Hello everyone! My name is Mark Goldwater (he/him/his), and I'm a junior at Olin studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. My home town is Newton, MA, a mere 14 minute drive from Olin according to Google Maps. I am writing today in an attempt to provide the perspective of a very local student regarding both applying to and attending Olin.
When it came time to apply to colleges my senior year of high school, I had no clue that Olin even existed. I know it's hard to believe that despite living 4 miles away from campus, and attending captain's practices for my high school tennis team multiple times at the Boston Sports Club down the street, I had no awareness of Olin's placement, history, or reputation. In fact, it was my mother who first brought Olin up as a college to which I may want to apply.
At the time, 12th grade Mark had no time or energy to apply to some other random college that his mother mentioned out of the blue, so he decided that he would send in an application if he had time at the end of completing all the other ones he was currently writing. It turns out that he did have time to apply, and he fell in love with the caring, enthusiastic, and exciting environment at Candidates' Weekend.
Cut to about one and a half months later, and I had narrowed my scope to three colleges, one of which was Olin. I went to the admitted student days for the other two and scheduled a student-hosted visit at Olin. As I visited the potential programs that I would enter, it felt pretty nice to see that the tables had turned, and instead of me having to show myself off to the institutions, they were now showing me why I should pick them. However, throughout all the fun events, free food and swag, and thorough tours, I could not stop thinking about the connections I had already made with current and potential future Oliners just from the two days I spent on campus for Candidates' Weekend. I felt as if Olin was the place where I belonged, and I could already see myself utilizing the various tools and spaces available on campus, and joining many clubs (side note: I have probably tried almost every club on campus).
I remember one day I was sitting in my room in late April, realizing that I had to make my final decision in the next few days. I knew 100% that I wanted to attend Olin when every time I thought of a reason to attend one of the two other schools I was considering, the thought "but at Olin…" always popped into my head. It was at that point that I walked downstairs and told my parents that I had made a decision.
Now, despite the fact that I only live a 14-minute drive away from Olin, I actually don't end up going home all that much. In fact, I have a theory. Hear me out: any student who lives within a 10 mile radius of Olin goes home at a rate proportional to their distance from the college. In mathematical notation, this can be expressed as:
The implications of this are that if you live fairly close to Olin (I'm calling that within 10 miles), you go home at a decreasing rate the closer you live to campus. From my perspective this is understandable. I know I have had to work a bit harder to actually feel like I am away at college because, in reality, I could hop in my car and drive home whenever I want to. Considering my schedule this semester, I could even make it there to grab a snack after class and then arrive back at Olin before my next one even began. One thing my parents told me since the day I was accepted to Olin was that if I did end up choosing to attend, they would treat me as if I were in California. Don't get me wrong; I love my parents to death. I just really wanted a college experience where I could be away from home and on my own. If my parents are going to a local event, or even just dinner with family friends of ours, they send me an invite in case I'd be interested in attending, but they in no way enforce that I accompany them on every one of their excursions. If you are local and plan on attending Olin, I would have a conversation regarding this topic with your parents. My parents are two of my biggest supporters, and I owe so much to them, but it is important to have a discussion regarding the boundaries that work for both you and them when going to college locally.
In conclusion, is Olin in California? No. Can you make it feel like it is? Yes (with the exception of weather). But can you also return to your east-coast home on occasion despite simulating a Californian presence in order to visit your awesome parents? Yes :)