Los Angeles, CA
Occidental College


47 Ratings

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Recent Reviews

Beth
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Oxy is the size and caliber of students and professors it attracts. I was not a number to any of my prof...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Oxy is the size and caliber of students and professors it attracts. I was not a number to any of my professors. Two years after graduation, I still maintain contact with three of my profs/advisors. When you need letters of recommendation, your professors actually remember you and write personal letters instead of generic letters. The Undergraduate Research Centre is also one of Oxy's best assets. I worked for this Centre all 3 summers and gained experience doing full time research and presenting at conferences. At Oxy, you don't get stuck cleaning beakers while the grad students get all the exciting jobs. My first job at Oxy was a research scuba diver for the Vantuna Research Group. I highly doubt you would get the chance to walk on to a research diving team at a large university without a large amount of experience.

Describe the students at your school.

Politically, religiously, and culturally I would say Oxy is very liberal. I don't think any student would feel particularly out of place at Oxy. Most students wear jeans, flip flops, and a sweatshirt or tank. Because of its size, Oxy can be a bit cliquey. There are students that come from wealthy backgrounds and flaunt it, but there are also average students who earn scholarships and work through school too.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

Choosing to attend Oxy was one of the best decisions I have ever made. You will have total strangers stop you in resturants because they say your Oxy Alumni license plate tag. When you run into Alumni there is a special sense of closeness because you both went to the same small, unique, fabulous school.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

No, a large marjority of the students are on financial aid or scholarships and work during the school year.

What are the academics like at your school?

Professors definetly know your name, and the courses are not easy. All of my courses were under about 25 people. If you miss more than about three classes in a row, don't be surprised to get an email from your professor. You can't skip class for weeks in a row and not get noticted like in a large university class of 500 people. Students tend to study quite a bit and can be competitive. The biology department is fabulous! It is easy to get a job in a research lab that you are interested in. My favourite classes were vertebrate physiology, animal behviour, ecology, and biological oceanography. I also recommend taking an Art History course. It is a fun way to get your fine arts and history requirement done. Memorizing paintings and sculptures is much more fun than memorizing faceless dates in history. The only downside to a smaller schools is that there may not be as many specialized upper level courses( such as Advanced comparative physiology, or marine mammalology) because ther isn't a large enough student demand. However, you can always do an independent study and create your own course with a professor.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

I think that the social life is typical to most universities with parties and hanging out on the weekends. However, if you crave huge frat/sority parties a UC would be more your style. Students usually left their dorm doors open and there are endless activities organized by everyone from student government to the ultimate frisbee club. Sports are not an emphasis at Oxy like some of the larger universities( from my point of view) When I was at Oxy we had several big name guest speakers such as Jane Goodall and Michael Moore.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

That they are all wealthy people who have been given everything they wanted.

Jody
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love the size of Oxy. Its not too small, but small enough that you recognize people pretty much everywhere. The location ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love the size of Oxy. Its not too small, but small enough that you recognize people pretty much everywhere. The location is also good, right in the middle of LA so if you have or know someone who has a car you can always find something to do. I spend most of my time on campus either going to class, going to rehearsal, or hanging out with my friends. There is usually something to do on campus. If not though there are restaurants within walking distance and farmer's market on Fridays. If I could change one thing I would put the campus within walking distance of a beach. I don't have a car, so it can be difficult to get around.

Describe the students at your school.

I've interacted with a couple groups on campus like QSA and Intervarsity. I found them extremely welcoming, even though I don't necessarily fit the profile of the usual person to participate. I'm agnostic, but the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship welcomed me into a program called "Mark Study" (a in-depth study of the book of Mark). They were open to hearing my opinions and discuss their own. I don't think there is a particular kind of person who would feel out of place at Oxy. If you're willing to step out and be open to other people there will be a group for you. The first week you can approach anyone and ask to sit down, and you're more than likely to get a positive response. We have such a diverse range of people that it doesn't matter what you are politically, financially, geographically, or otherwise, you probably will find a welcoming group.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Not at all. We have an extremely diverse campus, in more than just race but also background, interests, style, and income.

What are the academics like at your school?

