Friday, December 17, 2010
Sing it with me...
Cecil, the orange-nosed Sagehen had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows. All of the other Sagehens used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Cecil join in any Sagehen Sports. Then one foggy Pitzer Eve, the Admission Dean came to say: "Cecil with your nose so bright, won't you deliver my mail tonight?" Then all the Sagehen loved him as they shouted out with glee, Cecil the orange-nosed Sagehen, you'll go down in Early Decision history!
Danny Irving, Assistant Director of Admission, lends a helping hand to help guide Cecil and the ED letters to the mail room.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Ok, so I don't mean to scare any of you, but just a friendly reminder that applications are DUE: JANUARY 1, 2011.
On a lighter note, I wanted to share with you all a letter that was recently written on behalf of current Pitzer Student, Michael Landsman P'12 :
A little sagehen tells me you've started to fill out your application to Pitzer but have yet to press "submit." I know senior year is busy and the college process is strangely both the most stressful and protracted experience one faces in school. In fact, I finished most of my applications on New Year's Eve! However, on the first day of that winter break I had a small panic attack while watching Juno with a friend, using my iPhone to confirm that I had indeed sent in my Pitzer app.
My freak-out was for good reason because three years later I know applying to Pitzer was one of the better decisions in my life! Pitzer might not be for everyone, but those of us here deeply love this place. You can feel it when picking figs and oranges from our garden with friends after class, when rolling down the mounds from laughter at a midmorning conversation, or grooving to homespun music on the porch of the Grove House.
However, Pitzer is more than fun and games (although we have plenty of bike polo and hoops in our year-round sunshine), it provides one of the most unique, and important, educational programs around. Today's problems and tomorrow's solutions don't divide themselves neatly into disciplinary boundaries so neither do our courses. At Pitzer, "interdisciplinary" means studying genetics with a historian and a neuroscientist, assessing the environment through politics and poetry and discussing race relations through film.
In today's global society one must be able to think across cultures, so Pitzer strives for diversity in all aspects. We get to study African politics with a professor who fled Sudan and learn about gang culture from life-long Los Angeles activists. Through Pitzer study abroad, we can explore Nepali terrestrial radio and intern with a local pundit or complete biology courses at our health clinic in Costa Rica.
Pitzer is a strong community because social responsibility is at our core. Beyond the confines of campus, Pitzer students have long-standing partnerships with local non-profits and constantly develop creative new ways to improve our shared experience. On campus, students usher changes to reduce dining hall waste, design new sustainable residence halls and even hire and promote professors. Here, students take part in governance - so we have a real voice. Of course there are other ways to give back such as working in the bike shop, helping plan spring's Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival or whipping up burritos at the student-run Shakedown Café.
Perhaps the best part of Pitzer is simply the freedom to be who you are. I'm continually fascinated and inspired by the myriad personalities who live and learn here. Pitzer teaches you that to achieve happiness and success, the best formula to follow is your own. If you are still reading this letter, at least some of this description has probably tickled your fancy. Now remember, you can't take advantage of all this great stuff unless you apply, so press "submit" for Cecil's sake!
Class of 2012
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
November 16, 2010
By Angel B. Pérez
From Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/11/16/perez
If K-12 education is waiting for Superman, then higher education in America must long for the Incredible Hulk. In the movie "Waiting for Superman," Davis Guggenheim highlights the problems that plague elementary and secondary education in this country, and illustrates how a system challenged with systemic injustice and bureaucratic red tape is obstructing students from attaining the American dream -- a shot at college.
But what happens when those students who make it arrive at the doorstep of the ivory tower and realize (like Geoffrey Canada, the educator in the movie whose childhood awakening inspired the documentary's title) superheroes don't exist? Higher education leaders paint images of colleges and universities in America that we don't live up to. Like the fictional characters we grow to admire in our infancy, postsecondary education can often disappoint.
Of the students who enter college in America, 43 percent don't graduate, and those who do typically don't complete in four years. Between 1971 and 2009, the gap in bachelor's degree attainment between white and Hispanic students grew from 14 to 25 percentage points. At public four-year colleges, less than half of the recipients of Pell Grants -- our lowest-income students -- graduated with a bachelor's degree. For African-American students, the proportion is even smaller.
We have a for-profit college sector that preys on low-income and first-generation students who are not savvy about the college application and financial aid process. These schools have produced the highest student loan default rate in the country and amongst the lowest graduation rates in the nation.
