It feels like I just got back from winter break, right when I was adjusting to life without Olin again. And as usual, things have become more hectic than I believed possible. Winter break was a month of bliss. No obligations . No group meetings. Just chilling with high school friends and waking up at one every day. Now I've returned to Olin and things are swinging into high gear again. This semester, schoolwork has really ramped up. For the first time, I'm learning physics and math in an entirely studio based environment. It's fascinating because I've never experienced learning like this before- class time has literally no lectures, we have open studio time instead and professors intervene and help as needed. Another cool and new thing- I'm starting research this semester! Olin is filled to the brim with undergraduate research opportunities, an upside to the fact that we only do undergrad education here. In fact, some labs here always need and welcome more students. I'm going to be working on the vision system for a quadcopter alongside two very cool Oliners in Olin's intelligent vehicles lab! But enough about me. Chances are, dear reader, that you are a candidate anticipating Candidates weekend.
I know I dreaded candidates weekend last year. What if my group members didn't like me? Would Olin's admissions office watch me the whole time with surveillance cameras to determine if I was a "good fit" for Olin? What if they asked me crazy questions during the interview? How was I supposed to show initiative and leadership and be a team player and be outgoing and not come on too strongly all at the same time? The whole panicky feeling that had defined my entire college application experience resurfaced when it got close to candidate's weekend. I remember writing down dozens of post-it notes worth of responses to anticipated questions, all so I wouldn't blabber like an idiot when I got asked a question during an interview. I practiced keeping my cool, attempted to project confidence in front of the mirror, and went into candidate's weekend feeling like a champ.
Then I got to the interview, and in response to every question, I blabbered like an idiot professing my love for Olin. I felt like I failed the group activity, where every thought of leadership and initiative left my head. At this point, I kind of lost hope and consigned myself to just having fun with the other candidates I met. After candidates weekend, I returned home with a heavy heart, happy about the experience but also convinced that I had failed some kind of test.
Long story short, a UPS guy showed up out of the blue a month later, when I had shoveled thoughts of Olin out of my head. At this point I believed that I hadn't gotten into Olin after obsessively checking the mail and admissions office blog posts, counting the days until something should have arrived, and then counting the days after, googling things like: "how long does it take mail to get from boston to new york" and "how do i know if mail was lost". The morning the letter came, I was packing for a journey that afternoon: I was getting on an airplane to Orlando for spring break. I steeled myself to read a terse rejection before I headed out the door, but when I tore the envelope open, I found just the opposite.
So, to those of you that are neurotic and nervous candidates like I was, I'll do my best to put your hearts at ease. Olin is not looking for you to be somebody that you aren't come candidates weekend. You were invited for a reason. The admissions office isn't looking for a specific type of person, it's looking to evaluate how you'll "fit", or as I like to think about it, how happy you'll be if you become a student here at Olin. It's hard to stomach, but if you believe the best about the admissions process, I'm sure the admissions commitee will believe the best about you. Whether you are a natural-born-leader or not, it'll show. And whether you love reading, or skateboarding, or really really like your two cats, that'll probably come out too.
A lot of Olin students have spent the last few weeks working hard on creating the design challenge for you guys to participate in when ya'll come to campus, (it isn't evaluated, and its different from the group exercise/interviews!) and we're all super excited to see you all on campus and to have fun with you. Godspeed and good luck candidates!