Impressions Of
Claremont McKenna College

Academic Experience

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
This might be me because I’m not a very competitive person, but I don’t feel much competition, if any, amongst my fellow students. There’s very little comparison or jealousy or anything like that among the students, and something that really helps with that is no classes are graded on a curve. Everybody in the class can get an A if they excel. Also, the students are really nice and people support each other.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Physics because I like things that are counterintuitive and difficult to understand, and physics is full of that, especially when you get to the quantum realm. The ideas that happen are strange but also real. It’s hard to imagine the things that we learn in class being how the world works. In a lot of ways, I am happy with my decision because I still have a lot of interest in the subject material.

But, there are a couple of reasons that I’m not because Physics can feel like a grind when you have a bunch of problem sets due and you’re just doing a lot of problems, and that can be a little bit overwhelming. The other reason I’m not happy is the Physics department doesn’t have as consistently good professors as other departments do at this school. A higher percentage of them aren’t as connected with the environment here or the material that they teach.

Male Government Major C/O 2019

Is there anything you feel the Government department does especially well or poorly?
I think they do a really good job of emphasizing practical work. There’s a lot of work using statistical analysis and doing things that are actually helpful for the future. CMC emphasizes the pre-professional twist on the liberal arts, so everyone’s supposed to be able to find a job and use some of the skills that you learn in school. Something they do poorly is that it’s not a super diverse department. A lot of the professors are really old, fairly conservative, White men. On the flip-side, that’s nice because a lot of other liberal arts schools tend to be really liberal and CMC is a more moderate place. We get a lot of good discussions going on in our classes because of the department demographics.

Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes. I am extremely liberal, but I think people here are more open-minded to some other ideas on the political spectrum. A lot of the people at CMC are more moderate and are really receptive to one another. There isn’t a lot of judgment going on unless you are extremely radical to the left or the right.

Female Economics Major C/O 2019

Is there anything you feel the Economics department does especially well or poorly?
I just think the Economics department is so strong. The professors are so brilliant that going to office hours to talk to them and going for them for career advice is really helpful. All I have to say is positive things about the Economics department at CMC.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
The learning environment at CMC is very high caliber, but it’s definitely not cutthroat or competitive between students. I think there’s a good camaraderie at CMC because everyone knows that if you’re taking a hard class you’re in it together. You can reach out to other students for help and reach out to other students who have taken the class in the past, and everybody is willing to give you advice and help you succeed. That’s something that I’ve really enjoyed at CMC. I like that it’s not competitive between the students and you’re surrounded by people who are all working hard, so it motivates you to do well and work hard for yourself. I really enjoy the environment here.

Social Opportunities

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Claremont McKenna?
There are a lot of school-sponsored events at CMC and the other colleges, and a lot of people go to them. I usually hang out with some friends beforehand and then go to one of the school events or meet up some friends and have a smaller thing ourselves. A special thing about the Claremont Colleges is they actually host events for students, so that’s pretty much the extent of my nightlife.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Now, just Saturday. Freshman year it was more Thursday and Saturday.

Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year when you weren’t as socially established?
It would usually start with small parties in people’s dorms, or, if you’re having a dorm event, there might be a party in the dorm lounge. There also might be people hosting stuff in their rooms which are larger than the party you started out at but smaller than a big party, so you’d go there for a little bit and meet up with more friends and then go to the school-sponsored event. Then when you feel like you’re ready to go, you’d head out to one of the events thrown by the school. Usually, it’s a CMC event, but sometimes they are thrown by a different school. There’s usually something school-sponsored going on Saturday night.

Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
No, there’s very little exclusivity.

Female Government Major C/O 2019

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Claremont McKenna?
Party culture at Claremont is pretty unusual because everything happens on campus. Sometimes people go off campus, but very rarely. All the parties are on campus, and it’s very encouraged by the school, and sometimes sponsored by the school, to drink on campus. I think that’s really good because it’s a lot safer. Nobody’s driving and nobody’s going to get hit by a car while they’re drunk, or something like that, because everything happens on campus. I really like that I can go out with my friends and walk two minutes to get back to my house. I never pay for Uber and I rarely have to pay for drinks. It’s nice in my opinion, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

How happy are you with the nightlife at CMC? Is there anything you would change about it if you could?
I’m happy with it because I think it allows you to do whatever you want, which I like. There’s no pressure to party, at least I haven’t experienced pressure with my friend group. Sometimes I wish there were more bars so I could have experienced that, but that’s not something I actually care about that much.

