An Interview On
Harvey Mudd College

Background

Interview Date:January 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Biracial: Chinese and Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school in San Jose, California with a graduating class of 430 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Engineering with a concentration in Economics
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete

What impact did your sport have on your experience?
I think it’s a pretty positive thing. When we’re in season, we have to manage our time well because we don’t have as much free time as other students do. We have practice every day, and games twice a week that take up five hours out of the day. The busier you are, the more efficient you have to be with your time. It’s pretty manageable, you just have to be on top of all your assignments.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Engineering major?
Experimental Engineering is a lab-based course where we are designing a fully autonomous underwater robot to collect temperature and depth data, and we’ll launch it in the Pacific Ocean. The class is pretty much a giant group project, and it has some problem sets on MATLAB. Most of the work is done in class. Other classes are very problem set based.

Economics classes are more reading based. The class I took last semester consisted of weekly readings, and we’d go over those readings in lecture. We had three exams, but no actual homework besides the readings.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department has done especially well or poorly academically?
The major is General Engineering, and they almost advertise the major as a five in one because you take classes in a wide variety of engineering disciplines. I’m taking an engineering mechanics course, and in the past, I’ve taken a thermodynamics course. In the future, I’ll take some Electrical Engineering courses. This is a really cool part of the program because for me it really exposes you to the main engineering disciplines, so you know what you want to get into. Once you take the broad engineering classes, you have to take the more specialized tech electives in a certain engineering field.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative and I wouldn’t necessarily say we get pitted against each other. Because it’s such a small school and everyone knows each other, you often work with the same people on problem sets. The fact that it’s so collaborative helps make the students here so successful. We learn how to work with teams to figure out problems. [The total undergraduate population is 889 students.]

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always gravitated toward the math and sciences, like Physics and Calculus. Once I got to Mudd, there were only a few majors to choose from. I know that Mudd has a very good Engineering school, and for me, it was the best fit for what I think my strengths are. As I’ve been taking the courses, I’m enjoying the curriculum so far. For the first three semesters, you only take Core Curriculum classes, which are classes in each of the major disciplines offered. You get to see the broad picture which helps you figure out what you really want to take.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: North Dorm with 1 roommate and two suitemates.

Sophomore: North Dorm with 1 roommate and two suitemates.

How did you like your living situation?
I’ve enjoyed living in the North Dorm. Each dorm at Mudd has its own culture and community, and everybody in the dorm kind of knows each other since it’s so small. It’s a pretty active community I’d say. There are always people hanging out outside and doing activities.

How was transitioning from your hometown in San Jose to Claremont, CA?
It wasn’t too difficult since I’m only moving six hours South, so I’m pretty close to home. College living is just so different than when you live at home and have to drive to school, to practice, or whatever extracurricular activities you do. In college, everything is right here. I never really got homesick because I was so busy, so it was a pretty seamless transition I’d say.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel completely safe. Everybody leaves their skateboard on the skateboard racks unlocked, and there’s hardly ever been a problem. My roommate has had a board get stolen in the past, but for the most part it’s a pretty safe and mellow campus. It wouldn’t be the students stealing from each other, it would be someone from off-campus coming onto campus knowing we leave our things unlocked.

What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) The weather is almost always sunny and warm.
2) It’s a pretty calm area. There’s not too much that happens around here because it’s surrounded by suburbs.

Cons:
1) If you’re trying to get off campus it’s pretty far from anywhere lively. We’re about an hour from downtown L.A., but then again, we’re pretty busy.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Harvey Mudd?
Since there’s not much around the campuses, people generally stay on campus and go out at night to a basketball game or parties on campus. The Claremont schools do things called the 5 C parties, which are themed parties that anybody from the 5 Claremont Colleges can go to. They are advertised school wide, so everyone knows they’re happening. We’ll sometimes hang out in the courtyard because our dorm is a U shape.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Thursday and Saturday nights are the biggest nights. For some reason, Fridays never end up having a lot of people out.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Me and my friends enjoy going to concerts, and since L.A. is such a big city, there are always good concerts going on. A lot of the artists we like frequently play shows in L.A. There’s a Mexican place down a couple miles from campus with dollar margarita night.

