Articles Written By: Robert Kohen

Loyola Marymount University

I recently visited Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where I toured the campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· Class sizes are small and faculty very supportive. LMU provides help for students who need extra support transitioning to college-level academic expectations.

· LMU admits by major. Admit rates for popular majors are lower than the college’s overall admit rate. Students can minor in any field at the university, except for film and television.

· LMU is a Jesuit university. Although the school does not have a strongly religious flavor, its students are very focused on the Jesuit traditions of service and social justice. There is a two-course theology requirement, but it can be fulfilled through a wide range of courses speaking to many different interests.

· LMU’s School of Film and Television is considered one of the top 10 in the nation.

· Housing is guaranteed for the first two years. Upperclassmen who want on-campus housing are usually able to secure it. Those who choose to live off-campus typically live no more than 10 minutes from campus.

· LMU has a joint 4+1 MBA program with Notre Dame.

· Double/triple majors and minors are popular since most majors only take one year to complete and most minors one semester.

· Students receive academic credit for internships, with many working in tech in the adjacent “Silicon Beach” neighborhood of Playa Vista.

Sacred Heart Chapel overlooks the center of campus at LMU.

California Institute of Technology

I recently visited The California Institute of Technology in the Pasadena area of Los Angeles, where I toured the campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· Caltech provides an exceedingly rigorous STEM education for the most academically and intellectually inclined. 95% of students complete research as undergrads, and many go on to earn Ph.D.s. The fast-paced quarter system adds to curriculum’s intensity, and students take 4-5 classes (sometimes more) each quarter.

· With just under 1,000 undergrads, Caltech has a small, liberal arts college feel, despite being a leading STEM research university with Nobel Prize-winning faculty. Access to faculty and research opportunities abound.

· There is a more even balance between the sexes than in prior years: 55% of students are male, 45% female.

· Caltech students “surf” at various locations during the summer – that is, they propose and execute their own research projects with funding through the Summer Program Research Fellowship.

· The curriculum focuses on collaboration: students spend each week working on challenging problem sets that were designed to be tackled be a team.

· Students typically take one humanities or social science course each term to satisfy gen ed requirements.

· Students coming to Caltech without the requisite math – say with only AP Calc AB or not having taken AP Calc BC since 10th grade – are invited to a remedial math summer program before starting freshman year.

· Most students live on campus all four years. A unique feature of Caltech is its eight residential “houses,” which serve as social and academic hubs for students throughout their four years.

· Students declare a major at the end of their first year. There are no caps on majors.

· Many students are involved in the nearby Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which Caltech operates jointly with NASA.

The Beckman Auditorium, with its signature p orbitals.

Pepperdine University

I recently visited Pepperdine University in the Malibu area of Los Angeles, where I toured the campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· Pepperdine is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and has a pronounced Christian focus: students must attend chapel multiple times each semester, complete three religion courses (Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Culture) and abstain from overnight dorm visits. The campus is dry, and Bible study is a popular social activity. 70% of students are Christian. Mental and emotional support is provided in part by a spiritual life advisor.

· Engagement with a church community in high school is a plus, so highlight this on your application if applicable. If a student is a member of the Churches of Christ, their minister can submit a letter of recommendation and they may be eligible for a special scholarship.

· The average class size is 19 and there are no TAs. 35% of faculty live on campus, often inviting students into their homes for Bible study. Students participate in research as early as freshman year.

· Business is the most popular and well-known program. Students can complete a joint 5-year BA-MBA, all at Pepperdine.

· The communications major is also popular, and there is a student broadcasting network on campus.

· On-campus housing is required the first two years and optional (but not difficult to secure) the final two years.

Pepperdine’s Malibu location – set in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean – counts among its greatest assets.

University of Southern California

I recently visited The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where I toured the campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· USC is the second-largest private undergraduate college in the US, after NYU. Over 21,000 students study on its large, self-contained campus in South Central LA. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from one end of campus to the other.

· Once known as a campus for the super wealthy, the university has diversified in recent years.

· USC’s film school, funded by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, is perhaps the most famous school on the campus. Six of the university colleges focus on visual and performing arts.

· The strong USC marching band competes internationally and any student can audition to join.

· 85% of undergrads live on campus or within walking distance – USC is not a commuter school. On-campus is guaranteed the first two years, but difficult to secure thereafter.

· Two new programs include AI in Business (a joint business-engineering program) and a new legal studies major offered by the law school.

· USC has satellite campuses on the Catalina Island (for marine biology), DC (where students can spend a semester) and Sacramento.

· The business school is known for its global focus.

· Admitted students can apply to the “thematic option” honors program, which boasts smaller-than-usual general education courses of 30 students or less.

A Trojan – the USC mascot – stands guard over the center of campus.