Claremont McKenna College
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private boarding school in Connecticut with about 175 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college
First Generation College Student: No
Sequence: Financial Economics Sequence, which is basically the same thing as a minor
Extracurricular Activities: For the past three years I did two varsity sports and now I’m just doing one. I have two on campus jobs: one is I work at the school’s gym and the other is I work for the alumni office. I also have worked with photography for the school newspaper.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I’ve really enjoyed working for the alumni office and being connected with our alumni and being able to see what life is like after you graduate from here. Then being an athlete takes a lot of time management skills and takes up a lot of my time at CMC.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
For Economics specifically, we usually have an assignment every two or three weeks and just attending class is really helpful. There are usually two midterms and one final exam, I’ve had that for classes like Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Investments. There are also a lot of classes where there are two midterms and then one final project and presentation, I’ve had that for classes like Accounting and Corporate Finance.
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.
Favorite class in your major?
This isn’t technically a class, but I really enjoyed writing my senior thesis for my major. I had to take a Research Methods class for my thesis, and I enjoyed that. I also really enjoyed my Econometrics class because I liked my professor. She was very straight forward and simplified complicated information.
Least favorite class in your major?
My least favorite class is unfortunate because I loved the professor as a person, but my Investments class was really hard. It was difficult because it was harder for me to learn the material on my own outside of the classroom.
What made you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m definitely happy with my choice of major. I decided to take Economics because I took an AP Economics class my senior year of high school, so I knew I was interested in it. Then coming to Claremont McKenna and knowing that they are so strong in the major definitely made me want to pursue it. I decided to pursue a Finance sequence just because I was not sure what I wanted to do, but being able to specialize in something as definitely an appeal for me. It broadened my scope of finance and it’s been helpful for job interviews.
How was managing both your sports and your coursework?
That was definitely doable because coming into college you’ve always managed school and sports anyway, so I think that transition into college was no different. I was also a little timid freshman year and thought that I didn’t have any time to do anything outside of school and sports. You can manage your time at college and not just do school and sports, but also do other extracurriculars outside of it. It hasn’t been difficult, especially because going to a Division III school, the time commitment is pretty similar to high school.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: North Quad in Appleby Hall. I had one roommate but it was suite-style, so the bathroom in the middle connected us to three other doubles. Collectively, there were eight people in the suite.
Sophomore: North Quad in Wohlford in the same set up as freshman year with one roommate and seven other suitemates.
Junior: First semester I went abroad to Australia and when I came back I lived in Mid Quad in Benson Hall. That was a typical dorm hallway and I had one roommate.
Senior: I am living in the Senior Apartment with three other people. Everyone has their own single room, you share a bathroom with one other person, and there are a communal kitchen and living room.
What has been your favorite living situation?
The senior apartments have definitely been a really nice living situation, but I’ve also really enjoyed living in North Quad because it’s very central to campus and very social. I spent a lot of time with my suite-mates outside our room on our balcony. I think they are equally my favorite.
How was transitioning from Connecticut to Claremont, CA?
It’s definitely an easier transition from going from California to the East Coast. The weather’s great here and it’s always sunny so it wasn’t a hard transition. I think it’s also nice because at Claremont there are a lot of people from the East Coast and a lot of people from prep school, so I didn’t feel like I was the odd man out when I came here. [About 13% of students at CMC are from the Mid-Atlantic and New England.]
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve always felt very, very safe. We call it our little “Claremont Bubble.” Also, the town of Claremont is very safe. There are a lot of retired people. I feel so safe walking to Claremont Village, even at night. Campus security has been great. They’re always monitoring and you see them around and recognize their face. [About 18.5% of residents of Claremont, CA are 60 and older.]
What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
1) The town of Claremont is pretty safe. It makes living at school very easy. [Claremont’s violent crime rate is 55% lower than the California average, but the property crime rate is 4% higher than the California average.]
2) It’s so close to Mount Baldy where you can go up and be completely in the mountains, and also only 40-minutes away from the beach.
1) If you’re looking to be in a more metropolitan area, we are about an hour away from Los Angeles. I typically never go into L.A. For some that’s a pro and for some that’s a con, I’m neutral on it. [CMC to LA is a 45-minute drive without traffic.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Claremont McKenna?
Something that I really enjoy is that our nightlife is heavily focused on campus, so you don’t need to go to any bars or Uber anywhere. Most of the parties are in North Quad, so that’s super convenient. It’s really nice to be able to go out and recognize everyone you see. I feel really safe and like knowing my community when going out. The school does a good job of putting on events every Thursday and Saturday. There is the College Programming Board that puts on non-partying events like movie nights, free food, and arts and crafts.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things? Are there certain things you do on certain nights?