There are students who attend universities where they have little contact with actual professors because professors are so busy doing research. You can't blame the faculty, since promotion and prestige in academia is based on research and publication outcomes, not teaching and student engagement. Those who lose are our students, who experience education from a factory, instead of a second home where they are nurtured and cultivated.
In the world of elite colleges and universities, institutions compromise their values to compete for top ratings in U.S. News & World Report. They don’t always engage in student’s best interests; rather institutional policies are shaped to ensure climbing a few numbers on a report that earns a magazine millions of dollars and tells students and parents nothing about a college where they will thrive.
Most shocking of all are the unethical practices of college enrollment offices that disguise information in financial aid packages to enroll as many students as they can -- at the lowest price. Since our government does not require colleges and universities to provide certain basic information in a financial aid package, colleges sometimes provide the minimum amount, knowing that naïve students will enroll, even if they really can't afford it. We have a multibillion-dollar student loan industry and the highest rate of default in our history. Some would argue it's the consumer's fault, but colleges and universities that hide total cost of attendance and don't counsel students about the implications of borrowing are just as much to blame.
Higher education is an industry at risk. We focus on opening the doors for students, but we have not done a good job of making sure they persist. We are moving further away from our values, and if the pendulum does not swing drastically in the opposite direction, we will be the focus of the next documentary that shakes a nation and inspires a movement. We should not set our educational agenda around the egos of faculty and administrators, or the hopes of gaining prestige. We should do what's ultimately best for students. If a college education is the dream our young people reach for, it's up to those of us who lead it to create a system that embodies the strengths of the superhero they truly deserve.
Angel B. Pérez is director of admission at Pitzer College and a fellow at the Bowen Institution for Higher Education Policy at Claremont Graduate University.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
What do food; Los Angels, community engagement and Pitzer have in common?
Keep reading and find out…
So I have bee on the road for the past two and a half months recruiting students from all parts of the Southeast, Northwest, and of course beautiful Southern California. This week I wrapped up my local Los Angeles high school visits. I enjoy having the opportunity to visit so many different high schools and meet so many interested and talented students from L.A. Aside from the recruiting, I always go out of my way to make a stop at Homegirl Café for breakfast or lunch while I am in the Los Angeles area.
“Jobs not Jails: Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.”
Community Based Education connects students and faculty with local organizations to create community-based research, service learning and experiential education opportunities that enhance the social, environmental, cultural and economic health of our communities. CEC serves a liaison between the academic institution and community partners, provides internship opportunities, and assistance with funding and programming, as well as providing logistical support to students, faculty, staff, and community partners.
If you would like to learn more about CEC please visit the website:
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
First off, hope you all had a safe and FUN Halloween! The only time of the year (well for the most part) that you can dress up as someone/something else and nobody can say a word about it! Cecil sure had his share of fun this past weekend. He Helped out with candy at the Office of Admission (and by help I mean he consumed most of it).
With Halloween comes another celebrated holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico and the Southwest states, and coincides with the Christian All Souls and All Saints Days. On November 1st & 2nd people remember those who are deceased. November 1st is considered the Dia de los Angelitos—the day to remember children that have died, November 2nd is the traditional Día de los Muertos (day of the dead). Pictures of the deceased are placed on Día de los Muertos altars with their favorite food and drink. Candles to light their way home, and soap and water to freshen-up after their long trip back are also often placed on altars. Trinkets they were fond of, symbols they would understand, and gifts are left to communicate to them that they are always in the hearts of those they left behind, and that they are still part of the family even though they are not physically with us any longer.
Every year the Latina/o Student Union at Pitzer College puts on an amazing benefit dinner and altar presentation, complete with music from the Claremont College Mariachi group, Mariachi Serrano de Claremont, along with traditional danza azteca (Aztec dancing). This year all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit an AB540 art student scholarship provided by Im: Arte, an art collective based in Los Angeles. Students attending the Fall 2010 Diversity Program will have the opportunity to join the Pitzer community for this much anticipated event!
