Occidental College
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Reviews

Occidental College
4.01 Average Rating

Alex from Stevenson Ranch, CA

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Academic Rigor
I have already learned so much in my short time at Oxy. I am now an International Relations major and Latin American Studies minor, which is a path I never expected but am very excited about.
Will enjoy being here
I absolutely loved the school on my visit
Bang for the buck
The school is very expensive, like any other private school, but I was offered 20,000 in scholarships and a no-interest student loan. In all would have cost me about the same as a UC school and quite a bit more than a Cal State.
Tips for prospective students
Really go into detail for every aspect of a school. Don't immediately write off a school because it doesn't have the name recognition as some of the larger schools. Decide what kind of school is right for you, for me that was a liberal arts school. Work hard throughout high school so you can be competitive and have no regrets.
Great for these types of students
All types of students can succeed at Oxy.
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Kathleen from Chino, CA

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Occidental College is an excellent school that has many opportunities for its students. The student body and faculty is warm, supportive, and friendly. The academics are rigorous and rewarding.
Tips for prospective students
Visit the campus if you can! That is what made my decision. I felt as if I belonged there after only a few hours of being there and talking to the students and faculty. If I had not visited the campus I believe that I might have made a different decision. Also, make sure that Oxy offers majors that will serve your interests!
Academic Rigor
To be considered full time a student needs to take at least 12 units, but most all students take 16 units. Most classes are four units. Students are expected to come to class and participate. There is work to be done outside the class outside as well. And students will become great writers by the time they leave Oxy.
Dorm Life
The rooms are good. First year is awesome because you are housed with only other first years so you make friends fast. It is nice to be able to make a short walk to your friends dorm and hang out there. The RAs are also all incredibly nice and welcoming.
Food and Dining
The food is good, and is actually better than most school's dining. Despite this, the food may get tiresome after a while due to a repetitive menu. Students have the ability to influence the menu though if they write in to the dining staff.
What to do for fun
There is a lot to do for fun! The school is fifteen to twenty minutes outside of downtown LA and places like Dodger stadium. Not to mention the surrounding area of Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Pasadena.
Bang for the buck
Financial Aid is amazing, so what you do end up paying for, it is worth it.
Campus Safety
Campus safety patrols twenty four hours, so you can always feel safe. They can even give you rides back to your dorms if you feel unsafe at night.
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Masha

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
As a private liberal arts establishment, Occidental College's main focus is on undergraduate study and research. With a smaller student body of under 2,000 students, there are many opportunities to become leaders and participants in cultural clubs, abroad programs, independent studies, and other programming. However, diversity does not suffer from these numbers, but rather equally thrives and is nourished, since Occidental College values voices of different perspectives and encourages communication of all types.
Tips for prospective students
Prospective students will thrive on this campus if they are engaged with their community. They should be open to discussion, and free from bias if they truly want the Occidental College experience. If learning leadership skills is a priority, then prospective students will find no better place than this institution.
Academic Rigor
Class sizes of a maximum 16-40 students are strictly enforced to support Occidental College's promise of individualized learning. However, instruction could be a little more challenging and more comprehensive. Many departments struggle with keeping a relevant and logical succession of topics within their class offerings, leaving students overcome with information without a general structure of foundation on which to build.
Dorm Life
Students are required to live on campus for the first three years, with exceptions given to those who display strong academic achievement. The dorms are great places to build community at Occidental College. There are weekly events with snacks and fun activities which are organized with the residents' interests in mind. The funding for dorms are better put to use to cater to residents' needs, since smaller populations in each building mean a more intimate and friendly surrounding.
Food and Dining
Organic and healthy living is a priority at Occidental College. Several vegetarian/vegan options are set aside each day in order to ensure that all students have a diverse menu from which to choose. The servers are always friendly, get to know you as a person, and will even talk to you about your weekend plans. Occidental College is a top institution for food and dining with local and fresh-grown ingredients.
What to do for fun
Students can take rides to local Los Angeles hotspots on the Bengal Bus, or walk to nearby Eagle Rock eateries and venues. On-campus life is also thriving, with movies features weekly and regular dances like Toga. By visiting the Student Activities Center, students can buy discounted tickets for places like Six Flags or the Laemmle Theater. Sports are also encouraged, with a public pool, tennis and basketball courts, as well as other intramural activities.
Bang for the buck
Very expensive as a school, but Occidental College's Financial Aid department is always ready to answer questions and concerns on a personal level. With the recent economic crisis, however, funding has become more scarce and tuition may be rising even more than its current $50,000 annual fee.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Mount Fiji is one of the highest peaks on campus, and just a 20 minute walk from the furthest point. Students can go there to enjoy the beautiful Los Angeles view and breathe fresh air.
Great for these types of students
Self-motivated, curious, and engaging leaders will love Occidental College. To make the most of the experience, and all the opportunities available, students who enter this school must be wiling to take charge in their education.
Clubs and Activities
There are over a hundred different clubs at Occidental College, including cultural, academic, and service types. Each club can choose an advisor, and has several mediums from which to apply for funding. All activities from all backgrounds are supported, and programming is easy with the help of various offices on campus who are enthusiastic about creating diverse options for student involvement.
Greek Life
Although Greek Life at Occidental College is not as thriving as in other public universities, a majority of students choose to enlist in any one of our 10 fraternities and sororities. Members of these societies are not in any way exclusive or derisive, but rather include and invite non-members to join their efforts, whether through volunteer services for the community or off-campus parties.
Campus Safety
Campus Safety is top-notch at Occidental College. Each officer will get to know you by name, and engage in friendly conversation. They escort students to and from parties without judgement or a heavy hand, and are willing to take the time to listen and understand a situation before they take action. They are attentive to the goings-on of the campus, and are aware of each vehicle so that they are better able to recognize strangers or threats. Campus Safety is one of the best resources on campus.
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Chad from Los Angeles, CA

