An Interview On
Pitzer College

Background

Interview Date:Fall 2018

Gender: Woman
Race/Ethnicity: Multiracial: Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Professional development focused Charter school in San Diego with 99 kids in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Majors: Human Biology and Psychology double major
Extracurricular Activities: Varsity sport, Judicial Council, Judicial Review Committee, member of the Entrepreneurship Club.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Playing a varsity sport was a cool experience that taught me a lot. It showed me how to collaborate with people, helped me learn how to become an adult, and helped figure out who I really am and what I believe in. Having to learn to work with others who don’t see eye to eye with you is an important skill that correlates to the professional world. Being on the Judicial Council was amazing because I got to enforce Pitzer College’s policies while working with my peers and upper-level administrators.

Academic Experience

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.

Is there anything you feel the Human Biology or Psychology departments do especially well or poorly?
[All the science departments] did a great job at making sure the students knew what they needed to have completed during each semester to graduate. They did an excellent job at providing classes that did not conflict in time. If you really needed a class they made sure you got it.

The Psychology department did the same thing. They offered a decent number of classes and if there was not a course offered I could take it at another college in Claremont.

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.

What is your favorite class and least favorite class you have taken in your majors?
Human Biology: My favorite class was Biological Anthropology. The professor taught her lectures like they were stories and they were very interactive. My least favorite class was taking Physics or Biochemistry.

Psychology: My favorite class is Trauma in Memory, which was a cognitive psychology class and my least favorite would be Ethics of Psychology.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
In general, they want their students to succeed. You could send them an email at 11:59 PM and they would respond. We share the science department with Claremont McKenna College and basically get our degree through this program. A lot of times they have visiting professors that stay for 1 year and leave, which makes it hard to establish relationships. The tenured faculty is very hit or miss with their students. It really just depends because there are a lot of professors coming and going. If you couldn’t make their office hours you could always email them.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student?
It’s not as hard as people say it is. I know there is hype in being a first-generation, but in general people don’t look at you differently as a first-gen. I’ve always been academically driven, so I knew what I had to do.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Pitzer Hall, a freshman dorm with 1 roommate.
Sophomore: West Hall with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates.
Junior: East Hall with a single room but shared a bathroom with 1 roommate.
Senior: West Hall with a single room but shared a bathroom with 1 roommate.

What was your favorite living situation?
Living in East and West Halls. They are the nicest dorms on campus.

How was transitioning from San Diego to Claremont, CA?
It was not too much of an adjustment. I spent a lot of time in LA in high school, but Claremont is in a great place to do lots of things. If you have a car, you are only an hour away from LA, and close to the beach, Big Bear, and lots of food.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I have never felt unsafe around campus.

What are the pros and cons of being in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) 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.
2) I like its location where you don’t have to deal with traffic but have access to fun things.
3) It has great food, especially the Boba tea.

Cons:
1) Claremont has lots of pollen, and people get horrible allergies in their first year.
2) The surrounding cities like Pomona are not necessarily the best

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pitzer?
There are always parties among the five C’s [Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College], or in dorms. If you are over 21, there are a lot of bars and clubs to go to in LA. I like to go out to a bar or a club around the LA area and go to a friend’s house after. I’ll also drive to the local casino and play Blackjack, or go to the beach.

Describe a typical going out night freshman year. How did it differ from when you are now more established socially on campus?
The college does a great job of getting you involved as a freshman. You go on an orientation trip before classes start, so I went hiking around LA with other kids who wanted to do the same. This gives you a little friend group to get started with. The first weeks they also have parties specifically for freshman and sophomores to help you meet people. Upperclassman are really accommodating and understanding that you are new to college.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
When you are under 21, the school always has something going on between Thursday and Sunday.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Pitzer? Is there anything you would change?
I was happy with the nightlife. As an athlete, there were always sports team’s parties to go to. If there were one thing I would change, it is we do not have the Greek system. Having larger scaled parties would be cool.

Campus Culture

What have been your favorite times at Pitzer?
My favorite years were sophomore and junior year. You know what you are doing, have your friend group, and are in the know about what goes on in town. As a junior, being 21 with a car on campus opens many doors.

How did you meet your closest friends?
Most of my friends were athletes and on my sports team. I also worked as an athletic trainer which helped me meet a lot of other athletes.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
You are going to see a lot more kids that are kind of out there in the sense that they are laid back. There are a lot of people having kickbacks and who have a unique sense of style. You will also have the athletes who are down to earth that like to have fun and party. It’s nice because there is a niche for each type of person.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Everyone gets along with everyone. Being a more liberal college, people are open to this, and it’s ingrained to accept people in our culture. I’ve never seen anyone have a problem because of their race or sexual orientation.

How strong is the community of for people of color on campus?
It is very strong. They have their own student affairs office. There is even a Black Student Union on campus where they coordinate and live together.

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice of Pitzer by their senior year? Do people “love” your school?
Yes and no. The more liberal free-flowing people love it to death. A lot of the athletes have different mindsets about things in the sense of what we want, such as going to grad school or having large ambitions. Sometimes Pitzer caters toward things I find less important in life, and I feel like, overall after my senior year, Pitzer favors students of similar ideology. I have a love-hate relationship with the school since I’ve graduated.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, that’s one cool thing about the Claremont Colleges. All of the alumni want to help you succeed. I would [suggest] to pick a school with a great networking base because the alumni will help you find your first job.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I have used it to write my resume, cover letters, and go over interviewing, along with finding jobs on or around campus. I think they are helpful, but I don’t think they were as useful as I would have liked.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be helpful professionally?
For my Psychology classes I had to learn SPSS, which was mandatory for data analysis. For the science classes, everything is on Excel. I have even learned R in my science classes. Lastly, I have learned Final Cut Pro.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
My freshman and sophomore year I paid full tuition but junior and senior year I received financial aid. I was not a fan of the office. They [are not a need-blind school], so making the switch to getting financial aid was not an easy change. [During the 2016-17 year 46% of Pitzer students received financial assistance. Pitzer states that it is “committed to meeting 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need,” but also states that there are unique factors that make each case different.] If you are a student of color or marginalized they are very accommodating to you.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Something you wish you knew about your school before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew how liberal it was and what the culture was like.

Something a prospective athlete should know that has not been mentioned?
Depending on what kind of athlete you are, our athletic department was not great coming in. During my junior year things started to become great. We got a contract with Nike, the coaching was getting better, and a lot of our teams had winning programs. A disadvantage is you don’t get a scholarship, but you get to be a part of the community.

Something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Towards the back of Pitzer, there’s something called “The Outback” where there are hammocks in the trees and a cool walkway around the dorms. It’s a great place to do homework or relax.

Reasons to attend Pitzer:
1) It’s part of the Claremont Colleges, which has a great name and helps you get a job.
2) It’s a test-optional school, meaning you don’t have to submit your test scores. They look at the students holistically.
3) It has a cool community where you can make a lot of long friends, along with the beautiful campus.

Reasons to not attend Pitzer:
1) If you are more conservative it may not be the place for you.
2) Financial aid wise they are not the most giving.
3) The parking on campus is horrible.

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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