Is there anything "bad" or "wrong" with Claremont McKenna? It seems perfect!
When touring Pomona, CMC, and Pitzer today (Scripps=No [I'm male] and Harvey Mudd=No [I'm not that into engineering]) I fell in love with CMC. From the beautiful buildings that just look like huge, modern mansions to the student body (they were so friendly to me!! which is not what I expected from a "pre-professional" school like CMC.) I just wanted to know from students, alumni, or anyone with more insight than me if there is anything at all that could be changed, or tweaked? I honestly can't find a flaw!
Cmc is my D's second choice. Like you, we all felt that the student body was exceptionally friendly, the tour guides were right on-message, and the opportunities are fabulous. The reasons she didn't apply ED (ymmv):
The campus is small, and the dorms are uneven (some are great, some are pretty lame)
The core curriculum is pretty broad and time-consuming
The student body is pretty conservative
Classes are not that engaging - we sat in on several, and the level of intellectual engagement was not as high as you would expect, and lower than most of the other schools she's considering
They do not serve Heinz ketchup
We went to CA to visit Pomona. We tried several times to like it, but we don't.
Interesting point about classes. We only did tour and DD loved both schools. She went again on an overnight at Mudd and loved the classes there. We assumed the level was similar at CMC and Pomona. She has applied RD to all three. Not sure why she won't apply to Scripp's, but oh well.
Thanks to both of you. This is very odd to say but I am glad they do not serve ketchup because I have mortuusequusphobia (abnormal fear of ketchup.) Overall I love the school and thank you for presenting contrasting points.
sakacar, I'm sorry you felt that way about classes. As a current junior, I have had only engaging, enlightening, and invigorating classroom experiences. I'm not sure what classes you sat in on, but I must respectfully disagree with your assessment.
What I love about CMC's general education requirements is that it forces students to branch out - too often students think they know exactly what they want to major in on the first day of their freshman years, and get so caught up in taking classes in that specific department that they never get a chance to explore a different subject. Some of my favorite classes at CMC have been outside of my major, GE requirements. Many students end up finding a dual major or focus after taking GE classes - I'm not a history major, but will graduate having taken at least three history classes because my GE experience was so great.
Also, the student body is only considered conservative because it's not 90% liberal like every other liberal arts college student body. About a third of students identify as conservative, about a third identify as liberal, and about a third identify as independent. This is a HUGE advantage to CMC - there is simply no other comparable, elite-tier liberal arts school that can boast such diversity of opinion. As a gov major, I know that I will enter the workforce/life in general FAR more prepared to work and socialize with people with differing opinions, as CMC has taught me that skill.
marshallmeyer12 - Ask any CMCer their least favorite aspect of the school and 9 times out of 10 they will tell you the sprinklers. They go off at completely random times (ie 11:17pm) and create a nice river going from North Quad south. While this may seem like a cop-out of sorts, it's because CMCers generally don't have anything REAL to complain about. There's a reason we're consistently ranked #1 in categories like "Happiest College," "Most Beloved School," and "Kids Love Their College" by the Princeton Review and other organizations. Please feel free to check out the Ask A Student feature on CMC's Admission page to find a student who can cater to your specific interests/questions!
The whole liberal/conservative/independent idiosyncrasy about CMC is one of the things that made me love it. I am an independent/libertarian and I don't think there's a school where I would fit in better. Do you know anything about their sports recruiting processes? I am actually being recruited by both D3 and D1 schools (top ranked D1) and I don't really care about how good these soccer teams are that are recruiting me, I just want to go to CMC! thanks for your fount(ain) of wisdom hahaha.
Just email the coach and begin talking with him, that's what I did. If you're already getting recruited by top ranked D1 I'm sure that they would love to hear from you. I'm also a recruited athlete that got offers from other D1s, but CMC was just too kick ass to pass up.
That's exactly how I feel! I emailed the coach about a week ago and still haven't gotten anything back yet. I'm sure they're very busy though so i'll give it time. Are the faculty usually pretty responsive? I have had trouble with schools in the past for not being very responsive.
Interesting, sakacar. DS visited the school in February, as a junior. He loved the classes he attended. On the "Pomona" day, he was surprised that the classes he picked to attend were actually CMC classes. Of the four CMC classes he attended, only one was a clinker.
I had no idea that a third of the student body identifies itself as conservative. Even though ds is pretty liberal, he likes discourse across ideological lines. No wonder he loved it so much when we visited.
I thought the dorms looked super dumpy. Well, that one we went into on the edge of campus was modern and nice looking, but the dorm alley the tour guide led us down looked trashy, I thought.
