College Spotlight: Harvey Mudd College
Freshman Year Update
By Yoo-Jin Hwang
College Expert Counselor: Ryan Luse
After spending my whole life in Minnesota, I knew I couldn’t stay in the cold any longer. Thankfully Harvey Mudd took me in, with its warm, sunny weather (and stunning sunsets).
Harvey Mudd is a STEM college one hour west of Los Angeles with a whopping 800 students. The small size of our campus really creates a close community between students and teachers. Harvey Mudd also strives to create a collaborative environment—competition is nowhere to be seen! I would say that this makes up for our lack of school spirit. One fun fact about our college is that we have a 50/50 women to men ratio.
Mudd is surrounded by 4 other undergraduate colleges: Pomona, Claremont Mckenna, Pitzer, and Scripps! The other campuses are very accessible, only being less than a 25 minute walk away. You could start off your Sunday at Pitzer brunch, then take a dip at the Scripps pool, listen to a band concert at Pomona, and finish the night off with a party at Claremont McKenna.
To introduce the new Mudders (a common nickname for Harvey Mudd students) to the campus, Harvey Mudd sets up the Orientation Adventure, which is a 2-day orientation trip for the pre-frosh (pre-freshman) to go on excursions with 10-15 of their fellow peers around the greater Southern California area. My orientation trip was learning how to surf at San Onofre State Park! Some others consist of tasting yummy foods in downtown LA, going on a space voyage to Griffith Park Observatory, or hiking on the highest peak in Southern California, San Gorgonio Mountain.
When you walk through Harvey Mudd’s campus you will see not only lots of familiar and friendly faces but a lot of wheels. Students will bike, skateboard, longboard, freeline, and even unicycle to their classes! You will also stumble across the Hoch, the best dining hall out of all the 5Cs (the 5 Claremont Colleges).
To ensure that Mudders have a smooth transition into college, Harvey Mudd requires freshmen to take all their first semester classes pass fail. This allowed me to take very interesting first year courses like special relativity and chamber music, participate in some hackathons, and learn how to balance work and play in college.
Harvey Mudd also has a core curriculum, so Mudders are required to take a variety of science and liberal arts courses. I personally haven’t had the opportunity to take many courses at other colleges, as I need to finish my core curriculum requirements, but many of the upperclassmen have taken a variety of courses from gender studies, language courses, and music classes at the other Claremont Colleges.
Harvey Mudd has a variety of clubs, too, from band—the Korean Student Association-—to a Rom Com Club that my friends and I recently founded. And if there is a club that is not available at Mudd, it is likely that one of the other Claremont Colleges will have it.
I would say that the workload can be a bit overwhelming at Harvey Mudd, but there are many resources from office hours and academic excellence (where upperclassmen who have taken the course tutor underclassmen). In addition, there are lots of tutoring hours for computer science. Usually, professors are very nice and willing to meet with students on a one-on-one basis.
Many Mudders fear that they will be stuck in the Mudd Bubble, which is when students are so immersed in their academics, their entire world seems to be just Harvey Mudd. My friends and I made sure that we would pop this bubble. Some of my favorite memories from this semester occurred when we were exploring Southern California, going to American rapper Aminé’s concert, hiking on Mountain Baldy, attending Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach, and venturing to Santa Monica right after finals.
The small class sizes definitely allow students to have personal connections with professors. One time my writing professor invited our class to eat dessert at his home! Harvey Mudd has a Leonard Fund where they fund meals for around 10 students to eat and talk with a professor.
There are also lots of opportunities for students to work or do research or both. I started working at Harvey Mudd’s Phonathon and as a tutor at Upward Bound, where I tutor high schoolers from around the area. Mudders can also apply for summer research or talk to professors during the school year if they are interested in their research.
Harvey Mudd has definitely been the perfect fit for me. I am so excited to learn more in the coming semesters and see what else Harvey Mudd has in store! I wish you guys luck in your college processes!