We interviewed Admissions Director Angel Perez to get the inside scoop on applying to Pitzer College, a Claremont College known for community service and study abroad.
Noodle: What's one great insider tip for students hoping to get into Pitzer College?
Angel Perez: Pitzer is an interesting place--did you know that testing here is optional? We don't have the traditional method of looking at applications. We focus on making sure kids understand the mission and core values of the college. We have four core values and we look for students who are not only academically successful, but who bring those core values to life. In fact, less than half our applicant pool submits test scores.
N: One thing that would surprise our readers about students at Pitzer is
AP: Students are involved in every single part of the governance structure of the school from the hiring committees to the board to the finance committee (In fact 8 students were on the committee when I was being hired!) They make a real impact from faculty hiring and curriculum to finance decisions.
N: What should I be sure to see or do on a campus visit to Pitzer?
AP: The Grove House is the center of campus life. It's an old 1800s structure that was brought to the campus from Pomona. It's got an organic cafe, open-mike night, a place for outdoor classes - it's a little slice of heaven. They make cookies that are so good, my friends who are guidance counselors ask me to send them cookies from the Grove House. I'd also recommend a visit to the on-campus garden that's maintained by our students--there are chickens running around and it's a big part of our sustainability values.
N: What is one thing students should NOT do when applying to your school?
AP: Well, watch out for the cut & paste--I recently got a letter from a student telling me why she wanted to get off the waitlist for Skidmore. But more importantly, when you're writing your essay, if you're writing about someone else, make sure to bring it back to you. It's a big mistake that students make to tell us why their grandmother had an impact on them, then write all about their grandmothers, but never get back to how she impacted them.
N: I've just been waitlisted at Pitzer. Any advice?
AP: Number 1: Send that card back! If we don't receive that postcard, we assume you're not interested. I get calls all the time in May asking about the status and I tell them I assumed you weren't interested.
Also, tell us if there's anything new. You filled out an application in December, so let us know if there's anything that can update your file, or an extra recommendation. (Though don't inundate the staff.) Also, look at the website and find out who's in charge of admissions in your territory, and communicate directly with him or her.