Downsides...I am probably not the person to ask. I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. I know all my professors. If you want something you can usually make it happen. I suppose one downside is that I haven't had time to do theater, first semester I was getting four hours of sleep a night, and you really don't have very much free time. Mudders usually say there are three things: study, sleep, and social life...you can choose two. Also, you are probably a genius, but one downside for me is always just barely being average. Think about it. Harvey mudd is a school chalk full of national merit scholars, students in the top 10% of their graduating class, 1600 SAT scores (or whatever the highest is with the new one...2400?), and do you know what that means for a school with no grade inflation?? That means I am average! Just average... 3.0. It kind of sucks and is discouraging for me. If you are used to being the best at everything, this place will not feed your ego, or at least it doesn't for me. Now I also have it on good authority that if you want a college experience filled with lazy afternoons, a chance to spend lots of time in creative pursuits, and never feel like you have tons of work hanging over your head, then run away from Mudd as fast as you can! Only come here if you want to learn, and learn for all your worth! You will have time for relaxation, to be sure, but it is quite minimal, and you will always feel like there is something else you should be doing (unless you are very good at compartmentalization.) It pains me to say this, but I want to be honest with you.
How amazing it is, but without being cutthroat in any way shape or form. Everyone is very academically focused and covers advanced material, but we get through it in groups, not individually. It's one of the top undergraduate schools for engineering and you can tell why, but everyone works together. You can't succeed at Mudd without communicating and working with others, which is good because Mudders are great friends and colleagues. Although the college offers only technical majors, everyone is still very well-rounded and have active social lives.
Don't come if you can't handle it: know what you're getting yourself into. Mudd destroys some people because it requires so much. You'll be averaging a bit more than 5 classes per semester during your time at Mudd which probably means that you'll take 6 or even 7 at one point. Also, these classes are difficult. There are a few easy ones, but most of the core requirements (90% of your classes for the first two years) are individually tough classes, and you'll be taking a lot of them at once. If you can't handle that, don't come to Mudd.
A lot of people worry about failing classes here at Mudd. They shouldn't. The professors all know how hard it is here, and they are more than willing to work with you to ease up assignments/extend deadlines if that's what it takes. There are no weed out classes. Sick? Not a problem, just shoot them an e-mail. As long as all the work gets done, 99% of the students pass everything just fine. Didn't get into a class you really want to take? e-mail the professor and they'll make room for you.
The Honor Code actually works. We take many of our tests at home, we help each other with homework, the professors can leave the room when we take in-class tests... The reason it works so well is that people are encouraged to self-report if they break the Honor Code. If you know someone did something wrong, you encourage them to self-report and then if they don't, you tell on them (and their consequences are worse). I've never seen a community so strongly honest.
There is no competition, which is especially unique among engineering schools. You will actually get the help you need here, and you will get to know a lot of other students and professors in the process. This is good since you can't actually do the work by yourself. Trust me.
Time lapse video of Harvey Mudd College I did for my final project in intro to video production
Mudd Rock(et)s! But really, it seems so many people go on to do amazing things after Mudd...
The amazing communitity between students and teachers.
Don't come here if you don't like bullshit humanities!