Find Your Olin: Olivia Jo '23

Olivia Jo Bradley '23
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Hey mittens (mittens means admitted students)! Congratulations on being accepted into Olin! I’m Olivia Jo, a first-year student from Southern California who thinks she might major in Engineering with Mechatronics, but that might change.

A year ago I was in your place, freaking out about making an incredibly stressful decision that would shape the next 4 years of my education over the course of a month. When I started my college application process, I had no idea what I wanted, which was evident in the number of colleges I applied to. Even after receiving my decisions, I was weighing Olin against schools that were the exact opposite.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to labor over decisions. I’m the kind of person who needs to research all potential options. When it came to choosing my college, I was no different. I got involved in so many admitted student activities, shadowed friends at the schools nearby my house, and read every single Olin blog post that was any bit relevant.

If I listed out all the little things I compared and debated, you would be reading this for hours, so instead I’m just going to list some of the most impactful factors for me:

Opportunities

So many colleges have amazing resources, machines, and makerspaces, but often, they are only accessible to graduate or upperclass students. At Olin, I was shocked to find 3D printers and sticker machines where students did not need to pay for their own materials, and tools and camera equipment that students could just check out like library books. Oliners can get trained on almost all the tools in the shop; they just need to ask.

Research is also incredibly accessible. I can see my classmates and friends working with professors and getting jobs for the summer as first-years, which is not common at most colleges.

Do you want to start a club? Fantastic, it’s super easy. We have clubs for everything from curling to dance or even fire spinning. Everything at Olin is accessible to everyone, no matter what grade you are in.

Community

I was lucky enough to get to visit Olin twice: once at the Fall Open House and again during Candidates’ Weekend. Each time, I noticed how my interactions with the students at Olin felt genuine. They were excited about their work in a way I hadn’t seen at other schools. The people I met weren’t paid by the Office of Admission & Financial Aid; they were volunteering to talk about Olin because they loved this school.

As an Oliner now, I can see that what I saw was real, but was also just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the magic of this community. Every day, I am surrounded by others who are always willing to lend a hand. Everyone here is curious and excited about something. I can’t imagine learning anywhere else.

Size

My high school was fairly big. At first, the thought of spending the next four years at a place half the size of my graduating class (over 600 high school seniors) seemed terrifying, and I thought Olin would be too small for me. But after visiting some of the giant universities on my list, I felt lost. I didn’t want giant lecture halls with over a hundred students. I wanted professors to know who I was. At Olin, I feel seen. I don’t need to chase down professors in faraway offices to talk to them—I can find them in the dining hall eating lunch with us.

At the end of the day, Olin was the best fit for me. Even though I hadn’t decided where I was heading, I found myself comparing everything to Olin. At first I thought it was because Olin was the most different, but now I think it might have been my gut trying to tell me to pick Olin.

Wherever you end up, I hope it is the place that is the best for you. Forget what your friends, your parents, your teachers, and your counselors say, and pick where you feel happiest. That might be Olin, or that might be somewhere else. And wherever that is, learn and have fun! Make friends and try something you never thought you would ever do. I know I certainly have.

If you still have questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out to me at obradley@olin.edu.

Posted in: Olivia Jo '23