An Interview On
Pitzer College

Background

Interview Date:Fall 2018

Gender: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private Orthodox Jewish high school in the Bronx, with a graduating class of 119 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Political Studies
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: Journalism for Scripps College, KSPC Radio Station for Pomona College, a podcast for student life serving all 5 campuses including [Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College], and an ambassador in the Office Of Advancement.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for Political Studies?
There is a lot of reading, and I would often be assigned over 100 pages per week. People begin to feel that you don’t have to read everything, and I’m not sure professors expect us to. There is a good amount of writing, but not an overwhelming amount. It seems that they want really strong mid-term and final exam papers.

Is there anything you feel the Political Studies Department does especially well or poorly?
[The education is] very liberal arts focused, and there are lots of classes you can take within the political realm. Because the major is Political Studies, and not [Political] Science, the work we do is not activity related to the sciences. I’m more interested in going into public policy, so [I enjoy that] studying policy and history have been emphasized in my courses.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s not very competitive. The only comparison between each other is by graduating with honors or not. Graduating with honors requires a 3.5 GPA and an approved thesis.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
This topic is a big complaint from a lot of students. While we are expanding our mindsets in the classroom, people are afraid to express opinions different than the crowd. There is an apparent narrative of what you’re supposed to think here. My experience at Pitzer could be enhanced by different opinions.

What made you choose your major, and are you happy with your choice?
I didn’t really know what to do but have [always] been interested in politics. I really came into college with the mindset that I needed to do something to set me up for a career after college. If I could go back and do college again, I would’ve minored in Media Studies. In order to take some specific media classes I would like, you have to declare a certain major such as Journalism and Video, which is frustrating.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Pitzer Hall with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates
Sophomore: RA in North Sanborn with 1 suitemate
Junior: RA in North Sanborn with 1 suitemate
Senior: Mead Hall in a suite with 5 other people

How was transitioning from your hometown in the Tri-State Area to Claremont, CA?
Being away from home is hard for many people, but I like it. I’ve spent a whole semester at school without going home. [Depending on where you live], be prepared to only go home for winter break, and maybe Thanksgiving. I came from a very religious and conservative community, but here it’s really hippy dippy and politically progressive. Given my background, this was all a little shocking.

What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) Everything you could want regarding food, friends, and social life is on campus.
2) It’s very safe. I go on runs at night and never feel worried.
3) It’s close enough to LA that there are tons of things to do. [Pitzer to LA is a 45-minute drive.]

Cons:
1) Not being in the city. To get to any store like Target, you have to drive or take an Uber.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pitzer?
The student clubs I’m in will occasionally have night events, but generally aren’t throwing parties. The culture at this school is that one of the five schools will throw a party on any given weekend. Personally, I like to go to these events, but as a senior stay in a lot of times.

As a boy, have you experienced any type of exclusivity trying to get into the dorm parties?
No, not really. I remember saying freshman year that I was very happy I could walk into any party and not feel like a freshman. I wouldn’t say there is too much pressure to drink.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Before school starts, we sign up for a 4-day trip called Orientation Adventure. I signed up for a backpacking trip, where I made my first friend. I think due to my personal circumstances of living in the freshman dorms for three years, the friends made on this trip was crucial.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s very based on the dining halls. People have a meal plan with either 16, 12, or 5 meals a week, so people always try and eat together. I feel like this is where friendships are made.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
All 5 schools are about half White and half non-White, so I feel that a lot of times people’s friends are pretty segregated. [Pitzer is 45% White, 15% Hispanic, 6% Black, and 9% Asian.]

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year?
I would say most people are very happy. Some people I know have transferred, but I think people like Pitzer even if they have complaints about certain things. I have really appreciated my time here. [Pitzer traditionally has a 95% retention rate.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I don’t think the school was super key in my process of finding an internship. One of my professors connected me to someone, which led to obtaining my internship. [Because it’s hard to get accepted,] most people don’t benefit from the Pitzer internship fund.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
The career office has not been a huge part of my experience. When I go in there, I feel overwhelmed or am told things I already know. Some people have told me the career office is very influential on their experiences.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
In my statistics class we used SPSS, and in the computer labs we have access to a lot of programs.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Something you wish you knew about Pitzer before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew I could have fun, be myself, and really explore what I wanted to do without worrying so much about my career after college. I feel like that’s something you only have to worry about super seriously your junior and senior year.

Reasons to attend Pitzer:
1) You get a very intensive experience. Professors are willing to meet with you and give extensions when needed.
2) The consortium is very nice. You get a flavor for every school by taking classes at each one.
3) You can really be yourself and will make friends right away.

Reasons to not attend Pitzer:
1) The issues I’ve had could be fixed by being more diligent.

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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