The classes are small. I haven't had one bigger than about 30 students. The professors really take the time to know who you are so they call you in class by name and know a little bit about you. Participation tends to depend on the class and teaching style. I know that many people study really hard, especially for the really difficult classes like Organic Chemistry. My friends and I have intellectual conversations outside of class, but I don't know about everyone else. I found the Cultural Studies Program classes can be really amazing! My first semester class was called "Disneyland and Los Angeles". The professor was really good and I found the class very interesting! I'm a biology major with a marine emphasis. Its a difficult major because there are so many requirements. Its also hard because I've been considering veterinary school and I have those requirements on top of Oxy's, it is doable though.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Sports events are pretty well attended, especially Football, Rugby, Water Polo, and Ultimate Frisbee. There are many clubs. I'm part of Bad Movie Club, Dance Productions, Health Professions Interest Group, and a few others. Dance Productions is really amazing, it's all student choreography and dancing. Its also the most widely attended event on campus. The dorms are good for meeting people, especially if you go to hall spreads. I met one of my friends by leaving my door open and he just dropped in to introduce himself. The rest of my friends I met at the orientation events or through some people that I met earlier. I think people party quite a bit, I was in a quieter dorm so I didn't see it much which is good because it's not my scene. But if you like partying, you can always find one. If you don't like drinking you can go off campus and find something to do or just hang out with some people who aren't drinking either. Off campus I go to restaurants, go to the beach, go to a theme park, go to a movie, go shopping, the possibilities are really endless. Most of the time though my friends and I are on campus studying.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

I don't think there are many. Maybe that we are all rich and preppy.

Christina
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Occidental is its variety and its professors. In general, the professors at Oxy are incredibly helpful a...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Occidental is its variety and its professors. In general, the professors at Oxy are incredibly helpful and focused on seeing their students succeed. All of my professors have known be by name, even in my large intro classes, such as Psych101. Also, the diversity within the student body racially, economically, ideologically, and geographically serves as a huge benefit to the campus culture. The schools size can sometimes be rather stifiling, especially in terms of the party scene-dont expect to go out on a Saturday and see anybody new- however, the small size really allows for personalized experiences that are tailored to fit you as a person, and academically the size allows each student to be noticed. The administration at Oxy is its achilles heel. The school has gotten rapidly more popular and more successful, and in a few years, I believe that the administration will be able to catch up to the school as a whole, but as of now, the bureaucracy is time-consuming and frequently frustrating. In terms of locations, Occidental does NOT have a college town vibe, however, it is located in Los Angeles proper and is minutes from Downtown LA, Pasadena, and Glendale. Also, the Eagle Rock neighborhood, in which Oxy is located has tons of great restaurants and little independant shops, and Echo Park, just southeast of campus is a great neighborhood for college students.

Describe the students at your school.

Occidental's student body is varied. That is the best way to describe it. There is lots of activity in cultural clubs, and Oxy hosts themed weeks, for example, exploration of blackness and exploration of whiteness week. Since Oxy is so small, different types of students are often interacting in classes, clubs, planning events etc. The student body as a whole is generally very ideologically liberal, and it would be hard to fit in here if, for instance, you were against gay marriage or affirmative action. However, there are fiscally conservative students but generally they keep their views to themselves. Students are from varied backgrounds, however, since it is a private liberal arts college, upper middle class is the norm. But, over 70% of students do recieve some sort of aid which is much higher than comparable colleges, allowing for greater diversity. Occidental's location in LA creates an urban sense of style on campus in that people wear different styles of clothes and the look changes frequently. Generally though, students do have a personal style and reflect that in what they wear everyday.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

The party scene can be stifiling and you will see that random drunken hook-up again, so when your out on saturday night, remember someone, or 50 someones will remember that time when you were so drunk you got up onto a table started rapping along to The Good Life, and they are likely to be in your class!

