Harvey Mudd College
BackgroundInterview Date:November 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private high school in the Bay Area, CA with a graduating class of 150 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: Ballroom and Salsa dancing, and recreational soccer.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
My extracurricular activities have been really important to me from a community perspective. It provided me people to spend time with and an academic outlet.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for Engineering?
A couple of my classes have had heavy lab work, and we do a decent number of problem sets. There aren’t too many exams, but it does vary by class. The major grades are pretty evenly split between exams, homework, and final projects.
Is there anything you feel the Engineering department does especially well or poorly?
In terms of getting hands-on lab work in a lot of courses, they do it really well. They give a nice broad view of engineering and how it can be used in the real world.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s super collaborative. It’s not competitive at all, which is one of my favorite things about the school.
What is your favorite class in your major?
Introduction to Analogue Circuits. The professor was very knowledgeable, and the lab work allowed us to really apply the work to real life.
What is your least favorite class in your major?
Thermal Engineering 1. I wasn’t as into the material.
How accessible are your professors?
We have an open-door policy where you can walk into the department to get help on homework.
What made you choose your major, and are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice. I was torn between Computer Science and Engineering for a long time, but this semester I was able to try a few things. I become more excited about my Engineering classes, so I then picked it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Drinkward Dorm with 1 roommate
Sophomore: West Dorm with 1 roommate
Junior: Drinkward in a double
Senior: Sontag in a single room with 5 suitemates
How was transitioning from your hometown in the Bay Area to Claremont, CA?
It’s not too different. It’s interesting here because without a car it’s hard to get anywhere. You can use the public transport but it’s not that great.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s been very safe, and I haven’t noticed anything in particular.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Bua Thai, it’s within walking distance of the campus.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There are some trails a couple of miles up the road I like. It’s nice to be outside and in nature for a little bit.
What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
1) We have access to the mountains and are fairly close to Joshua Tree. You can also get into LA in about an hour. [Joshua Tree is two hours to the east, and the San Gabriel Mountains can be seen from campus.]
2) We are part of the consortium, so we have the other colleges right here which provides a unique environment.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Harvey Mudd?
Different dorms will have events or parties. Sometimes we go to those, or just hang out with friends. A lot of dorms are shaped like a “U”, so there is space in there for people. We are allowed to have alcohol here, and they don’t get shut down very often.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
These events usually happen Thursday – Saturday.
How happy were you with the nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change?
I don’t think there is much I would change.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Some through dance stuff, but mostly through my core classes. For the first year and a half you have a similar schedule to other students and that helps you get to know people because you get to work together a lot.
What have been your favorite times at college?
The Singalong, it’s a lighthearted party where a lot of people just go and sing throwback songs. Other than that, just hanging out with people and walking around campus.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Harvey Mudd?
It’s a place where lots of people interact in different ways. The social scene here for some people will look like a big party place, but it would be different for another person. It’s nice because you get this full range of people, who are really positive and community-based.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s pretty mixed and not divided very much. [The undergraduate population is 31% White, 3% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 19% Asian.]
How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
It’s pretty small but you have the other colleges, so you get a bigger community feel through that. [The total undergraduate population is 889 students.]
How much do you mix with the other Claremont Colleges?
A decent amount, especially because the dances and clubs include all the schools.
How would you describe the student body?
Very hard working people who care about the others around them, and are willing to help one another out. The people are fairly outgoing, and it doesn’t fit the stereotype that engineering student are only focused on their coursework.
Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year?
It can be a mixed bag. I think I will, as a lot of people do. It’s a very hard academic place which gives you mixed feelings, but it’s a place you will grow.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
The internship I got was through the career fair, not the alumni network. It’s definitely a lot easier if the person you interview with is an alumnus. They will value your experience more than others.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t used them too much other than resume help and attending the career fairs. They were pretty helpful.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
We get experience with Excel, MATLAB, SolidWorks, and R.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
Yes, I have, and they were fairly accommodating. It’s stayed fairly consistent, and they help me fill out anything I need when I call.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Harvey Mudd before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew it was okay to take a while to figure out your major, so I didn’t stress about that early on.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would find a student and ask them a couple of questions, which is something most people don’t tend to do.
Reasons to attend Harvey Mudd:
1) If you are interested in STEM stuff.
2) If you want to work with people in a close-knit community.
3) If you want to interact with professors closely and learn a lot.
Reasons to not attend Harvey Mudd: