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Claremont McKenna vs Princeton: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young college student with book in college campus.

Claremont McKenna vs Princeton: Which School is Right for You?

If you’re trying to decide between Claremont McKenna and Princeton University, you’re in good company. Both are highly-ranked liberal arts colleges that attract ambitious and talented students from around the world. Each school has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to carefully consider what you want to get out of your college experience before making a decision. In this article, we’ll examine several key factors for Claremont McKenna vs Princeton that can help inform your decision, including the location and campus, student life, academic programs, admission requirements, cost, career services, faculty and class size, extracurriculars, student diversity, campus culture, alumni success stories, and the pros and cons of each school.

Introduction to Claremont McKenna and Princeton

Claremont McKenna College is a private liberal arts college located in Claremont, California. The college was founded in 1946 as Claremont Men’s College but changed its name in the 1970s to reflect its coeducational status. Today, Claremont McKenna has a student body of about 1,400 undergraduates and a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. The college is known for its rigorous academic programs in the social sciences, and has produced many successful alumni in fields such as business, law, and politics.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country. Princeton has a student body of more than 5,000 undergraduates and a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. The university is known for its strong academic programs across many disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Princeton has produced many successful alumni in a variety of fields, including academia, politics, and finance.

Education for college students

Despite their differences in location and size, both Claremont McKenna and Princeton share a commitment to providing their students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields. Both institutions offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, and organizations, that allow students to explore their interests and develop leadership skills. Additionally, both colleges have a strong emphasis on community service and encourage their students to give back to their local and global communities through volunteer work and service projects.

Location and Campus Comparison: Claremont McKenna vs. Princeton

One of the biggest differences between Claremont McKenna and Princeton is their location and campus. Claremont McKenna is located in a suburban area of Southern California, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The college is part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, which includes five other liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions. The campus itself is relatively small and compact, with a modern design and plenty of green space. Claremont is known for its warm and sunny weather, and there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and beach trips.

Princeton, on the other hand, is located in a small town in central New Jersey, about an hour’s drive from both New York City and Philadelphia. The campus is much larger than Claremont McKenna’s, with a mix of historic and modern buildings and lots of green space. Princeton is known for its picturesque setting and proximity to major cities, which can offer students a variety of cultural and social opportunities.

Another notable difference between the two campuses is their architecture. While Claremont McKenna has a more modern design, Princeton’s campus is known for its historic buildings, including the iconic Nassau Hall, which dates back to 1756. The campus also features Gothic-style buildings, such as the University Chapel and Blair Hall, which add to the overall charm and character of the campus. Additionally, Princeton’s campus is home to several art museums and galleries, including the Princeton University Art Museum, which houses over 100,000 works of art from around the world.

Student Life: Claremont McKenna vs. Princeton

Both Claremont McKenna and Princeton offer a vibrant and active student life, with many opportunities for extracurricular involvement and social activities. Claremont McKenna is known for its strong focus on leadership development, and many students are involved in student government, clubs, and organizations. The campus also has a thriving arts scene, with regular performances and exhibitions. Princeton also has many clubs and organizations, as well as a rich tradition of athletic competition. The university’s eating clubs, which are social organizations that provide meals and social space for members, are a unique feature of campus life at Princeton.

unrecognizable waiter serving food to students

Additionally, both Claremont McKenna and Princeton offer a variety of community service opportunities for students to get involved in. At Claremont McKenna, students can participate in the Kravis Leadership Institute’s Social Sector Leadership Program, which provides students with the skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the nonprofit sector. Princeton’s Community-Based Learning Initiative connects students with local organizations to address community needs through service projects and internships.

Furthermore, both campuses have a strong emphasis on wellness and mental health. Claremont McKenna offers a variety of resources for students, including counseling services, wellness workshops, and a student-run mental health organization. Princeton’s Health Promotion and Prevention Services provides students with resources and support for physical and mental health, including stress management workshops and peer counseling services.

Academic Programs Offered: Claremont McKenna vs. Princeton

Both Claremont McKenna and Princeton offer rigorous academic programs in a variety of disciplines. Claremont McKenna is known for its strong programs in the social sciences, particularly economics, political science, and international relations. The college also has a well-regarded philosophy program and a growing science program. Princeton has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities and a well-regarded pre-med program. The university also has highly-ranked programs in the humanities, natural sciences, and engineering.

