Harvey Mudd College Visit Report by GeekMom63

Visit to Harvey Mudd College in February 2010 by GeekMom63
(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2010)
(Member since October 25 2020 with ? posts)

Visit Activities:

Information Session: Yes - HMC stresses communications, writing, presentations, promotes collaboration, "we want to produce problem solvers, not specialized workers" "research should be the #1 reason you're

Campus Tour: Yes - In the few large lectures, recitations are ALSO taught by profs, "study abroad is easy" (not an eng. major!), 24x7 computer lab with free printing, three dept heads talked to our tour for ab

Classroom Visit: Yes - Classes interesting, clear, understandable, easy to follow, & very entertaining; students interested & engaged; prof listened to student complaints about excessive HW and said he'd reduce


Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
helpful, happy to be there. PE class (schoolyard games??) tried to get us to join in. Students looked happy, healthy, attractive, fun. Guide comfortable with his intelligence. Many forms of transport

Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
All very friendly, smiling, courteous, helpful

Appearance of Campus:
4 - Very Good
4 - Very Good
Beautiful grounds. Lots of green. TONS of chalk equations, one involving a fire-breathing dragon. Nearby mountains were dingy; far mtns barely visible (and someone said "good air quality this wee

Building/Facilities Maintenance/Cleanliness:
4 - Very Good
4 - Very Good
Well-maintained but not obsessively so, construction worker was regrouting something, Dining hall gorgeous and good. West dorm was trashy, but contained. Statue wearing a tinfoil hat. Little litter.

3 - Good
3 - Good
S's dorm was old & bathroom stall door coming off hinges. Tour guide had suite of six people, freshman through senior, M&F. His single was HUGE. HMC provides weekly vacuuming and bathroom

3 - Good
3 - Good
Most bikes were locked, but I saw 6 unlocked. Skateboards & unicycles left unattended. Staff-carts all over, but I don't know if security. One student put an unattended skateboard up agains

Overall Campus Impression:
5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent
Son wants to go there. **I** want to go there. Honest, friendly, smart people in SoCal - what more could you want??


Campus Visit Notes for Harvey Mudd College

Visit Description:

I'm assuming you are familiar with HMC, so I'm not mentioning the stuff that's easy to find by surfing their site.

The honor code is a really big deal. They have **timed, closed-book, take-home** tests. The mail slots are open, in an open room. Our tour guide talked about "his lab" for his senior thesis. All students have 24x7 access to all classrooms and many/most labs (not sure about the labs) and expensive scientific instruments.

Many graduating seniors leave fridges and couches for younger students. Before letting us in his room, the tour guide warned us that his suitemates had "pranked" tours, but no matter what we saw, there were no dead people in his suite.

Posters for opportunities for internships and other good jobs, including tutoring local HS students for $9 / hour and helping local MS students with math projects for $10 / hr. Poster reminding of tomorrow's career fair and offering students one last chance at free resume critiques.

Our tour guide hijacked a couple of department heads and asked them to talk to us, which they quite happily did for about five minutes. My son had already had one of them in a class, and the prof remembered my son was from Colorado (and my son said he was VERY entertaining). The tour guide commented that one of the department heads remembered his name even though he had had only one class with him, three years ago.

The core teaches a lot of background on all scientific subjects. They don't have "electrical engineering" or "mechanical engineering", but "engineering". Pro: they can handle whatever they see. Con: not *as* prepared in the specific discipline. However, they all seem to be able to get good engineering jobs. You don't get to officially declare a major until after finishing the math/science/engineering core about halfway through sophomore year. They have a 90% sophomore retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 85%.

Apparently, there is tutoring of one sort or another available all over the place. Although there are a few large lectures for intro classes, the recitations are taught by profs as well. Although the workload is much harder than at most schools, all students admitted when pressed that it was do-able. I talked to one who admitted to being a slow worker but still had time to run cross country. The students are very happy with the profs, with each other, with the opportunities. Our tour guide did complain that, due to the six-HSS-class-on-campus rule and the limited selection, you occasionally are stuck taking something you don't really care for. The info-session-guy (admissions staff) said it would be a waste of a great opportunity if you took all your classes at Mudd, with all the other schools available. When my son asked several people "what one thing would you change?" most/all said the requirement that they take six HSS classes on the HMC campus.

There were nice posters for Black History Month, lots of GLBT posters, Christian posters, internship posters, one for an upcoming Mudd/Scripps party, one for financial planning for seniors.

Modes of transportation - 75 - 80% walking, then skateboards, then bikes, then roller-skate-boards(?) - tiny foot-sized skateboards not connected to the feet or to each other, then unicycles.

Most students had backpacks, but a few had satchels/bags/briefcases.

There are few outside study areas, but apparently enough. The library is a few blocks away into the consortium and allows small snacks but not meals to be brought in. There is a room full of couches for studying on and the grass is nice too. EVERYTHING is very inviting. There was very little litter, and recycle boxes everywhere. There is a lot of construction going on, but the tour guide said they do it without disturbing the students.

There is a popular pizza place down a set of stairs. There is an elevator to it, but after hours you have to call campus security to get access to the elevator.

The teachers are called "professor" not "doctor". At least that's what was on the doors in one faculty area.

The math club is called HMC Math Club, or H(MC)2.

There is a faculty member in residence at Sontag hall.

There is no marching band.

Summer research program has approx 200 students through mid-July and pays a stipend. You don't even have to stay within your major; the lizard-racing lab is popular right now. HMC has one of the highest percentages of NSF-funded projects in the country; there are more research opportunities than the students can take advantage of. The students are NOT just flunkies, but material participants.

Companies pay around $40K to sponsor a team of clinic students. One recent project was by a shoe company to develop an alternative to cleated shoes for kids. Another was to make a greener surfboard. Most majors have the choice between clinic and research, but some must do clinic.

Financial aid - there is a loan cap, but the info-session-guy didn't remember what it was. Most money comes from grants, and they meet 100% of need with grants, work-study, and loans. There are some merit scholarships. The top 20% get $10K / year. One student gets a FIRST-Robotics scholarship. 8 - 10 students get the Presidential Scholars Program for full-tuition.

"Probably 85% of the applicants are qualified" but they only admit about 30%. Info-Session-Guy said "we aren't as concerned about the rankings as you are".

I couldn't smell the pollution, but I certainly could see it. The very-near mountains looked noticeably dingy. The far mountains were barely visible. I didn't see any two-headed squirrels or anything, though.

My son loved the visit, loved the classes, loved the professors. He wants to go for sure. Now he just needs to get admitted.