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Is Claremont McKenna right for me?

CrazyEclipseeCrazyEclipsee Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
I'm a Premed and will be a Bio or a Psych major and have some questions.

1. How comfortable would an Asian male be at Claremont McKenna? Obviously no one's going to be racist, but Claremont Mckenna seems to have little diversity (~12% Asians, ~4% AA, etc.) and I am worried how that will translate in terms of social life.
2. Does Claremont McKenna have grade inflation? As a premed I'm going to need the highest GPA possible.
3. Are research opportunities available for all who want them regardless of one's grades/majors/etc.?
4. Are most classes discussion/socratic seminar type style classes? I'm not anti-social or anything, but I'm not the most talkative guy either and having to talk a lot is something that makes me a bit uncomfortable (I like listening to lectures).
5. How's the social/dating life?

I know these are a lot of questions, but I'm seriously stuck between Claremont McKenna and Vanderbilt/USC and having answers to these questions will help me choose. Thanks in advance to those who answer!
Post edited by CrazyEclipsee on

Replies to: Is Claremont McKenna right for me?

  • abnk599abnk599 Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    Well you obviously better talk to current students. However, I know that
    1 CMC has an amazing science center and students are encouraged to help their profs with research. Also, in terms of research for undergrads LACs are way better than huge universities, especially big or joint LACs(such as Haverford/Swat, Claremont colleges etc).
    2 My friend goes to Vandy and he hates it. He wants to transfer this year. He's from Korea and he says that it is so hard for him socially,because a lot of people discriminate him ;( Also, he says that even though lectures are interesting, it is really hard to get good grades, because a lot of profs are really strict. Vandy was my first choice,but after hearing this and a couple reviews his friends gave me, I didn't even accept the waitlist.
    I don't know a lot about USC,sorry.
    Good luck with your choice!Also, there are a lot of students who like Vandy; so those may be just some personal opinions.
  • zrathustrazrathustra Registered User Posts: 306 Member
    Be warned: science at CMC can be lacking (it shares its science department with Pitzer and Scripps). However, while you should factor this into your decision, CMC is a great school and I have a friend who is currently there studying neuroscience (pre-med), and he's having a blast. And while CMC on its own might not be so strong in the sciences, you have the resources, professors, and classes of other colleges (including Harvey Mudd and Pomona, not just the 3 schools in the Joint Science Department).

    I don't know too much about USC and Vanderbilt, so I can't offer any opinions there.

    As always in this situation, I would recommend the schools you are serious about attending, and then make your decision from there.

    In answer to your questions directly:

    1. You will be fine. There are quite a large number of Asian students among the 5Cs, and CMC students don't seem like the type to exclude anyone based on race or creed.

    2. Yes, most schools do. See this: recenttrendsindschools2.gif (image)

    3. Yes, there are plenty of research opportunities, and you're more likely to get some involved research experience at a small LAC like CMC.

    4. Class sizes at CMC are likely to be much smaller and more discussion-based than Vanderbilt or USC. This might be a good learning experience for you, though.

    5. Pretty excellent. I can't compare it to Vanderbilt or USC as I don't know them well enough, but CMC has a great community and also has the 5Cs nearby, meaning more people to meet, more events, more parties, etc.
  • crittercritter Registered User Posts: 455 Member

    Congratulations on your great choices!

    And zrathustra-

    Congratulations on your admission to Pomona, but where did you get the idea that CMC is lacking in the science department?

    Full disclosure- I am a CMC parent and when we first started looking for our D, she was a potential premed. That's why it made her list. Vanderbilt was one of her final choices, as well. USC was just too large (plus couldn't compete financially) and she didn't like the area. Also, we know USC grads and it did not take long to realize it was not a good fit for her. At least two of the CMC admissions officers attended CMC and size and vastly different undergrad experience were also major selling points for CMC.


    D visited in junior year and then went to admitted students stuff. Spent several days there and had a really good time. By then she knew she would not be premed but she could not get over how many other admits were and how many Vanderbilt said would not be by the end of freshman year. Yikes!

    We were taken by surprise by the self-segregation in the dining hall, etc and she saw and heard about much more on her later visit, which did bother her, coming from a place in the West where easy mixing is the norm. She was also worried about the Vandy students complaining about grade deflation. The final factor for her was just the vibe of the two places. Check out Princeton Review online. CMC makes many lists, from happy students to great dorms. The overall quality of life has been great. The one qualifier might be, will it be ok to not be IN the city, but to have access to LA instead? For my D, that was fine.

    I think overall what the other two posters said is accurate. CMC may be more 'white' than some of the other Claremont Colleges but D has many Asian friends that love it there and CMC certainly is open to diversity. There are plenty of Asian student in the 5Cs as a whole. Social life should be no problem.

