Claremont McKenna on the Today Show

Claremont McKenna College was highlighted on the Today Show this morning because Newsweek named it one of America’s Hottest 25 Schools, specifically "Hottest Place to Be During an Election Year". 2 in 5 students major in Government. It has the largest and wisest government department of any liberal arts college in the country.

And while it sometimes attracts the label as a conservative school (thanks to the Claremont Institute or the Claremont Review of Books), it in fact is "conservative" because it’s balanced: the faculty and student body are 50/50 liberal/conservative. Compared to its peers in American higher ed, this statistic is astounding. Last year, both conservative supreme court justice Justice Antonin Scalia and President Bill Clinton spoke on campus.

If CMC were on its own — like Middlebury, Williams, Macalester, Swarthmore, Kenyon, or any other liberal arts college that operates independently — such a politically intense atmosphere might be overwhelming. Fortunately, it is nestled within the Claremont Consortia of colleges (Pomona, Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, Scripps, CGU), offering students access to all the curricula, faculty, and students of the sister colleges. Unlike the Seven Sisters colleges back east, though, these colleges are literally across the street from one another.

If you’re a high school student (or parent) thinking about college admissions, and you’re interested in liberal arts education in a Southern California climate that draws students who are at once talented and driven but also laid back in a California kind of way, check out the Claremont Colleges. With CMC’s admission rate at 16%, it is highly selective but well worth an application.

Naturally, I’ll have more to report once I’m down there in less than three weeks!

Claremont Fifth Best Place to Live

Claremont, CA, the "city of trees and PhD’s," was named the fifth best place to live in America among 100 towns under 50,000 in population.

It is an ideal location to pursue higher education. I’m excited.

Small College, Big Speakers

The spring ’07 speaking lineup at Claremont has already included Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. In a month, Bill Clinton will be visiting.

Side benefit of a gap year: it makes you more ready / excited to go to college.

L.A. Diversity May Decrease Trust, But Optimism Reigns

Where’s the most ethnically diverse place in the world? New York maybe? London? Nope. It’s Los Angeles. The Financial Times reported on acclaimed political scientist Robert "Bowling Alone" Putnam’s new report on the corrosive effects of diversity on communities:

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”.

Trust among neighbors may be low in L.A., but optimism still seems to be at a California high, according to this amusing NYT piece:

”What I hate about L.A. is that you have to seem young, happy and successful at all times,” said a Showtime producer I know who dared not speak for attribution for fear of alienating colleagues. ”In New York you can whine and complain, and everybody lets it roll off because they accept ups and downs. In L.A. if you’re negative, you get treated as if you have some kind of emotional cancer and people are scared to be near you.”

Today’s NYT travel section also notes L.A.’s diversity — and one of its many pluses:

There are probably more Chinese in Los Angeles than in any metropolitan area outside of China. The same very likely could be said of Mexicans, Iranians, Koreans, Japanese and more, which is what makes Los Angeles the best international eating city in the world.

To wrap up our L.A. report, the Los Angeles Times today puts its stamp of approval on Claremont, CA, where I’ll be living for a few years starting in the fall:

You’re as likely to hear young lovers discussing epistemic theories of truth as you are to see them smooching.

It’s referring, of course, to the Claremont Consortium, or what the Fiske guide once called "The most extraordinary assemblage of educational excellence in the nation." 

CMC Students Start "Fantasy Congress"

For those who have no idea how many yards Peyton Manning threw for on Sunday but can cite every legislative amendment proposed by Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, the game could be an alternative to the prevailing fantasy sports culture.

This has Claremont written all over it. Congrats to the four Claremont McKenna College students featured in yesterday’s New York Times on their clever new invention "Fantasy Congress".