An Interview On
Pitzer College

Background

Interview Date:Fall 2018

Gender: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Northern California with a graduating class of about 250 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Organismal Biology
Minor: Spanish
Extracurricular Activities: I’m on the 5C Club Ultimate Frisbee Team, which means it has students from all 5 Claremont Colleges I am a Garden Manager at Pitzer’s organic garden. I work at the Grove House, which is an on-campus bakery and lunch place. I’m a leader of Pitzer Outdoor Adventures, so I lead backpacking and rock-climbing trips. I’m also part of the Climbing Club, so we go at the local climbing gym and sometimes outside on the weekends.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Almost all of them have. Outdoor Adventures has been a big part of how I found community at Pitzer, a lot of my friends I’ve made through experiences on those trips. The Club Ultimate Frisbee Team has been a big part of my day to day life, and a lot of my friends are on the team. It’s been a cool way for me to meet folks not only at Pitzer but at the other colleges as well.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It depends on the semester. Right now, I have two labs a week each being 3-4 hours long, but next semester I think I’ll only have one lab. My classes are generally exam based. If they’re in the sciences, they’ll have three midterms and a final exam. In preparation for those, we’ll have one or two problem sets per week.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The faculty in my major are really great in providing opportunities to be involved in Organismal Biology things outside of just being a major. For example, I’m applying to this semester to do research in Costa Rica looking at Golden Orb-weaver spiders. One of my professors does research on birds at the Barnard Field Station, which is sort of like our land for doing Biology labs. She’s always giving us opportunities to help her with research. It’s very hands on.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
This year and last year I’ve been in a lot of intro classes which are lectures, and those tend to be less collaborative. It’s much more like you listen to the professor and take the exams. The labs have been more collaborative and project-based. There it’s easier to get to know people in the sciences. This next semester will be the first time that I take upper-level Biology courses and I’m hoping that it’s going to be less of that big lecture hall college experience.

How accessible have your professors been?
They’ve been good. Their office hours are very helpful and available. I’m always able to reach out to them via email, and they’re really good at getting back to me. They’re very approachable.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
When I went into college, I knew that I was interested in environmental science and that I liked the more science-y aspects of environmental science as opposed to policy. When I saw the Organismal Biology major at the Claremont Colleges, that really fit what I wanted because it delves into more of the biology aspects but also has an emphasis on plants and animals. Ideally, I want to research plants forever [laughs], so I picked it because it’s more specific to what I’m interested in. Also, being a Biology major will give me more potential for research options post-college and in grad school than if I had just chosen Environmental Science.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: North Sanborn Hall, which is part of the freshman dorms. I had one roommate, and there was a bathroom shared with two other suitemates.
Sophomore: Mead Hall in an eight-person suite with one roommate. There are two doubles and four singles in the suite.

What has been your favorite living situation?
This year has definitely been a lot of fun. I like living with friends, it gives you a sense of community on campus.

How was transitioning from your hometown in Northern California to Claremont, CA?
It’s a lot warmer down here, but I like warm weather so that works. I spend a lot of time on the campuses, and I don’t go to L.A. or the larger Inland Empire very often. Pitzer College does a great job of easing students into the college experience.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I generally feel very safe on campus. There’s a lot of resources for if you’re feeling unsafe in any way. Campus safety is always very available, and during orientation they give you all the phone numbers and people you can contact if for any reason you feel unsafe. Additionally, there are a lot of resources for people you can talk to if you’re feeling unsafe or have experienced assault or anything like that.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Blaze Pizza down in Claremont Village.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like being outside, and Mount Baldy is close. You can get to the foothills in like a ten-minute drive away from campus. One of my favorite hikes to do there is Potato Mountain, it’s great around sunset and it’s about a two-mile hike.

Pros and Cons of being in Claremont, CA?
Pros: (1) Everything is pretty close with all the five colleges being here and you’re less than a mile from Claremont Village. You don’t really need a car, you can bike almost anywhere.
(2) The weather. It’s beautiful here all the time. Maybe a little hot in the beginning of the semester but in the winter it’s still in the 70’s.
(3) The sense of community that I’ve found on campus. That’s partially being at a small college, but also I think the people that the college attracts has been really conducive to what I wanted.

Cons: (1) It’s sort of a weird contrast of going to these colleges that cost a whole lot of money and then the greater Inland Empire has some of the poorest cities in the country.
(2) If you don’t vibe with hot weather, it’s been around 110 degrees down here before.
(3) It’s not very close to L.A., with traffic it can be about an hour or hour and a half. It definitely is not in the city, we’re in an outskirt of town.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
A lot of the time the colleges pay for parties that are hosted on campus, and I tend to like to go to parties on the weekends. Most of the time they are for all five colleges, and those are the bigger parties the colleges will put on. Sometimes it’s something smaller, like Groove at the Grove which is live music at the Grove House which is a lot of fun. There are sometimes dorm parties especially in Mead just because the suites are bigger, but I prefer the college parties. Also, I like to go camping sometimes or spend a night out which people do all the time. Joshua Tree is only about two hours away.

Can you give me an example of the types of parties that the colleges throw?
One that was just last weekend was called Euro Bash, and it was a European themed party. The colleges pay for a DJ and lights, and it takes place under the parking garage at Scripps College. They just check your IDs at the entrance. Sometimes there are more formal events like a ball at Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College around the holiday season. The dining hall serves cookies and drinks if you’re 21 and things like that.

