Occidental College was once affiliated with the Presbyterian church, was once considering becoming and all men’s school, has been featured in several movies (including a Star Trek film and a Sneakers with Robert Redford), and has taught the likes of Ben Affleck and a member of the Coppola family. Located in the Los Angeles area of California since 1887, the college has a unique and highly awarded history of teaching a strong liberal arts education with a community service and research tone in a part of the country that is sometimes overwhelmed by glitz and fame.
For over 120 years, Occidental (or Oxy) has been taking a very diverse cross-section of America (2100 students crossing all ethnic boundaries from around the USA and 26 foreign countries) and providing them an education of recognized quality. Currently offering majors in 33 areas of study, Oxy offers Bachelor degrees in fields from the geographically expected (Film/Media Studies) to the traditional (Biology), with an overall equal distribution between the arts and sciences. Though there are no distance learning opportunities offered currently, there are numerous learning opportunities offered due not only to the school’s L.A. based location, but through their exchange programs and joint degree programs with other California schools.
L.A. provides fertile ground for internships (from Warner Bros to LA Dodgers) and has provided numerous opportunities for student/faculty research projects (with fellowships and credit given for work and publications for many in respected journals). There’s also a Summer Research program allowing students a chance to pursue academic/creative work anywhere in the world through the school. Their international and study abroad programs take about a third of juniors every year, giving them the chance to study anywhere from New York (the school offers a very unique United Nations exchange/study program) to Africa.
Joint degree programs are also offered in conjunction with other colleges around the country, perhaps owing to the fact that most Oxy grads go on to their PhD and the school has had 10 Rhodes Scholars (and 10 Trumans, another 51 Fulbrights). Cooperative efforts withColumbia University (allowing the completion of a Bachelor for Oxy and a Law degree in Legal Education in six years) and Keck Graduate Institute (for biotechnology enthusiasts) allow for a roadmap to graduate degrees to be mapped before completion of undergrad work. Also, students are afforded more opportunity for education by allowing free classes (for credit) to be taken at nearby Caltech as well as participating in a dual Bachelor program (with either Caltech or Columbia) that achieves a BA from Oxy and an Engineering BS in five years.
Community based learning projects are always encouraged (it has been selected as a Community Engagement Institution), looking for students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom while “getting their hands dirty”. There’s even an Urban/Environmental Policy Institute that has students working to solve local L.A. problems, from air pollution to alternative cleaners for schools.
Highly selective (about 42% of the nearly 6000 yearly applications are accepted), highly decorated (US News & World Report has ranked it in the top nationally in liberal arts education), and highly respected in the community (both the entertainment one and the local one) and on the academic level, Occidental College has spent over a century turning out intelligent, service oriented graduates looking to change the world. Need proof? Ask the guy in the White House, as Mr. Obama is an alumni.