Guest Writer: Andrew Kim PO ’20
Mudd is widely known as an impressive school that compares to other engineering juggernauts such as MIT and Caltech. The teachers are incredible, the labs and other resources are plentiful, and the students are talented in fields they are interested in. Many students from outside the 5Cs believe that Mudd is not the school for them and that Mudd lacks the diversity that makes it a “number one” school. Mudders look at their peers with respect, envy, and even wonder, but what do other students within the rest of the Claremont Colleges think of Harvey Mudd?
Students often come to the 5Cs with little knowledge of the collective organization or the individual schools except for Harvey Mudd. When asked what students knew about Mudd before coming to the 5Cs, one freshman from CMC said that “the school had one of the highest job prospects in America.” Two sophomores from Pomona and CMC thought the students “were quirky [and] similar to CalTech/ MIT students” and were “were all wicked smart but more collaborative and fun than MIT and CalTech students respectively. Though many comments revolved around the highly touted academic reputation of Mudd, others were more skeptical. One junior from Scripps recounted that she had “only heard about the Claremont Colleges a year before [she] came [to Claremont], so [she] hadn’t heard about Mudd before. When [she] did though, [she] had heard about its STEM, but had also heard an exaggerated story that everyone [was] depressed and that there was a high suicide rate, given heavy workload. I know that’s not true now though after coming here.”
Perhaps this preconception comes from the widely acknowledged intense workload that Mudders are associated with. One Pitzer freshman said that Mudders seem “to have classes all day up to 5-6 and the rest of their days are a heavy mix of labs, homework, and extracurriculars all the way up to 10 or 11 at night, earliest.” A Scripps freshman told me that she “literally think[s] of Mudders as people who just work 24/7 and party really hard on the weekends.” Others seem to know that they would not be able to cope. One Pomona sophomore told me that he has “a friend who goes to HMC and [the friend] shared his schedule with [him…] he immediately knew that [he] would not be able to cope with a schedule like that. It was very packed, and full of labs, and tutoring sessions.”
There are other concerns that “outsiders” have about Mudd. If given a chance to attend Mudd, students disproportionately argued that they would not go. Some students reason that “I simply don’t think I’m smart enough to be there [due to the] crush[ing] workload” (Pitzer ’17). Others felt that the “administration [was]n’t sensitive enough about issues that marginalize people, and they don’t respect that people have more complicated issues than school” (PO ’20). One student simply stated that “[he] would never go to Mudd because [he] doesn’t like complex math” (CMC ’19). It seems to be generally agreed that Mudd is a school continually respected, but people wouldn’t be able to incorporate Mudd schedules into their lives. One junior, who didn’t want to disclose his home school, said that “I would not go to Mudd just because for me it wouldn’t be the right fit. I’m not a hardcore STEM person. But for people who are STEM-oriented, they can do very well at Mudd, and I think it would be a good place for them.” A freshman from Pomona said “Mudd doesn’t create a good environment for people in many different situations to get a good education there. All of this wouldn’t fit my ability to do school.”
All of the students I interviewed from the other 5Cs were worried about Mudd’s approach to promoting campus diversity and improving students’ mental health.There is no doubt that Mudd is a unique school with its own identity. However, is it a school that leads to sustainable lives for its students?