Impressions Of
Occidental College

Academic Experience

Female Biology Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your Biology major?
For my Molecular Biology class, there are only three problem sets for the semester. The labs aren’t too difficult, we just meet once a week for three hours and sometimes it doesn’t take the whole time. For my Ecology class, we take a lot of field trips during the semester, so it’s more time consuming, but still manageable. In my classes right now, the assignments are probably 40% based on labs, 30% tests, and the rest is homework.

How accessible are the professors in your department?
Most of them are pretty accessible. Some of them live further away so they might have fewer office hours than others. They always answer emails pretty fast.

Female Urban and Environmental Policy Major C/O 2021

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Not really. I think since it’s such a liberal school, and especially such a liberal major, I have heard people say they feel uncomfortable voicing their opinions that don’t conform to the very liberal ideas in class or in social settings.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
The ones that have office hours are very accessible and are always there during these times. Sometimes it’s an issue because so many students will come, but I’ve had a lot of professors who open up their office hours more than usual around midterms and finals. They’ll make sign-up sheets to make sure everyone gets a fair chance to talk with them. They are also pretty good at replying to emails.

Female Critical Theory & Social Justice (CTSJ) and Philosophy Double Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely more collaborative, especially compared to other schools. I feel like we work more with people, and it’s more based on how you’re doing, rather than how you’re doing compared to other people.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think so. There’s definitely more of a liberal perspective at Oxy, but I think people are open to thinking more broadly about certain things.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
For the most part, they’ve been pretty accessible. Most professors have office hours and they answer emails which has been pretty nice.

Social Opportunities

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2022

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go to parties on campus, and sometimes clubs in L.A. I also go to the beach or explore L.A with my friends. Most of the parties are hosted by the fraternities, sororities, or sports teams. We have names for the sports team houses which throw the parties. Everyone is included, and people don’t care what grade you’re in.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Friday and Saturday.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Occidental? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I wish there were more night events at Oxy. I wish clubs would host events more often because most of the time nothing is going on unless it’s a party.

Female Urban and Environmental Policy Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Sometimes I go to house parties, and since I just turned 21, I go out to bars or clubs more. Often, I just stay home and have a couple of friends over to chill, play games, or watch a movie. Usually, the [student] club parties are pretty exclusive to people in that club because they don’t want their house to get trashed. When I played rugby, we had parties a lot, but it was only for the players. The parties that are more open to everyone at this school are just groups of friends that have a good house to party in. Some houses are well-known for being party houses and will host every weekend.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Occidental? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I’m pretty happy with the options especially now being 21. There are so many places to go around L.A or even the bars in our neighborhood. One thing I would change is if there was more diversity in the house parties. Only a couple of houses have parties, so it tends to be the same group of people. It would be cool if more houses had parties with different groups of people.

Female Critical Theory & Social Justice (CTSJ) and Philosophy Double Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Oxy is a pretty small campus, so sometimes the parties aren’t the best, nor are they what people would deem a wild college party. My friends and I go clubbing once or twice a month. For the most part, we just hang out and play [party] games with each other.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Usually Friday or Saturday. Greek life isn’t prominent at our school, but a lot of sports teams have their own houses, so we usually go to those parties. [There are 7 recognized Greek organizations.]

How happy are you with the weekend options at Occidental? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
Sometimes it does get a little repetitive and boring. I wish there was a bigger party scene here, but I think for the most part it’s not that bad.

Campus Culture

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2022

How did you meet your closest friends?
I’ve met them through my sports team and the proximity of the dorm I live in. I also participated in OxyEngage, which is a pre-orientation program before college starts where we explore L.A. and get used to the environment around us.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
Everyone is fairly nice to each other, and it’s pretty inclusive. There aren’t many events to interact with people, so it’s pretty socially dead. The party scene isn’t very good, so you kind of have to meet people on your own, and through the friends you’ve made. It’s easy to make friends, but it’s hard to meet new people.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s a pretty high extent. In terms of race and sexual orientation, people tend to stick with their own because they feel more comfortable, which I think is common in general. But, mixing is pretty prevalent here. [The student body is 14% Hispanic, 5% Black, 51% White, and 13% Asian.]

