OCEAN: Oberlin College Educational Alliance Network

The Oberlin College Educational Alliance Network (OCEAN) is Oberlin College’s concurrent enrollment program. Oberlin College and participating high schools work together to enroll qualified secondary school students in Oberlin College equivalent courses. Modeled upon classes taught at Oberlin College, OCEAN coures are supervised by Oberlin College faculty members and taught by carefully selected and trained high school teachers. OCEAN courses are kept to the same rigorous standards as the rest of Oberlin College’s curriculum.

OCEAN teachers assess students on work completed throughout the course, not on the basis of a single, end-of-year test. Students who perform at the appropriate college level receive both high school credit and Oberlin College OCEAN credit for their course. OCEAN credit is recorded on an Oberlin College transcript.

OCEAN courses share a common set of requirements, including content, method, and evaluation of student work. High school teachers and college faculty members work together to shape the curriculum of OCEAN courses. All courses seek to raise the performance of participating students and to introduce them to the joy of intellectual inquiry, the pleasure of critical thinking, the mastery of skills in research and method, and the challenge of learning at the college level.

Oberlin College

Oberlin College is one of the nation’s most highly esteemed liberal arts colleges; it is also home to one of America’s finest music conservatories. Oberlin is known for the seriousness, excellence, and energy students and faculty bring to their academic pursuits.

Through OCEAN, Oberlin College supports the high educational aspirations of secondary school students and teachers throughout our region. OCEAN courses provide students with the opportunity for an exciting, high quality collegiate experience while in high school.

Student Applications

Teachers and administrators invite students to apply and provide them with application forms. Oberlin College OCEAN faculty review these applications. Once a student has been approved, he or she may enroll in an OCEAN course.

While OCEAN has no specific minimum GPA, OCEAN students should be juniors or seniors excellent grades in the relevant area. Applicants should be entering their junior or senior year in high school.

A complete student application must include:

Student participation fees are $50 per semester per course. This fee may be paid by the student or the school.

Earning College Credit

Students who, in the evaluation of the high school instructor and the appropriate Oberlin College faculty members, complete the course at an appropriately high college level (usually equivalent to an Oberlin College grade of C or better) receive Oberlin College OCEAN credit. Oberlin OCEAN transcripts record student credits on a “pass/no pass” basis.

Students may request a transcript of their OCEAN work by following the instructions on the registrar page or by  calling the Oberlin College Registrar office at (440) 775-8450. There is a nominal fee for an official Oberlin College transcript.

Grading Policy

OCEAN courses appear on student transcripts as ungraded, using Oberlin College’s "pass/no pass" option, but these courses require that OCEAN teachers and supervising faculty insure that no student receives credit for OCEAN work unless that student has produced work at the level equivalent to a college grade of “C” or better. High school grades for OCEAN courses are determined by OCEAN teachers, and appear on high school transcripts, but OCEAN itself provides no letter grades. Students enrolled in an OCEAN course are not assured college credit. In fact, students enrolled in OCEAN courses may pass the course for high school credit, but fail to earn OCEAN college credit for the same course.

While OCEAN teachers and supervising faculty are confident that they can identify the threshold for college credit, they are not confident that they can translate the various grading systems used in participating schools into letter grades that would be meaningful on an OCEAN transcript. OCEAN courses are given at high schools throughout Northern Ohio that use different grading and weighting systems, with different expectations. Thus, OCEAN insists that OCEAN credit be given only for work worthy of college credit, and that such credit requires college level work appropriate to a college grade of C or above. OCEAN credit is equivalent to the college credit earned by students at any institution of higher education, and is transferable as such. The OCEAN program aspires, however, to provide a superior quality educational experience.

Teacher Participation

Participating schools identify and nominate teachers for specific courses. To be eligible to serve as OCEAN instructors, teachers must have completed, or be enrolled to complete, master’s degrees. Nominations must include:

  • a letter of interest from the teacher, including a commitment to participate in the OCEAN Summer Workshop;
  • the teacher's resume; and
  • a letter of nomination from the high school principal or the school's curriculum and instruction director.

Oberlin College faculty members review nominations and notify teachers and schools of acceptance.

OCEAN Summer Workshop

All teachers participating in OCEAN must attend an annual summer workshop held in June on the Oberlin College campus. The workshop is free, and teachers receive a stipend to compensate them for their time.

The summer workshop includes intensive, content-rich work and concludes with collaborative syllabus development. OCEAN summer workshops develop a common set of requirements for content, method, and evaluation of student work in each course.

Participating OCEAN teachers receive a certificate of completion for their attendance at the summer workshop. Most districts recognize summer workshop participation for professional development units.

Year-round Support

OCEAN coordinating faculty members provide ongoing support to teachers and oversee instruction and curriculum. The coordinators visit participating high school classrooms each semester. High school instructors are encouraged to spend in-service days at Oberlin College.

Participating high school teachers have access to the Oberlin College libraries, including borrowing privileges that allow them to use books, DVDs, and other circulating materials into their classes.

OCEAN facilitates class visits to Oberlin College. High school students may sit in on a relevant class, meet Oberlin college faculty, and tour the campus. OCEAN encourages qualified students to apply for admission to Oberlin College.

Participating schools may wish to arrange visits for prospective OCEAN students or other members of their student bodies.

Establishing an OCEAN Partnership

To apply for an OCEAN partnership, school principals must send a letter of school commitment. OCEAN partners:

  • support and encourage the collegiate quality of OCEAN courses;
  • help students succeed in OCEAN courses;
  • facilitate timely submission of student OCEAN applications, including transcripts;
  • nominate qualified teachers;
  • support teacher participation in OCEAN’s required annual summer workshop;
  • encourage teachers to take their in-service days during the school year at Oberlin College;
  • recognize that assuming responsibility for an OCEAN course increases a teacher’s workload;
  • appoint a faculty or administrative representative to serve as a liaison to the OCEAN program and school faculty;
  • make an ongoing commitment to be an OCEAN Partner; and
  • receive invitations to special OCEAN events.

Partner schools may choose to offer any combination of OCEAN courses.

Participation Fees

OCEAN partners pay the appropriate participation fee annually:

  • $1,500 for a single course
  • $2,500 for two courses
  • $3,500 for three courses
  • $4,500 for four or more courses.

In addition, there is a charge of $50 per semester per student enrolled in OCEAN. Schools may choose to charge students or cover the cost Some participating schools have secured grants to cover school and student fees.

For further information about applying for a partnership or a grant, contact
Deborah Roose, Director of OCEAN
Phone: (440) 775-6712
Fax: (440) 775-6910
E-mail: deborah.roose@oberlin.edu