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Harvard vs. Occidental: A Comprehensive Look at Two Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student typing an essay while sitting on the pavement.

Harvard vs. Occidental: A Comprehensive Look at Two Universities

Welcome to our in-depth exploration of two of the most prestigious universities in the United States: Harvard and Occidental College. This article will examine and compare various aspects of Harvard vs. Occidental, including their academic programs, campus environments, student life, diversity, and alumni outcomes.

If you are considering applying to either university, this comprehensive guide will help you make an informed decision about which is the right fit for you.

Introduction: Why Compare Harvard and Occidental

Both Harvard and Occidental are renowned for their academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and distinguished faculty. However, while both universities offer exceptional educational experiences, they differ in many ways, including their size, location, and student body demographics.

Moreover, each university has a unique approach to education, with distinct pedagogical approaches and research programs. In this article, we aim to provide a detailed comparison of both universities, pointing out their strengths, weaknesses, and unique features that distinguish them from one another.

One of the major differences between Harvard and Occidental is their location. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a bustling city with a rich history and culture. On the other hand, Occidental is located in Los Angeles, California, which is known for its sunny weather, diverse population, and thriving entertainment industry.

This difference in location can have a significant impact on the student experience, as it can affect the types of activities and opportunities available to students outside of the classroom.

Another important factor to consider when comparing Harvard and Occidental is their student body demographics. Harvard has a larger student body, with over 20,000 students enrolled across all of its programs.

In contrast, Occidental has a smaller student body, with just over 2,000 undergraduate students. Additionally, Harvard has a more diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries represented. Occidental, while still diverse, has a more regional focus, with a majority of its students coming from California and the western United States.

Overview of Harvard University

Harvard University is an Ivy League research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

With an acceptance rate of 4.9%, Harvard is also one of the most selective universities in the country. Harvard has a total undergraduate enrollment of about 6,700 students and a graduate enrollment of about 13,000 students.

Harvard University has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. The university offers a wide range of academic programs, including undergraduate majors in over 50 fields of study and graduate programs in law, business, medicine, education, and more.

Harvard is also known for its world-class faculty, with over 2,400 professors and instructors, including Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners. The university has a strong commitment to research, with over $1 billion in research funding annually, and is home to numerous research centers and institutes.

Overview of Occidental College

Young woman attending an online class in a room.

Occidental College is a private liberal arts college located in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1887, it has a long history of promoting intellectual inquiry, critical thinking, and social justice.

Occidental College has a total undergraduate enrollment of about 2,000 students and a graduate enrollment of less than 100 students. The student-to-faculty ratio at Occidental College is 9:1, and the college has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and interdisciplinary learning.

Occidental College offers over 40 majors and minors, including popular programs in economics, psychology, and biology. The college also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.

In addition to its academic offerings, Occidental College has a vibrant student life, with over 100 student organizations and a variety of athletic teams. The college’s location in Los Angeles provides students with access to a diverse range of cultural and recreational opportunities.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Location and Campus

Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a bustling college town that is home to many other universities and cultural institutions. The campus spans over 200 acres and encompasses a wide range of architectural styles, from colonial-era brick buildings to modernist glass structures.

The campus is located near the Charles River, which provides opportunities for recreational activities such as canoeing and kayaking.

Occidental College, on the other hand, is located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, a vibrant and diverse part of the city. The campus spans over 120 acres and features a mix of Mediterranean-style buildings and landscaped gardens.

Occidental College is also located near several cultural attractions, such as the Huntington Library, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Despite their differences in location and campus style, both Harvard University and Occidental College offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students. Harvard has over 400 student organizations, including clubs for sports, music, theater, and community service.

Occidental College also has a diverse range of student organizations, including a student-run radio station, a literary magazine, and a club for outdoor adventure activities. Both universities also offer opportunities for students to study abroad and participate in research projects with faculty members.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Admission Requirements and Selectivity

Harvard and Occidental are highly selective universities with low acceptance rates and rigorous admission requirements. At Harvard, applicants are required to submit standardized test scores, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays. The acceptance rate at Harvard is 4.9%, which means that only a small fraction of applicants are admitted each year.

Occidental College also has a rigorous admission process, which includes SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. The acceptance rate at Occidental College is about 37%, which is comparatively higher than Harvard’s acceptance rate.

However, it is important to note that acceptance rates and admission requirements are not the only factors that determine the quality of education at a university.

Both Harvard and Occidental have excellent academic programs and resources, a diverse student body, and a strong sense of community. Students should consider their personal goals and preferences when choosing a university and not solely rely on acceptance rates as a measure of success.