a current student here
1 person found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Great environment and students are all nice.
Study environment is balanced and there aren't as many distractions.
School doesn't get enough credit for how hard it is.
Tips for prospective students
Stay focused and become involved. Get out and keep busy!
Academic Rigor
School here is challenging but if you study enough you'll be fine.
Dorm Life
Meet great people and everyone is friendly.
Food and Dining
Food here is suppose to be one of the best!
What to do for fun
Athletic facilities are always available, and parties are pretty laid back.
Bang for the buck
Faculty members are almost always available and everything is well kept together.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
On a person's birthday they get thrown into the water fountain in front of the campus.
Great for these types of students
Students willing to put in hard work with the books.
Clubs and Activities
Intramural sports, various clubs on campus that travel
Greek Life
Limited but not exclusive.
Campus Safety
Very prompt but often too strict.
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Zoë from Simi Valley, CA

accepted here and planning to attend soon
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Will learn a lot
The professors here really care about their students and offer as much help as they can. Doors are almost always open, and since each student receives an advisor, the relationship between professor and student is on a more equal level than most schools.
Will enjoy being here
The small size of the campus leads to a close-knit community of students who really enjoy learning and each other's company. Shyer students may be forced to open up more to new people, but it is all for the best. Clubs are very active on campus, and hall spreads lead to much bonding.
Bang for the buck
This school is very, very expensive. Applying for outside scholarships will be necessary.
Tips for prospective students
Speak up! Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to someone, or speak your mind in a class. The whole point of the Oxy experience is to improve yourself and further your education.
Great for these types of students
Those interested in liberal arts and humanities. People who enjoy a small, close-knit community should research Oxy.
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Beverly from Canyon Country, CA

a current student here
11 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I am a Biology major and I am entering my last year at Occidental, or Oxy, as many call it. The knowledgeable professors and small class size really make the difference. I have gained hands-on experience in laboratories and undergraduate research, which is possible here because of the size of the student body. There is always someone available if you have a question or just want to get to know a professor more.
Occidental has several programs to help students build and expand their learning. The Summer Research Program lasts 8 weeks and sponsors students with research proposals from all majors. There are weekly seminars and meetings that introduce students to potential careers and global events. Each major usually has department-specific talks that cater to students and possible careers that they may be interested in.
Oxy has academic support, including tutoring in many subjects, student-led study groups, and professional staff that can help you with essay organization and improvement. Be aware of all these resources as a student as they are very beneficial!
Am enjoying being here
Occidental is a wonderful campus because of its diversity and energy that the students, faculty, and staff bring. There are numerous events and clubs on campus so that everyone can find someone who shares an interest with them. Living on campus is fun and a great way to meet new people! Going to school in Los Angeles allows for multiple opportunities and experiences if you like city-life!
For example, you can dance in the yearly Dance Production, audition for Glee Club or the Occidental/Cal Tech Orchestra, or volunteer at a local homeless shelter. You can enjoy cultural events, student performances, dances, and weekly events on the Quad to help brighten up your day! The opportunities on and off campus for Oxy students are endless and really up to you!
Bang for the buck
Being a private college, Occidental is expensive. However, there are many financial aid opportunities available. It is possible to attend Oxy because of institutional scholarships and outside donor scholarships.
However at times the food, rent, books, and other on-campus items are over-priced, which happens at many colleges! Don't forget that you can buy toiletries, school supplies, and books off campus! Living off-campus is less expensive, however, Oxy requires students to live on campus for at least 3 years, which is one downside.
Tips for prospective students
Be proactive! Take multiple classes that interest you to start finding a major you would like to focus on. Join clubs and local organizations to become involved in the community and causes that inspire you. Do research, study abroad, and above all, make connections! There are so many wonderful professors and students at Occidental that you can make long-lasting friendships with.
Keep on track! Don't forget that college will get harder every year. Multiple people told me that too, but I didn't realize what they really meant until coming here. Don't be scared, but just make sure you are on top of your classes. If you ever need assistance there are staff members and professors that can help. Start to think ahead about career options and definitely visit the Career Development Center as they are extremely helpful and kind!
Great for these types of students
Occidental is great for students who are self-motivated and are looking for a smaller campus lifestyle. You have the ability to participate in smaller classes and organizations. Wonderful for students who want to get involved in campus life, whether it is joining a club or working in an office! Great for students who love the city-life: Los Angeles is such as diverse and large city!
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Clarice from Portland, OR