I feel as though CMC is identified as a "conservative" school because it's not 90% liberal like all other LAC's. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I identify it as a good thing because nobody is ostracized when entering the school, whereas with a school like Reed or Oberlin, conservatives beware.
Youdon'tsay: I know exactly where on campus you're talking about. Despite how they may look on the outside, our dorms consistently land us on Princeton Review's "Dorms Like Palaces" list. The three quads, North, Mid, & South, all have different characters and set ups. North Quad, the most social of the quads, features four two-story buildings with suite setups. Each suite contains four double rooms and a central bathroom with two sinks/toilets/showers. All NQ rooms open to the outdoors because let's be honest, it's hard to resist walking out onto the balcony on one of our gorgeous Southern California days. Mid Quad features our most "stereotypical" setups - most buildings feature long hallways with central bathrooms and are divided by gender (usually first floor is male, second floor is female). Mid Quad also contains Claremont Hall, the modern building you saw. C Hall is our newest dorm (constructed in 2008) and is also our largest - it houses about 110 students. C Hall has mixed-gender floors, but two bathrooms for each gender on each floor. Finally, South Quad contains both central-hallway style buildings and the Towers, three buildings that house twelve students per floor (central elevator, communal bathroom, four singles, four doubles).
Our residential life is one of my favorite aspects of CMC. Having lived in both Claremont Hall and North Quad, I have had only wonderful experiences with our dorms. Each dorm is assigned a building attendant who comes through the building every weekday to clean common areas (bathrooms, lounges, hallways, etc) and every two weeks will go into each room to vacuum/tidy up. Our building attendants take great care of us and we are incredibly appreciative for all they do - usually dorm presidents will collect money each semester to buy an end-of-term gift for the attendants.
As an almost entirely residential school (varies by year but ~95% of students live on campus), the dorms are central to our lives. We live very comfortably and are incredibly lucky to have such a fantastic residential set up on campus.
When my D did her Pomona and asked the interviewer about his favorite class, he said it was at CMC.
We attended five classes. The professors were great, especially one freshman humanities seminar teacher, who actually teaches science. The kids were engaged and very welcoming, but not very talkative. Having said that, the presence of two strangers in a class of 5-12 kids could have impacted their participation, although that is not what we saw at other schools.
I think the mix of political ideology is a net positive.
I really like that CMC students are passionate about their school. We took about 5 tours with different guides, and they were all exceptional kids.
This is a Pomona student's perspective, so consider that when reading what I write. I was actually intent on going to CMC since it had the things I wanted to major in, but after visiting both...I definitely preferred Pomona. My perspective may be different as a URM/low income student so that's also something to consider.
I disliked how CMC's culture revolved mainly around the party scene. If you're not into that stuff, you'll find it hard to get to know the majority of the class.
If you're not white or privileged, you will feel different among your peers. Now, CMC is not racist or elitist, but the difference has been noted more by my CMC friends than those of any other colleges.
The Keck Science Center is pretty average. Come to either Pomona or HMC for sciences. People use Keck to get an easy science class. That being said, the Interdisciplinary Science Program is said to be challenging and is unique in the consortium.
Some of the dorms are pretty average..small rooms, dingy walls. Maid service can't be beat though.
Type A personality and leadership is the majority at CMC. If that is not who you are (like me), you will find CMC people to be annoying, loud, and obnoxious. To be fair, that is definitely not the whole school, but those who aren't type A usually tend to visit the other colleges for friends and events.
I honestly felt like the reason why CMC students are happier than their pretty happy Pomona counterparts is because of the heavy drinking atmosphere and the vibe of the student body. Intellectuals aren't very happy and Pomona is considerably more rigorous, which dilutes the happiness quota of the school.
Other than those factors, which are honestly conditional, CMC is a wonderful school! Even with those factors it is fantastic(even perfect for some), but for some people it definitely has its flaws!
To be fair, some flaws for Pomona include:
+Lack of the same cohesiveness and school pride found in CMC
+Frary and Oldenborg are some of the worst dining halls of the 5C's. Frank is only decent.
+Pomona students ARE more elitist. But not nearly as much as those of other schools of its caliber. But still, compared to other 5C students, definitely.
+Greater amount of division within Pomona students= you have to search for a group of friends who you feel may be like you.
+Some dorms are very dingy and small.
+Some academic programs will be on trailers for the next 2 years due to new construction, particularly math and science. Not everyone finds this a good thing.
+Not very pre-professional- find practical experience through internships, not classes.
+Not as intermixed with the other 5C's. Similar to Harvey Mudd in this way.
+Very, very demanding academics! Your life WILL center around academics here. Hard work is a must. If that is not you, you will hate it. CMC/Scripps/Pitzer are hard, but no where near overall as intense as the other two.
+CDO can be improved. CMC's is fantastic.