How happy were you with the nightlife options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’ve been pretty happy with it overall. Freshman year I had a harder time going out and finding people to go out with. Part of that is just being new at a college and not knowing who your friends are. I wasn’t sure where I would find out where to go out or how to go out, which has gotten easier over time and I also have realized that Facebook events are a great way to find out about things. Especially this year I’ve been pretty happy.

Campus Culture

What have been some of your favorite times at Pitzer?
Going outside on the weekends has been a big way that I’ve made friends. One of my favorite trips is over fall break I went on a backpacking trip to Escalante in Utah with some other students from Pitzer. That was a really cool way to get to know people from Pitzer and get away from campus a little bit. Also, living in the suites this year has been one of the most positive things that I’ve done at Pitzer just because of the connections I’ve made. Mead Hall is very central on campus and people are always coming by to visit. It’s definitely been one of the ways that I’ve found a lot of community here. I also love the dining hall. The food is delicious and it’s also a big social scene and I’m always seeing people getting meals.

How did you meet your closest friends?
A couple of ways. My best friend now I met through a planned Target run. The colleges rent a bus and take you to Target to get school supplies. In a more general sense I’ve made friends through Outdoor Adventures, and also intramural sports have been really awesome for meeting people. A lot of my suitemates I play intramural sports, and it’s a very low commitment.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s a small school so you know a lot of people, which for me works because it makes me feel very at home on campus. Also, having the five colleges makes it feel like a bigger school because I don’t know a lot of people from the other schools. People tend to be really friendly overall. There are a lot of shared mindsets, which has its ups and downs, but people have similar opinions here and really care about the world which has been nice. I think most of the socializing comes from a few things: The Mounds are an area that is very central on campus, so I spend a lot of time out there and people come and go. Nightlife is also where a lot of people make friends, and the freshman dorms are set up in a U-shape around the pool, so purely by location I made a lot of friends with the people I lived near.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
In the beginning at Pitzer everyone goes on Orientation Adventure, which is a four-day trip that varies from doing something in the backcountry or you can do something like L.A. Food and Arts. Right off the bat you meet 15 people from different backgrounds and experiences, and you don’t necessarily stay close with everyone from that trip, but I think that sort of sets a tone for how Pitzer is inclusive and the overall social scene there. Most clubs tend to be a good space for people from diverse backgrounds to interact. I think certain clubs and sports teams can sometimes feel more specific to people from a certain background, which is really unfortunate and has been a problem that is talked about a lot. For example, diversity in the outdoor community has been challenging, and we’ve been talking a lot in Outdoor Adventures how we can make it a more diverse place.

To what extent do you mix with the students in the other Claremont Colleges
The consortium is awesome. It’s a great way to have a college designed. We share resources, like there are eight dining halls across the colleges and you can go to any one of them, so you’re going to see people from other colleges in that way. There are a lot of 5C clubs that you can be involved in. Club sports are 5C, so the Club Ultimate Frisbee team has been a way that I’ve made a ton of friends at the other colleges. I’m a science major and all of my classes are taken at Keck Science Department, which is shared between Claremont Mckenna, Pitzer, and Scripps, so my classes are very intertwined with those two other schools. People who haven’t been to the Claremont Colleges misunderstand the consortium as them being very different colleges, but I can’t emphasize enough how they’re all intertwined, and I have a lot of friends at the other schools.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Pitzer by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Pitzer?
If you’re there by junior year almost everyone is really happy to be here. People love this school and this place. I’ve seen a lot of people who have had really positive experiences here, so yes.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating have they been to your needs?
I use financial aid, and I’ve had mixed experiences with it. I had a really good experience when applying to college. I applied early decision and got in, but the financial aid package that they offered me was just not going to work for my family, so I ended up applying to a bunch of other schools. I appealed the financial aid because Pitzer was my first choice and they were super accommodating. They gave us a lot more financial aid when we went in-depth on our familial situation, so that was really helpful for my first year. This year was a little more frustrating just because we appealed again this year and they weren’t quite as accommodating. But still, I think Pitzer’s financial aid is accommodating overall. For example, I’m applying to study abroad next semester and all your aid transfers, so that’s not a concern.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Something you wish you knew about Pitzer before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had been less sure of what I wanted to do and I wish I had known that a lot of people going into a liberal arts college don’t know what they want to study. I went into college thinking I had to take a bunch of science classes, which has worked out for me, but I also sometimes envy people who have explored a lot of different pathways and have taken obscure classes that may not be what you want to study but give you broader perspectives.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
Go inside of the Grove House. It’s a really beautiful space. It’s great for studying, and the food is really good too if you want to get lunch there. The Shakedown Cafe, which is by the pool, is a really nice space. Maybe also the dining hall, the food is delicious, and I would highly recommend it.

Reasons to attend Pitzer:
1) The people who go to school here really care about their education, their future, and the world. Coming from a high school where that was not necessarily the case for everyone, it’s so relieving to meet all of these deeply passionate people. Being around that is really inspiring.
2) You get to be in fairly small classes, and the professors are super accessible. I’m also always so blown away by the professors who teach here.
3) The combination of having good professors and having students who really care about what they’re learning is really great.
4) The people, the community, and the social aspect of being here. I feel like I spent a lot of high school trying to find a certain type of person that I wanted to be friends with and didn’t necessarily find it until I came to Pitzer. The people who I’ve been surrounded with have been really special to me.

Reasons to not attend Pitzer:
1) If you’re not interested in being in a small school.
2) If you want a big Greek life scene or a big party scene. There is no Greek life and you’re very rarely going to see the classic college party scene here.
3) If you want a big sports scene. Sports are definitely not prioritized, and people don’t really go to sporting events.

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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