At the beginning of my tour at Chapman University, the student tour guide said, “This is a place where you not only can continue your education, you can start your career.” Throughout the tour, the guide gave examples of how Chapman students are able to do just that — through internships, research, and other unique opportunities the university provides.
Chapman is a medium-sized college (5,000 undergrads and 2,000 grad students) in Orange, California. Although it’s only 45 minutes (and an easy train ride) to Los Angeles, Orange feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Downtown Orange is just around the corner from campus, and it’s tree-lined streets, historic architecture, and little shops and restaurants couldn’t be more charming.
The beach is 17 miles away, but for those who are looking to do more than work on their tan, there are hiking and mountain biking trails nearby. Plus, if you join the snow club, you can spend every other weekend skiing at Mammoth, where everything — your ski pass, your equipment, and your hotel — is paid for by the university!
In terms of continuing your education, Chapman offers a liberal arts curriculum coupled with uncommon majors such as kinesiology, screenwriting, and peace studies. Additionally, the university has five-year programs for a Doctorate in pharmacy, a Master’s in economic systems, and a Master’s in business administration (MBA) in five years.
Students can do research in their freshman year and also can begin taking classes in their major during their first semester. Chapman has a 4-1-4 schedule that consists of two semesters and a one-month interterm between them. The interterm is optional but students do not have to pay extra tuition or room and board to participate in it.
Study abroad opportunities include semester-long programs, travel courses during interterm and the summer, and Semester at Sea. Semester at Sea actually was started at Chapman but now is a popular program for students at many universities.
Chapman has an honors program that serves as a minor and can be used to fulfill general education requirements. Students can apply to the program when they apply for admission or upon matriculation.
Speaking of admission, students apply to a specific major, although it’s okay if you’re not sure what you want to study — in fact, 30% of applicants are undecided. The hardest majors to get into are performing arts and film, and these have additional application requirements.
Chapman offers need, merit, and talent-based scholarships. Students are considered for merit scholarships ranging from $15,000-$25,000 per year when they apply for admission. Over 80% of students receive some form of financial aid, and 65% of students admitted in 2014 received merit scholarships. My tour guide said that it was cheaper for him to go to Chapman than to attend the University of Texas as an in-state student. (Approximately 50% of Chapman students are from out-of-state.)
One way that Chapman enables students to start their careers is by connecting them with internships. For example, my tour guide had an internship on Conan O’Brien’s show the summer after his freshman year! With the university’s close proximity to L.A. and a strong alumni network, there are countless internship opportunities, especially for students in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. For those who are studying business, the university funds students’ start-up companies.
I previously mentioned recreational opportunities off-campus. As for things to do on campus, there are over 100 student clubs, Division III sports, and Greek life. About one-third of students participate in Greek life, but there are no houses and the fraternities and sororities are very inclusive of students who aren’t Greek. Students who live on campus are assigned to dorms based on their major and school/college. Most students move off-campus after their freshman year, but the university has an off-campus housing department to help them find places to live.
During my visit, I met with an admissions officer who told me that Chapman is looking for students who are self-starters and that the university is willing to take chances on students who have shined outside the classroom. He described Chapman as a collaborative environment where students take initiative in their community and where the university always is striving to improve.