Harvey Mudd College
BackgroundInterview Date:November 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Boarding school in Texas with a graduating class of 200 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Engineering with a concentration in Philosophy
Extracurricular Activities: None
Can you describe the weekly coursework for Engineering?
It’s a lot of problem sets, group work, and exams here and there. You take so many classes, so it gets tiring. Each semester I’d take five or six classes, which gets tough sometimes.
Is there anything you feel the Engineering department does especially well or poorly?
I think they’re very good with the flexibility of making your own major, or making the requirements more lenient. I’m trying to go to medical school, and I can take a chemistry course at Pomona and count that toward my major.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’d say it’s very collaborative. I feel like people can do the bare minimum and get the degree, but a lot of the students love learning and working, so it allows people to go the extra mile to do well in the class.
What is your favorite class in your major?
Introduction to Digital Engineering. I started out very confused and didn’t know anything, but that class opened my brain to know how to study and how things in engineering works.
What is your least favorite class in your major?
Ethics and Biology. They are the core classes we have to take at Mudd, and they were so difficult.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there systems in place that helped you transition?
There were resources available. I personally didn’t use them, so I don’t know how effective they are, or how it’s helping other people.
What made you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I initially applied to Mudd as a Chemistry major, but then changed to Engineering. I’m applying to medical school, so I’m not using my degree, but it’s helped me understand how to problem solve. I don’t regret choosing Engineering, but I’m not 100% satisfied.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Drinkward Hall with 1 roommate.
Sophomore: Linde Hal with 1 roommate.
Junior: Linde Hall in a single.
Senior: Linde Hall in a single.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Texas to Claremont, CA?
Weather-wise it was pretty similar because in Texas it doesn’t rain and is sunny all the time. Claremont is better, it’s cooler than Texas. Culture wise, it was a shock because Texas is pretty Conservative, and it’s very Liberal out here. In the beginning, it was pretty tough to adjust to the California culture itself, but after I did, it was pretty good. I also might be biased about Mudd because I don’t feel like I fit in here very well, but I thought adjusting within the small school in a limited space was hard. [The total undergraduate population is 889 students.]
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
In general, I think Claremont is a very safe city, so I’ve never felt any type of danger.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
During a break when I go home. I don’t typically leave campus because I don’t have time.
What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
1) There are other colleges around you, so you can meet more people outside of the school.
2) The weather is really nice.
3) If you want to go to L.A. often, I think it’s a pretty good place to be.
1) There are no bars or clubs around so everyone has to party within the school, and it gets lame pretty fast.
2) You have to have a car to get anywhere, and Uber gets expensive.
3) We don’t have good off-campus houses.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Harvey Mudd?
I usually just party with my friends in our suite on the weekends.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Usually Saturday night.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year when you were less socially established?
Freshman year was more so 5 C parties, and I went out a lot.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think it’s pretty good because within the Claremont Colleges they do the best that they can, and there’s nothing else to do. I really like the Mudd party culture because they don’t care if you party or not, as long as you maintain yourself. Some people go out a lot, at least three times a week. There are certain dorms with more outwardly social people.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I actually met my closest friends through mutual friends. None of my closest friends go to Mudd, except for my boyfriend. My best friends go to Scripps College.
What have been your favorite times at college?
Just taking classes. The professors are really nice, helpful, and smart.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Harvey Mudd?
I think the overall social scene at Mudd is definitely outgoing. A lot of people go out, and they are sometimes wild. Now that I’m a senior I don’t go to many 5 C parties anymore, I just party within the suite.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they mix really well. Overall, the 5 C’s do a good job with feminism, gender equality, and the entire LGBTQ+ community. Sexuality wise it’s very accepting, but for race, I’m not too sure. I hear stories here and there, and a lot of my Black friends tell me there aren’t many Black people here. [The population is 31% White, 3% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 19% Asian.]
How has the size of your school influenced your social experience? [The total undergraduate population is 889 students.]
I think it’s affected it a lot. I’ve felt lonely because I couldn’t really fit in anywhere here, so going to a small school was hard, but I think it was a good experience. There are a lot of nerdy and introverted people here, and I am a nerd myself, but I feel as though I’m socially aware.
Do you feel like you are more of a student of Harvey Mudd or a student of the Five College Consortium?
I feel like I fit into Mudd more, because the Mudd bubble is a big thing.
How would you describe the student body?
I think it’s pretty diverse. They’re all from different backgrounds, but personality wise, people are all in one category.
Do people generally seem happy with Mudd by senior year? Do people leave loving your school?
I think there’s a love-hate relationship. They love the fact that they have graduated, but they are definitely bittersweet about the memories and friends they have made.
How strong is the Asian community on campus?
I think they’re pretty strong. We don’t have the stereotypical international Asian people here, which I appreciate.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They aren’t very helpful. I feel like career services are trying to make it better, but they are heavily focused on the computer science aspect.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I’ve learned Java, Python, FPGA, Verilog, and SQL.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
I think financial aid is very helpful. They explained everything to me my first year. After that I didn’t go for a while, and they’ve been consistent. I have no complaints.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Harvey Mudd before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew that the people around you are very important during your college years.
What is something a prospective first-generation student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They should know that the work is really hard, and it’s a lot of pressure. It’s good for learning and self-growth.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Definitely the culture of it. On a tour, they don’t get to see how hard and busy our schedule really is.
Reasons to attend Harvey Mudd:
1) If you love studying, working, and want to be challenged.
2) If you like video games and more solitary activities, this place is perfect for you.
3) The professors and students are amazing. They are always trying to help.
4) There’s definitely a party culture here. They party among themselves. It’s interesting to see the socially awkward people partying among themselves. They build their own social skills within their own circles.
5) The Computer Science and Engineering programs are definitely pretty excellent.
6) If you want really good dining hall food.
Reasons to not attend Harvey Mudd:
1) You can get stuck in the Mudd bubble, so you might not see a lot of people off campus.
2) If you want to meet new people all the time, this place might not be good for you.
3) If you get stressed out easily and don’t enjoy studying, don’t come here.