researching this school
5 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The campus was really beautiful, and all of the students seem like family. The school strives to offer many unique academic opportunities such as internships, research abroad and grants for students to do undergraduate research. The students really love the school.
Tips for prospective students
They mentioned they loved diversity in extra-circulars, and I imagine that they also look for good test scores as well as a good GPA & recommendations.
Academic Rigor
They have a 40% acceptance rate, according to the admissions officer- it seems super rigorous. You have your required courses such as basic English math, science classes- but the tour guide mentioned that you could do those a number of different ways (I.e. Math credit could be women in mathematics).
Dorm Life
Dorm rooms seemed super super small, and you have to live on campus for 3 years which is a downside. Our guide said their match up system for roommates was very accurate and she had met most of her friends in her dorm.
Food and Dining
Meal plans, but you have to pay individually for everything you buy (I.e. You buy an apple, you only pay for an apple). They had 3 different dining halls and seemed to really cater to any specific food tastes.
What to do for fun
The surrounding town (in my opinion) didn't look that promising, however- LA is very close and the students said campus life was very exciting, especially in the evenings.
Bang for the buck
Like all private colleges, very expensive. They seemed to say they would give out a lot of financial aid and mentioned the net price calculator on their website was being updated constantly and was very accurate.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Freshmen get dumped in a fountain on their birthday (not a fan of that)- but a lot of TV shows also film there. Arrested Development, Glee, Parenthood- the list goes on.
Great for these types of students
Probably really focused students looking to push themselves academically, athletically and socially.
Clubs and Activities
Sounded like they had a LOT of clubs, and intramural/club sports.
Greek Life
They mentioned about 20% of students participated and that there were no houses on campus for sororities. It seems like a fun experience but isn't really emphasized here.
Campus Safety
On call campus safety service- the tour guide said she felt VERY safe in the surrounding town and on campus.
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Emma from Shoreline, WA

a current student here
5 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Oxy is a close community of students who are academically driven, but enjoy spending time with their friends in the sun. The weather is great, the people are even better, and you'll find classes and professors here that speak to you. You'll be treated well and will be given the tools you need to succeed.
Tips for prospective students
Come visit Oxy before you decide to come here. The campus is gorgeous, and you won't regret getting to see the campus and talking to some of the current students before you come.
Academic Rigor
Classes here are hard. No matter how well you did academically in high school, be prepared to be challenged at Oxy. There are a lot of reading homework assignments, as well as papers to write. Tests are difficult, and there will be weeks when you have large assignments and tests in all of your classes. Be prepared to work hard.
Dorm Life
Singles, doubles, and triples are available on campus. Rooms have one dresser, desk, and bed per person. The height of beds can be adjusted. Some rooms have sinks and bathroom-sized mirrors. There are dorms on lower campus, close to classrooms and the dining halls, or on upper campus which is a little farther away. There are some dorms that are considered to be more of the party dorms than others are.
Food and Dining
Oxy has 4 meals plan ranging A through D, with A being the largest of the meal plans. A is generally used by athletes, while C (the smallest meal plan allowed for freshman) is often not used up all the way by many students. There are two main dining facilities on campus, as well as a student-run coffee shop (very good!) and a food cart in one of the dorms.
What to do for fun
Oxy is located in Eagle Rock - which is right in the middle of Glendale (the Americana, movie theaters, a shopping mall) and Pasadena (Old Town Pasadena shopping district). Oxy is also a quick car ride from downtown LA, and is about half an hour to an hour drive from the popular beaches in the area. (Cars make getting to these places easier, although it is possible to go there via the bus system.)
Bang for the buck
Oxy is expensive, but offers great financial aid for students in need. It really is a fantastic school - it fosters a sense of community that other larger schools can't nurture.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Oftentimes, people are thrown into the main fountain on campus on their birthdays. In addition, many tv series and movies have used Oxy as a setting. If you're on campus over school breaks, you'll often have the opportunity to see the crew sets (and sometimes the actors!) for various tv series. I'm only a freshman, but I've seen Michael Cera on campus filming Arrested Development as well as Cory Monteith filming Glee's version of the Harlem Shake.
Clubs and Activities
There are a large variety of clubs on campus. There are active clubs (Zumba, Yoga, Hiking), science clubs (biology, birdwatching enthusiasts), writing groups, and much, much more. A full list can be found on Oxy's web site. The college is also good about trying to organize activities (on and off-campus) for its students. This includes organized trips to plays and operas in LA, trips to Griffith Park Observatory, as well as trips to other areas in the city. They also organize on-campus movie screenings and other fun activities.
Greek Life
There are some fraternities and sororities on campus, although the college doesn't encourage their presence.
Campus Safety
While the area around Oxy isn't always the safest, Campus Safety officers are constantly patrolling the campus and are willing to drive students around at night within half a mile of campus.
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Stephanie