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

The school as a whole is very liberal-minded but there are conservative students on campus who tend to be relatively quiet about there views. Also, over half the school is from out of state, including myself, which gives the school a nice variety.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics at Oxy are truely centered on the individual student. All of my professors have known me by name, and most have frequent office hours, and are willing to meet with you whenever if you call or email them. The workload is tough, and students definitely study and work hard, and during finals the library is sure to be packed. The work is manageable however, and students have time for fun. Class participation, especially in the social sciences is all but required, and in many classes it will be a component of your grade. The freshman Living and Learning Communities are also unique to Oxy, and while opinions I have heard are mixed, my freshman writing seminar taught by Prof. Dumenil, head of the History department has been my favorite class at Oxy, and I'm not even a history major! The Diplomacy and World Affairs department which is my major, at the moment is a little bit of a mess. There are not enough faculty members and the classes are often concentrated in one discipline of a much broader realm of global affairs. If I were to suggest one department that really stands out as unique to Occidental, it would be Urban and Environmental Policy, which focuses on hands-on community based learning, and uses the resources of Los Angeles to its full advantage.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There are plenty of organisations on campus and all are very accessible. The Oxy Weekly is a great way to get involved on campus and stay updated about whats going on around campus. In most dorms students leave their doors open, in others, the doors close automatically, but it is never weird to simply knock on a door. Athletic events can be well-attended, but generally are relatively quiet. Big name guest speakers are very well-attended and often are talked about afterwords throughout the community. In terms of dating and close friendships at Oxy, it can often get messy because, since the school is so small, you are guaranteed to see whoever your trying to avoid when you go to the marketplace for breakfast. Meeting people is not hard at Oxy, but it takes a little while to find people you feel really comfortable with, but be friendly and it will happen. Frats and Sororities are a presence on campus, but not a big one and the scene is totally inclusive. Frat and Sorority parties are open to everyone and the vast majority of people who go are not greek.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Its hard to stereotype Oxy students because the college is so diverse. but in general I would say that Oxy students are decidedly liberal, and generally from California.

Harper
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The school size is very small, which actually proves to be pretty nice. Most classes are fairly small and you get a lot of p...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The school size is very small, which actually proves to be pretty nice. Most classes are fairly small and you get a lot of personal time with professors. There is a real sense of community at the school, although it does feel like we live in a bubble at times.

Describe the students at your school.

One of the coolest things about Oxy is that the kids here come from everywhere which helps to create a really diverse group. A lot of social scenes around campus develop around geographic identity, but there is plenty of interaction as well. Students here tend to be pretty left leaning and are open and accepting of all. There is a rather large economic background disparity among students. Most seem to come from either fairly wealthy or fairly poor backgrounds.

What are the academics like at your school?

Every professor I have had here knows me by name. They are available during office hours and then some. Class participation is pretty common and the professors are fairly engaging. As for the ease of classes, there is really no such thing as an easy class at Oxy. Expect plenty of work outside of class once you advance beyond the 101's. The library is usually pretty packed on most nights, and there is almost no room to breath in their during finals. Students tend to pretty competitive with grades as well. The English, Politics, and Econ departments seem to be most competitive, and a lot of students in those areas tend to be pretty arrogant and self righteous.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

The campus social life is very good, and their are always parties going on at houses around the campus and on campus during weekends, and a fair amount during the week as well. The campus safety officers are pretty lenient and fair with everything and are easy going most of the time. The Greek scene isn't very large as there are only two frats, three sororities, and one frarority at the campus.

Anna
What is your overall opinion of this school?

To me, the best thing about Oxy was, and always has been, the people. They are fun and outgoing people. At times, however, ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

To me, the best thing about Oxy was, and always has been, the people. They are fun and outgoing people. At times, however, the campus tends to get catty. News travels fast around campus, and that is mostly due to the college's small size. Although growing in number, the size of Oxy makes it difficult to be anonymous, if that's what you're looking for. You will undoubtedly see about 30 people you know, or of whom you know, every time you walk through the quad. One thing about Oxy that I was not prepared for was that many people have never heard of it. It's sort of a disappointing feeling to be proud of your college and want to tell people that you go there and for them to not even know that it exists. A huge problem with Oxy at the moment is the administration. We have had four different presidents in the last four years, at that makes it very difficult to know who's in charge and the best ways by which to enact change. I think students are limited in their control over their own education, as well as in college policies. There are general assemblies for students to discuss their issues with the college, but I have never heard of a case where students bring up a problem that has been actively, quickly, and easily resolved by the administration.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

The campus has a wide array of diversity, but I think that the extensive pressure to be non-marginalizing makes us more so.

What are the academics like at your school?

I have had some fantastic professors as well as some mediocre ones. There have been some who have actively tried to get to know their students, and some who behave as if they are speaking to a room full of empty chairs. In particular, my classes with Dale Wright, Warren Montag, Roberta Mancuso, Brian Fitzmorris, and John Bouchard were some of my favorites. They were intellectually stimulating at all times and I feel as if I've grown into a much more well-rounded person because of them. In my four years at Oxy, I have been continually disappointed by the level of class participation in practically every class I've taken. I don't know if it's because students just don't do the work, or if no one has a desire to speak, but the silence that falls after a professor directs a question at the class is, to me, unbearable and quite rude. Why go to class at all if you're not there to discuss and participate in your own learning?

