Impressions Of
Pitzer College

Academic Experience

Female Organismal Biology Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
This year and last year I’ve been in a lot of intro classes which are lectures, and those tend to be less collaborative. It’s much more like you listen to the professor and take the exams. The labs have been more collaborative and project-based. There it’s easier to get to know people in the sciences. This next semester will be the first time that I take upper-level Biology courses and I’m hoping that it’s going to be less of that big lecture hall college experience.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The faculty in my major are really great in providing opportunities to be involved in Organismal Biology things outside of just being a major. For example, I’m applying to this semester to do research in Costa Rica looking at Golden Orb-weaver spiders. One of my professors does research on birds at the Barnard Field Station, which is sort of like our land for doing Biology labs. She’s always giving us opportunities to help her with research. It’s very hands on.

Female Organismal Biology Major C/O 2019

Is there anything you feel the Organismal Biology Department does especially well or poorly?
Organismal Biology is good regarding fieldwork. We have the Bernard Field Station which is [86 acres of] protected land home to native California species where we conduct experiments. The bad thing is we don’t have a lot of tenured faculty members, so [as a senior] this is the first year I have a professor with their own laboratory [classroom].

What made you choose Organismal Biology, and are you happy with your choice?
Yeah definitely, I love Organismal Biology. It’s slightly different than regular Biology because it doesn’t focus on the cell processes, it’s more like ecology and evolution. You look at organisms as a whole and its interactions with the environment. The only difference in the majors is that with Biology you have to take Organic Chemistry.

Female Human Biology and Psychology Double Major C/O 2018

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Since I double majored and was pre-med, I took on more than the average student. I took 5-6 classes, with 2 labs per semester. If you do not double major, you typically would have 4 classes a semester, with maybe 1 or 2 labs. The coursework was not too demanding, some classes had weekly problem sets or weekly quizzes, and about 3 midterms and a final for each course. The labs were once a week for 4 hours, and those were as demanding as another class.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
The sciences are incredibly competitive because you are competing with pre-med students. You try to learn and be the best because you want to be at the top of the curve to stand out for medical school. I wish it were more collaborative because science courses are hard. The other majors seem very collaborative and, in those majors, you will always have someone to help you out when in need.

Social Opportunities

Female Organismal Biology Major C/O 2019

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pitzer?
There are a lot of on-campus parties hosted by the colleges. The thing about the consortium is each campus has something almost every weekend. There’s a drinking culture, a smoking culture, and just a sober culture depending on what you’re into. As a senior, I like to hang out with my friends and maybe go to a local brewery.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Pitzer? Is there anything you would change?
Honestly no, [I wouldn’t change anything]. It’s really fun. Pitzer specifically hosts three major parties outside the academic buildings, and there are also spaces outside the dining halls called Aprons where people go to party.

Female Environmental Analysis Major C/O 2019

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
There are 5C parties which have college security there, and those happen pretty much every week, if not every other week. Those are nice to go to because there’s security there, so you know there won’t be people there from outside of the colleges, so it’s a safe space to enjoy music with your friends. That’s the main party scene. Other than that, some suites throw parties and other events that are not as massive. Other than parties, there are club events too. I’ve started swing dancing and there’s a small club that does it there, sometimes we go to L.A. for events too. I also like to go hiking with the Pitzer Outdoor Adventures Club, people use that a lot more than I do though.

What have been your favorite times at Pitzer?
When my friends and I go off-campus for weekend trips and to go camping. On campus, I’ve really enjoyed some of the events at the Robert Redford Conservancy because I learned and grew a lot, and feel really supported. I like to talk about my major and interests and grow academically and intellectually.

Male Economics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2020

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pitzer?
I like to go downtown on the weekends. There are on campus parties which are a hit or a miss, and the school will have sanctioned events as well, but they can also be a flop. As a Junior I don’t really do that anymore, but I enjoy spending time with my friends in West Hollywood, [about an hour drive from campus.]

Describe a typical going out night freshman year. How did it differ from when you are now more established socially on campus?
Freshman year I went out almost every weekend, Thursday – Saturday which is pretty typical. I recall it being fun, but I know there are mixed reviews among other students. If nothing is happening at Pitzer, the other schools in the consortium usually have something going on.

Campus Culture

Male Political Studies Major C/O 2019

How did you meet your closest friends?
Before school starts, we sign up for a 4-day trip called Orientation Adventure. I signed up for a backpacking trip, where I made my first friend. I think due to my personal circumstances of living in the freshman dorms for three years, the friends made on this trip was crucial.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
All 5 schools are about half White and half non-White, so I feel that a lot of times people’s friends are pretty segregated. [Pitzer is 45% White, 15% Hispanic, 6% Black, and 9% Asian.]

