Olin has 370 students. That number may shock you, as it did for me.
Coming from a public high school of about 2,400 kids in Southern California, one of the few things that I was nervous about when deciding to come to Olin was definitely the size. I’m used to being one in a crowd, being stuck in a system weighed down by the inertia of tradition and one-up-one-down relationships. And although I don’t necessarily enjoy this kind of environment, I was more than nervous about coming to a much smaller school, and how that would affect not only me, but also the characteristics of my peers and environment as a whole.
As a first year student at Olin, everything about how I view “schooling” in both an educational and environmental sense has drastically changed.
I feel like Olin is inherently hard to explain because it truly is so different, but here I go anyway.
370 means you can change things that you feel should be changed. My professors constantly ask students about how classes might be improved to help students better understand and engage with the content. Surveys polling the student body about how they feel about X project, Y idea, or Z class influence how Olin functions on the whole and permeate day-to-day life. Opt-in social experiments with large discussions are not uncommon, and often start ripple effects that continue to affect the Olin community long after the experiment ends. Oliners are so inspired to be the change that they would like to see rather than to hold a grudge or simply complain. At Olin you can make a huge difference with just a couple of students and an idea, which is really empowering. This, coupled with Olin’s limited social inertia and a community that’s incredibly receptive to feedback and change, is a recipe for fluidity beyond belief.
Casually covering one of our R2s (Olin’s equivalent of RAs, except instead of enforcing rules, they’re just meant to be there for you) in a massive piles of leaves… Don’t mind us.
370 means that you know almost every Oliner within a couple of weeks after arriving on campus. In general, the group of friends that you interact with on a daily basis at Olin will actually be larger than it might be at larger schools, because at larger schools, people tend to cling to a certain group of people that they feel comfortable with. For the most part, Olin is your group of people you feel comfortable with. The support network that you have here is so vast, and everyone legitimately wants to help each other out, whether it be personal, academic, or any other issue you might be working through. If you want to learn something or reach out for help, there’s going to be someone there that can teach you whatever you want to know – perks of having a whole bunch of smart people that are so passionate about everything they do all concentrated in one place, right? From seniors to freshmen, professors to administrators, Oliners seriously care about each other’s wellbeing, and will do everything in their power to help a friend.
370 also means that Olin can feel very small. Anonymity is difficult to find, which is definitely a new experience for me. Despite my previous educational environments, however, I’ve been surprisingly comfortable. Our small size also means that it’s inevitable that there won’t be the same number of physical opportunities here (in particular, space-based resources, like research labs in particular fields), but if there’s something you really think the college would benefit from, there will be a whole line of people that are waiting to listen to you, from students to professors to administrators.
More autumn funtimes with other first years who have never experienced the wonder of leaf piles before – I’m not alone!
370 to me means friendship and trust, and an environment where I really feel I can grow into myself more, whatever that means – but that’s a discussion for another time.
Photo credits for this blog go to William Lu' 18. Thanks, William!
Note from the Admission Office: The total enrollment at Olin for Fall 2015 is 370 students. 333 are degree-seeking students, 10 are visiting or exchange students, and 27 are cross-registered students from other institutions taking classes at Olin.