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Occidental was definitely not my first choice, but I am so glad that it was what I chose in end. The campus is beautiful, everything is about 5-10 minutes away from each other, and there are so many opportunities that are emailed to us weekly!
Tips for prospective students
I honestly did not think I would attend Occidental, I applied the day the application was due. Please apply, even if you aren't completely sure!
Dorm Life
Most dorms do not have A/C. But they are spacious and well maintained
Food and Dining
#8 in the country for college dining!
Bang for the buck
Oxy is great with financial aid support, most people attending are given substantial help financially.
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Janet from Glendale, CA

a past student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
A small liberal arts college in southern California, Oxy is great for anyone looking for a personal college experience. I loved knowing almost everyone on campus, from students to professors to facilities workers. Also the quality of instruction from professors in classrooms of 15 people or less is fabulous.
Tips for prospective students
Apply early decision and talk about what makes you unique in your application. Oxy especially values well-rounded individuals who will take advantage of the liberal arts atmosphere-someone who will study hard, play on a sports team, and remain passionate about a cause.
Academic Rigor
Oxy requires a high GPA to get in and continues to expect high quality work from its students. However, they realize that some students have high potential that hasn't been tapped (especially in students coming from public high schools). They make every effort to help students improve basic writing skills in their first year if they are struggling with college-level writing assignments.
Dorm Life
Oxy invests heavily in making on-campus life lively and enjoyable. Just last week they put on a founder's day carnival with free games, food, and a Ferris wheel. Events like this happen all year!
Food and Dining
This is no all-you-can-eat low quality buffet. The marketplace serves truly delicious food all day long. You can come and go as much as you please, because you only pay for what you want to eat. There's no way to gain the freshman 15 if you don't feel like you have to gorge yourself only once a day to save on meal money like at all you can eat schools! Plus, the marketplace workers are the friendliest people on campus, and they'll work to make you the food you want to eat!
What to do for fun
You're in LA! You can go to the beach, the mountains, and the desert all in one day! Or you can stay in Eagle Rock and shop the boutiques, eat at the Oinkster, and catch a show at the Echoplex. The Eagle Rock/Highland Park area is very up and coming, and there are tons of art galleries and cafes opening nearby. Not to mention all the events happening on campus all the time. A great part of Oxy's campus culture is that you have options: there is more to do than just party.
Bang for the buck
I think Oxy was worth every penny. They made sure to meet my full financial need. I was even given a no-interest loan.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Everyone gets thrown into the fountain every year on their birthday.
Great for these types of students
Intellectual, introspective, hard working, outdoorsy, friendly, open-minded, and involved. Oxy is a great place to come if you don't want to disappear into the crowd.
Clubs and Activities
Lots of clubs and activities all year long. There is always something going on!
Greek Life
Very small presence on campus. There are maybe 6 greek organizations, with less than 5% of students participating. With 2,200 students total, there really isn't a need to join a frat or sorority to make friends. It's easy to get to know people!
Campus Safety
Despite being in a semi-urban setting, campus safety is a constant and reassuring presence. Once, when I was living off campus there was an intruder in our yard. We were very frightened and called campus safety. Not only were they at our house in less than 3 minutes, but they thoroughly checked the property and made frequent drive-bys for several days after.
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