Additionally, Claremont McKenna offers a unique program in leadership studies, which combines coursework in political science, philosophy, psychology, and organizational behavior to prepare students for leadership roles in various fields. The college also has a strong program in media studies, which explores the intersection of media, culture, and society.

On the other hand, Princeton has a renowned program in architecture, which combines design, history, and theory to prepare students for careers in the field. The university also has a strong program in computer science, which includes courses in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data structures.

Admission Requirements: Claremont McKenna vs. Princeton

Both Claremont McKenna and Princeton are highly selective colleges with competitive admission requirements. At Claremont McKenna, the average GPA for admitted students is 4.0, and the average SAT score is 1420. The college also considers extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews in its admissions process. Princeton is similarly competitive, with an average GPA of 3.9 and an average SAT score of 1460 for admitted students. The university also considers essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation in its admissions process.

Admission process for students

It is important to note that both Claremont McKenna and Princeton have holistic admissions processes, meaning that they consider a variety of factors beyond just grades and test scores. They also value diversity and seek to admit students who will contribute to the campus community in unique ways. Therefore, it is important for applicants to showcase their individual strengths and experiences in their application materials.

Cost Comparison: Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Options

The cost of attending Claremont McKenna or Princeton is a significant factor for many families. Both schools are expensive, with tuition and fees in the tens of thousands of dollars per year. However, both schools are committed to making college affordable for all students and offer generous need-based financial aid packages. At Claremont McKenna, the average financial aid award is about $40,000 per year. At Princeton, the average financial aid award is about $52,000 per year.

In addition to need-based financial aid, both Claremont McKenna and Princeton offer merit-based scholarships to exceptional students. These scholarships can cover a significant portion of tuition and fees and are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership potential, and other factors.

It’s also important to consider the cost of living when comparing the two schools. Claremont McKenna is located in Southern California, where the cost of living is generally higher than in Princeton, New Jersey. However, Princeton is located in a more rural area, which may limit access to certain amenities and opportunities.

Career Services Comparison: Claremont McKenna vs. Princeton

One important consideration for many students is the quality of career services and alumni networks at Claremont McKenna and Princeton. Claremont McKenna has a highly-regarded career services office that offers career counseling, internship and job search assistance, and other career-related resources. The college also has a well-connected alumni network that can be helpful for finding internships and job opportunities. Princeton also has a strong career services office that offers similar resources and assistance for students. The university’s alumni network is also large and active, with many successful alumni in a variety of industries.

Internship for students

However, there are some differences between the two schools when it comes to job placement rates. According to recent data, Claremont McKenna has a higher job placement rate for graduates within six months of graduation, with 95% of graduates finding employment or enrolling in graduate school. Princeton’s job placement rate is also high, but slightly lower than Claremont McKenna’s, with 91% of graduates finding employment or enrolling in graduate school within six months of graduation. This information may be important for students who are particularly focused on securing employment after graduation.

Faculty and Class Size Comparison

The relationship between students and faculty is a key aspect of any college experience. At Claremont McKenna, the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1, which means that students have many opportunities for one-on-one interaction with their professors. The college also prides itself on its excellent teaching faculty, many of whom are world-renowned scholars in their fields. Princeton has a similarly impressive faculty, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. The university also has a well-regarded teaching program, and places a strong emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities.

Another important factor to consider when comparing colleges is class size. At Claremont McKenna, the average class size is 18 students, which allows for a more personalized and interactive learning experience. Students are able to engage in discussions and receive individualized attention from their professors. Similarly, Princeton also has small class sizes, with an average of 12 students per class. This allows for a more intimate and collaborative learning environment, where students can work closely with their peers and professors.

It’s worth noting that while small class sizes can be beneficial, they may not be the best fit for every student. Some students may prefer larger classes, where they can blend in more easily and have more opportunities to listen to different perspectives. Ultimately, it’s important to consider your own learning style and preferences when choosing a college.

Extracurricular Activities Comparison: Athletics, Clubs, and Organizations

Both Claremont McKenna and Princeton offer many opportunities for extracurricular involvement and athletic competition. Claremont McKenna is home to several NCAA Division III sports teams, including baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. The college also has many clubs and organizations, including a strong tradition of debate and public speaking. Princeton is a member of the Ivy League and has strong athletic programs in many sports, including basketball, football, and swimming. The university also has many clubs and organizations, including a strong tradition of musical performance and theater.

