. The road map is designed to support your development by giving shape to "the spirit of these years"—the different concerns that students face in the beginning, middle, and end of their time at Oberlin.
This road map repeatedly affirms the importance of establishing a close connection with your advisor. In many cases, the most successful students are those who develop a close relationship with academic advisors, research supervisors, other faculty, or staff members. All around you at Oberlin are resources to help you negotiate the college's policies, think about the choices available to you, or assess what you have done so far and what you want to do next.