Faith Based Schools – Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Mount St. Mary's
For blog organization I'm putting these three together, however, one is not like the other two. LMU and Pepperdine are full service universities which spring from strong religious traditions. Mount St. Mary combines the classic small Catholic women's college with a nursing school. LMU and Pepperdine are relatively competitive to get into. Mount St. Mary's is not.
LMU – This is an oversimplification, but LMU is like Santa Clara University for students who want to attend a Jesuit college and eventually work in Hollywood rather than Silicon Valley. 23% of the students major in business, 15% in visual and performing arts and 11% major in communications. For those who might want to return home after four years, there is the Frank R Sever College of Science and Engineering. About 5% of students graduate with engineering degrees each year. LMU is a Jesuit University that prides itself in welcoming all faiths and non-believers. The Jesuit order of priest is known for is involvement in social justice around the world. One Massachusetts Jesuit was a congressman until the Pope ordered him to stop. There is a Hillel Center for Jewish students and a LGBT network for staff and students. The president, David Burcham, is a Christian but he is not a Catholic. Professor Amir Hussain is a Sunni Muslim, and a leading Islamic scholar. Students have to take courses in Theological Inquiry, Faith and Reason, and Ethics and Justice I asked the head of admissions if LMU was Catholic enough for some families, "We are Catholic enough for most people, for a small minority we are not Catholic enough." To attend LMU you'll need to keep your grades up, and set aside extra time for their thoughtful supplemental essays. LMU meets the needs of many different types of students. It is for those who want to 1.) study in LA; 2.) work in the entertainment industry; 3.) attend a top Jesuit Catholic or faith based college; 4.) attend a "medium" sized school; or 5.) all of the above!
Pepperdine – Pepperdine's and LMU's freshmen student GPA and test scores are almost identical. Like LMU, at Pepperdine business is the top major at 29% and communications is second at 18%. LMU is on a bluff overlooking LA to the ocean. Pepperdine is on a bluff overlooking the Malibu beach. They both are run by practicing Christians. Graduates leave well educated. The similarities end there. Pepperdine is a Christian faith based college, where Christian teachings drive the university's administration, the faculty and campus vibe. Students are comfortable talking about how their faith forms their views in class discussions. There are non-Christian students on campus who have their own faith based beliefs. For instance our tour guide had a Muslim roommate. Professors are expected to have a devotion to Christian moral and ethical values based upon a personal spiritual commitment. There are no LGBT organizations on campus. Each semester, all undergraduates are required to attend 14 programs in the Convocation Series. Student are required to take a three class sequence on the Old Testament, New Testament and Contemporary Christianity. I've never been to BYU, but I got the impression that the culture was similar to BYU except that Pepperdine has caffeinated drinks on campus! Pepperdine grads are sought after graduation and the career center has an impressive list of companies who have hired recent Pepperdine grads. You'll want to go to Pepperdine if you want to live your strong religious beliefs, have good grades, and want to take your brains and your faith into the real world in four years. Extra points if are thinking about taking up surfing on one of the most famous beaches in the world!
Mount St. Mary's College – This small women's college in Los Angeles is primarily for Los Angeles students. Less than 50% of the students live on campus freshman year. The school accepts 91% of its applicants. The big draw is the nursing school which has gone slightly coed to admit about 50 men. For the right student in Los Angeles, Mount St. Mary's can meet their needs, though it is not clear why a woman from the Bay Area would come here. Although coed, Both Dominican University and Notre Dame de Namur can provide a small college Catholic experience and Dominican has a nursing school.
The Final Three: Otis, CSU Fullerton, Santa Monica
We wrap up our tour at an art school, a CSU and a community college.
Otis College of Art and Design – One theme of this series has been "graduate in LA, work in LA." Otis has been supplying working artists to Hollywood, ad agencies and art museums since 1918. The college is housed in an old IBM building which is in keeping of the "working artist" theme of the school. Let's be honest, this is way outside my experience with colleges. High school art students will know the difference between the Academy of Arts University and Otis. However, I've worked with a fair number of graphic artists in my professional life and I'd venture to say "client" is not a dirty word at Otis. They may also spend time with their fine art in their studios, but they know the value of being able to tell family and friends, that despite their warnings, it is possible to earn a living as an artist! If you're an aspiring art student it's worth a trip to Otis, which is near the airport! When you do, don't be put off by the functional 60's architecture of the building and pay attention to the art on the walls inside.
Santa Monica City College –Arnold Schwarzenegger took classes here. So did Monica Lewinsky. Santa Monica sends more kids to UCLA than any other community college. So as crazy as it sounds, if you have your heart set on transferring to UCLA after two years, you might want to rent an apartment nearby campus and take classes. The admissions department will provide a little help steering you in the right direction to find an apartment.
Direct Advice from Santa Monica counselor : You should apply to a community college, just in case things change in your life. Also, if you are a Senior, apply now. That's right, a year ahead of time because class priority is based on when you signed up! Research the community colleges. In 2012, DeAnza has 22,000 students and sent 727 students to UC's while Foothill has 15,000 students and sent 414.
CSU Fullerton – Fullerton is well known to college baseball fans for winning the College World Series on 2004. While Fullerton is primarily a commuter campus is does have limited housing for its out of state baseball stars and others who want the campus experience. Even if you are not going to Fullerton, here is some quick advice on applying to the CSU's. When filling out the application, pay careful attention to entering your classes and computing your GPA. It is not straight forward, especially if you have an unusual transcript such as getting a D in a class at your high school, then re-taking it somewhere else. The admissions head at Fullerton told us that almost nobody computes their GPA correctly! Make sure you read the directions closely and if you have any questions, stop in and discuss them with your high school counselor.
That wraps up the tour of 19 Southern California Colleges. It was great fun and I'm looking forward to next year's summer trip. I haven't pick a state to visit. Any suggestions?