My favorite things about Occidental are the student body and the professor/student relationships. I have found the most wonderful people at Oxy-- my friends are all engaged in schoolwork, internships and sports but we all find time to spend together to explore LA or just hang out in each others' rooms. In terms of the professors, its the middle of the summer and I just sent two of my favorite professors e-mails to tell them about my summer or to send them links to articles/videos they might find interesting (they both responded the same day). During the last week of school one of my professors invited me to his house to have dinner with some other students. We sat in his living room and discussed life, politics, and issues related to Oxy. That was one night I'll never forget. A lot of people dismiss Eagle Rock (the neighborhood Oxy is in) because it doesn't look like Westwood or Palo Alto. I'll admit that I was a bit of a hater when I first got to Oxy but my opinion of Eagle ROck has completely changed. Every fall there is a HUGE music festival at the corner of Eagle Rock and Colorado. They block of 7 or 8 blocks and have bands playing on every corner. Thousands of people show up to listen to the music, eat at the foodstands and check out the scene. There are also a lot of great restaurants in Eagle Rock (my friends and I often eat at Auntie Em's or Spitz--you should look them up if you are going to visit). Although, if you do visit you should try eating in the marketplace (our dining hall). They do a really spectacular job. the food is often organic and always fresh. Some mornings I wake up, make my way down to the MP to find a parfait with fresh raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. There are always two soups and special salads, made to order pasta and quesadillas...I visited 12 schools when applying to college and by far Oxy had the best food (one of the many reasons I chose Oxy...?). Some complaints...the administration has been a bit disorganized since I matriculated. They are still looking for a new and more permanant president and not doing a particularly good job of keeping the student body informed about the search. Other more minor complaints...the gym and outdoor pool don't open until noon on weekends and the marketplace (my favorite place to eat on campus) closes at 7:30 (although there are options on campus that are open later). One recent contrvercy was when Lupe Fiasco came to Oxy for an evening and only played two songs! I think we paid him $30,000 or something ridiculous like that. But more seriously, there are some avid discussions about race on campus. Oxy is the 3rd most diverse liberal arts college with 40 % of student identifying as racial or ethnic minority. Over the last few years there have been a lot of dialogues that become contravercial. I personally like the dialogue and have learned a lot.
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.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from any end of campus to the opposite corner. There are about 1800 students who, for the most part live either on-campus or within a mile radius from the school. There are many aspects of Oxy that remind me of my high school, such as the handholding the school provides to help guide their students through their four years, the wildfire gossip that bounces around, and the dances that are school-sponsored. Sometimes refered to as "the Oxy Bubble" for some of the annoyances that come with a small school, Oxy's a mix of positives and negatives. If those are aspects aren't your cup of tea, then Oxy might not be the best fit. Personally, the positives have greatly outweighed the negatives for my needs and desires in my undergraduate education. As tuition differences shrink between private and public colleges and universities, I'm grateful for the education and environment that Oxy has provided for me--things that I would undoubtedly not be able to experience or have at a bigger school. Oxy prides itself on the liberal arts education that they provide students, which really means that they have requirements that encourage you to explore fields that you wouldn't necessarily gravitate towards. Having a taste of many different fields--math, sciences, arts, humanities--has given me a better scope of fields and has helped me feel more comfortable talking about various topics. So in a nutshell, what's the best thing about Oxy? The diversity of courses you'll take, the diversity of people you'll meet, and the diversity of perspectives you'll gain. Oxy helps make you a more aware individual, which I think is as important (if not more) than the textbooks you'll read in class.
Oxy cares 100% about the students who attend. It is a private school so you get what you pay for, an amazing faculty with students who expect to be treated well. I felt Oxy was too small for me but at the same time I realize that if it were any larger the personal attention would drop and then it wouldn't be the same school. Unfortunately, because it is so small, no one knows about it and that is a bummer. Hopefully as time passes it will become recognized but until then I can only hope that the people at various institutions that matter, will know and recognize it. Oxy has its own bubble and without a car, most of the students stay there. With 70% living on campus they try to provide fun things to do but it's nothing compared to the million other things to do in LA, so trying not to get sucked into the bubble is preferable if you attend Oxy. I grew up in a college town and Eagle Rock is nothing like it. It is a town, but if you want to get any real experiences you should branch out, really make a point of it. Occidental's administration is supposedly a bit of a mess but I have never had any personal problems with it, so no complaints there. School pride is definitely lacking, but it's what you make of it. My friends and I dressed up for football games but we were defintiely one of the few, but realize there are only about 1800 students to pull from for games. Other than that we have to have pride to stay at a school no one knows of to prove to others that it is amazing...
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.
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.
Occidental has the kind of campus community that is very easy to be a part of. Joining campus interest groups or organizations, with some natural exceptions, is as easy as checking campus news listings or just sending out an e-mail. I joined the newspaper originally simply by e-mailing someone I knew on it and asking if I could write for them. The same works for just about every other club I've seen on campus. As for social community, the campus has a college party scene which is also very easy to fall into so long as you're genuine and simply enjoy a good time, and there's more than enough else to find to do on the campus if the college party scene isn't your thing. The school brings speakers on campus regularly, the theater department puts on several shows throughout the year, and the music department puts on shows both by students and others throughout the year as well. Finally, the campus is located in Los Angeles, right between Pasadena and Glendale, a stone's throw from Dodger's Stadium and just a few minutes further from Burbank and Hollywood. If you can't find something in a city like this to entertain yourself with, then you should probably be Amish.
Coming from a huge public school in Santa Monica, I was looking for a smaller place to figure out what my strengths and interests were that I wasn't able to develop in a huge school. Occidental is the perfect size for me. When I go to parties on the weekends I always see people I know, and not just people I have seen around but people that I have developed relationships with in the dorms or in classes. The best thing about Occidental is the people. There is such a huge variety but everyone really wants to be here. Every school has its problems and things that the student body complains about but there is no place I'd rather be than Oxy. I have made really great friends here and I can honestly say that I think my entire class will be excited to get together far after we graduate. While we are not a huge school pride school, school pride is never frowned upon. When there are football games or basketball games, everyone gets together to celebrate.
Small, liberal arts, private school. Most people have not heard of it when mentioned. School might become recognized when people hear that 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama spent a year of undergraduate study here. Community is very close, very small school, everyone knows each other. I spend most of my time either in the classroom, at the baseball field, or studying in my room. Occidental is in the community of Eagle Rock, which is an up and coming community off the CA 2 Freeway between Glendale and Pasadena. Occidental's administration is good some areas, subpar in others. Professors are awesome, intelligent, and passionate about subjects they teach. Other administrators could be more helpful. Biggest controversy is the relationship between Board of Trustees and the recent Presidents. Newly elected President seems to be doing well. Not a lot of school pride, but alumni database is outstanding.
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.