Hello all! For this blog post, I decided I'd talk a bit about what you, dear reader, might expect from your first two months at Olin College if you were a first year here! I understand this blog is a valuable source of information for prospective students, and I read every last post on this thing when I was applying last year. It's pretty surreal that I'm here writing a post now. But without further ado, I'll give a brief overview of my first two months at Olin, and what you can expect from a whole bunch of different things that we collectively like to call the college experience.
Social: What are the people like here? Flippin' awesome. I had some doubts about an all-engineering college before arriving, even though Olin claims to produce social engineers, and I was completely wrong. Oliners say hi, hold doors, and exchange smiles at each other. It sounds insignificant, but as somebody from a big city, this was a culture shock. Strangers will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. At Olin I feel comfortable sitting down with just about any group of people and joining a conversation. And there's a remarkable diversity among groups and their interests. If you enjoy watching anime, you'll find wonderful people to do that with. If you enjoy football, you'll find an equally wonderful group of people who are up for a game most of the time. Olin has a lounge culture, where you sit down in the lounge to play a game of Rock band, watch a movie, or do work, and get to meet and interact with lots of people. There's a solid party scene here at Olin- for people who are into that- and an equally large amount of people who prefer to spend their Friday nights another way. The important thing is that you never feel unwelcome, whatever you choose to do.
Classes: The concept of grades is strange to me now. With Pass-No-Record this semester following the glory of second semester senior year, I haven't thought about grades in a year. Classes at Olin are definitely untraditional- in my first two months at Olin, I've done the following in class:
Built a anemometer (fancy word for wind sensor) in lab
Designed and built a hopping toy for children
Done computer modeling of more shark, ray, and scallop populations than I ever wanted to
Gone on four or five field work trips for anthropology class
Biked to CVS to buy toys to disassemble
Just wrapped up building a computer model of laptop cooling!
It's exciting. I can definitely see how project based work is the best way to learn, especially with engineering. You can study all you want to, but you won't really know what your ModSim teacher meant when he told you to iterate and draw graphs before modeling, not until you've pulled an all-nighter frantically trying to get a program to work. I haven't taken a single test yet, but I know I can confidently CAD a model of just about anything, do computer modeling, and interview people for anthropological studies.
Extracurriculars: Hoo boy. I've joined just about every extracurricular I could fit into my schedule. And I still feel upset that I can't do more of them. Right now I'm part of HPV, our human-powered vehicles team, and we've started construction of a giant-single-wheel vehicle, and a leaning-to-steer vehicle. I'm also part of SAC, our lovely student activities committee, and have helped organized a talent show, a haunted house, trick-or-treating, etc. There are too many clubs for me to really go into detail, but I also am involved with lots of blues dancing, bread baking, and singing. Also, I'm doing popcorn making as my passionate pursuit this semester with my buddy, Subhash. Olin gave us three hundred dollars to investigate making different popcorn flavors. That's pretty freakin awesome. It feels like every day is dashing from one scheduled meeting to the next sometimes, and it can get a little overwhelming. But that's the point of Pass-No-Record first semester. A lot of first years join everything, and then figure out what they're into and what they want to spend their time on.
The first two months here have been hectic, crazy, and amazing. I hope this gives ya'll a good taste of what being at Olin is like. And if you happen to be a first semester high school senior reading this, I just want to let you know that it'll all be over soon, and you'll never have to look at that darn common app again. It only gets better from here, and you'll end up at a college where you'll be happy, whether that's Olin or not! Thanks for reading!