Female Biology Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the student body?
There’s a mix of all types of people at Oxy. It might depend on their major and speaking from my experience taking a bunch of Biology classes, there’s a STEM community because we see each other in classes. People might be a little divided based on their major, but at the end of the day, people will hang out with each other or learn from each other’s different experiences. I don’t see one type of person.

How would you describe the East Asian community on campus?
There’s definitely a strong presence of Korean Americans, which is the group I’m part of called KASA. I’m not Korean myself, I’m Chinese, and there’s a weaker presence for Chinese Americans here. I feel like I know a range of people, but I do hang out with more Asian Americans than other people.

Female Urban and Environmental Policy Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think it depends on what kind of friends you have. I’d say friend groups are pretty homogeneous and tend to stick to their group and not branch out. Not a lot of friend groups overlap or interact with each other. Nobody is really mean and there isn’t drama that I know of. It’s a pretty good social scene.

How would you describe the student body?
I think it’s statistically more diverse than a lot of other small liberal arts colleges. A lot of people are very involved with clubs, sports, Greek life, or community organizing. I feel like most people do a lot of extracurricular activities, and students who participate are very driven. There’s a lot of creativity that goes on around campus in terms of making art and music. The sports teams seem to have a lot of camaraderie and seem to be good friends with each other. The only thing I’d say is that friend groups are racially divided. It’s a pretty accepting environment unless you have conservative views, but even then, there are friend groups that will accept that.

Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA

Pros of

  • “Eagle Rock is a pretty small and nice community. There are a lot of nice shops and places within walking distance.”
  • “It’s really pretty here. You can see the mountains from campus, especially if you’re up where my residence hall is.”
  • “The community here is pretty diverse. Eagle Rock has both Filipino and Armenian communities.”
  • “You’re close to downtown L.A. and Pasadena, which are fun areas to hang out in.”

Cons of

  • “The neighborhoods around us are rundown and not as well managed. The infrastructure isn’t as good.”
  • “Occidental is in a neighborhood that has traditionally been lower income and is now becoming gentrified. I know a lot of people would see that as being a good thing, but to me, it’s hard to balance my position as a privileged student in college wanting to have fun and go out, to also wanting to be a responsible and ethical part of the community.”
  • “Because L.A is so spread out and the traffic is so bad, parking is hard to find. It can be isolating and hard to get off campus and make yourself do things because it’s so spread out. It can be hard to hear about the things that happen.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2022

What is something you wish you knew about Occidental before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how bad the dorms were. They are small, have no A/C, and are old. I wish I knew that so I could better prepare myself. Our dorms aren’t very homey, or comfortable.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Don’t miss OxyEngage, which is a way to make friends and get accustomed to this new life and environment.

Female Biology Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Occidental before entering as a freshman?
I was a little late deciding on my Biology major, so it would’ve been helpful if someone told me if I wanted to do Biology then I should figure that out during my freshman year.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Seeing what a club meeting is like. During the tour, they mostly go outside of the classes but never walk in or see the actual students interacting with each other. I think they would miss the community feel by just taking a tour.

Female Urban and Environmental Policy Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Occidental before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the problems with the administration and the history of Occidental. Similarly, I wish I knew the history regarding issues of sexual assault and how they’ve been sued by the Federal Government for Title IX violations twice. I also wish I knew about the racial tensions on campus and its separated nature. [See Occidental’s Sexual Respect & Title IX page here.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, & Community Engagement. It’s a really cool office on campus with a lot of opportunities to volunteer, work, community organizing, or to get involved in leadership on campus.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Occidental College

To Attend

  • “The campus size. You have more access to your professor’s office hours, it’s easier to know your classmates, and we have a smaller community which feels closer than it would be on a big campus.”
  • “How nice and pretty the campus is.”
  • “The food is pretty good. We’re ranked [ 22] in the nation.”
  • “The location. Being in L.A, you are surrounded by everything you’d want.”

To Not Attend

  • “The dorm life. They are one of the lower sides of Oxy. They aren’t up to date or modernized at all.”
  • “The walk around campus. The campus itself is pretty small, but it’s on a hill so there’s a lot of uphill and downhill walking.”
  • “The limited cafeteria selection. We only have one.
  • “It’s expensive, so if you don’t get a great financial aid package or have outside scholarships, it is expensive.” [The total cost of attending Occidental in 2019 is $72,610. They meet 100% of the demonstrated need of admitted students.]
Notice: Occidental College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Occidental College.

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