Harvey Mudd College Visit Report by noimagination

Visit to Harvey Mudd College in March 2010 by noimagination
(Student, HS Class of 2011)
(Member since September 28 2020 with ? posts)

Visit Activities:


Information Session: Yes - Fairly informative info session held outside.

Campus Tour: Yes - Awesome tour by two current students covering most of campus and actually passing through academic areas (which is oddly unusual for tours).


Campus:



Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
People were very friendly. I found the social dynamic a bit troubling (see longer description), but nobody was rude.



Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
The admissions staff were very outgoing. One prof stopped in the hall to talk with the group and was friendly.



Appearance of Campus:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
This was how I expected Caltech to be - very open and modern. Secluded but not claustrophobic.



Building/Facilities Maintenance/Cleanliness:
4 - Very Good
4 - Very Good
Most buildings seemed nice on the inside and there was some newer stuff.



Dormitories:
2 - Fair
2 - Fair
The dorms were not appealing at all. Old, dingy, and I found the isolation based on social stereotypes unfriendly (more later).



Security/Safety:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
Didn't feel unsafe at all. It's the suburbs.



Overall Campus Impression:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
Whatever else I might say about HMC, the campus was attractive and functional.


Off-Campus:



Area Immediately Around Campus:
2 - Fair
2 - Fair
There wasn't much going on in Claremont, but it was safe and the essentials were there.



City/Town/Community:
1 - Poor
1 - Poor
I don't especially like LA (crime, heat, smog, traffic), and HMC isn't even convenient to the city for those who do.

Campus Visit Notes for Harvey Mudd College


Visit Description:

I'll try to cover the essentials:

CLASSES
The academics here are definitely intense. Students seemed really involved in their courses. It was impressive to see a prof stop to talk with the group - I suppose that's LAC attention for you. The engineering program seemed more design-oriented than theoretical, which has its pros and cons. They have significant humanities requirements, which also has pros and cons. While the math department was strong, I definitely could tell that it was a small school with limited course options.

RESEARCH
Compared to the vast majority of schools, the opportunities at HMC are great and there are no grad students to compete with. However, many would-be Mudders will also consider MIT and Caltech, and I think the latter two are much stronger in this area. I took this tour on the same day as visiting Caltech, so that was fresh in my mind. The level of research average students get involved in here is simply not the same.

SOCIAL LIFE
All tech schools are going to be somewhat nerdier than your average college - this is true of Caltech and MIT as well. However, I felt a major difference between the kinds of social awkwardness at Caltech and HMC, and this was enough to really deter me from the latter. At Caltech, people were obsessed with their academics and just didn't seem to have time to develop their social sides - they seemed too preoccupied with their subjects. HMC had much more of a passive-aggressive "we're nerdy and like not fitting the mold" feel that really put me off. People here seemed to be making a conscious decision to be awkward that just felt really weird to me.

I did not like the way the dorms seemed to be segregated based on social outgoingness: the nerd[ier] dorm, the "jock" dorm, the "party" dorm, etc. It really seemed to isolate people in restrictive little social circles.

Admittedly, this is just based on one visit to campus. Don't base your decision on my opinion - visit for yourself. Also, there are the other Claremont schools around to balance things out.

If this was confusing, feel free to PM me with questions.

Hotel/Lodging Recommendations or Comments:

Stayed in Palm Springs (vacation) and drove in.