PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY (visited January 17, 2014)
I’ve never been to a campus before with deer grazing on the lawns leading into campus! Pepperdine is a beautiful campus with a stunning view of the Pacific coast in Malibu. It is built on a hill, so there’s a lot of climbing involved, but the school took care with the architecture to make the best use of their buildings and to highlight the beauty of the area. Windows and balconies overlook the water. Obviously, the climate there is wonderful, and students spend a lot of time outside so it was easy to see students interacting with each other. People seemed happy and engaged, greeting each other as they walked around campus.
Our tour guide, Joan, was a freshman business and communications major from New Jersey. Although she came a long way from home, she said she felt comfortable immediately. The week long orientation went a long way in helping. She said one of her favorite parts was the My Tie Dance. The boys’ ties are put into a box and the girls pick one out; the owner becomes their date for the night. She’s also impressed with the President’s level of involvement with the student body; he walks around campus and talks to people regularly. He hosts parties and makes attempts to get to know people around campus. (As a side note, he’s also in a band called Mid-Life Crisis).
Seaver College is the undergraduate unit of the university; there are four graduate schools in Law, Education, Business, and Public Policy. There are about 3,500 undergraduates and about that number again of graduate students.
Only about 60% of students live on campus. Freshmen dorms have suites comprised of 8-10 people with two showers and a main room. Triples are cheaper and have an ocean view as a trade-off for having 3 people in the room. All dorms are single-sex. Coed hours are 10am to 1am in the rooms, 7am to 2am in the main area. It’s also a dry campus, but they do have the HAWC which is a 24/7 hangout. Both the single-sex dorms and the lack of alcohol reflect the religious identity (Church of Christ affiliation) of the campus. Their Gen Ed requirements include 3 semesters of religion classes (interestingly, one of the classes is on the history and religions of Israel; as someone who works at a Hebrew academy, that caught my attention, and I would be interested to see a syllabus for the class!). Students must also complete 14 credits of Convocation each term. There are over 100 opportunities each semester that they can attend. Each one is meant to help students dig into their faith by presenting speakers or other presentations. This is considered a class, and if they attend 14 events, they earn an A.
Student life does not all revolve around religion. There are a lot of special activities throughout the year (including one day when they actually bring in truckloads of snow and dump it in the parking lot so students can play with it!). 30% of students are involved in Greek Life; they pledge the 3rd or 4th week of school. There are 8 men’s sports (including Water Polo and Volleyball!) and 9 women’s sports (including both Indoor and Sand Volleyball). Study abroad is a big deal, and their study abroad is highly ranked. They have 7 “Pepperdine Abroad” programs lead by Pepperdine professors. Students can complete the same gen eds there as they would on campus, and the tuition/R&B is the same; students do pay for flights and a one-week field trip
Students can choose form 40 majors (Nutritional Science, Integrated Marketing Communication, Creative Writing, and Media Production are the most unusual). They offer a 3/2 engineering program in which they spend 3 years at Pepperdine earning a BA in Natural Sciences and then transfer to Southern California School of Engineering or Wash U in St. Louis for 2 years. Sciences are fairly strong at Pepperdine, and they even have a cadaver lab. They boast an 82-85% acceptance rate into “medical schools of the student’s choice.” They also offer several languages (our tour guide pointed out the Language Building which was ways up the hill: “The language majors get quite the workout!”)