Nolan Grieve '10

On an Oberlin education: "Each semester, to my continual surprise, Oberlin provides me both with the raw material of life experience and the tools with which to shape it into something with purpose."


I'm from a small town in western Pennsylvania, just 200 miles east of here. When the time came to start applying to college, I was pretty aimless -- not floating-in-space aimless, but definitely on the high side of the aimlessness for high school seniors. I knew that I liked music, and I had always enjoyed reading and writing. I had a girlfriend at Kent State at the time who I wanted to be close to. So my rigorous college search consisted of getting on the College Board website, setting "music," "English" and "Ohio region" as my criteria, and perusing the results. Funny coincidence that a college with one of the best music conservatories and one of the finest English programs in the U.S. (I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't aware of either of these things) would turn up. So, convinced that that was all I needed to do, I applied to Oberlin and one other school, where my brother and a friend were going.

"Luck" doesn't even begin to describe it.

I'm convinced that I couldn't have found a better match if I'd scoured every available resource and toured twenty schools. I eventually decided against applying to the conservatory because there was too much else that I wanted to pursue, but that hasn't stopped music from being a huge part of my life here, from going to almost too many concerts to performing with other Obies and taking private lessons (sometimes more than one!) every semester. I've maintained my love of English classes and have been completely satisfied, but what really grabbed me at Oberlin was the creative writing program.

Before Oberlin, writing had been a regular hobby of mine, but nothing that I'd considered a serious part of my future. One of the first things that I came to understand in a happenstance poetry workshop in my freshman year was that writing is both an art and a discipline, and the creative writing major at Oberlin is a great way to learn a craft within the context of a liberal arts education.

The synergy between creative writing and the rest of my experience at Oberlin has been life-shaping for me. Writing, first and foremost, depends on observing the world around you; at Oberlin, each corner you turn provides a new vantage point. For me, these new perspectives have come through classes ranging from Jewish studies to Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, through Winter Term, in which I had an internship at a major book agency in New York, and through the Oberlin Mentoring Program, the student-run campus link to Big Brothers Big Sisters). Each semester, to my continual surprise, Oberlin provides me both with the raw material of life experience and the tools with which to shape it into something with purpose.


Submitted by Nolan Grieve '10



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