Freshman Perspective: the Expectation vs Reality of Scripps Life

By Stephanie Steinbrecher ‘16 Staff Writer

After a long year of applications and suspenseful waiting periods, the freshly minted class of 2016 is firmly established as the youngest members of the Scripps community.

Ariana Turner ‘16 evaluates the accuracy of the admission office publication

The wealth of information provided by the Scripps website, admissions office, campus tours, current students, information sessions, and regional welcome receptions paint a picture of what life could be as a Scripps student. But are the notions freshmen have developed as a result of these sources of information accurate? “I decided on Scripps after I experienced the Discover Scripps program. No other campus compared, in terms of how welcoming the community was,” said first-year Kay James. Like many prospective students, James’ time at Scripps greatly influenced her and put Scripps at the top of her list. Since becoming a student, only one thing has changed her incredibly positive outlook about living at Scripps.

“When I was on campus I saw a few large dorm rooms. They gave me high expectations,” James recalled. “Unfortunately mine is really small and has a bunk bed. I didn’t even know there were such small rooms at Scripps. Luckily I like my roommate and she is good with design!”

Housing at Scripps surprised many first-years. “After seeing, and hearing, about the wonderful housing, the idea of being in a triple was a little disappointing,” said first-year Ariana Turner. “I was surprised that I was placed in a triple just because a girl and I requested each other as roommates… but I ended up becoming good friends with two girls rather than just the one so it worked out.”

Other first-years noticed discrepancies between their preconceptions and reality. First-year Aidan Harley recalls how what she heard about “socioeconomic and cultural diversity” is not actually reflected on campus.  “I really feel that there are parts of the Scripps community that were played down by my tour guides and the admissions office. My roommates and I come from different places… yet we have had almost identical cultural experiences,” she said.

The Scripps website declares that the student body is composed of  “28 percent students of color” and boasts of the resources open to students of all ethnicities, cultures, religious, and sexual orientations and identities, but 28 percent is certainly not a majority and the lack of immediate diversity is detectable among first-years.

Freshmen studying

Said Harley, “I hoped that coming to college I could perhaps meet women who could open my eyes to other experiences and give me some perspective. I’m sure I still can, but it seems they are simply a lot harder to find than the admissions brochures assured me they would be.” Similarly, first-year Abigail Rodriguez was initially surprised by a student life that was very different from what she gathered it would be from information provided by Scripps.

“The party scene is definitely not what I thought it would be given that Claremont is such a small quiet town,” Rodriguez said. “I felt unfortunately deceived after spending my first week here… almost everyone I know [goes] party-hopping and [is] dressed for the LA fashion scene,” she said. “I didn’t see any of that in the ‘small women’s liberal arts college’ brochures or on the website… my expectations may have been a little much, but the reality is just nowhere near what I expected.”

While some first-years may be surprised by residential and social life, many feel that challenging academics have “by far exceeded expectations,” says Harley. After all, the learning experience is the primary reason many students choose Scripps. Rodriguez was enthused about the Art Conservation program, while James articulated her love for the supportive faculty and resources like the CP&R office. First-year Bethany Ho said she decided on Scripps because of the “small student to faculty ratio and the opportunity to minor in music in addition to having a science major.” Every Tuesday when first-years gather in Garrison Theater for Core I lecture, we are reminded of the main reason we are all here, and that is never disappointing.

The transition to college life is rarely an easy situation. However, many upperclassmen will attest to the fact that everyone gets in the rhythm of college (and Scripps) life in time. The class of 2016 has been on campus for less than a month, and it will not take long for students to find their respective niches. When asked what she would tell her high school senior self, James responded, “I would tell her to do her best and not to stress out, because an even better time is coming.” Despite misconceptions and unfulfilled expectations, few would contest the accuracy of this expectation.