For more information on Im: Arte visit their website at www.imarte.org
Oh and by the way... this week is the first Fall Preview Pitzer Day (along with the Diversity Program) this Friday November 5th and then again next Friday, November 12th. Check back soon for coverage of the preview days by our one and only exclusive reporter; Cecil T. Sagehen as he takes us behind the scenes of the day's activities.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Since I have been on the road traveling the U.S. and meeting tons of interesting and talented students, I always seem to be hit with the same question, “I want to take art courses at Pitzer, but not necessarily major in art.” Is this possible? YES! As a Pitzer student, students are encouraged to take a variety of courses and get a feel for what they like and disregard the courses they may not enjoy as much. Pitzer is a great place for any students looking for a school with a strong appreciation for the arts or even just a creative outlet. As an alumnus and speaking from my own personal experience, art was a way for me to express my creative side whether on a canvas, through the lens of a camera, or in a printmaking studio.
While I was in Seattle this month, I had the chance to check out Capitol Hill, the downtown area, and of course the famous Pike street public market place. Because of my busy travel schedule, I rarely have the opportunity to venture around and take in all of the art worthy sites. But on this trip, I made sure to document some of the local urban/street art. If you are reading this and have had an interview with me, then you know that my office is a reflection of my love for pop art and street art (i.e. Warhol and Banksy). The Seattle area was covered in street art and other artistic forms of expression. Art was just put up on many of the walls and objects throughout the city… kind of like Pitzer’s open art policy. Have you heard of our open art policy? What?!?! NO you have not?!?! Well… allow me to take the time and do so now.
Here at Pitzer, we value student artistic expression and encourage a creative outlet on campus through the forms of murals and much more. Whether it be on a wall or pillar throughout campus. Students, staff, and faculty vote on the coming and going of art on campus. Below is a direct quote from the Campus Aesthetics Committee:
“The Campus Aesthetics Committee is looking for outdoor mural/art proposals. If you have an idea for a piece of art you would like to create, fill out the outdoor art proposal form, attach a drawing of your concept, and submit it to the Aesthetics Committee. The Committee meets regularly during the academic year and you will be invited to present your proposal at one of the meetings.”
Avery-Pitzer Past, Present and Future, restored
This mural, on the outside of Avery Hall since it was painted in 1996, is now part of the interior of the renovated Benson Auditorium in the Marilyn and Eugene Stein Atrium. It was expanded and restored by Paul Botello, the original artist, at the beginning of 2010.
If you would like additional information on the open art policy or the art major guidelines, please refer to the following links:
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sooo... in another adventure of "Cecil vs. Food" this time around I took Cecil with me to share the experience of White Castle. Now many of you may be wondering why I seem so excited about this hamburger spot... well for starters, we don't have such a place on the West Coast. Now I am usually not a fan of red meat and try to stay away from it as much as possible (unless it's Taco Tuesday @The McConnell Dining Hall here at Pitzer), but come on... it's WHITE CASTLE! I had to experience this while I was in Nashville on my South East leg of the travel season.
After sharing my amazing snack with Cecil, we then had the chance to stroll through Hillsboro Village near Vanderbilt University. This was quite an adventure to hang out and check out all the eclectic shops, not to mention a stop by Ben & Jerry's as well (Cecil insisted).
This entire adventure was a way to pass time while waiting for my visit to the University School of Nashville. Thanks to current Pitzer student Michael Landsman, I was greeted by a full-house of interested and eager prospective students (thanks Michael).
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The KING of Rock & Roll is going on tour with Cecil the Sagehen…Ok, so although we would all love it if Elvis would grace our lands again (haha sorry for the cheesy pun), the fact is he left a long lasting legacy in the music city of Memphis, Tennessee. This past week I hit the road again continuing the travel season, but this time my traveling adventures took Cecil and I to the rhythmical music cities of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.
I was especially excited about my trip to Tennessee. Way back when I was a senior at Pitzer (class of 2010), I wrote my Chicano/Latino Studies senior thesis on rockabilly music and culture. My thesis was titled: “From Past to Present: The Evolution of Latino/a Rockabilly Culture.” It was great to visit such a place as Memphis, where Elvis himself hails from, not to mention one of the original godfathers of rockabilly music!
Hey by the way… did you know that for the past three years, Pitzer College has been home of the Rockabilly Music Festival?!?! Students from the Latina/o Student Union and Pitzer College Professor of Politcal Studies & Chicano Studeis, Adrian Pantoja, have created an ever growing much anticipated tradition on campus. Every year, the festival draws over a thousand people from the Claremont Colleges and local communities in the Inland Empire, while featuring dozens of custom cars, a handful of student selected rockabilly bands, and vendors galore. The Rockabilly Festival happens every spring and this coming year students can expect to relive the music, art, and custom cars on Saturday, March 26th, 2011.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
So while the rest of us here on the counseling staff are dealing with tripple digit temperatures (113)... others are out on the East Coast enjoying the color changing leaves and rainy conditions that are typical of fall weather. Santiago just left for his traveling season this past weekend and took Cecil along for the adventure. Allow me to take the time to introduce Santiago. Santiago Ybarra is our new Asscociate Director of Admission and joined the Pitzer Office of Admission just a few months ago (actually a month after I joined the team).
