Harvey Mudd thrives on being small and specialized to undergraduates. The school cares deeply about each student's education and welfare. The professors all know your name and how you're doing. We are first and foremost students, but we are also crazy, interesting people. We have ridiculous pranks, elaborate parties, and second-hand couches everywhere outside. We love our school (though we aren't going to cheer about it or something) and every Mudder (someone who goes to Mudd) is our friend. Our school fight song goes to the tune of the Mickey Mouse song. The campus has about 725 students. We are a tight knit community for better of for worse. It's great when you walk somewhere and spot three of your friends (particularly if you had a bad day). As far as things like dating go, it can sometimes be a little rough. The good thing is that we have four other undergraduate institutions. Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer and Scripps are all within walking distance (as close as across the street) and share facilities with us. When Mudd gets too small, you can socialize or take classes at another school. Campus life revolves around the dorms. We have eight dorms, most with very strong personalities. They throw parties (paid for by the school) and provide a place to hang out. The town of Claremont is a quiet, middle-upper class suburban neighborhood. There isn't a lot of interaction, but the downtown area or "the village" has a good selection of shops and eateries. The administration tries to work with us to keep us happy. Unpopular classes are changed and unpopular teachers don't get tenure. The school pays for us to do whatever fun stuff we can think of (concerts, parties, trips to Six Flags, community service). Perhaps most importantly, we have an honor code that lets us take almost all our tests at home.
The dorms are the best thing about Mudd. Ok, maybe not the looks of them, or the room size, but just the unity of a dorm is great. There are dorm meetings, and dorm activities, and proctors that allow the whole dorm to hang out together. Some of the more popular dorms have people from all over hanging out together. The dorms are also set up with big courtyards in the middle where anyone can just open their door and see what is going on outside. Most people don't react when I tell them I go to Harvey Mudd College. I have to explain that it's one of the Claremont Colleges in California. If they have heard of it, they have only heard good things and are very impressed. It really is a great school. On campus, I spend a lot of time in my room, outside, Platt (the student center), or just working away somewhere or another. There are a lot of tables outside that are set up for working which is really nice. The village, aka Claremont, is a very small and quaint. Over priced and is in the process of expanding. It's definitely a cute little place when you want to get away. They have Jamba Juice and a really good ice cream place. Administration is great. All of the deans do their jobs very well and don't try and get in your way. As a freshmen, I've heard of how they watch us all very closely, although I have never even noticed it. They just don't want anyone to slip through the cracks and get into trouble that they can't get out of. Orientation is definitely a great experience at Harvey Mudd. I actually plan to be here helping out with orientation next year. It's a great experience where everyone just has a lot of fun those first few days.
Harvey Mudd has many great characteristics... and a lot that could change. The students are all really nice and their is not a competitive atmosphere, despite the emphasis on academics. The professors are also really amazing and really care about the students. The focus on academics is at time really intense, just this weekend I spent 14 hours in a computer lab working on a project with my team for a presentation. And that happens quite often. School is a little small sometimes... everyone knows everything about everyone and that can get annoying. People are always impressed when I tell them I go to Mudd and they have heard about the school. I recently interviewed for an internship (which I got) and the person I interviewed with was in awe of Mudd and said the smartest man he ever knew went to Mudd. I spend most of my time underground... all the engineering labs are underground, its annoying. It's a nice, small college town. The town of claremont is really nice, even though there are a lot of old people. I don't like the administration, I don't get the feeling they care about the students, they care about the image of the school more. The profs are great though. There is a lot of school pride, but more dorm pride. Everyone feels they belong to a specific dorm. I'll always remember walking around campus and hearing people discussing quantum mechanics for fun. Science is a immense part of our lives. Students complain about how difficult and stressful it is here. This school really humbles you, it hurts your self esteem. But I think I'll be a stronger person by the time I graduate and will be more than prepared for the reali world.
