Pitzer’s Growing Pains, Growing Gains


By Janet Alexander Unigo Campus Representative at Pitzer October 29, 2008 In the midst of the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I was constantly asked the question “where are you going to school?”. And with  pride and enthusiasm I would reply “Pitzer College.” Which then immediately led to another question I had to answer —, “where is that?”. But it seems  as ifforty-five years after its inception, my small liberal arts college in Claremont, California may soon accrue name recognition. The school received 4,032 applications for the class of 2012; the 260 entering students for 2008 mark the lowest admittance rate in the college’s history at 22%. As the number of applicants has increased by 65% over the past five years, so too has the college’s yield rate for those offered admission to Pitzer accept. And consequently, for the second year in a row, the school has over-admitted. According to Coordinator of Housing Operations, Tressi Chen, Pitzer aims to enroll 225 freshman . However, the Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid, Arnaldo Rodriguez, claims the target number of enrollment is 240. This capacity limit discrepancy left Pitzer’s Housing Office scrambling to find 41 additional bed spaces for the fall ‘08 semester. (According to these numbers, it seems as if the college was aiming to enroll only 219 first-years.) But despite this critical oversight, Pitzer managed to create a solution for their potentially displaced students. With less than a month of summer to spare, Pitzer secured two-bedroom apartments, processed applications, and finalized housing re-assignments. Located a mile from the school, the Rancho Monte Visa luxury apartments will be technically be considered an on-campus residence, but they are a far cry from the eight-person suite dorms of Mead Hall — the college’s largest residential building. Pitzer did its best to rectify its miscalculation  Not only are the new rooms equipped with air-conditioning and nine-foot ceilings, but the school also  loaned bikes to dislocated students for free. The college’s seven percent increase in applicants from last year could best be attributed to an impressive series of high-profile public relations events that commenced with the ’07-’08 academic year. There was the media scrutiny surrounding the “Learning From You Tube” class, for which Media Studies Professor Alex Juhasz was interviewed on CNN. The other notable new story was the advent of Pitzer’s environmentally sustainable residence halls, featured on a segment of the Sundance Channel’s “Gen Y,” and an HGTV special “Green Man on Campus,” with actor Ed Begley Jr. Pitzer College was then further promoted on a global scale, serving as one of the set locations for Robert Redford’s movie Lions for Lambs. Founded in 1963, Pitzer is the newest school within the Claremont College Consortium. And so, it strives to distinguish itself from Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd. In 2004,  Pomona set itself apart from all other west coast colleges’ by making the SAT optional for its applicants. This academic year has tested the limits of Pitzer’s resources to an unprecedented degree. Insufficient housing is only the first  of foreseeable challenges the college is sure to face if the school continues to misjudge its growing pool of applicants. Course selection, club participation, organization membership, and on-campus employment positions will become more competitive, as spaces are naturally limited. At the same time though, Pitzer will now have an opportunity to demonstrate its ability to maintain its standards of care, as it grows into its rising reputation.

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