For students looking for a small, liberal arts environment, but who may be worried about feeling too isolated at a small school (or hesitant about the weather at many Northeastern schools), it’s definitely worth taking a look at the 5 Claremont Colleges in southern California, about one hour from LA.
The schools (Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, Pitzer, and Harvey Mudd) each have incredibly distinct personalities, so it’s important to do your research and understand the unique characteristics of each one. The great thing about these schools is that they were planned as part of a consortium, so all five schools are within a 1 mile radius. Students have access to the facilities at all five schools, so you can eat at dining halls, participate in activities, study in libraries, and enroll in classes across campuses, and it’s almost impossible not to come into contact with students at more than one school on a daily basis. The campus is also 45 minutes from the mountains, where you can ski during the winter, and 45 minutes from the beach, which I found quite appealing. Here’s a very brief description of each school – obviously more research is required to really understand the strengths of each school, but this should whet you appetite.
Pomona most resembles a New England liberal arts school, and is the most all around liberal arts focused of the consortium. Pomona students are passionate, hard-working, and engaged, and there’s an emphasis on undergraduate research. Claremont McKenna has a strong focus on public affairs, policy, and leadership, with economics, international relations, and government being the most popular majors. The student body is very globally diverse, and they are well-known for their speaker series, which brings in renowned speakers five days a week. Claremont McKenna appeals to career-focused students, with a good career services office and alumni network.
Scripps is a women’s college, with beautiful Spanish-influenced architecture dominating the buildings. Women at Scripps are passionate and community-minded,and enjoy engaging in intelligent arguments, with different points of view not only tolerated, but encouraged. Pitzer has an open curriculum with no majors. Students there are very artsy, and there’s a strong focus on community service (it’s a component of many classes). Pitzer’s open-art policy encourages students to draw, paint, sculpt across the campus, so it’s an interesting place to walk around. Harvey Mudd only offers math and science majors, with a focus on engineering. They pride themselves on their strong honor code, which is student-led. Their professors have an open door policy, so there’s lots of interaction with faculty, and there’s a required capstone or research project required to graduate.
In short, the Claremont Consortium offers a variety of options in terms of schools to suit a wide-range of students. I really enjoyed visiting, as it gave me a clear sense of the character and strengths of each school.