Well, it’s finally happened. I went on my first road trip.
Over spring break, I convinced my family to take me on a tour of southern California to visit colleges. Here’s a recap.
Monday, 27 March — Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Our first stop was San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly is one of the three public schools I’m considering, so we stopped there on our way down to SoCal.
Cal Poly is great. It’s bigger than I’d like, but their Liberal Arts college is very small, so I would probably only be around a small group of students.
I’m interested in a Sociology degree, and at Cal Poly they have concentrations within their Sociology program, so I could do a criminal justice concentration. You also apply with a declared major, which means you are only competing with other students who want your same major.
Cal Poly has a “learn by doing” motto that is uncommon in most public schools. There’s a lot of hands-on work and internship and work opportunities that I really like.
It helps that SLO is also one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Tuesday, 28 March — Occidental College
Let me just start by saying that Obama went to Oxy. Immediate perk.
Another perk? No grad students. Oxy only has an undergrad program, meaning all research and internship opportunities go to undergrads, and undergrads are the professor’s first priority.
They also have an average class size of 18, with a cap of 30. No large lectures, ever.
Generally, the entire student body is incredibly enthusiastic and social-justice minded. The entire school population is involved in justice or service in some way, which is really important to me.
That evening, my dad, brother and I went to Inglewood to see Panic! at the Disco perform at the Forum. I was so excited to see Panic! again, and Saint Motel, one of my favorite bands, opened. The show was amazing.
Wednesday, 29 March — Pomona College and Scripps College
Before I get into either of these schools, I’d like to mention that they are both a part of the Claremont College Consortium, meaning that students from one can take classes at any of the other four colleges. Each school has different rules, but it’s a possibility for all students.
Pomona is my first choice school. I loved it so much.
Like Oxy, the students are very social justice-oriented, and there’s a strong sense of service. Honestly, Pomona felt like home.
Pomona has a total enrollment of 1600 students, and there’s a lot of variability within classes. One class may have six students and another 40. No class will ever be larger than 40, but there may be team-taught or lecture-lab classes.
Of all the Claremont Colleges, Pomona has the most variety in majors and classes. It is also the largest of the five.
All incoming freshmen at Pomona are required to take an Interdisciplinary course on a subject like the evolution of Punk or Mad Men. I’m not joking.
Of all the schools I know of so far, Pomona is the only one I can imagine applying early decision to.
Scripps is a women’s college, which turned me off at first. I want the diversity of a co-ed school.
Upon visiting Scripps, I learned that it won’t strip me of that. Because they are so small, most classes are co-ed, and the only thing that is truly women-only is the housing.
You can even major in a major that’s not directly offered at Scripps if it’s offered at one of the other Claremont schools. So I could major in sociology at Pomona, but still go to Scripps.
They also have a school-wide tea every Wednesday afternoon. I died a little.
Thursday, 30 March — University of San Diego
My family has a tradition of going to San Diego based schools. Both of my parents went to UCSD, most of my extended family went to SDSU, and two of my aunts went to USD.
There was a lot of things that I liked about University of San Diego. They’re a Changemaker school, are very social justice oriented, and are located in San Diego, which is one of my favorite places in California.
Unfortunately, USD is a Catholic school, and I am not a Christian. I have nothing wrong with Catholicism or Christianity, but about 50% of USD’s student body is Catholic, and 50% is republican.
Honestly, I’ll probably be happier somewhere that’s more religiously diverse and politically liberal, because I am a part of a non-christian religion, and politically liberal.
Like I said, there was a lot that I like about USD, but it’s not necessarily on the top of my list.
All together, I learned a lot on this trip. If anything, I’ve learned what kind of school I’d like to pursue more. I know now that I really want to be at a liberal arts school, and somewhere small.
What kind of university experience would you like/did you have?