If you are looking for the best possible undergraduate education in engineering, math, and/or science, I honestly believe that Mudd (and places like it) is one of the best choices. Our faculty gets tenure based upon teaching capability, not necessarily research. That said, however, you'll find the faculty is top-notch, from some of the most renowned graduate institutions in the country. Since we're all undergrad (and quite frankly the faculty does want to get some research done) you'll find research opportunities are plentiful and substantial. The clinic program (applied research for a corporate client) is an interesting experience where students solve real-life problems in teams over the course of the year for a client usually resulting in industry utilization and it isn't uncommon for patents or papers to come from this process. In my first semester of clinic I'm getting published and sent to France to for a conference! Cool! HMC downers- the administration is not very kind regarding aid to white males. Also, the admissions team has been jacking up the number of female admittance to balance the student body...the admittance rate for males was something like 18% while it was around 50% for females. Many of us at Mudd really do not think this is fair (or a good idea) and admission should be decided based upon academics, preparation, and interest alone.... gender should have nothing to do with it!
Don't go to Harvey Mudd if you want recognition from everyone you tell where you are going to school. Once you leave math/science/engineering circles almost no one has heard of Harvey Mudd. The response to that is telling them to look at the rankings. Harvey Mudd is a small school, if you enjoy being lost in the crowd don't come here, there are no crowds to be lost in. It is located in the suburbs of LA, so there is tons of culture (capitol of the west coast), but most of it is almost an hour drive away. Still there are many things to do as the area is still densely populated. People spend as much time on campus as they want, this tends to be a lot of time because of the work load. Speaking of the work load it is intense, you know all those other college kids that say they have a large work load, they have no idea!!! But if you are thinking of coming here, you are almost certainly up to the challenge. Just know that if you want the kind of ease that high school offered, go to a state school.
Harvey Mudd will give you a wonderful education. The courses are very interesting, but also very intense. While most schools require 4 classes per semester to graduate, Mudd requires 5 and a lab. All of my professors know my name and it is very easy for me to meet with them and discuss homework problems. While Mudd is only about 750 kids, you have the other 4 colleges as a resource to go and meet new people. There are a total of 5000 on all five of the colleges. While each of the 5 colleges has its own stereotype, Mudd is the only college that has stereotypes within the individual dorms. I live in North Dotrm which is the dorm for kids who like sports and like to party. I spent most of my time at my dorm hanging out with friends and doing homework. I rarely do my homework at the library.
Come to Mudd because the professors want to teach you. As an all-undergraduate institution, the professors are here because they can teach the best students here, not because we have the best research (although we have some of the best undergraduate research opportunities). At Harvey Mudd you get a top-notch education: there isn't a college in the country that has a clearly better curriculum in math, the sciences, or engineering. If you can handle the workload, Mudd can give you the best education you're likely to recieve, and that's the best part of Mudd. Add to that the close community and cooperative atmosphere, available and interested professors and opportunities for non-science education at the other 4 colleges adjacent and you have (in my opinion) a college second to none.
The best things about Mudd are the atmosphere and the people around you. Finally being around like-minded individuals allows people to really open and for a free flow of ideas and discussion. There's a sense of excitement about the work being done- both in what we learn and what the upperclassmen research. This is where science happens, and its a wonderful thing to be a part of. I'd change the architecture- it's kind of ugly. It seems they've wised up- the newest buildings are much nicer, but anything built before the 1990's has the protruding brick them (we call them "warts"). Sometimes it feels too small, although you can always take classes or go to events at the other 4 Claremont Colleges.
Best thing: Access to professors and research opportunities However, in this vein, there are not enough resources at the school to have many groundbreaking research projects, which is irritating. I am also not a fan of how so many professors research the same exact thing. So it's kind of a dichotomy between a school that is too small and just right. People tend to not know what HMC is, but those who do hold it in high regard. The most frequent complaint here is that there is too much work, which is unfounded to a certain degree. Of course, any student who comes here will be working pretty much at all times. This is definitely a good thing because it lessens the possibility of being idle and bored.
The school is pretty small so you get to know everyone quite well, including your professors. A large class is 30 people, a small one might be 5 or 6 students. The professors know who you are and care about your education. Sure there are a few bad professors, but overall the caliber of education in very excellent. The homework load is quite high and you are expected to put in a lot of time outside of all of your classes. Additionally, a normal class load is 5 classes (3 science + 2 humanities) and 1 to 2 labs. If you want to work hard and learn a lot, this is the place to be.