If you had told me at this time last year that I would be attending Olin in the fall, I probably would have laughed at you. Okay, laugh might be a bit extreme, but I definitely would have been confused. Olin wasn’t really on my radar until I got invited to Candidates’ Weekend. I had applied on a whim and attended Candidates’ Weekend in part to explore Boston (I had never been). As with most Olin students, Candidates' Weekend was an amazing experience for me, and it changed my vision of a small, unknown college to a place where I could actually envision myself going.
Around this time last year, I had just gotten all of my decisions and gotten into what I thought was my dream school. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Olin. My dad had attended a large private research university in my home state of California, and throughout my four years of high school I had convinced myself that I would follow in his footsteps and continue as a legacy. So I was ecstatic when I found out all my hard work throughout high school had paid off, and I had gotten in. I was later devastated by the fact that the school I had put on a pedestal wasn’t financially feasible for my family. So as the end of April approached, I was extremely indecisive about where I wanted to go. My list of schools included mainly California state schools and UCs. Olin seemed to be the only outlier on this list.
The idea of Olin terrified for me for a couple reasons. One, it was on the other side of the continent. I never contemplated leaving California for college (all of my friends were staying, and I had only been to Boston once for Candidates’ Weekend), so moving to the East Coast was not what I had in mind for college. Two, Olin was small. I had gone to a small high school and was ready to spread my wings and meet more people, not go to a school smaller than my high school. And, finally, Olin was purely engineering. Olin was the only college I applied to that didn’t have other majors, primarily because I never really identified as an “aspiring engineer” - or what I thought one had to look like.
So when May 1st rolled around, I still hadn’t made a decision. That morning I nervously looked at my closet, deciding which of the colleges to wear gear from before putting on t-shirts from my top 2 and grabbing a sweatshirt to layer over until I decided. My mom and dad sent me off to school with a warning: I had to decide before I came home. At school, my mind was a mess, torn over what to decide. I had used spreadsheets and done calculations that would tell me what school I should attend, but at the end of the day I knew it had to be based on a feeling. And nothing was feeling right.
So, quite impulsively, I decided to throw myself into the “one that wasn’t like the rest.” I figured if nothing felt right, then I might as well try something new. So by my last period on May 1st, I had committed to a school that I had only visited once and heard of for the first time in December.
And I’m so glad that I did. Olin has been a place where I have formed some of the best memories in my life. Where else would I walk 13 miles into Boston for the Climate Strike, play a game of ultimate frisbee in the dark, dance in the snow for the first time, and write a novel? All in one semester. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have done any of this at another school. And that’s what makes this college so special. Because it’s not just the fact that I did these things. It was the fact that I did them with my new family. A group of people I will forever be connected to because of all the amazing things we’ve done together.
Now, I don’t recommend that people make their college decisions the way I did. “So why are you writing this then?” you might ask. Well, I’m writing this to tell you what I wish somebody had told me when I was thinking of attending Olin. One, to all my fellow West Coasters out there, Boston is an amazing place to explore during college. Two, there is no singular type of person that is an engineer, especially at Olin. While it may seem limiting to come to a school of engineers, the group of people here is one of the most diverse groups I’ve ever met. And, finally, its size is not a limitation, but rather one of its strengths. I can honestly say that I don’t know if I would have been able to stay sane throughout the turmoil of the last couple weeks without my Olin family. Leaving campus early due to the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the hardest things for me to do, but I’m glad that I will still forever be a part of the Olin community, no matter the distance between us.
So if you choose to attend Olin, we would love to welcome you to the family :)
Also feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask me any questions you might have or just to talk to me about Olin, the outdoors, frisbee, coffee, or life in general.