OK. From the parent of a soon to be freshman. Where do you go to buy person care items, like dental floss, deodorant, etc. Is there a drug store or something like that within walking distance of the Pitzer dorms? If not, is it easy to get to the village?
How strong would you say that the Biology department is at Pitzer? I am interested in being pre-med, and as a small school I assume that Pitzer would prepare me for that. However, I might do graduate work in biology instead. Would you say that Pitzer offers its students enough opportunities for research, or is the Biology major more geared towards preparing its students for professional health schools and the workforce.
Also, how difficult would you say the courses are? Does Pitzer have any acadmeic competition, or is it more laid back?
I know that Pitzer is a liberal college, but would you say that the surrounding colleges, or just Claremont in general are also liberal? I notice that in some colleges, although there is ethnic diversity, people tend to polarize themselves with their ethnic groups; do you believe that there is more cross ethnic interactions between the students at Pitzer?
Lastly, some colleges, such as the UC's and Occidental offer summer programs for incoming URM freshman to help ease and prepare students for the transition between high school and college life, do you know of any such programs at Pitzer?
sorry for the long post, and thanks for answering our questions.
Another Claremont student (not Pitzer) who can answer a few of the general questions...
Re: Personal Care items, errands, etc.
The Village is an easy walk from Pitzer...15-20 minutes, probably (right off of south campus Pomona). There's a drugstore, but in four years with no car, I've never used it. There are also some student stores (The Hub on CMC, The Coop on Pomona, Huntley Bookstore) that sell SOME things, but not much (medicine and snacks come to mind...again, never a resource I've needed to use for general hygiene stuff, so I'm not positive whether or not it's there). A good idea is to come with one set of extras, which should tide you over until you know enough people with cars that you can get to Target, Longs, or Wal-Mart, all of which are very close (but not reasonable walking distance). I keep some extra stuff stocked, and occasionally drop "Hey, if you're heading to Target anytime soon, I could use some stuff" messages. It's never been problematic.
Pitzer shares the Joint Science Department with Scripps and CMC. Graduate and pre-med placement are both very strong, and biology is one of the most popular majors on multiple Claremont campuses. Joint Science offers tons of student research opportunities, including summer research, which can begin after your freshman year. There have been a few posts specifically about the JSD lately, so you might try searching for those to read a little bit more. You can also visit the website at http://www.jsd.claremont.edu.
Re: Challening courses
You'll hear lots of different things based on different experiences. I can say that I've had Pitzer courses kick my butt, and others that I've breezed through. I can say the exact same thing about every single other Claremont school, as well. With so much cross-registration and so many joint departments and facilities, all lines are foggy. One thing I can say about Pitzer is that in all of my classes, my Pitzer professors have been among the very, very nicest, most considerate, most trustworthy, and most genuinely interested in their students. Of course, I've had fantastic professors throughout Claremont, but in my own experience, there hasn't been a single Pitzer exception...just a fun fact You should be sufficiently at any Claremont school, but if you don't feel like you're getting it at Pitzer, you can cross-enroll more heavily. And if you feel overly challenged, then I recommend http://rateyourprofessors.com before registration.
It's southern California. We all worked our butts off to get to these schools. There's no official curve. People tend to be high-achieving and driven, but as far as malicious or stress-inducing competition with each other, no way.
Re: Claremont being liberal
All of the Claremont Colleges lean to the left, some more than others. In general, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps (to varying degrees) are known for being pretty liberal with a lot of activism, CMC is known for being pretty balanced, and Mudd is known for being relatively apathetic. You'll find liberals, conservatives, moderates, and don't-really-care-ers on every campus, but I would say that the liberal voice, overall, is the loudest.
The Hub, The Coop, and Huntley all have shampoo, deodorant, snacks, etc. to go to in a pinch, and there are 3 pharmacies/drugstores in the Village, at least one of which takes Claremont Cash. There's also a Costco nearby if you like to buy in bulk for cheap. That being said, I have done more online shopping since I came to Claremont since there is less time/opportunity for me to get off campus to shop.
From my experience, the VAST majority of students in Claremont seems extremely bright, which adds to the overall academic expectation in each course. There is definitely a culture of academic diligence and wanting to do well, but I wholeheartedly agree with Student615 that it is not "competitive" at all. People love the material they study and are constantly working at their classes.
Pitzer is very liberal, but there are Republicans sprinkled throughout the student body here and there. CMC has the image of being conservative/Republican, but I would guess that less than a third of its student body fit that stereotype. CMC provides a nice balance to the Pitzer's hippie-ish image. The AREA of Claremont is very conservative.
To answer the question of ethnic/race interaction, Pitzer was ranked eighth for "lots of race/class interaction" in The Princeton Review’s The Best 361 Colleges.
As far as freshman programs: There is Welcome Week for all freshmen, which is an opportunity to get to know each other, get acclimated, etc. There are also optional PRE- Welcome Week programs that serve the same basic purpose but are purely social- options include hiking, camping, or more urban sightseeing.
After Welcome Week, each freshman is placed in a Mentor Group that acts as a built in social network and support system which helps them adjust as well.
I don't think there are summer programs specifically for minority students, but there is an Asian American Sponsor Program that helps Asian students acclimate; there is a VERY prominent Chicano Latino Student Affairs group (CLSA) that holds parties, events, rallies, speakers, etc. throughout the year, and does a great job fostering a sense of community among Hispanic students; there is a similarly prominent Black Student Union that performs similar functions for Black students. There are also 5College counterparts for each of those groups. U.S.News & World Report ranked Pitzer 11th in diversity out of 215 liberal arts colleges, so I would go out on a limb and say that Pitzer is the most diverse Claremont College and has a very active and vocal minority presence throughout the year.
Thanks for offering to help. Here are a few questions.