    From the perspective of a medical family, there are a lot of positives to doing premed at a LAC. Many docs send their kids to the smaller schools because it is less cutthroat and those small classes allow you to get to know and get good recs from great professors. It also gives you access to excellent lab experiences. D says you can definitely talk in class if you want but many talk very little and do fine.

    Look up the professors in joint sciences and check out the CVs. You will find they are top notch. In fact, when we were looking into premed there for D, they had been placing their grads in either their #1 or #2 choice of med schools. (Again, not sure what above poster was basing the "not so strong in the sciences" comments on, but we have a junior son that is a science standout and CMC/joint sciences is definitely on his list.)

    Anyway, you can tell by my comments what I would recommend if you were my kid, but one thing I will add- go to the place where you think you will be the happiest/most comfortable. That is where you are likely to do the best and therefore, the most successful. Have you visited? That would be very telling.

    Good luck with your great choices!
  • zrathustrazrathustra Registered User Posts: 306 Member
    What I've heard from one friend who is a neuro major, and another who is a CompSci/CogSci dual major. CMC itself isn't focused on the sciences as much as its business and economics programs. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not a strong suit of the college, which is why it offers the Joint Science Department (which has its own advantages - you'll be working with faculty and students from other colleges a lot more, which I find is a good thing). Additionally, CMC offers small classes where you can get to know your professors well. Which, in my opinion, is a huge selling point of the small LAC experience.

    A pre-med education at CMC will be very good, and many grad schools and employers value what a LAC education can provide.

    Of course, as the previous poster mentioned, you need to visit the schools and decide which one you feel best about.
  • CMCstudent206CMCstudent206 Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    zrathustra, I don't know where you're getting your information but how can a school be focused on something it doesn't offer as a major (business)? I don't think you quite understand the Joint Science Department - Pitzer, Scripps, & CMC pool resources to create a larger department than could be offered on each individual campus otherwise and the Keck faculty is the largest single department faculty in the Consortium. Pre-med students receive incredible advising/individual attention and there have been years during which 100% of CMC's pre-med students were accepted to either their first or second choice medical schools.
    CrazyEclipsee: While the numbers regarding diversity may paint a certain picture of CMC's campus, I can assure you that you will not be uncomfortable at all as a member of the student body.
  • zrathustrazrathustra Registered User Posts: 306 Member
    That doesn't make my point any less valid (I stand corrected about the business program). CMC is not a science-oriented school. That doesn't make its science programs bad (nor am I saying so), but it's a fact that science is a smaller part of CMC. The fact that CMC's science department is inter-school highlights this. However, please know that I'm not saying that JSD/Keck Science Department is a bad department by any means.

    When I was considering which schools to apply to, I was told by two different CMC students that CMC would not be good for me given my particular interests (computer science, math, and cognitive science). I mentioned both of these students before - one is a computer science (with focus in cognitive science) major, and the other is a neuroscience major (and is pre-med).

    So take it as you will. There are plenty of people who go to CMC in science and are extremely happy, successful people.

    Also the above poster is correct, you will definitely receive more advising and personal attention at CMC than USC or Vanderbilt.
  • CrazyEclipseeCrazyEclipsee Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Wow! Thanks for the replies everyone! You guys helped push Claremont McKenna to my #1 choice. As long as the FA looks good, I think it's likely I'll be heading to Claremont in the fall.

    If anyone has anything to add though, please do so! I just want to be completely sure I'm making the right choice.