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

That we are extremely diverse and well-versed in multiculturalism.

Laura
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I would change our sports facilities (which are actually in the works, so there you go). Our school is the perfect size and t...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I would change our sports facilities (which are actually in the works, so there you go). Our school is the perfect size and the perfect location since LA is right around the corner and Eagle Rock is amazing! Although not a lot of people always know about Occidental, it probably helps that Obama went here for a couple years as that has gained us some prestige and notoriety. While we don't seem to be able to keep President's too well, that doesn't seem to effect much of the student body as much. I love Oxy and wouldn't change my four years here at all!

Describe the students at your school.

Student body is amazing. We take a lot of pride in our multiculturalism and all difference groups are represented. People intermingle with one another, although one could say there are definite groups of friends. All financial backgrounds are apparent as Oxy has an amazing financial aid program ensuring a variety of people come to the school. Most students are very left, like most college campuses i'd say, which leads to little political adversity. But everyone for the most part takes an interest in politics which is important.

What are the academics like at your school?

All my professors know me by name, which makes it harder to skip a class if I want to, as I always feel bad. They are realistic though and know we are just college students who will do what we want and still always get our work done. The professors are easily accessible and always willing to help. The most unique class I took was probably the kinesiology lab with stuart rugg. I'm not even a science major, but it was so interesting and so much fun because he is such an amazing professor. While the requirements take a bit of time to fulfill, they really do help one get the full liberal arts experience which is one of the big drawing points for this school. I would say the education at Oxy is geared more toward learning for its own sake and not for getting a job, unlike other really intense schools like CMC, for example, which I know takes the whole job thing too seriously.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Everyone can do whatever they want. You can be involved in sports, theater, greek life, clubs, etc. Yuo can do all of the above and it's totally normal because everyone wants to be involved and it's a great way to get to know people. I met my closest friends either because i lived near them or through other friends. People party fairly frequently i'd say, and the greek life here is something taht everyone can enjoy and isn't something we look down upon. Taco Truck's make for an amazing 2am excursion!

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Stereotypes propbably include us being pretty laid back, but extremely smart. The school is known for being beautiful and of course being in many films and tv shows (i.e. 90210, Clueless, Orange County, etc.) Also known for our stellar football team.

Molly
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Oxy's size can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can meet someone on a Saturday night, and most likely, you wil...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Oxy's size can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can meet someone on a Saturday night, and most likely, you will run into him the next morning at the Marketplace. If you had fun with him, it's great because you'll see him again and you can continue on from there. If you had an awkward encounter, you will not be able to escape seeing him again. I love the fact that there's kind of an "Oxy Bubble". Oxy residential, but is also right otside of L.A. proper, so there's tons to do both on campus and off. However, you have to make an effort to get off campus, or else the bubble can become suffocating.

Describe the students at your school.

Oxy works hard to maintain a level of political correctness that is mind boggling to me. We pride ourselves on our mission to cultivate a diverse student body, whether' that be racial diversity, economic diversity, sexual orientation diversity, diversity of interests, etc. Sometimes, it's like you are walking on egg shells, afraid you will upset someone. That said, we are all respectful of our differences and are very socially aware and active. Service is HUGE at Oxy and the campus is generally left leaning. That said, you've got the Birkenstock wearing hippies, the kids out to change the world, the L.A. girls, the jocks, etc. It's kind of like a bigger high school in that there are many different groups. Although, those groups are not hostel toward one another.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

I wouldn't trade my experience at Oxy for the world.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

While I do know of students who applied to the Claremont Schools, I think most of us came to Oxy beciase it called to us and because we felt at home there. I think Oxy is lucky to have us and we are lucky to have Oxy: It's not a school you just "settle" for. I do think that the stereotype that Oxy is a lberal, scoially aware and P.C. campus is true.

What are the academics like at your school?

