Scripps' First Year Perspective -- Thus Far

By Lucy Altman-Newell '17Staff Writer

By the time my family’s overstuffed car began its long, seven-odd-hour crawl from my hometown in Northern California to sunny, sweltering Claremont, I had done so much research on and spent so much time thinking about Scripps that I’d passed the point of feeling like I had a good idea of what my life would be like for the next four years and found myself again in complete uncertainty as to what the hell was about to happen. As an only child with friends my age or younger, I had very few people to talk with about college life. But honestly? It wouldn’t have mattered. I hadn’t— and I don’t think I could have—imagined what it’s really like to be at Scripps. And I mean that in all the best ways.

I was told that Scripps was a place where extremely smart, motivated, accomplished, accepting, and driven women come to make a difference. (While I thought that sounded cool, I was unwilling to see it as much more than fancy admissions rhetoric. I now recognize the truth in it.) What I was not told is that this is a place full of people who, in my admittedly limited experience as a new Scripps student, seem to go out of their way to avoid bragging. It’s interesting to me that people here undermine themselves outside of the classroom, taking a “no big deal” or “I’m really not that great” attitude, yet introduce brilliant points in Core or in random conversations. I think that this lack of pretentiousness and competitiveness (except, of course, in cases of competing with oneself) has made it much easier to settle in and feel very much at home here. Whether it’s having a worldview-altering discussion in Core or watching “Shakespeare in Love” while dramatically shouting out lines in exaggerated English accents, hanging out with Scrippsies is the best.

One thing that I had no idea about was just how accepting Scripps is. The whole idea of personal gender pronouns was completely foreign to me, yet how I address someone is now almost always a conscious choice—I even caught myself freezing up over calling my boyfriend a guy!— although obviously, he is. The huge array of PGPs has definitely made me rethink cultural norms in terms of gender and labelling. And that is critical.

Another surprise: the academics! To be honest, I was a bit cocky coming in, a bit too sure of myself. That naïve confidence has now been completely shaken up, but I’m grateful for that; it’s forced me to grow. Scripps pushes students, but in fun and interesting ways, which keeps things- at least so far- from getting too overwhelming (most of the time). Also, the ideas are just so interesting. It’s refreshing to get away from the high school mentality of memorizing facts, and to come to a place where the WHY is what matters- where application for positive change and growth is important. I never really believed that classes would completely shake up and rebuild my world view, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Pretty impressive.

Also, can we just talk about how much goes on here, and how much trust is put into the students? At my old high school, there is absolutely no way that students would be allowed to don bikinis and speedos and go tackle a mountain (I refer here to the annual Speedo Hike, through On the Loose, the 5C outdoor club). Never would students be given complete control of their own clubs and organizations, and rarely were we ever spoken to as adults. The change is dramatic, and I love it!

Long story short, the beginning of my first year experience at Scripps has been awesome. I love it here. The people are profound yet personable. The academics are arduous yet awesome. Exciting extracurriculars can be found everywhere in almost any area. Sure, there have definitely been unpleasantries- but that’s to be expected; you can’t go to a world-class school without expecting to have the occasional breakdown or realization that sleep just isn’t gonna happen as much as you’d like it to. And to be honest, even these things are much better than they were in high school— both in my experience, and in the experiences of many other Scripps first-years who I’ve talked to. Of course, the lack of air conditioning and the numerous ant invasions were absolutely atrocious. It sucked. So much. But hey, the ants are now gone, and cooler weather is here! Life at Scripps College is much more than I could ever have realized without experiencing it, and coming here has, so far, been one of the best choices— if not the best choice— of my life. We’re a pretty awesome group, people. Yay, Scripps!