College Tour of Occidental College by Janice Caine
Last week my colleague Diane and I spent an afternoon visiting Occidental College (Oxy), a small liberal arts college in Pasadena, CA. Oxy offers a diverse and wide variety of learning opportunities. It has been a while since I was last there, and I wanted to reacquaint myself with the campus, the facilities and all that the school has to offer. Despite the hot day with the temperature hovering around ninety degrees, the beautiful campus and enthusiasm of our tour guides made for a great afternoon!
As it turned out, Diane and I were the only ones on the tour and we were privy to not only input from our official tour guide, but the three guides in training as well. How wonderful it was to get four different perspectives on life at Occidental and why each student chose to attend. The students came to Oxy from as far away as Singapore and as nearby as the San Francisco Bay Area. Their interests varied from Physics to Diplomacy and World Affairs and they all shared a wealth of information.
We learned a great deal during our visit to this campus of 2,100 tight-knit students—way too much to include in this short blog post. But what stood out for me on this visit was the very impressive array of opportunities available to students interested in study away programs—and all four students were very knowledgeable about them.
Over two thirds of Oxy students study overseas or follow another path to outside enrichment. One of the programs that the students talked to us about at length was ‘Oxy at the UN.’ While highly competitive, this program is sought out by many students because of the unique opportunity of a full-time internship at a UN-related agency or country mission. It is a semester-based program based in New York City.
Another exciting opportunity, especially for those interested in politics (although not limited to that major), is the ‘Campaign Semester’ program. Our guides explained that students who participate in this 10-week program work on a campaign in a ‘swing’ or ‘battleground’ state or congressional district. Students work to secure a campaign site with the help of a faculty advisor and activities on-site include the regular work of the campaign.
Of course, these are but two of the many programs that Occidental offers. Our guides mentioned that music courses for instance, may be followed up with class members traveling with their professors to places where the music originated. I noted on the website that Oxy will be leading a delegation of students to Japan in December—the Kakehashi Friendship Ties Program—to promote trust and understanding among the people of Japan and the US.
Occidental College seems to offer a study away program to accommodate every student’s interest. If you have a son or daughter for whom study away is a strong component of what they are looking for in a college, have them take a look at Oxy.