I also think there’s a pretty good consent culture on campus, though I’d say that is something that wasn’t so great when I first got here and has since improved. There are a lot of clubs that are devoted to making sure that people are aware of what is consent and what’s not in terms of drinking and sex, so I feel that’s pretty positive.

Male Government Major C/O 2019

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Claremont McKenna?
I’ve gone through a lot of different phases. There are a ton of parties across the 5C’s and anybody can go to any party on the other campuses and a lot of the parties serve alcohol. Freshman year I would go to those parties pretty much every weekend. There is also stuff that happens on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but I wouldn’t go to that because I was focused on schoolwork. Sophomore year I got a little sick of it so I would go out with friends from UCLA and USC in downtown Los Angeles. Junior year I stopped going out altogether and I made some friends at Pomona who I would just hang out and watch TV with. That was really nice because I had a really intense course load that semester. Now I maintain that relaxed lifestyle. I’ll go out for drinks with some friends at some of the bars in Claremont Village with some friends on some of the weekends. For the most part, we’ll stick around on campus and hang around with my roommates and drink wine or something.

How has being a person who identifies as gay influenced your nightlife experience?
That is actually why I ended up going into Los Angeles a lot my sophomore year. Across the 5C’s there are a lot of gay people, but the LGBTQ community at each school is small and specific to each school. At CMC I have a couple of really close gay friends, but the dating scene is not great. I also really like going to a gay club for a night out, and that is not an option in Claremont. That is actually one of the reasons why I became less satisfied with it over time. For the straight world, it’s a great place to be because everyone’s really pretty [laughs].

Campus Culture

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think to a good degree. There are always going to be groups of people of the same race and sexual orientation because there are clubs for different types of people and they have a lot of shared experiences. I have noticed groups of people with the same identifiers, but I also have friends of different identifiers than I am.

To what extent do you mix with students from the other Claremont Colleges?
A good amount. The campuses are all open and very connected, so you keep walking and walking and you’re on a different campus. The proximity is very close. Also, people take classes at the other colleges so a lot of your classes will have students from the other colleges in the class. Also, a lot of the clubs and organizations include people from the other colleges. For example, four of the seventeen people in my acapella group are CMC students and I’m the only CMC student in my band.

Female Government Major C/O 2019

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they do a lot. There have been improvements in diversity, but more diversity could be had across the Claremont Colleges. It’s a majority White school. I don’t think Claremont McKenna is always sensitive to the feelings of students of color. [Claremont McKenna invited a pro-police speaker, which sparked protests.] I would imagine it could be stressful to be a person of color at CMC, and the same for individuals in the LGBT community. [In the 2018-2019 academic year, Claremont McKenna has a student population of about 41% White students, 16% international students, 15% Hispanic students, 11% Asian students, and 4% Black students.]

How would you describe the student body?
I think people are very career-oriented, and I think that is something people do feel pressure about. It’s not a negative pressure, but adds to the stress to get an internship or job over the summer because it can make people feel bad if they don’t have a job or internship. The student body is also really motivated. It’s a work hard play hard environment.

Female Economics Major C/O 2019

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think the whole social scene here models work hard play hard. Everyone here is extremely intelligent and works extremely hard in school, but they also know how to enjoy themselves. People enjoy having a good time, whatever that may be for them and however they may choose to do that. Some people like to go off campus a lot and enjoy going hiking and surfing, and then there are a lot of other people that enjoy being on campus and going out every Thursday and Saturday. Whatever you want to do, there are options.

How would you describe the student body?
There’s a saying that there is a mold to CMC, which is partly true. The stereotype of CMC people is that people like to go out a lot, but I think there’s a lot more to CMC people than that. People do enjoy going out a lot, but also people enjoy going off campus. You’ll find groups of people that like to go hiking and surfing, people who like to go to museums, people who like to go to Los Angeles, really whatever you want. One of the greatest things about Claremont is that you can find your niche anywhere through CMC or the four other schools.

Claremont, CA

Pros of

  • “It’s pretty low-key. The city is quiet and safe.” [Claremont’s violent crime rate is 55% lower than the California average, but the property crime rate is 4% higher than the California average.]
  • “There is a lot of nice nature nearby. You can go to Joshua Tree and there are nice hiking trails.”
  • “I’m from California and I like California. I think it’s really cool for a lot of reason. The weather is pretty unbeatable, it can get a little hot, but it’s pretty amazing.”
  • “The proximity to L.A. Now that I’m older and I’ve done all the on-campus activities, being able to go to L.A. and go to concerts, football games, or whatever is really nice.”

