Attending Claremont McKenna College as a Student of Color
Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Authored By: Emma Calkins
CMC Student Interviewee: Aishat Jimoh
Major: International Relations with a regional focus on Africa
What led to your decision to attend college in California?
When I was in high school I applied for CMC’s fly-in program where I got a chance to visit the college in person. I received a taste of Southern California and automatically fell in love. The weather was nice, the students were super sweet and welcoming, and CMC was a liberal arts school, which was non-negotiable in my college search. I also wanted to challenge myself to see who I was outside of my comfort zone and I could not think of a better way to complete this than to fly across the country. One of the most integral parts of my decision to attend school in California was the extremely generous financial aid. Considering all of these factors I could not see myself anywhere else.
One unique thing about CMC is their unofficial motto: “Learning for the Sake of Doing”. They offer so many opportunities for students to get involved in experiences that help students with their future plans. For example, the 11 Research Institutes and the Sponsored Internships and Experiences (SIE) are two resources on campus that students can use to their advantage. I was able to gain research experience in my major (International Relations) through Keck International/Strategic Studies and SIE which allows me to explore additional career interests. Last summer, I volunteered for a non-profit organization called lowernine.org that rebuilds homes in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans, LA. With this organization, I was able to explore the non-profit field. The experience was absolutely life changing.
Can you describe what kind of support/communities exist for minority students at Claremont Mckenna College?
We have affinity groups on campus for different identities that students can join. Some of the affinity groups have mentorship programs, while others host weekly meetings and events. To list a few, we have Black Student Association (BSA) for Black students, Mi Gente for Latinx students, 1Gen for first generation students, and many more. As a member of BSA, I always felt like the other members who participated really had my back and I had a small community who shared a similar experience being Black at a PWI. I could go to them for professional help like academic advice and more personal help like advice on maintaining friendships.
One way a student can find their niche at CMC is to explore different groups on campus (clubs and organizations) and see which one they feel most at home. Also, meeting with the Dean of Students is honestly a great resource on campus! Please do not hesitate to walk into the Heggblade Center to discuss any topic. This can be about your academics, classes, or struggles of feeling homesick. They want to speak to you, get to know you, and help you in the best way they can.
What advice do you have for Juniors and Seniors in high school who want to attend Claremont McKenna College and…
. . . are from the East Coast, and worried about being far from home?
Being far away from home might be difficult in the first few months of college but there are a lot of people at school who are typically also far away from home. You are not alone in that experience, I would recommend you share with your peers struggles with being homesick.
… are worried about the cost of attending a private university?
Connect with the financial aid office, typically a lot of private universities similar to CMC meet the full need of all of their students. So when students come from low income households, more than likely not the school will give a very generous financial aid package. If you feel your financial aid is not enough, I would suggest looking and applying for local scholarships. I encourage applying to ones with awards of money from $1000-$5000 because those funds add up.
… want their application to stand out?
Do research on the school. Try to incorporate the core values of the schools to who you are. Tell them how the work you have done in high school can benefit you as a student attending their college. Highlight some niche things about the college that shows that you really did your research. Show who you are! Finally, remember that while it is beneficial for you to attend the school, it is just as beneficial for the school to have you as a student. You are a prize as well.
What are some of Claremont McKenna’s most notable programs? (Programs of study, extracurriculars, etc.).
Sponsored Internships and Experiences (SIE), The Atheneum, and the Research Institutes.
What advice would you offer a student who is considering attending Claremont McKenna (or just college on the West Coast in general?), but is on the fence about it?