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Harvey Mudd College

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Date: Jun 19 2004
Major: Math (This Major's Salary over time)
Harvey Mudd can be a mixed blessing in one's post college search. Positive, because Mudd's top rate technical preparation is as good as any program you can find in the united states (in some instances, strictly better). And, especially in much of academia, this is commonly known (indeed, it is possible to say that at some institutions Mudd's reputation is perhaps better than it should be). This has certainly been my experience in graduate school, and seems to be that of my peers as well.

Additionally, I find that the preparation I received in my field (mathematics) has prepared me to jump into graduate education, competing with the top levels of my institution, unlike many who came from other undergraduates and are now struggling to fill in holes in their education (this is particularly true of many american students). My understanding is that this is also the graduate experience of the other majors offered at mudd (save engineering, which I'll leave to someone else to comment on).

The one thing that makes HMC such a challenging amount of work is, oddly enough, the student body itself. If I was told one thing upon entering HMC it would be that the you can determine, to a large extent, the amount of work you want to do to succeed. I took way too many classes and spread myself a bit too thin many times because I felt that that was what I was supposed to do. You can't learn everything, and there's some advantage in doing fewer things well than many things moderately.

The other thing I wish I had done during my college tenure was study abroad. At a school such as HMC, study abroad is a greater challenge than at most places, and early planning is key if you want to study abroad and still graduate on time (and trust me, at the prices this college charges you want to graduate on time).

As to what H.S. students should do to prepare for Harvey Mudd College…Well, if you have done your research and still want to go to Harvey Mudd College, chances are you're the kind of person who has probably done the right things anyway. That said, preparation for HMC is like that for any other highly selective college. Challenge yourself academically as much as possible, and pursue extracurricular activities which interest you. It doesn't matter so much what you do, be it sports/debate/writing computer programs/job, so much as you pursue it enthusiastically and as best as you can.

As a practical matter, I also recommend interviewing if at all possible (phone or in person). This is often a good way for the admissions staff to see if you have the personality to fit in at mudd, and it can probably only help your application. Of course, if you can visit, you should do that as well, talk to students, and try to get a feel for the culture.

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