How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’d say I’m pretty happy with what we have. Considering it’s such a small school, there’s not a ton we can change. Going out on the weekend is always a good time. Mudd is known as the school with most of the introverted people, and some might think of Mudders as weird, but they just don’t get to know the people. I would generally say people from Mudd are less social than people from any of the other schools. Every weekend there are still things going on, it’s just from the other campuses point of view that we are less social than them.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Some of my closest friends are my roommates. Two of the three of them are on my sports team as well. I met the rest of my close friends because we live in the same dorm. It took me a couple of months to start hanging out with some of the other kids from my dorm, but because we live so close, we are always working on all the same homework together.

Do you like the dorm community at Mudd?
I definitely do. The dorm I live in is most fitting to my personality.

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience? [The total undergraduate population is 889 students.]
For me, it’s a little small because you walk around every day and see the same faces. The fact that the other Claremont schools are less than a block away, makes it seem less small. It if wasn’t for the other schools nearby it would be too much, and I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Harvey Mudd?
On weekends people are always doing stuff, it’s not like it’s a quiet campus all the time where nobody goes out. On a normal night, there will be people walking around or partying in their courtyard, or just hanging out and having fun.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Pretty much 100%. The school is very open-minded, liberal, and everybody is accepting of anybody’s differences. We mix races and hang out with people of different sexual orientations. It’s not an exclusive community, and people are always very inclusive of one another. [The population is 31% White, 3% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 19% Asian.]

Do you feel like you are more of a student of Harvey Mudd or a student of the Five College Consortium?
I’d say I’m definitely more of a student of Mudd. You really feel the Mudd community when you go here and are in classes with the same people. We do take all of our technical classes at Mudd, so we’re around Mudd’s campus the majority of our time.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
The career office is really helpful for working on your resume, and we have career fairs here twice a year. I went to the Engineering job fair in the Fall. It was pretty interesting and was my first career fair where I talked to recruiters.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
We worked with R in one of our core Math and Statistics classes. We use SolidWorks in one of our Engineering classes, and we have had to use Excel a decent amount because we work with data. We’ve definitely used a wide variety of computer software. We’ve also used LabVIEW, which is for Electrical Engineering purposes.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
They are decent with financial aid. My family isn’t necessarily in need of a huge chunk of financial aid, but they did give us some, which was pretty helpful. I think they do a good job of financial aid with people whose families otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford this school.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Mudd before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had known more about the curriculum ahead of time because it would’ve helped me prepare from the beginning. The courses we take are so intense, and since we take such a wide variety, it would’ve been helpful if I had known what we were going to be doing. It’s kind of a difficult schedule to understand at first, but you get the hang of it pretty quick.

What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
That it’s a joint program and you’ll have friends from the other schools, so you shouldn’t worry about being super isolated here.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
A tour might miss half of the campus, because Mudd has a giant underground network of labs, classrooms, and auditoriums. Above ground, the campus is pretty small and contained on one strip. If you were just here by yourself, you’d miss that underground network, which is probably the nicest part of Mudd because we have so many resources that can be used for experimenting.

Reasons to attend Harvey Mudd:
1) The professors here are super helpful. If you need to use them outside of class, they are super helpful in figuring out what classes you need to take and how to structure your schedule.
2) Everybody here is always super respectful of each other. I’ve never gone to another college, but Mudd has policies called the Honor Code, and they are guidelines for what you should and shouldn’t do in order to be a good person. Take home tests are a nice byproduct of the honor code, because teachers trust that you aren’t going to cheat yourself through the test.
3) The dining halls. As a student of the 5 C’s, you have access to the dining halls on any of the 5 C campuses. There are seven dining halls, and you can go to any of them if you want, and the food is very good.

Reasons to not attend Harvey Mudd:
1) If you don’t want to work super hard, then don’t come here. I know my experience in college is a lot different than those who go to big state schools. It’s a very academically focused environment. Everyone here is driven and working their tails off.
2) If you want to go to a school that has lots of social people who are always willing to go out, or who ditch work to party, that’s not the culture here.

Notice: Harvey Mudd College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Harvey Mudd College.

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