Claremont, CA: How beautiful can a campus be? I asked myself this as I drove from Los Angeles to visit Scripps College. As sunlight filtered through the orange trees and a rose garden blooms within a cloister of student-painted murals, I think Scripps could very well be for me. All the fruit trees are available for students to harvest, and the meticulously tended rose garden yields fresh flowers for students to arrange in their dormitories. Every residence hall has its own courtyard and grand piano. The college’s most astonishing feature, however, is the weekly high tea for students, faculty, and staff. It may have already become obvious that Scripps is a women’s college.
Dating is an integral part of most young adults’ lives, thus making the prospect of a women’s college often undesirable. Scripps College handles this in a unique way: it is a member of the Claremont University Consortium, along with the undergraduate coeducational colleges Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer. The purpose of the consortium is to offer the personal attention typically found in a small college, while providing all of the resources of a large university. Accordingly, facilities and services are shared among the colleges. Although Scripps dormitories are exclusively female, the library, campus, and even classes are open to all students from the neighboring colleges. Classes are small and personal, as is the school, which accommodates fewer than one thousand students.
As for recreational activities, all students may participate in the high tea every Wednesday to refresh and relax while engaging in stimulating conversation. This has been a tradition since 1931, and fortunately, the “two cookies only” rule no longer applies. Between Wednesdays, students can visit the Motley, a coffeehouse run by Scripps students. If students tire of Scripps and the neighboring campuses, a ten-minute walk gets them to Claremont Village, which has lots of shops, spas, restaurants, and entertainment venues. And Los Angeles is 35 miles away, and ski slopes just ten miles to the north.
Undeniably Scripps’ most impressive feature is the Core Curriculum program. Students at most colleges are taught isolated subjects without knowledge of their relationship, but the interdisciplinary courses of the Core teach students to think about the impact that subjects have on each other. Instead of learning just facts, students learn how to think critically. Students begin their first semester with “Histories of the Present,” a combined course taught by professors from various fields. The next semester brings a choice of courses that I was particularly excited about, including “Beyond Good and Evil” and “Death.” The first semester of sophomore year includes small seminars. The program also offers independent study.
Scripps College is a women’s college that does not isolate students from men, yet retains the academic vigor of a single-sex campus. As I sit here, writing with a cup of Earl Grey on my desk, I imagine that if Scripps College and I choose each other, then this tea may be the precursor of much more to come. Learn more at scrippscollege.edu.