Cons of

  • “L.A. can be pretty far. Depending on where you’re going in L.A., it can take 40-minutes to an hour and a half to get there with minimal traffic. If you don’t have the whole day or whole afternoon to go do something, you can’t do it.”
  • “Claremont is a bubble. It’s called ‘the City of Trees and PhDs,’ which is so cringe-worthy. It’s so inaccessible to low-income people, but then you drive a mile down the street and you’re in Pomona, CA which is low-income and not as safe. The disparity is kind of shocking.” [Median household income in Claremont, CA is about $94,000 and there is a 9.5% poverty rate. The median household income in Pomona, CA is about $50,000 and there is a poverty rate of 21.5%.]
  • “There’s not a lot to do. After you’ve been there for four years it feels like you’ve done everything in the town a million times.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

What is something you wish you knew about Claremont McKenna before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew how pre-professional the school is. You might hear that stereotype about CMC coming in, and I wasn’t that aware of it coming in, but CMC has the stereotype of being focused on consulting and finance and those sorts of things. I’ve noticed that a lot of people who come here not really knowing what they want to do have ended up doing consulting, and that’s just a nod to the pre-professional vibe of this space. [The top three most frequent employers at CMC are Accenture, Ernst & Young, and Goldman Sachs. The two largest interest sectors are Accounting & Financial Services and Consulting.]

What’s something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The other colleges. I think it’s important to get a vibe for the 5C community because that’s just as instrumental of a part of the CMC community as CMC is.

Female Government Major C/O 2019

What is something you wish you knew about Claremont McKenna before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had known that Claremont was considered the party school of the 5C’s because I was just shocked to learn that when I arrived. There’s no pressure to party, so it doesn’t matter that much. It didn’t affect me, but I think it is something everyone else should know. In general, I think CMC does a really good job of telling students all the opportunities it has. I knew right away which research centers and clubs I could join. If you read your emails, you’ll be able to figure it out.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
CMC does an overnight visit program which is really useful. It’s a good way to check out the culture of the school and figure out if it’s a good fit. On the other hand, you can always get paired with someone who’s not representative of the school and that can give you a bad impression. I would also recommend touring the other colleges.

Female Economics Major C/O 2019

What is something you wish you knew about Claremont McKenna before you entered as a freshman?
I think what I didn’t realize coming from Connecticut is a lot of Claremont comprises of people from the Bay Area and Seattle. When I came here there was a culture of, “Do you know this person?” with people from the Bay Area. That goes back to the group of people who like to go out being very homogenous. I think the hard part of transitioning to Claremont is, even though I knew I wanted a small school, I was surprised how my first year here still kind of felt like high school. Over the years I realized I made it more into what I wanted it to be. Once I took more ownership over my experience instead of being here and letting CMC happen to me, I really enjoyed it. Once I realized what I wanted to do, I saw that Claremont provided all the resources for me to be able to accomplish what I wanted to do, so that made me love it. [Students from Northern California and Washington make up 19% of the undergraduate population.]

Reasons to attend and not to attend Claremont McKenna College

To Attend

  • “It’s a small school and all the things that come along with that. You get close access to your professors and can build relationships with them. If you want to take that initiative, that’s there. You also get to meet people really easily. If you meet somebody, you’re definitely going to see them again pretty quickly because the campus is so small.”
  • “The academic culture is not competitive. It’s collaborative for sure. I don’t feel competition with my classmates.”
  • “Amazing academics. The classes that I’ve taken are amazing and they’ve opened my eyes to so many different things and ways of thinking. I feel like after going to CMC I could do anything because the work is really hard. I’m prepared for writing work and I also am able to do quantitative work even though my background isn’t in that area.”
  • “California is sick. That comes with the weather, the mountains, and the beaches. We get to experience the natural elements at CMC.”

To Not Attend

  • “The campus is really small. It can feel restrictive because there’s no anonymity. Expect to be seen by people you know pretty much everywhere you go. It can feel like there’s very little space for yourself on campus.” [There are about 1,300]
  • “The level of socioeconomic diversity is pretty poor. People here, in general, are pretty wealthy and that can be striking to me because people who don’t come from that level of privilege can feel like they don’t fit in as well. Not being able to afford something your friends are going can be sad.” [Socioeconomically, 20% of students come from the top 1%.]
  • “If you’re worried about being in a pre-professional community and you think you might not like being in that community, it probably isn’t the place for you. People have professional aspirations and they’re not learning for the sake of learning, they’re learning a skill because they’re going to use that in a job in the future. A lot of people do Economics and Computer Science because those are lucrative spaces even though it might not be their personal passion.” [In the Class of 2017, some of the most popular majors were Economics, Economics-Accounting, and Mathematics.]
Notice: Claremont McKenna College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Claremont McKenna College.

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