Occidental College is located 8 miles from downtown LA, though I have to admit that we were never really sure where downtown LA actually was found! The gate to the stadium and the title of this blog post are examples of the kind of quirkiness that makes Occidental unique. That and the much touted fact that Barack Obama studied there, for a time. Social and political activism continue to be big on campus and the 2100 students are encouraged to be engaged, globally aware, and experiential.
The students and personnel we met said that the learning environment was rigorous, but friendly, collaborative and non-competitive. In fact, the agreement on campus is that there is no grading on the curve for any class, and academic tutorial is available for free to everyone in courses deemed difficult by the departments. Social justice, diplomacy, and world affairs are popular areas of study, but they are also strong in marine biology, geology and chemistry.
Like Chapman, there is a strong push to have students put their new found knowledge into practice, through research opportunities both on campus and abroad, experiential learning, and internships. For example, 33 students were sent to work on the 2012 political campaigns, and 16 students went to spend a residential semester at the UN headquarters in New York. This is a college that will work hard to ensure that you have an international experience at some point in your undergraduate degree, and help you pay for it if finances are preventing you from participating.