Student Life: Housing, Dining, and Extracurricular Activities

Both Harvard and Occidental offer a wide range of student life activities, including housing, dining, and extracurricular programs. At Harvard, students can choose from a variety of residential houses, each with their own unique character and community. The university also has an extensive dining program, with over a dozen dining halls and cafes serving a wide range of cuisines.

Occidental College also offers a range of student life activities, including a variety of housing options, dining halls, and extracurricular programs. However, unlike Harvard, Occidental College does not have a traditional residential house system. Instead, students live in residence halls and apartments, which are divided by class year and personal interest.

Additionally, both Harvard and Occidental offer a plethora of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. Harvard has over 400 student organizations, ranging from cultural and ethnic groups to academic and professional clubs.

Occidental College also has a diverse range of student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, sports, and the arts. Both universities also offer opportunities for students to participate in research projects, internships, and study abroad programs.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Academic Programs and Curriculum

Both Harvard and Occidental offer a wide range of academic programs, spanning the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. At Harvard, students can choose from over 50 undergraduate concentrations, as well as a range of graduate and professional programs.

The university also has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, with many courses and research programs crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Occidental College offers a similar range of academic programs, with a strong emphasis on the liberal arts. The college has over 40 majors and minors, as well as several interdisciplinary programs such as Environmental Science, Diplomacy and World Affairs, and Urban and Environmental Policy.

The college also has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to conduct independent research under faculty supervision.

View of students studying in a table.

Additionally, both Harvard and Occidental offer a variety of study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives. Harvard has partnerships with universities and research institutions around the world, offering opportunities for students to study and conduct research in countries such as Japan, South Africa, and Brazil.

Occidental also has a strong study abroad program, with partnerships in over 50 countries and opportunities for students to participate in faculty-led programs or enroll in partner universities.

Faculty and Teaching Quality Comparison

Both Harvard and Occidental have distinguished faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields. Harvard faculty members include Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur Fellows. The university also has a strong emphasis on teaching quality, with many professors recognized for their innovative and effective teaching methods.

Occidental College also has a talented faculty, with many professors who have received national and international recognition for their research and teaching. The college has a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, with small class sizes and opportunities for students to engage with faculty members outside the classroom.

Furthermore, Harvard has a robust research program, with faculty members leading groundbreaking studies in fields such as medicine, engineering, and social sciences. This research not only contributes to the advancement of knowledge but also provides students with unique opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research projects.

On the other hand, Occidental College has a strong focus on interdisciplinary studies, encouraging students to explore different fields and perspectives. The college offers a wide range of majors and minors, allowing students to tailor their education to their interests and career goals.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Research Opportunities and Facilities Comparison

Harvard has a long history of research excellence, with a strong emphasis on cutting-edge research across a wide range of fields. The university has over 20 libraries, as well as over 100 research centers and institutes. Harvard also has a substantial endowment, which supports research activity and provides resources for research programs and facilities.

Occidental College offers several research opportunities for undergraduate students, including research grants, fellowships, and independent study programs. The college has several research centers and institutes, including the Keck Geology Consortium, which provides opportunities for interdisciplinary research in the natural sciences.

In addition to the research opportunities and facilities mentioned above, Harvard also has a number of specialized research centers and institutes, such as the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. These centers provide unique opportunities for students and faculty to engage in cutting-edge research in their respective fields.

Occidental College also offers research opportunities beyond the natural sciences, including programs in the humanities and social sciences. The college’s Center for Digital Liberal Arts, for example, provides resources and support for students and faculty engaged in digital humanities research projects.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Student Diversity

Harvard has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 130 countries. The university has made a strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity, with several programs promoting equity and inclusion on campus. These programs include the Harvard First Generation Program, the Harvard Crimson Summer Institute, and the Harvard College Women’s Center.

Occidental College also has a diverse student body, with students from 48 states and over 60 countries. The college has several programs aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity, including the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which works to enhance the college’s campus climate for students of all backgrounds and identities.

In addition to these programs, Occidental College also offers a Multicultural Summer Institute, which provides incoming students from underrepresented backgrounds with academic and social support before the start of the academic year.

The college also has a Queer Student Alliance, which is a student-run organization that provides resources and support for LGBTQ+ students on campus. These efforts demonstrate Occidental College’s commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Comparison

Both Harvard and Occidental are expensive universities with high tuition and fees. At Harvard, the tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 academic year were $49,653 for undergraduates and $53,880 for graduate students.

However, Harvard also has a substantial financial aid program, which provides need-based aid to students from low- and middle-income families. In fact, over 55% of Harvard undergraduates receive financial aid, with an average aid package of over $60,000 per year.

Occidental College also has high tuition and fees, with the cost of attendance for the 2020-2021 academic year totaling $76,846. However, like Harvard, Occidental College also has a strong financial aid program, which provides need-based aid to students who demonstrate financial need.