I think think the academics at Oxy set it apart from other similar institutions in that the professors are truly there first and foremost for the students. Not only do professors know you're name, they take the time to know what you are involved in on campus as well as to know what makes you tick as a student and a young adult. Classes are small, which I love, and class participation is a must. I have never personally felt the need to compete with my classmates and there's nit a ton on palpable academic pressure on campus.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There's a lot of Oxy pride to be had among the students, faculty, and outside community. Sports games (especially football) are huge and Oxy always works hard to put on fun events on and off campus. By the time you're a junior though, those activities can get old, so you go into downtown L.A. to have your fun. House parties are on every weekend, and many people make that their scene. Programing board, clubs and Greek organizations put on dances and events such as speakers, lectures, panels, improv, and various "explore L.A" options. The dating scene kind of blows to be honest. There are random hookups or serious relationships: no real dating goes on at Oxy.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Oxy can be known as home to the "Claremont Rejects" or those students who didn't get accepted to the Claremont colleges and thus had to "settle" for Oxy. Students are very socially minded and the School is very P.C.

Vicky
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love the small size- you get to know all the teachers. The faculty is really diverse. I love oxy. There's definitely im...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love the small size- you get to know all the teachers. The faculty is really diverse. I love oxy. There's definitely improvements to be made, but this is the school to be at.

Describe the students at your school.

lots of emphasis on diversity most students are democrats. at least the more outspoken ones.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

oxy really caters to student complaints and opinions. sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

I think so, for a majority of students. But there are definitely conservative ones... you just have to know where to find them.

What are the academics like at your school?

chemistry= tough. pretty competitive in the sense that it's challenging. pretty geared toward individual success though- students helpful towards each other.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

intervarsity christian fellowship = the bomb. frats and sororities aren't too important, but they're good for networking and making friends. tons of things to do in LA. just grab a friend, a car, and go someplace. don't drink unless you really need to!

Erik
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Occidental is a small, prestigeous, liberal arts college. I know it sounds silly, but this says so much about Oxy. At Occiden...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Occidental is a small, prestigeous, liberal arts college. I know it sounds silly, but this says so much about Oxy. At Occidental, you get a rigorous, well-tempered inter disciplinary education in an intimate setting. When people hear that I go to Occidental, most people assume it is a dental school, or have never heard of it. For those that do know, they are usually impressed. Occidental is located in Eagle Rock, just within the boarder of the city of Los Angeles. Eagle Rock is a nice part of Los Angeles, California located in between the upscale Pasadena and Glendale. Occidental really is a sanctuary within the huge and diverse metropolis that is LA. Occidental has a great environment; a friendly, supportive atmosphere exudes from the students and faculty. The real power is that within this clam environment, Occidental has all the fuel and intimate interactions needed to empower you to stand out among your peers on a national level. Occidental consistently has an excellent record for students recieivng national awards (e.g. Fullbright and Goldwater) and sending students to fantastic graduate schools. Occidental's administration is perhaps its weakest link. There are so many excellent scholars that are Occidental degree holders, and professors with incredible CVs. Yet many times it seems that Occidentals professors and students achieve in spite of the administration that exemplifies many of the worst part of bureacracies. To that end, we have been through three presidents in the past half decade. Most recently, our president, Susan Prager resigned out of the blue this winter break after only 1 year and a half as President. Despite this one of the things that really attracted me was how much pride alumni have in their school. I have yet to meet one alumni who is not estatic about their time spent at Occidental, and proud of their degree.

Describe the students at your school.

One of the things that really stands out about Occidental is how diverse the student body really is. It wasn't a major factor for me when applying, but I sure see it now. Half of my friends are students who have spent a significant part of their life abroad; even within the faculty there is a considerable amount of variation in terms of their backgrounds, gender, and race. Most students wear what they would even if they weren't going to class: California Casual (T-shirts & Jeans). Occidental is certainly diverse in socio-economic terms as well. Even within my circle of friends there is everyone from the god daughter of Warren Buffet to students who make just as much money as their parents, and many in between. Occidental consistently dedicates a large portion of their budget to student aid so that they can sustain a diverse student body. In terms of geography, a large block of Occidental students seem to come from Northern/Central California, and an unusually high proportion of Hawaiians (relative to their population representation in the US). However, there are many international students from around the world, and students from nearly every state in the US. Because Oxy students are so diverse, you're bound to interact or even become close friends with someone who comes from a significantly bacground from yourself. That being said, many students are very politically active and the school is definitely strongly predisposed towards the left politically. Occidental is a small school. I know everyone in my major, and nearly all of the students in the sciences (in every class year). Although I don't know everyone on a first name basis, I really don't come across an unfamilliar face frequently.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