Additionally, both schools offer unique opportunities for students to get involved in community service and volunteer work. Claremont McKenna has a strong partnership with local non-profit organizations, providing students with opportunities to engage in meaningful service projects. Princeton has a dedicated center for community service, which offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities both locally and globally. Both schools prioritize the importance of giving back to the community and encourage students to get involved in service projects.

Student Diversity and Campus Culture Comparison

Student diversity and campus culture are important factors for many students when choosing a college. Claremont McKenna has a relatively diverse student body, with students from many different backgrounds and identities. The college also places a strong emphasis on community service and social justice initiatives. Princeton has made efforts to increase diversity in recent years and has a growing contingent of international students. The university also has a rich tradition of campus activism and political engagement, which can make for a lively and intellectually stimulating campus culture.

Group multiracial friends taking selfie picture with mobile smartphone outside

Another important aspect of student diversity and campus culture is the availability of resources and support for underrepresented groups. At Claremont McKenna, there are various student organizations and programs dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Queer Resource Center and the Office of Black Student Affairs. Princeton also has a number of resources for underrepresented students, including the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding and the LGBT Center.

Furthermore, campus culture can also be influenced by the location and surrounding community. Claremont McKenna is located in a suburban area with access to the greater Los Angeles area, providing students with opportunities to explore the city and engage with diverse communities. Princeton, on the other hand, is situated in a small town in New Jersey, but is within close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, offering students access to cultural and professional opportunities in these cities.

Alumni Success Stories: Examples of Graduates from Each School

Finally, it’s worth considering the success stories of graduates from Claremont McKenna and Princeton. Both schools have produced many successful alumni who have gone on to make a significant impact in their respective fields. Examples of notable Claremont McKenna alumni include a venture capitalist and philanthropist and the mayor of Los Angeles. Notable Princeton alumni include a U.S. Supreme Court justice and the founder of Amazon.

However, there are many other successful alumni from these schools who have made significant contributions in various fields. For instance, Claremont McKenna has produced several successful entrepreneurs, including the founder of Dropbox and the co-founder of Kabam, a mobile gaming company. Similarly, Princeton has produced many successful writers, all of whom have won Pulitzer Prizes for their work.

It’s also worth noting that both schools have a strong tradition of producing successful politicians. Claremont McKenna has produced several U.S. senators, while Princeton has produced several U.S. presidents.

Pros and Cons of Attending Claremont McKenna or Princeton

After considering all of these factors, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of attending Claremont McKenna or Princeton. Some potential pros of attending Claremont McKenna include its strong focus on leadership development, its excellent social sciences programs, and its sunny California location. Some potential cons might include its relatively small size and lack of name recognition compared to other top-tier liberal arts colleges. Similarly, some potential pros of attending Princeton might include its strong academic programs across many disciplines, its proximity to major cities, and its prestigious Ivy League status. Some potential cons might include its competitive and intense academic environment and its relatively remote location.

Another factor to consider when deciding between Claremont McKenna and Princeton is the campus culture. Claremont McKenna has a reputation for being a tight-knit community with a strong emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. Students often work together on projects and extracurricular activities, which can foster a sense of camaraderie and support. On the other hand, Princeton is known for its competitive and individualistic culture, where students are encouraged to excel on their own. This can create a more cut-throat environment but also allow for more opportunities for individual achievement.

Conclusion: Which School is Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend Claremont McKenna or Princeton will depend on your individual needs and goals as a student. Both schools offer excellent educational opportunities and a vibrant campus culture, but they have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. By carefully considering factors such as location and campus, student life, academic programs, admission requirements, cost, career services, faculty and class size, extracurriculars, student diversity, campus culture, alumni success stories, and the pros and cons of each school, you can make an informed decision that will set you on the path to a successful and fulfilling college experience.

It is important to note that while both Claremont McKenna and Princeton are highly respected institutions, they have different academic focuses. Claremont McKenna is known for its strong programs in economics, government, and international relations, while Princeton is renowned for its programs in engineering, natural sciences, and humanities. Therefore, it is crucial to consider your academic interests and career goals when making your decision.

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