The nightlife is mainly on campus and it’s every Thursday and Saturday. Throughout the semester there are big parties where people get to dress up, but it’s still mainly on campus. Like, for Christmas we have a party called Mistletoe Rock where they set up a huge tent and have a Christmas tree and people dress up. I really enjoy the nightlife here because it’s focused on campus.
What are your favorite 5-C or Claremont McKenna events?
The bigger events are always fun to look forward to. There’s a huge tradition called Monte Carlo, which is a big party that they have. It’s a tradition because they throw it for Claremont students, but for alumni weekend they’ll throw another Monte Carlo for the alumni. That’s a big party people always enjoy in the spring. There’s Wedding Party, which is based on our male mascot, the Stags, and the female mascots, the Athena, getting married. The last party is Pirate Party in the spring, which is a day party where they have bouncy castles, food, and it’s one of the last weekends before finals.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I have two different sets of friends. I met some of my closest girlfriends from my living situation freshman year. The people I’m living with now in the Senior Apartments are some of my first friends on campus just because we all lived in North Quad together. My two sports teams also played a huge role in who my friends are on campus, so I have two separate worlds of my friends from sports teams and my friends I met organically through college. I think the more activities I do the more people I meet.
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.
Would you say Claremont McKenna is the most socially outgoing of the 5C’s?
I would say we’re probably the most social of the 5C’s. I wouldn’t say we’re the most outgoing, because it’s a little more insular than it seems. We’re the most social of the 5C’s. We do our own thing and people are always welcome, but we’re not always trying to get to know people from the other colleges, whereas that’s different for people who go to Scripps and Pitzer. A lot of the other schools come here for parties, so we don’t branch out to other colleges as much as the other colleges do.
To what extend to people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Something that stuck out to me at CMC is that, at least with the people who I’ve interacted with, there’s not as much diversity within the group, so the people who are very socially active and going out and doing things like that. It was kind of frustrating that the people who I was interacting with were all demographically and racially similar. That’s not the case for CMC as a whole. The school isn’t as diverse as my high school or the environment that I grew up in. [About 42% of domestic students are White, 15% are Hispanic, 11% are Asian, and 4% are Black.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
The alumni office or department has helped me, but both my internship last summer and the job I’ll have after graduation are places where a CMC graduate works. For my internship I interviewed with and worked for a CMC alum, and, for my job after graduation, my first interview was with a CMC alum.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I think they’re really helpful in just sending out the job postings. Both my internship and job I found the through those emails. I was looking for jobs in finance and economics, so every week they’d send out an email with all the job postings in that area. Both my internship and job came from those job postings and people coming to campus to interview. I’m not particularly sure how helpful they are. Every time I’ve gone to them in person to talk about anything specific they just pointed to LinkedIn and showed all the resources LinkedIn had. Maybe if I had asked different questions they would have been more helpful, but my experience showed them just to be okay.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
Excel is a huge thing that I’ve learned in my accounting classes that will translate to my job. Next semester I’m trying to get into an Introduction to Data Science class where I’ll learn R, which will be really helpful for my upcoming job. I also took Computer Science as an elective here, and I think learning the language of Python and the way of thinking in computer science will be really helpful.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
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. [Students from Northern California and Washington make up 19% of the undergraduate population.] 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.
What is something a prospective student interested in athletics should know that we haven’t touched on?
It definitely is a commitment and will skew your experience because you will have 6AM practice sometimes and you will have time other commitments that your friends won’t. It’s really something that can be the greatest part of your college experience, or you could realize that you have interests in other areas and drop. That is why a lot of my friends who came in as athletes dropped the sport after one or two years. If you’re thinking about athletics, this is a great place to go because you have the option to be able to drop and find other interests, but also have it be the best time of your college experience.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think seeing how students interact between classes and how almost everyone says hi to everyone. I think the sense of community can be missed if you’re touring when school’s not in session or when people are in class and the campus seems empty. I’d recommend after your tour staying at The Hub or sitting outside and observing the students. That will help you get a better sense of what the community’s like versus just going on a tour.
Reasons to attend Claremont McKenna:
1) If you’re looking for a smaller, more tight-knit community, this is definitely the place for that.
2) If you want to go to a school where you can build a relationship with your professors.
3) If you’re looking for a good school and life balance, and the ability to be very social, it’s a great place for that.
4) Our athletic program is amazing, so if you want to pursue sports. If you love a sport and want to continue it, this is a great place.
Reasons to not attend Claremont McKenna:
1) If you want to pursue sports and play in front of packed stadiums, this is not the place.
2) Then I think if you don’t want anything I mentioned, don’t come here. Especially if you want a big school, don’t come to Claremont.