Student Scoop: Claremont McKenna College

As a competitive liberal art college with around a 9% acceptance rate, Claremont McKenna College (CMC)  is a unique school that provides students both the inclusiveness of a small college and the resources of a big research university.

As a rising sophomore, I believe that choosing to attend CMC has been one of my best life decisions. Looking back to my freshman year, I have been created some unforgettable memories, discovered my academic passion, and been inspired by so many incredibly talented yet humble peers, professors and alumni.

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CMC students are happy

The mission of CMC is “teaching leaders to make an impact and succeed in today’s world.” Therefore many CMC activities and events are focused on equipping student with skills like critical thinking, public speaking and effective leadership.

As a result, CMC students tend to be very outgoing, optimistic and ambitious. Their spirits are the epitome of “work hard, play hard.” In fact, CMC was ranked “the happiest school” by the Daily Beast and second “best quality life” by U.S. NewsMany CMC students seek adventure and pursue exciting opportunities both on and off campus.  They are also highly motivated and ambitious, striving to live fulfilling lives. 

 

Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pomona… How are they all connected?

As part of the 5 College Consortium, CMC shares resources with four other liberal art colleges located within 5-10 minutes walking distance: Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, Pitzer College. CMC students can take classes and even declare majors in any of these colleges (discussed further in the “Academics” section).

CMC students even get to enjoy food from all five schools’ cafeterias – CMC’s sushi, Scripps’s ramen and dim sum, Pitzer’s taco, Mudd’s steak, and Pomona’s acai bowl. Although five colleges (5Cs) are located right next to each other and share almost all resources, each school has its own distinct culture. The opportunities to take classes and participate in club activities with students from four other colleges is truly unique to the 5Cs.  

 

Dine with leaders and research with professors

A highlight of CMC’s great resources is its Athenaeum program, which brings today’s leading scholars, activists, entrepreneurs, politicians, poets, scientists and musicians to speak and dine with CMC students in an intimate and relaxed setting.

Attending Athenaeum dinner is my favorite activity on campus. In the past year, I was fortunate enough to listen to internationally recognized playwright J.T Rogers speak about politics and art, population geneticist Spencer Wells present genetic anthropology and its future development, and Award-winning Israeli actress Dana Ivgy discuss her most recent film Zero Motivation. CMC students not only have the opportunity to hear the wisdom and insights of accomplished leaders but also engage in intellectual conversation with them. My personal conversations with Athenaeum speakers have been some of the most intriguing, thought-provoking conversations in my life, challenging me to expand my worldview. 

Furthermore, CMC has remarkable research resources for its students, providing them with hands-on experience across different disciplines. Nearly all of CMC’s research institutions implement a policy to look for qualified students to match with professors for research proposals. As a result, up to 77% students on campus conduct research with professors. Students have many options: CMC has 11 different research institutions that cover different academic areas with very little overlap, including the Financial Economics Institutes, Roberts Environmental Center, Rose Institutes of State and Local Government. 

 

Flexibility in declaring your major

At CMC, the most popular majors are economics, political science, international relations and philosophy. CMC also offers combined majors like Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE); Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP); and Science Management. Even you don’t find your ideal major at CMC, you can take courses from the other four colleges and declare your major there.

The whole process is very flexible – you can even do a dual major, with one major declared at CMC and another in a different college. For instance, some CMC students pursue dual major of economics (CMC) and computer science (Harvey Mudd).

Although many colleges offer the study abroad programs, CMC offers two special off-campus study programs at – Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. program. If you choose to do one of these two programs, you would be interning with a company/ government institution from Monday to Friday while taking classes with a CMC professor during weekends at your work site. The off-campus study programs are very intense and help prepare CMC students apply their academic knowledge to the real world. 

 


  

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