I have so much pride in my school. That being said, there are some reservations that I have about Occidental. One of the biggest challenges to my perceptions about Occidental regards classes. I asssumed that because I went to a small school, I would be able to take whatever classes I want. However, due to Occidental's size, many upper division classes are only offered every other year for one semester. It makes scheduling a real problem, especially as you progress in your major. I also want to say this: If a school "brand name" is what you're concerned about, Oxy it not for you; If you are seeking an excellent eduation, and an environment where you can stand out and succeed, Oxy is exactly what you're looking for. For example: One of the fellow researchers in my laboratory group is currently working at the National Institutes of Health. Because of his/her intense preparation at Occidental he/she is thriving there (they just can't stop giving him/her new projects and funding). He/Sheis blowing students from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and many of the other Ivies out of the water.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

The dental school stereotype is absolutely untrue, Occidental prides itself on its nearly exclusive focus on undergraduate education. The stereotype that Occidental students are excellent communicators is absolutely true, as evidenced through the many conferences that Oxy students excell in.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academically, Occidental is a dream school for those motivated and dedicated to education. I have yet to be in a class of more than 20 people and I have one class with only 9,; most of my classes contain 15 students. Because of the small class size, class participation is not only encouraged, it's pretty much mandatory. The professors expect that each student come to class prepared to articulate their ideas and defend their positions. The professors know everyone's name within a week, and will remember you for many semesters past. All professors have office hours where they are requried to stay in their office and be available to you. I have never waited to meet with a professor, and had more than enough opportunities for indiviudal attention. Professors are extremely nice and flexible, they respond to email roughly any time a day (or night) and are happy to help you whenever or however they can. I recently met with my Chemistry professor out of class for 3 hours to review a laboratory procedure. I am a Biochemistry major, which is really a hybrid department between Biology and Chemistry (it has no physical location). As a liberal arts College, Occidental ensures that you are well prepared for a modern carreer spanning multipile fields and requiring many cross-disciplinary skills. Everyone has to take a substantial amount of art/history/english classes as well as science/math/logic classes in order to graduate. It's really fantastic. Although I'm a die-hard science major, I still develop excellent writting and critical reading skills from my Imperial China history class. Occidental also ensures that you have a high degree of competency in your own subject area of expertise. In Biochemistry, there is a set of senior requirements called comprehensives. These consist of a series of rigorous standarized tests that must be passed (in our case the ACS Biochemistry Exam) and an hour presentation on a research topic in which fellow students and professor's cross-examine you afterwards. A poor preformance will result in failure to matriculate from the college. Although very stressful, Oxy seniors become students with graduate level depth knowledge and intuition to boot. While both the major requeirements (especially in the sciences where many classes are very sequential) and the general college requirements can seem a bit onerous, especially for the courses outside of my comfort zone (art/history/english) I feel confident in my ability to think critically in any field and articulate myself effectively. One of the best things about being a science major at Occidental is the Undergraduate Research. The college places a huge emphasis on research at Oxy; at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research the way we are represented you would think that Occidental is the size of a UC. Nearly every science major is engaged in research during the school year and/ro the summer. It is truely a priviledge to get to work several hours a week one on one with my professor outside of class. The professors really become more than just advisors, they become friends and mentors. I honestly look forward to asking my professors for letters of reccomendation because I feel that they know me well. The other unique component of our research is that it is primarily student driven. Research isn't just work as minions of the Professors' project; we come up with our own projects, write our own proposals, and research what we're interested in! Education at Occidental is divergent from many larger research universities in that I view Occidental as a prep-Graduate school. If you're only planning on going to college for four years and then going on to a job, Occidental may not be for you. The environment is geared towards learning for its own sake with a strong emphasis on continuing higher eduation. One of the things that drew me towards Occidental, is that students are much more about teamwork than they are about competition. Everyone really works to help everyone succeed. In my chemistry class, for example, everyone gets together before a problem set and we go over the problems together, correct and help each other, and learn (and the Professors encourage collaboration!). I don't think I've yet had a class where I am not frequently engaged in intellectual discussions with my classmates. Although the academic environment may seem relaxed, Professors hold students to high standards. Occidental is known to have grade deflation, or a higher proportion of B's and C's than is the norm.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There is a significant variety of extra curricular clubs/teams/groups on campus. What is nice though is that anyone can easily set up a club, get funding, and get started to explore any niche not yet met. The fact that I started up a parliamentary debate club this year is proof that you don't need an in depth knowledge of the inner workings of Student Government to get things done. The administration makes it clear and easy for any group/club to schedule, plan events, advertise, and get funded. One group that I'm involved with, which I think really reflects Occidental is SSAP (Scientific Scholars Achievement Program). Here I tutor/mentor students who are struggling in the Math and Sciences. Our program was created to help encourage those students (especially minorities) who are otherwise often intimidated in entry level courses into leaving the sciences entirely. We try to help brige the gap between professors and students to create a real community among the sciences. Occidental also has several large community outreach education programs in which many students go out and help high school and elementary students at local schools. One of the most popular traditions at Occidental is Dance Production. A large and diverse group of the student body gets together every year to put together a series of original as well as traditional dacnes to music. Nearly everyone in the school is involved as either spectators or dancers. Another Oxy tradition is the Sex on the Beach Party. Although toned down in recent years, it encourages all students to let loose in their best swim wear near the end of term. Nearly all students live on campus in the residence halls, and the environment in each hall varies considerably. Some halls are almost like a sanitarium, all the doors are closed and its silent (great for studying). Other halls seem as if there is only communal space as all doors are open and students are constantly mingling in and out of rooms and chatting in the hallways. Occidental is built into a hill, with most of the facillities near the bottom, so there is a significant geographic barrier between students who live in the upper campus versus the lower one. The Occidental Football Team consistently does well in SCIAC (our athletic league) and games draw a fair number of crowds. Our Water Polo team is also a large presence on campus academically as well as athletically. The volume of Guest speakers on campus is excellent as we have access to a large number of professionals being just inside the city limits of LA. Nearly every week each department hosts guest speakers (experts in their field); given the volume of speakers on campus, student participation in these events is high. In terms of dating, there is an old proverb that still holds true: 8 out of 10 girls are foxy, the rest go to Oxy. The Oxy dating scene (at least form the male perspective) is significantly less than ideal. There are still of plenty of ways to have fun though. There aren't frequently large parties on campus, but there are lots of small parties that go on in the dorms among groups of friends. Greek Life at Oxy is small. There are only a handful of fraternities and sororities at Occidental today (although there was a significant amount in the past). The nice thing though (especially if you have a car, or a friend that has one) is that you have LA at your feet. Although in a nice neighborhood, Occidental allows you access to the myriad of entertainment options that only LA can provide.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

