An Interview On
Pitzer College

Background

Interview Date:Fall 2018

Gender: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private high school in Birmingham Alabama with a graduating class of 45 students. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Economics and Computer Science
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: Student Senate.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The Student Senate has made me more involved in my community, provided me networking opportunities, and has helped build my resume.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
It’s a very heavy workload. I’m currently taking 5 credits when people usually take 4, and I probably spend 15 to 20 hours a week on homework. For my Economics courses, we do a lot of problem sets, and for the Computer Science classes, we usually have 1 homework assignment a week that takes 10 hours [to complete.]

What are your major grades?
For most of my classes, the biggest grades are exams.

Is there anything you feel the Economics or Computer Science departments do especially well or poorly?
Economics tutoring is great, and the professors provide office hours. Because we are in the consortium [made up of Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College], I am getting my Computer Science major through Harvey Mudd.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
Both of my majors are super collaborative. I’m encouraged to work with others on basically everything, which has helped my experience. I wouldn’t say it’s competitive at all.

Favorite class in your majors?
Economics: Environmental Economics
Computer Science: CS70 – Data Structures

Least favorite class in your majors?
Economics: Intermediate Macroeconomics
Computer Science: Discrete Mathematics

What made you choose your majors, and are you happy with your choice?
Freshman year I took a bunch of classes in a bunch of fields, and I decided to major in Economics and Computer Science because they were my favorites.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Pitzer Hall with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates
Sophomore: East Sanborn with no roommates
Junior: Mead Hall in a suite with 7 other people

What was your favorite living situation?
Living in a single in East Sanborn, although this situation was rare for other students. I only had to share a bathroom with 1 person, and it was a large space.

How was transitioning from your hometown in Alabama to Claremont, CA?
[Claremont] has a small-town vibe, which is nice coming from Alabama. It was a bit of a culture shock, but it now feels like home. The community here is really nice.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Kazama Sushi

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I love going downtown to the Santa Monica beach. I have a car, so I have the luxury of driving, but I know you can take the train down there as well. [Claremont Transit Center is 12 blocks from campus.]

What are the pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) It’s in a nice neighborhood.
2) It’s a gorgeous and quiet area.
3) You can drive up to the mountains to go skiing or hiking. [Claremont Colleges are less than two hours from five skiable mountains.]
4) We are only an hour away from the beach.

Cons:
1) I was a little misled because I thought I was going to be living in LA, but you really need a car to get this experience. [Pitzer to LA is a 45-minute drive.]
2) It’s small, so sometimes you can feel stuck with nothing to do once you’ve already been to all the restaurants.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pitzer?
I like to go downtown on the weekends. There are on campus parties which are a hit or a miss, and the school will have sanctioned events as well, but they can also be a flop. As a Junior I don’t really do that anymore, but I enjoy spending time with my friends in West Hollywood, [about an hour drive from campus.]

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
I’d say one night a week I’ll go downtown. Sometimes if something is happening on campus, such as an Apron Party, I’ll go to those, but I end up usually doing homework on the weekends. [Apron parties are hosted by the school outside the dining hall, where a DJ comes, and people can dance.]

Describe a typical going out night freshman year. How did it differ from when you are now more established socially on campus?
Freshman year I went out almost every weekend, Thursday – Saturday which is pretty typical. I recall it being fun, but I know there are mixed reviews among other students. If nothing is happening at Pitzer, the other schools in the consortium usually have something going on.

How much do the other schools in the consortium mix in terms of nightlife?
It depends on the party. Some established parties happen during the year that are huge. For example, every year Claremont McKenna has a Pirate Party that a ton of people will attend. On a normal weekend it really depends, but if you end up going out, you usually hit all the colleges to see what’s going on.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Pitzer? Is there anything you would change?
Personally, no. I think it’s fine, and I’m very busy and end up working most of the time anyway. The little bit of nightlife I do experience I’m content with, but I’ve heard from my friends that they wish it were more party friendly.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them during Orientation Adventure, which is a 4-day trip before the semester starts your freshman year. You go with other underclassmen, and to this day is where I met most of my best friends. I also met friends through classes, and like it said it’s a very collaborative environment so this helps. I’ve also met people at parties.

Has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your nightlife experience?
Not really. The campus is definitely LGBT friendly. There are also plenty of LGBT only events put on by various clubs.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
We don’t have Greek life, and I wouldn’t say there are cliques. The people here are so nice, and everyone fits in. Most of the socializing will happen on campus at parties, and I’d say there are a few houses off-campus that will throw parties every once in a while.

Do you feel that you are more a student of Pitzer or a student of the five-college consortium?
I definitely identify as a Pitzer student. Each college really sticks out and has its own values. Pitzer is very big on social justice and is environmentally conscious. I take a lot of classes at the other colleges, and I feel like I fit in which is a cool experience.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
All the schools are predominantly White institutions, but I’d say there is a lot of mixing. Each school has its “safe spaces,” like the Black or Latino Student Unions. There’s a group called the Rainbow People, but I feel that as far as mixing goes, a lot of it takes place. [Pitzer is 45% White, 15% Hispanic, 6% Black, and 9% Asian.]

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
There is certainly a large population. The colleges have something called the Queer Resource Center, where they throw lots of events. A lot of different groups of people mix, so I feel that any one part of the LGBT community will be able to find their place here.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
That is something Pitzer struggles with. We have a database of some alumni and where they work, which I’ve utilized. We are a really small and young institution, so we have a few alumni. [Pitzer College was founded in 1963, with a current undergraduate population of 1,112.]

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They are accommodating with the whole process of finding internships and jobs. I’ve used them clean up my resume, and write cover letters. If you don’t know where to start, they can put you on the right track. When I got an internship, they helped me find a place to live.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
Through my two years studying Computer Science, I’ve learned C++, Java, and Python. With [what I’ve learned through my coursework], I can basically teach myself any language.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Something you wish you knew about Pitzer before you entered as a freshman?
Honestly, it’s all pretty transparent. I wish I knew the resources we had, and I would’ve utilized them earlier. We have lots of academic support resources, such as tutoring.

Something a prospective LGBTQ should know that has not been mentioned?
The proportion of LGBT faculty is more significant than I expected. It’s a very friendly and welcoming environment, where people of this community will definitely fit in.

Something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
When I toured Pitzer, I didn’t bother looking at the other colleges, but now I spend most of my time at Pomona college because of my friends and classes. My advice would be to look at the other colleges on your visit because you’ll [probably] be spending a lot of time there.

Reasons to attend Pitzer:
1) The community and the people are wonderful.
2) The resources are great, as far as academic support and professors go.
3) The consortium provides amazing schools where you can take classes and meet people.
4) Incredible dining hall food.
5) The academics are incredible, and the professors are qualified.

Reasons to not attend Pitzer:
1) I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the nightlife, and people sound disappointed by it.

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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