Female Environmental Analysis Major C/O 2019

To what extent do international students mix with domestic students?
Quite a lot. My experience might be different than others because some international students do like to stick together, but I feel like a third of my close friends are international, while the rest are not. It depends on what clubs you’re a part of.

Do you feel like more of a student of Pitzer or the Claremont Colleges overall?
Both, depending on what it is. I feel more connected to Pitzer than the other Claremont Colleges, but Pitzer wouldn’t be Pitzer without the other Claremont Colleges.

Male Economics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2020

How would you describe the overall social scene?
We don’t have Greek life, and I wouldn’t say there are cliques. The people here are so nice, and everyone fits in. Most of the socializing will happen on campus at parties, and I’d say there are a few houses off-campus that will throw parties every once in a while.

Do you feel that you are more a student of Pitzer or a student of the five-college consortium?
I definitely identify as a Pitzer student. Each college really sticks out and has its own values. Pitzer is very big on social justice and is environmentally conscious. I take a lot of classes at the other colleges, and I feel like I fit in which is a cool experience.

Claremont, CA

Pros of

  • “You can drive up to the mountains to go skiing or hiking.” [Claremont Colleges are less than two hours from five skiable mountains.]
  • “You have access to nature and it’s really easy to be outdoors. I really enjoy that because I try to get outside on the weekends.”
  • “Everything is pretty close with all the five colleges being here and you’re less than a mile from Claremont Village. You don’t really need a car, you can bike almost anywhere.”
  • “The weather. It’s beautiful here all the time. Maybe a little hot in the beginning of the semester but in the winter it’s still in the 70’s.”

Cons of

  • “I was a little misled because I thought I was going to be living in LA, but you really need a car to get this experience.” [Pitzer to LA is a 45-minute drive.]
  • “It’s small, so sometimes you can feel stuck with nothing to do once you’ve already been to all the restaurants.”
  • “If you don’t have a car, the public transportation isn’t great here.”
  • “Claremont has lots of pollen, and people get horrible allergies in their first year.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Organismal Biology Major C/O 2021

Something you wish you knew about Pitzer before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had been less sure of what I wanted to do and I wish I had known that a lot of people going into a liberal arts college don’t know what they want to study. I went into college thinking I had to take a bunch of science classes, which has worked out for me, but I also sometimes envy people who have explored a lot of different pathways and have taken obscure classes that may not be what you want to study but give you broader perspectives.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
Go inside of the Grove House. It’s a really beautiful space. It’s great for studying, and the food is really good too if you want to get lunch there. The Shakedown Cafe, which is by the pool, is a really nice space. Maybe also the dining hall, the food is delicious, and I would highly recommend it.

Female Environmental Analysis Major C/O 2019

Something you wish you knew about Pitzer before entering as a freshman?
I wish I joined more clubs and pushed myself to continue with things that I maybe didn’t continue with. I also wish I knew that I don’t need to stay with one friend group if I don’t want to. Especially freshman year, I feel like people just stick to the same people because they feel comfortable with them. I also wish I took more classes that are outside of my major because there are still so many classes I want to take.

What is something a prospective international student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
It can be hard in classes where the classes are focused on the U.S, and you wonder why they’re not talking about your country. Obviously, you’re in a different country, and you’re going to be talking about that country more so than others in classes, but it is something I didn’t think about. I haven’t directly talked about Hong Kong in any of my classes. You have the choices to take classes more globally related and meet professors that are from the same part of the world as me. I’m taking a class on East Asia social movements, which will touch on social movements in Hong Kong and other East Asian countries, and I’m really excited about it because I’ve never read anything about home.

Male Economics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2020

Something a prospective LGBTQ should know that has not been mentioned?
The proportion of LGBT faculty is more significant than I expected. It’s a very friendly and welcoming environment, where people of this community will definitely fit in.

Something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
When I toured Pitzer, I didn’t bother looking at the other colleges, but now I spend most of my time at Pomona college because of my friends and classes. My advice would be to look at the other colleges on your visit because you’ll [probably] be spending a lot of time there.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Pitzer College

To Attend

  • “The Five College Consortium is great. It feels like I go to a small school but also a bigger school because of that. Each school has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you can access different resources throughout the five colleges. You also get to take classes from different backgrounds and different interests.”
  • “It’s an extremely safe campus. I have never felt unsafe here, to the point where I leave my laptop and keys on the table while getting food for 30 minutes.”
  • “The consortium is very nice. You get a flavor for every school by taking classes at each one.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you’re looking for a big party culture with sororities and fraternities, there is none of that at Pitzer.”
  • “If you are more conservative it may not be the place for you.”
  • “If you want a big sports scene. Sports are definitely not prioritized, and people don’t really go to sporting events.”
Notice: Pitzer College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Pitzer College.

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