Over 80% of Occidental College students receive some form of financial aid, with an average aid package of over $49,000 per year.

Young woman studying in front of a laptop.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance at both Harvard and Occidental College includes not only tuition and fees but also room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses. These additional costs can add up quickly, and students should carefully consider their budget when deciding which university to attend.

Another factor to consider when comparing the cost of attendance at Harvard and Occidental College is the potential return on investment. While both universities are expensive, they also have strong reputations and a track record of producing successful graduates.

Students should weigh the cost of attendance against the potential benefits of attending a prestigious university, such as access to top-notch faculty, research opportunities, and a strong alumni network.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Career Services and Alumni Network

Harvard has a strong career services program, with resources and programs aimed at helping students find internships, jobs, and other postgraduate opportunities.

The university also has a large and active alumni network, with over 371,000 alumni living in over 200 countries. Harvard alumni are leaders in many fields, including business, academia, entertainment, and government.

Occidental College also provides strong career services support, with programs aimed at helping students explore career options, develop job search strategies, and connect with alumni and employers. The college also has an active alumni network, with over 25,000 alumni living in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Occidental alumni are leaders in many fields, including entertainment, law, politics, and academia.

Additionally, both Harvard and Occidental offer mentorship programs through their alumni networks. These programs allow current students to connect with alumni who have experience in their desired field and receive guidance and advice on career paths and job opportunities. These mentorship programs can be invaluable for students as they navigate the job market and plan for their future careers.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Athletics and Sports Programs

Harvard has a strong athletic program, with a total of 42 varsity sports teams competing at the Division I level. The university has a long tradition of athletic excellence, with many of its teams competing in the Ivy League conference. Harvard also has extensive athletic facilities, including the Murr Center, the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, and the Harvard Stadium.

Occidental College also has a strong athletic program, with a total of 21 varsity sports teams competing at the Division III level. The college has several conference championships and national titles in various sports, including football, basketball, soccer, and swimming.

Occidental College also has several athletic facilities, including the Jack Kemp Stadium, the Bill Henry Tennis Stadium, and the De Mandel Aquatics Center.

Despite the difference in the number of varsity sports teams, both Harvard and Occidental College offer a wide range of sports programs for their students. Harvard has a strong focus on traditional sports such as football, basketball, and hockey. In contrast, Occidental College has a more diverse range of sports programs, including ultimate frisbee, water polo, and fencing.

Another notable difference between the two universities athletic programs is the level of competition. While Harvard competes at the Division I level, which is known for its high level of competition, Occidental College competes at the Division III level, known for its emphasis on student-athlete balance and a less intense competition environment.

This difference in competition level may be a factor for students when choosing between the two universities’ athletic programs.

Harvard vs. Occidental: Graduation Rates, Employment, and Graduate School Enrollment

Both Harvard and Occidental have high graduation rates, with a large percentage of students graduating within four years. At Harvard, the four-year graduation rate is 87.4%, while the six-year graduation rate is 98%. At Occidental College, the four-year graduation rate is 81%, while the six-year graduation rate is 87.5%

Harvard graduates have a high rate of employment and graduate school enrollment, with over 95% of graduates finding employment or pursuing further education within six months of graduation. Harvard graduates are also highly sought after by employers, with many going on to work for top-tier companies and organizations.

Occidental College graduates also have a high rate of employment and graduate school enrollment, with over 90% of graduates finding employment or pursuing further education within six months of graduation. Occidental College graduates are also highly sought after by employers, with many going on to work for top-tier companies and organizations.

Students line up while smiling.

Additionally, both Harvard and Occidental College have strong alumni networks that provide valuable resources and connections for graduates. These networks offer opportunities for mentorship, career advice, and networking events, which can be beneficial for graduates as they navigate their post-college careers.

Many alumni also give back to their alma maters through donations and volunteer work, further strengthening the relationship between the schools and their graduates.

Conclusion: Which University is Right for You?

After reading this comprehensive guide, you should have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between Harvard and Occidental College. Both universities offer outstanding academic programs, exceptional faculty, and vibrant student communities.

However, they differ in many ways, including location, campus environment, student demographics, and cost of attendance. Ultimately, the decision of which university to attend will depend on your personal preferences, academic goals, and financial situation.

We recommend that you visit both campuses, speak with current students and faculty, and carefully consider your options before making a final decision.

It is important to note that while Harvard and Occidental College are both highly respected universities, they have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, Harvard is known for its strong emphasis on research and its prestigious reputation, while Occidental College is known for its small class sizes and personalized attention from faculty.

Additionally, Harvard is located in a bustling urban environment, while Occidental College is situated in a more suburban setting.

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