Dear Admitted Students,
You've gotten in. Congratulations!! We're so excited! And I can genuinely say that, because remember how we all met you at Candidates’ Weekend amidst all the craziness and hype? Well, we remember too, and we can't wait to see some of you all again in the fall.
But now comes the hard part for you all. With a month left to decide where you'll be attending college, you're probably wondering something along the lines of where the heck to commit to, and I just want to be the first to acknowledge that it's a hard question. Really hard, in fact. And deciding to go to Olin in particular has an added layer of complexity, because it's such a unique place.
To help you in your decision, I'm going to tell you some of the factors that went into making mine – because what else can I offer at this point other than personal opinion? You know the facts; you know the stats; you've been on campus and been a part of Olin for a weekend. From here, it's all just individual intuition, so here's a little insight into how and why I decided to come and join the crazy.
First off: the people. I touched on this in my previous blog, but Oliners (...Olinauts?) are a really engaged, excited, interesting, and caring group of people, and the peer-to-peer relationships were actually the thing that I remember most from when I came to Candidates’ Weekend, and again when I visited as an Admitted Student – but more on that visit later. Now that I'm here, the relationships are a part of my life that I'm really thankful for, and I honestly couldn't imagine going through college without the amazing friends, peers, and support network that I have now. In talking to my friends at other, much larger universities across the country, I’ve realized that the environment here really is that different – the student engagement is just on a different level, with the college, with academics, and with each other.
Although it looks like a stock photo, this photo is actually a pretty accurate representation of one of my fall classes, History of Technology: drawing concept maps on every surface that we could, having awesome discussions, and just generally having a good time.
Going off of that, another major thing about Olin is obviously the academics. A whole university centered on experimental, project-based technical learning? On an institutional level, Olin is vastly different from any other university I was considering. Based on the fact that Olin is truly one-of-a-kind in this manner, I think it's safe to say that Olin is probably not really comparable to any colleges you're looking at, either. I was really intrigued by Olin's curriculum as a prospective student, and I'm very happy to report that as an actual student here, it's beyond what I expected. I'm so much more engaged in my classes and am learning both extremely quickly and to a much higher degree than I've ever been capable of before, which is so exciting! Where else do you learn linear algebra by writing facial recognition software, or learn mechanics and multivariable calculus by designing a boat? It's a thousand times better than an auditorium lecture with a couple hundred students and a professor you can't understand; trust me.
There are also many other factors that went into my decision, but in an effort to not write an essay here, I'll keep them brief: educational experimentation, cool opportunities in terms of project teams, the hilarious culture and community, the sheer enthusiasm of the whole place, the location (I wanted to go somewhere very different from where I had grown up), the crazy adventures that happen spontaneously, and the fact that I would be surrounded by people just as nerdy and excited about things as I am.
One thing to note is that most of these factors really sunk in when I visited as an admitted student (or "mitten", if you will), in April, which I would really recommend if you're still curious what being an Olin student is like, want to get a perspective on classes, clubs, and culture, or if you're just confused in general, which I would classify myself as being at this time last year.
This being said, Olin isn't for everyone. If you don't like working in teams, I'll be frank, you probably won't enjoy a lot of the things we do here. If you have your heart set on joining Greek Life at a university, we definitely can't help you there. If the hundred-plus person lecture is right up your alley for learning higher math, that's simply not something you'll get at Olin. But even beyond these, there are many nuances of Olin that just aren't for everyone, and that's totally fine – this is a decision you have to make, and your happiness (both long-term and short-term) is obviously something you should be considering at this point.
Another piece of advice, if I may: choose what feels right to you. Not your friends, not your family, not some random people on the internet that you don't know (cough, cough... awkward). College decisions can be stressful, but at the end of the day, you're the one going off to live in this new environment, so make sure that you're making the right decision for yourself.
So now, it's up to you. The last thing I'll leave you with is to make the most of whatever you do, wherever you go. If there's something that you want to make happen, do it. College is meant to be a time where you can explore everything you want to, forge amazing relationships with people you'll likely be close to for the rest of your life, and just throw yourself at life unapologetically and see where you end up. No matter where you end up, just do yourself a favor: have a wonderful time, learn things you never even knew existed, adventure past your limits, and enjoy every moment. For me, Olin is the perfect environment for everything I want out of college; I truly hope you find the same, whether it's here or somewhere else, and that this helped a little in reaching that decision.