Here is a message from Santiago:
" Cecil says hi from rainy New England. It was a very California 86 degrees when I landed in Hartford at 5:45pm, but two days later it started raining. The "desert chicken" known as Cecil wanted to stick his head in the ground but I managed to convince him to take a picture outside of Charlemont, MA. He's been to 5 schools and two states, and tomorrow he'll be hitting 4 more schools and 2 more states. He thinks the leaves are turning Pitzer Orange just for him!" - Santiago
Monday, September 27, 2010
But WOW! Time sure has passed. I think I have lost sense of what day it is and what time zone I am in at the moment. The travel season is off to a great start (minus my run in with food poisoning!). The admissions profession provides those of us on the road not only the opportunity to meet so many talented and excited prospective Pitzer students like yourselves, but the lifestyle also allows for us to embark on many unique travels all around the U.S. With that said I have made it a point to have my own “Man vs. Food” adventures while on the road and take Cecil along with me to some of the must-eat dining experiences. When I found out I would head Southeast to Atlanta, Georgia… I knew for a fact that I would be making a stop at The Varsity! This place serves over 200,000 hotdogs everyday and has been around for decades. I was excited for this and had to limit myself to only TWO chili cheese slaw dogs! Of course Cecil had to pick up a snazzy hat from the Varsity.
While in Atlanta I had the chance to meet up with another college admission counselor. It’s great to meet up with friends while on the road and explore the city together. We had a chance to take a tour at the World of Coke-a-Cola there in Downtown Atlanta. Can you believe that they have over 60 Coke-a-Cola products from around the world!!! Ok so I will admit that I did have my fair share of tasting of these products, which by the way… I enjoyed the various carbonated beverages from Latin America the most.
So that about wraps things up folks. Be sure to continue following my blog. Check back this week as I will be posting about my musical adventures in the Graceland… that’s right, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee! And as always, be on the lookout for “Where in the World is Cecil the Sagehen”. AND of course… my next “Cecil vs. Food” posting
Cecil hanging out with students from The Galloway School in Atlanta, GA.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Applicants to Pitzer College have many choices to consider in lieu of standardized test scores. Students with a cumulative 3.5 unweighted and academic GPA (without Health and P.E., for example) as well as students in the top ten percent of their high school class (for schools that rank their own students) are completely exempt from submitting testing. Students who do not meet those requirements and still would like to forgo standardized tests may submit AP or IB test scores in English and Math, or simply submit a graded math test from Algebra II or a more advanced course, as well as a graded essay from their most current English course.
Our testing option is designed to give students as much freedom as possible to represent themselves academically. Some people love the tests, some people don't. We get it! We have found that a demonstrated commitment to hard work is a much more consistent indicator of academic success at Pitzer than high test scores.
Monday, March 22, 2010
The Los Angeles Times ran an article this weekend exploring some of the sustainability initiatives around campus. At Pitzer we really strive to live our values. The most gratifying aspect of our culture of sustainability is that it grows right out of our students. Many of the projects discussed in this article and many more that may be seen around campus are direct results of student effort. In an era when everything "green" is hotter than a mid-1990s Macarena, it's nice to be able to say that our attitude toward our environment is truly organic and home-grown!
Last week, Pitzer was featured in an article discussing another hot topic in higher education: gender-neutral housing. This article addresses some of the questions that have been raised as more colleges embrace this progressive attitude toward students' abilities to choose who they live with.