    Thanks to everyone again for the advice.
  • CMC37918CMC37918 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    CrazyEclipsee- Coming from the South, I grew up in an environment where Vanderbilt was the only "good" school around. As a result, I looked into Vandy a LOT. However, I did not look at the pre- med track; I was much more interested in engineering (and still am; I'm a 3-2 major).
    1. I am Asian. While the numbers don't look that large, you should keep in mind that a large percentage of Asians go into engineering school. We don't actually have an engineering program; there's the 3-2 program which most people have never heard of, and there's the option of getting the degree through Harvey Mudd. Quite frankly, if one was planning on going straight into engineering, it makes more sense to simply go to Harvey Mudd, especially if they were not that interested in doing Management Engineering or Economics and Engineering (the 3-2 degrees).
    Race is certainly not an issue; there are plenty of international students if that's what you are looking for. We also have the International Place, which is super awesome and provides a wonderful opportunity for students to get to know international students and other students interested in culture around the world. For more information, see this website: Claremont McKenna College
    2. I don't think CMC has grade inflation; the classes are definitely challenging. I do, however, believe that professors are willing to work with you to help you learn the most out of the class and get the best grade you can... provided you actually demonstrate that you are trying. In my honors calculus III class last semester, my professor typically graded by test scores. However, seeing that I was struggling in terms of test grades but had homework grades that were always in the top 3 or so, she sat down with me and helped me study for the 3rd midterm. Seeing that still didn't work, but that I knew the material, she worked with me for the final and gave me more time and a less pressured environment. This is typical of professors; she knew I had to maintain a certain GPA to stay in the 3-2 program so she did everything she could short of just changing my grade to help me.
    3. ABSOLUTELY! And the best part is that you don't even have to discriminate based on pay; if you find an internship you're really interested in, CMC will often fund your summer internship! Also, our Career Service Center has a wonderful staff that helps you answer any questions and always sends out emails/ updates the website with new jobs that may pertain to your major.
    4. Yes, there are a lot of classes that are discussion- based. The two freshmen seminars, Freshman Humanities Seminar and Freshman Writing Seminar, are typically reading and discussion based. For some of the General Education Requirements, the class is structured by discussion. However, as a science (ish) major, all of my classes outside of my GE's have been lecture based (Economics 50, Accounting, Intro Physics Mechanics, Intro Physics Magnetism and Electricity, Spanish, Honors Calc 3, Linear Algebra) and the others have been a combination of both discussion and lecture (Philosophy of Religion). It really depends on the professor that you choose to take.
    5. The social life is very much around if you want it to be, and very easy to avoid if you don't want it to be. While we don't have the freshman only dorms, it's extremely easy to meet other freshman, especially if you attend WOA and actually go to the freshman orientation things. The wonderful thing about CMC is that we are allowed to go to most other 5C parties and still go to CMC. Last semester I went to a party in Mudd where they shipped in several tons (I'm not sure how much, but it was a lot) of snow.
    I think the best thing about CMC over Vandy is how much time each professor invests in you. I knew several people that went to Vandy and they all (4 of them) transferred out. One of them transferred partially because of Financial Aid (he received some one year scholarships outside of Vandy, so they adjusted his financial aid to keep the amount his parents had to pay the same for his freshman year and didn't readjust for his sophomore year, making it unaffordable), which is something we at CMC don't have to worry about. You didn't mention if you were domestic or international, but CMC has EXCELLENT financial aid for all domestic students.
    Obviously, I love CMC... but it isn't for everyone and you should really take the time to visit all these schools you're debating between if you can. Pick the one that will make you happiest. At the end of the day, these are the next four years of YOUR life. Make sure you pick the place that's right for you.
  • zrathustrazrathustra Registered User Posts: 306 Member
    I think the biggest endorsement for CMC (and really, all of the 5Cs), beyond rankings, reputation, and things like that, is that it's an extremely rare occurrence to hear about an unhappy student that regrets attending. Every student that I've talked to at a 5C has absolutely loved it there, and I've never met any other students that have been so enthusiastic about their schools.
  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - Posts: 4,610 Senior Member
    zrathustra, I don't know where you're getting your information but how can a school be focused on something it doesn't offer as a major (business)?

    Well, isn't that being just a bit disingenuous? The Robert Day School is referred to in CMC's literature as a school of "Economics and Finance". A significant number of people attend CMC so they can prepare for the CPA exam and together with traditional economics majors, accounting majors compose ~40% of the entire college. The word "business" may be _verbotten_ in the literature , but, most people understood what Zrathustra meant. :)
  • CMCstudent206CMCstudent206 Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    johnwesley: If you were in any way affiliated with CMC, you would know that the school is inherently against the idea of a business major because of the implications of such a department regarding the kinds of classes/expertise being taught. Also, it is VERY false that a "significant number of people attend CMC so they can prepare for the CPA exam." I am very active on campus and therefore know a large portion of the student body and legitimately cannot name a single person who intends to take the CPA exam. I'm not going to argue with you on this forum but I don't understand why you are so committed to disparaging a school with which you have no affiliation.
  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - Posts: 4,610 Senior Member
    You're right. Why argue when the facts are right there in CMC's own common data sets, if you look under subheading, "J": http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/ir/pdf/CDS2011-2012.pdf

    According to the information CMC supplies to the Department of Education, 6% of Claremont McKenna graduates receive either degrees or certificates in ""Business/Marketing" (you have to look carefully because it is buried at the bottom of the roster.) Not sure why this is such a sore point.
  • CMC37918CMC37918 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    Also, I just wanted to state that we have one of the best resources for Psychology: the Claremont Autism Center headed by Professor Marjorie Charlop. It's one of the best in the country and the psych program is wonderful as a result.
    The Claremont Autism Center - YouTube
  • CrazyEclipseeCrazyEclipsee Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Are there any hospitals nearby? As a premed, I'm expected to volunteer/shadow a physician at a hospital and from what I can tell there aren't any hospitals nearby...
  • CMCstudent206CMCstudent206 Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    Pomona Valley Hospital is about ten minutes away; one of my good friends is premed and volunteers there every Friday!
This discussion has been closed.