Where Oliners Come From

Dan Johnston

You’re a small school in the Northeast. I bet you don’t even have any students from outside New England.

As Olin's Regional Admission Counselor (based in Florida), one of the comments and questions I get most often when interviewing or talking with students is about Olin’s small size and whether there is any geographic diversity. This question is completely understandable as Olin’s current population is made up of 330 undergraduate students. That number can seem a bit intimidating at first because your high school senior class may have more students than our entire student body.

Desipite the small size of our community, Olin students come from all over the United States and abroad. Our students represent 38 states and 13 different countries. Students from small towns on the Texas/Mexico border to schools with large FIRST Robotics teams in Los Angeles come to Olin. Even my home state of Florida has students apply from the largest public magnet schools in Miami to the smallest private schools in rural north Florida. Internationally, students come Colombia to Nigeria! There is no RIGHT or BEST school from which students come.

It's also important to understand that Olin is not 330 students on an island. We are part of a much larger population, and many students take advantage of the opportunity to take classes at Babson, Wellesley, or Brandeis. Additionally, we are less than 20 miles from the center of Boston, and students can enjoy all the activities that come with big city livin’!

Okay, but my high school doesn’t have a robotics/engineering program. Should I even bother applying to Olin?

While it is true that many of our students participated in FIRST Robotics or other robotics competitions, not all students come from an intense engineering/technical background. Thus, having studied robotics or rocketry is not inherently better than dance or music when it comes to applying to Olin. Furthermore, working extra hours or looking after younger siblings can be as valuable as a technical background. See our blog What Are We Looking For? to find out what we view as important in the application process. What unites all Oliners is a desire to learn and to make a difference in the world through engineering.

Olin students are highly motivated in what they pursue. This motivation leads them to be very successful in their studies, hobbies, and passions. When you get a group of highly motivated and successful students, it is natural to be intimidated by what you encounter. A student might think, “Wow, these kids seem to know EVERYTHING about physics.” Or, “Where did these students learn to code so well?” Students can experience what is called “imposter syndrome.” Imposter syndrome is when someone feels inadequate in their current setting due to how advanced others seem. This can happen when you realize that you are not the smartest kid in the room anymore or your knowledge of Python isn’t as advanced as you thought it was.

Well, we want you to know that it’s okay if you don’t know everything! Olin has a Pass/No Record grading policy for your first semester of college, meaning that students don't get traditional letter grades while they're adjusting to Olin's unique and rigorous curriculum. That policy is in place to allow you to catch up in areas needed and take the pressure off of being perfect. As Adam Savage famously said, “Failure is always an option.” No, that does not mean that you can/should blow off your first semester because it doesn’t count. It just means that you have the opportunity to become the strong student that we in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid know you are going to be! 

Posted in: Dan, All Admission Staff Blogs