Last but certainly not least, Laura Skandera Trombley, President of Pitzer College, published her most recent scholarly study of Mark Twain this month. Mark Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of his Final Years is now available on Amazon and in bookstores. As an internationally renowned Mark Twain scholar President Trombley balances her roles as both adminstrative leader and scholar with grace and candor. I was lucky enough in my first year at Pitzer to take a course on Victorian America which President Trombley "team-taught" with Stuart McConnell from the History and American Studies field groups. For those of you interested in President Trombley's work I encourage you to explore her personal website.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
If you're a returning reader, welcome back! If this is your first glance at the blog, thanks for your interest in Pitzer! We're approaching the light at the end of a very long and rewarding tunnel. We're only a week or so away from finishing all of your applications! At this time, everyone's application has been read at least once by the Admission Counselor responsible for your territory and is now circulating to a "second reader." We use this system to ensure that the first person who sees your application has the best chance of being familiar with your high school (and may have even met you while we were traveling). Second readers give each application a fresh perspective and help us get a more holistic picture of our applicant pool. It's been an absolute honor and joy to see your essays, recommendation letters, interview notes, MyCollegeI videos, art supplements etc.
So what's next? Next week our whole team will come back together for an intense week-long summit that most schools simply call "committee." We basically lock ourselves in the conference room and discuss what we've read so that we can build a well-rounded class. Committee is fun, emotional, exhausting, and rewarding. It is also the most poignant reminder that we innevitably receive far more excellent applications than we have the possibility of offering admission to. More on committee in the weeks ahead.
I'll leave you with this fun piece of news. Our very own Angel Perez, Director of Admission, has been asked by the Washington Post to write about the college search and admission processes. His first article is a great checklist for any high school student who is pondering the college question.
That's it for now. See you soon!
Friday, January 29, 2010
After all the travel, the silliness, the promotion, the interviews, the tours, the school visits...this is the real "meat and potatoes" of our year. Each one of us takes this season very seriously. Students often articulate the most personal, sensitive, and formative subjects of their lives in college applications. Admission counselors are strangers to you. We are not your family members, your best friends, your mentors. We are not the people one might expect to be privy to the kind of emotional investment that many of you put into your applications. But here we are, reading about your personal triumphs, family tragedies, sports injuries, paradigm shifts, "a-hah!" moments, and bold aspirations. The day we forget how meaningful this exchange is, will be the day we quit our jobs.
I'll be writing more about reading season in the weeks ahead. I hope that the second half of your senior years are materializing in memorable, happy, and productive ways. Have fun!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
We worked and traveled over a long weekend which, for most people is a holiday, because we really value the opportunity to interview as many of our applicants as we can.
Returning to the office today, we saw the parking lots and dining halls full of students who returned from winter break while we were away. The campus has energy and life again, despite the rain. Yes! Rain! Do not adjust your screen, you're reading correctly. It's been pouring, by our standards, for a couple of days now. Rain in the desert is often bewildering, and many of us are joking about the "awful weather." The truth is, however, that the rain is also a critical part of the ecosystem that we inhabit and so it's nice to see the plants and animals soaking up the much anticipated water.
While I was in Chicago for interviews I got to check in with some Pitzer College alumni!
From left: Caitlin Pierce '09 is a first-year corps member of Teach For America in Saint Louis, MO; Yael Berenson '08 lives in Chicago and works for Youth Outreach Services; Ben White '08 also lives in Chicago and works at Easter Seals Therapeutic Day School; I am me; and Kevin Garvey '08 just moved to Chicago after teaching English in South Korea for a year and a half.
What a great opportunity for some Pitzer propaganda! But really, it was fantastic to see the good work that Pitzer alumni are doing in the world. Keep it up!
For the next month or so, the admission staff will be reading the applications that you have all put so much time and energy into. It is a labor of love. Though it may seem strange, I encourage you to take this time to relax as much as you can. Not so much that you start failing classes, but enough so that you can enjoy the second half of your senior year. The process is now truly out of your hands. Read fun books, ride a bike, stay up late with your friends, write songs, eat meals with your family.
...and let us know if you have any questions!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Did you get my Art Supplement!?"
"I took the SAT and/or ACT more than once, do you have all the correct scores!?"
"I heard there was a glitch with the Common App...is my application OK!?"
"My messenger pigeon came back without my college application, does that mean you received it!?" [True story.]
If you have any of these questions, or others like them, then Cecil the Sagehen has something to tell you. Click here!
Also, for those of you who miss the "Beyond Buzzwords" days, check out this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and then my Letter to the Editor in response. Let me know what you think!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We're really proud of all the hard work and energy that went into your applications.
Now it's our turn! For the next couple of weeks we'll just be opening mail, sorting, alphabetizing, and entering information into our computer database. Here's some footage from our "back office" this morning where some of our staff are working alongside some dedicated student workers to sort all of your information!