Oberlin College is a top private liberal arts college located in Oberlin, Ohio. It was founded in 1833, and is the oldest coed liberal arts college in the United States. Oberlin is known for its highly renowned liberal arts education as well as historical foundation. Oberlin was in fact one of the first colleges in the U.S. to admit African-American students, and Oberlin was the first college to admit women. Oberlin is also very well known for their conservatory.
As one of the top liberal arts colleges, admission into Oberlin is increasingly difficult. Although Oberlin has a small student body, admission is competitive. For the class of 2022, Oberlin received over 6,200 applications and admitted 2,473 of those. That gives Oberlin an acceptance rate of 34%.
Although admission into Oberlin may not be as highly competitive as some other schools, it is increasingly difficult. To optimize your chance of acceptance, here are some accepted essays written by real students who got into Oberlin.
Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.
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Oberlin College Essays
Common App Essays ()
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
My advice is not scientifically-proven, mother-tested, or kid-approved. However, I think it will make your life easier. But take this advice — as anyone would from a 17 year old — with a grain of salt. It is only as reliable as my own experiences. So here it is:
1. Speak Portuguese. It’s frustrating to know that I lost such a valuable skill because I deemed it too “embarrassing” to use in front of my kindergarten classmates. Fluency in another language is not only uncommon, but it also would have allowed you to communicate with your Brazilian relatives.
2. Don’t live your life as if you're constantly being watched and criticized. Chances are, no one is even paying attention to you.
3. Experiment with your interests early. Now is the perfect time to try different interests and see which ones you like. Take up something that pushes you out of your comfort zone: bagpipes, rock climbing, musical theater, literally anything. Eventually, you will find something you love.
5. Take comfort in the fact that no matter what obstacle you encounter, it’s happened to everyone. You’re not the first person to get a 70 on your paper, trip in public, or rip your pants. Although, try to keep the pants-ripping to minimum.
6. You don’t need to be exactly like your father. I am a spitting image of him. I may have inherited his intelligence, but that came with his ego as well. You can learn just as much from his mistakes as his achievements.
7. Wear your retainer.
8. Empathy makes your life easier. People who are inexplicably cruel are suffering just as much as the recipients of their abuse. Understanding this makes your interactions with these people less painful.
9. Skip the “I want to be an anesthesiologist” phase — you don’t.
10. Comparing yourself to your classmates is counterproductive. Sometimes you will forge ahead, other times you will lag behind. But ultimately, you’re only racing yourself.
11. Your intelligence is not defined by your grades and test scores.
12. I am passive aggressive when I lack the confidence to express something that upsets me. Learn to communicate effectively. It saves you from the endless “what if” contemplations that keep you awake at night. If you are successful, tell me how.
13. Speak up to your stepmom.
14. Try not to identify too strongly with material items. I ran into this issue when my hair defined me: friends often stated that they just couldn’t imagine me without my large and poofy hair. When it started falling out after a stressful period, I had to reestablish the image my hair had made.
15. Always eat the cake. I couldn't tell you how many times I’ve turned away a slice of cake, only to regret it the next day. If you really can’t commit, do yourself a favor and take a slice home with you.
16. Recognize and appreciate your privilege. There is no limit to the opportunities you have and that amazes me.
16. Cherish your grandparents.
17. Forgive your mother. Harboring resentment hurts you just as much as her. All the time I spent being angry at her could’ve been spent discovering her strengths.
18. Cut off worried thoughts with “what if things work out?” In periods of change, acknowledge the fact that things may go according to plan. This isn’t an ignorant overlook of reality. Anticipate that this change will be bring some good with it.
19. Accept inevitable truths: You will get older. Your friends will come and go. You will struggle and triumph. You will encounter heartache, joy, and everything in between. This list will continue to grow.
Supplemental Essays ()
How did your interest in Oberlin develop and what aspects of our college community most excite you?
“Give Oberlin a look” my father suggested. A school I knew little about. I casually added Oberlin to the long list of schools of which Tufts was perched atop. My father had gone to Tufts and I had convinced myself that I should follow.
Adding Oberlin to my list begat the serendipitous series of events that ultimately saw a fly-in invitation to Oberlin in my email inbox. My father encouraged me to go; “It doesn’t hurt to listen”.
The most influential component of Oberlin were the people. My host, Estrella, like every Oberlin student I met, was generous with her time and her experiences. It wasn’t 24 hours before I could imagine myself laughing with friends at the 10 pm dinner, dozing off on a swing bench in Tappan square, spending late nights at the library in a womb chair, or petting kittens in some little art store. Sharing a day with these people who were clearly in the right place brought some force to my mind that Oberlin was the right place for me. My short trip revealed that Oberlin offered me both the academic rigor I seek and the visceral experience of living in a community of people with broadly varying backgrounds─an experience that I had in this small Ohio town and nowhere else.
I don’t know whose essay I’d be writing right now if this opportunity had never presented itself, but I am very grateful it did.
Welcome to EssaysThatWorked! The goal here is pretty simple: to help students all around the world write better college admissions essays and improve their chance of getting accepted to top schools. We provide accepted essays written by real students who got into the most selective schools.