1. Any sense whether it is expected that the new dorms will actually be ready for September occupancy or have they fallen behind the construction deadlines ?
2. How is the advising ? What has been your experience and that of others. It seems like Pitzer's more thematic approach to distribution requirements might make it hard for someone who is not sure what they want to major in to construct a schedule that will position them by the end of Sophomore year (or the begining of Junior) so that several requirements have been fulfilled and they are able to take the necessary courses for whatever major they may choose. Given the general nature of the requirements, it seems like it might be hard for a freshman to construct a schedule without some guidance.
3. Any comments on ability of freshman to get involved in 5C activities/clubs, like theater, writing, etc.
I just saw the construction for the very first time, and things look pretty well along. I've heard from current students as recently as last week that things are still on schedule, but I wouldn't hear otherwise if news had changed. They looked nice, though...that much, I can say!
Re: 5C Activities/Clubs
Easy. Easy for students of any Claremont school. There's an event called "Turf Dinner" that takes place early in the fall semester, where most of the clubs and organizations set up tables to recruit new members or to just let people know that they're out there. All of the dining halls shut down for dinner and set up stations on the lawn, so it's a pretty tough event to miss Almost everything is or can be open to all 5Cs, most groups welcome new members all the time (exception being performing groups, which generally advertise for and hold auditions each semester), and heavy-duty advertising is a rule.
I've been following the construction progress all year and I'm very confident that the dorms will be finished on time. I think that they have actually given themselves a month buffer time so if they get off schedule they're not totally ruined in late August. More info at: http://www.pitzer.edu/rlp/
Echoing Student615's reply, 5C clubs LOVE freshman and depend on them to continue club activities.
As far as advising/scheduling, Pitzer has, by FAR, the least stringent and structured requirements. I happened to know exactly what I wanted to major in since I started college, but from what I can tell, undeclared freshmen appreciate the freedom for the first couple of semesters. If they have NO idea about what to take, they can go to their mentors, academic advisors, and professors for guidance about scheduling.
I have a few questions. I'm a high school senior and Pitzer is my first choice school, but my parents are less than thrilled - they'd prefer I attend Haverford next fall. Anyways:
Does Pitzer deserve the reputation it has as a druggie school?
I'm aware that every school has its duds, but is the student body significantly apathetic/unmotivated, or is that just a hand full of astudents?
How are mental health services in Claremont?
What's the deal with campus safety or security? Do kids leave their dorm rooms unlocked, or is it a place where you never put your stuff down for a second?
And, finally, how is Pitzer regarded throughout the Claremont community?
The mentor program will be much more involved than in past years (which we are VERY excited about). A mentor is assigned a group of 14-18 freshmen ('mentees') to act as their advisor/point person for college life: the mentor helps them with their schedule, registration, the workload, dealing with professors, getting along with their roommate, --basically all the details and struggles of transitioning to college life. Mentors are also expected to organize social events for the freshmen to help form a cohesive and supportive group. Also, mentors are required to hold 5 "office hours" every week, which will ensure that there will always be a set time mentees can approach the mentor for help. The program is only for freshmen, but after the first year, in addition to faculty advising, there are other mentoring programs available for students based on religion, ethnicity, major, interests, etc.
The Student Health Center, from my experience, is very good. (http://www.cuc.claremont.edu/shs/) I have woken up sick on a Friday morning, called in for an appointment, and saw a doctor by noon the same day. If you need emergency medical attention, you call either your RA or Campus Security, and they are well trained to get you emergency help. (http://www.cuc.claremont.edu/shs/emergency2.htm) I think there is also 24 hour on call assistance.
I think Pitzer's reputation for being a place of academic engagement, social awareness, and community, should eclipse its reputation as a "druggie school". There is a large number of Pitzer students who either do NO drugs/alchohol or do very little.
Pitzer students are CONSTANTLY organizing events, advancing social causes, planning parties, protesting, running around, etc. It would be impossible to measure scientifically, but I would say that Pitzer students are among the MOST involved in the country; it seems like everyone here is passionate and engaged. Out of curiousity, where have you heard that Pitzer has an apathetic student body?
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:
You would go to the Monsour Center right next to the Student Health Center (http://www.cuc.claremont.edu/counseling/). I have no personal experience with this center, but the Claremont Colleges take the health and safety of its students very seriously, so I would assume it is of the same good quality as the SHC.
There are campus security guards constantly rotating throughout the campus and there are CMC student escorts you can call that will walk you from place to place if you feel unsafe. there is a consensus through the campuses that the 5 Colleges, and the city of Claremont, are EXCEPTIONALLY safe. Students have to be reminded and encouraged to lock their doors because the atmosphere is so secure.
Pitzer is well regarded throughout the 5C's: I think CMC appreciates Pitzer as a liberal counterbalance, Pomona appreciates Pitzer's creative academic atmosphere; Scripps has a great relationship with Pitzer because of their shared activism and global involvement; even Harvey Mudders, who probably has the least in common with Pitzer, tend to take a lot of their required humanities classes at Pitzer.
Thanks cantsaythatido. I think the "apathetic" label is an invention of my mom's mind. She just thinks that a few kids at Pitzer give it the activist label that has, and that most kids go there, coast through classes, enjoy the weather, and get by on the reputation of having attended a claremont college. Need I say that she's elitist? Anyways, you were really helpful.
Fiesta: My pleasure- and it's always funny to see what parents think of colleges; my parents and I often had completely opposing impressions of college (it wasn't until I visited Pitzer that we both loved a college)
Gunadic- I have no idea, but past statistics will probably dramatically different than this year, since the acceptance rate has dropped so much. I would suggest calling after students make their deposits and asking how many students this year accepted a place on the wait list. If you really can't wait, you could also call now and ask how many spots were offered to the wait list.