The fact that Oxy is a small liberal arts college means that a lot of people haven't even heard of it. At the Neuroscience Conference in San Diego we got a lot of suprised glances at our name tags. One of the sterotypes about Occidental is that it is a dental school. Changes are if you someone is familiar with Occidental, our students are well known as excellent communicators.

Elizabeth
What is your overall opinion of this school?

My favorite thing about Oxy is how friendly and outgoing most of the students are. Size-wise, I like that it's small. After b...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

My favorite thing about Oxy is how friendly and outgoing most of the students are. Size-wise, I like that it's small. After being here for two years, it perhaps feels like it's a little too small, but there are new students every year who you get to know. I do like that you get to know a lot of people really well and you see people you know all the time. I spend a lot of my time in my friend's dorm; they live in suites in one of the dormitories and it's nice to hang out in their common room doing homework or watching movies. There are a good amount of good restaurants around campus, and old town pasadena is pretty close and has some good shopping and restaurants. Traffic in LA makes it a little hard to get to the beach or some other locations, but if you go at the right time, there's tons of stuff to do around the area. The administration doesn't have the best reputation on campus. I think we're going through a transition period and it's taking a while for everybody to get settled. We've had a good amount of people resign in the last two or three years, but that doesn't really affect students on a day-to-day basis. I personally haven't been affected by the changes at all. There isn't a huge amount of school spirit, but everybody is really friendly and willing to meet new people, so I don't think it's much of a problem. The weather is fantastic and the campus is gorgeous. It's a really nice environment to be in.

Describe the students at your school.

