Student Perspective: Candidates' Weekend

Hello, it’s me. My name is Erika Serna, please call me Serna (She/her/hers). I’m a second year and I wrote for Olinsider last year, but I’ve had a conflict with my schedule this semester! But I’m back!

 Things I’m involved in include Baja, Story Slam (an independent study), I’m a NINJA (Need Information Now Just Ask, Olin’s version of a Teaching Assistant) for Design Nature (a first year class), I advocate for milk paint, and I do fun things sometimes. Expect to hear more about some of those things.

But before I talk about where I am now, let’s talk about how I got here. I applied to like 20+ schools and did all the things that would work in my favor (submitting applications in time, writing essays, submitting random forms, doing my FAFSA). Olin was a school that emailed me about applying because I got on their mailing list during a robotics event. Since they allowed me to add them to my Common App, I just did that. But because their essay questions were interesting, I wrote them. Next thing I know, I’m being invited to some random thing called Candidates’ Weekend.

The admission process at Olin is different from other schools because Olin really tries to make sure that students (and even staff) are a good fit for each other.

Here’s a timeline (for the 2019 Fall Application Season) of the admission process:

August 1st 2018 to January 1st 2019 – Apply to Olin through Common App or Coalition App.

Near January 31st 2019 – Find out if you got invited to Candidates’ Weekend.

February 22-23, March 1-2, or March 8-9, 2019 – Attend a Candidates’ Weekend. This is a mandatory part of the application process and if you are unable to attend because of health, weather, or other extenuating circumstances, please communicate that to the Admission Staff.

Near March 31st – Find out your final application status.

On or before May 1st – Commit to Olin College or wherever you decide to go.

Honestly, the normal college application process is terrifying. Adding a mandatory in-person event can seem even more daunting. It can also mean that you get so much more out of the process; but sometimes that’s hard to convince yourself or especially your parents of.

So let me introduce myself again. My name is Serna and I’m from Texas. My mom was nervous about letting me attend Candidates’ Weekend and I was nervous about going, but I did what I had to. I got my forms filled, got my state ID, had several Olin admission counselors talk to my mom (thank you, Susan Brisson), and had my mom drive me to the airport.

Then I was at Olin and I learned things. I got excited about how Olin approached engineering, noticed how students interacted which each other, and considered my options in reference to this. The most important thing I did at Candidates’ Weekend was ask questions to absorb as much as I could, aka the whole point of CWs.

But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people who talked to my mom. I distinctly remember talking to Susan Brisson and having her be like, “Congratulations!” and me saying, “Please call my mom and hype this up.” Which worked, and I will talk to your parents if I have to. 

Funny thing is that I didn’t put thought into what I was doing. I thought about the process of getting there like an elevator. I just clicked the button, entered, and got to where I wanted to be. I didn’t worry about what to pack or airplanes. I just cared about getting to the elevator. I didn’t even know where Olin was. I thought it was next to the great lakes instead of next to the ocean. I didn’t find out where Olin was till I used Google Maps to compare different schools I got into. It really helped to focus on what I was about to experience rather than focus on the struggle to get there. Like when you wait for hours in line for something you’re excited about. You don’t care about the wait, you care about the experience.

And Candidates’ Weekend is an experience. There is so much effort put into it and the community really comes together to give Candidates the experience that seems the truest to the possible next four years of their lives. So even if you come to CW and decide that the school is not for you, that’s the point.

So, hopefully, I’ll see you in February or March. For now, work on your applications, ask questions, check out other articles, and explore the Olin Site.

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Posted in: Erika '21, Class of 2021