There's a lot of talk about diversity and being politically correct. Occasionally there are instances of miscommunication about "isms", but for the most part the campus is a very safe, caring environment for all students. If you're super conservative, just be prepared to be in the minority. Most students wear pretty casual clothes; they don't get really dressed up for class, but most people look pretty well put together. There's a lot of Southern California style. Different types of students do interact, but peope with similar backgrounds are more likely to hang out together. Aside from the black students having a certain place to eat lunch, everybody else is pretty mixed. And there are a good amount of non-black students at the "black tables". There are a lot of students at Oxy from the Pacific Northwest, a good amount from Hawaii and the East Coast. There are far less from the South. There are a good amount of very affluent students at Oxy, but there are also a lot of people from different economic classes.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

Occidental is a really good fit for me, I like the students, the classes, the professors, and it's a great part of the country to be in.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

We are pretty politically active, there are a lot of vegetarians and vegans, most of the student body is very liberal, we do work hard and play hard, and I think the campus is very friendly. As far as diversity goes, for a small private school, we do have a good amount of diversity, but it's not like white kids are a minority or anything.

What are the academics like at your school?

Professors are always willing to make time to meet with students. They all have office hours and will make extra time if you can't come to them. Most of my professors have gotten to know me by name, even in some of my larger classes. I'm a film major and spanish minor, and I've been pretty pleased with both departments. A lot of the critical film classes focus on more abstract, experimental film rather than main-stream American stuff. The production classes let you do whatever you want, they are just loose guides to how to make a film. Spanish is pretty typical, we have some really great professors and a couple not so great ones, but there are conversation classes for every language so you can keep up your speaking skills and the upper-level classes are pretty interesting. Most students study every week-night, but amount of time varies depending on class schedules. I'd say I work an average of 12 hours per week outside of class. A lot of students do have intellectual conversations outside of class. If you learn something in a class that you think is interesting, most people are interested to learn about it as well and to discuss it. Class participation is pretty common. It depends on the class, but in general there are lots of opportunities to speak up or have a dialogue. Students aren't very competetive, everybody just wants to help everybody do well. I think for the most part, learning at Oxy is geared toward learning for its own sake rather than getting a job, but I've taken a lot of film, spanish, and physics classes, so I'm not so sure about the other departments. The requirements at Oxy are pretty easy to meet and they think they encourage you to take a wide variety of classes, which is great.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

We have a Dance Production show in the spring that is one of the most popularly attended events on campus. Greek life is not a huge thing on campus, but there are 7 fraternity/sororities (I think?). They're not really typical greek associations though, in that it's not like there's a frat with a bunch of meat-heads who party all the time or a sorority with all the really wealthy, elite girls. I'm on the ultimate frisbee team, which is pretty low key, but we get to go to tournaments on a couple of weekends a year. For example, we went to Las Vegas, San Diego, and UCLA for tournaments this year. More people close their doors than leave them open, but people are friendly in the bathrooms and common rooms. Athletic events aren't a huge thing on campus, but the football and basketball games are probably most popular. We have a lot of guest speakers on campus that vary in a attendence. Chances are though, that there will be at least a couple of speakers each year that really interest you, if not more. There are plays put on at the end of each semester that I would say most of the student body attend. There are a good amount of couples on campus. Probably more people are into relationships than just hookups, but there's some of both. I met my closest friends either in my freshman dorm or through people I knew in my freshman dorm. Oxy had a program where all of the people in your freshman seminar class live in your dorm, so it was really easy to get to know people and do homework together. They don't do this program any more, because all of the freshman live togeth now, but that also makes it easy to meet people. If I'm awak at 2am on a Tuesday, I'm usually doing homework or trying to find a ride to go get some food. The most popular late-night snack around campus are the taco trucks down the street. There are 5 or 6 trucks that park on the side of the road from 7pm to 3am every night and they sell amazing, cheap mexican food. 21 Choices is also a popular snack place, but it closes at 11. Most people party 1-2 nights a week, generally on the weekends. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can almost always find a party to go to, but there's also tons of stuff to do, both off campus and on, that don't involve partying. For example, last weekend on Friday night I went to a movie and then got back and went to a party off campus with some friends, and then on Saturday I had an intramural soccer game, went to Medieval Times for a friends birthday, then went to a party for him that night. If you don't want to drink on a Saturday night, you can go to Old Town Pasadena to go shopping or out to dinner or to the movies, there are concerts both on and off campus a lot of the time, there are dances and events on campus, and there's always a lot going on in the LA area if you want to get off campus.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

That we're super politically active, lots of vegetarians and vegans, really liberal, work hard during the week, party hard on the weekends, very diverse student body, and very friendly.

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