Dear College Freshmen
Answering ALL your questions about Chapman University...undie run, dining hall, greek life and more.
By Sara Utsugi
As many of you know, Kaitlyn and I are currently sophomores (now juniors) at Chapman University. I remember around this time two years ago, I was a high school senior still unsure of where I wanted to commit then next four years of my education to. In the end, I obviously chose Chapman for its location, size, campus and opportunities. But for you high school seniors out there, don’t worry! Kaitlyn and I, along with all the other college students out there have been in your shoes, and we survived.
Before we get into the Q&A, let’s start with the facts. Chapman University is a small-medium sized school with around 6000 undergraduate students. It is located in Orange, California within walking distance of the Old Town Orange Circle. The average class size is around 24, and the student to faculty ratio is 14:1. With tuition, room/board and other fees, the total cost of attendance comes out to be a little over $60,000, however, most students are receiving aid.
Now to answer the immediate questions that I know I had as an incoming freshman.
Q: What made you choose Chapman?
A: I chose Chapman for the location, campus, size and opportunities. I loved how close it was to Disneyland and the plethora of food and shopping within walking distance at The Circle. I absolutely fell in love with the campus the two times I visited, and videos of the school only deepened my Chapman lust. As I wrote earlier, Chapman is a small school, and I appreciate the fact that most professors know my name. I get to constantly see familiar faces around campus without it being too suffocatingly small. I also knew I’d be able to continue playing volleyball at Chapman, and that was just another selling point for me. Kaitlyn, having interest in physical therapy, liked the bridge programs that are offered to science majors (which she talks about later in this article). Chapman is a great school academically and has lots of accelerated/bridge programs for a variety of majors as well.
Q: How are your major programs?
Sara: I am a Communication major with a business minor. Some exciting news for the Comm program is that we are now our own school within the university. Prior to the recent change, we had been under Wilkinson College of Humanities along with many other majors like English, Sociology and Political Science. Now that we have our own school, the program is stronger and more focused on Communication and Strategic and Corporate Communication (SCC) majors.
People often tease Comm majors and ask me, “what do you even learn?” Basically, we learn to communicate effectively and efficiently. We learn to work within different groups, cultures and situations. As a Comm major, the fields I can go into are broad. Yes, classes aren’t as challenging as science classes, but I began taking business classes my sophomore year, and they are completely manageable. A coach once told me, “It doesn’t matter what you get your degree in. Just get the damn degree.”
Kaitlyn: I am a Health Science major and have just declared the pre-Physical Therapy track. The Health Sciences program in general is great for preparing all future clinicians for grad school and beyond. I liked Chapman’s program also because through the Health Science undergrad, I can apply for guaranteed acceptance to their physical therapy school. Though it doesn’t take any years off of my education, it does save me the stress from applying to multiple programs provided that I can hit the marks necessary to be accepted. Many of the other tracks have similar perks for grad school programs as well. As far as the science department goes in general, I have enjoyed the majority of classes and professors that I’ve had. The faculty is extremely knowledgable and the school offers unique opportunities to do research under these professors as well as workshops to prepare you to do so. We have supplemental instructors for every class that hold at least one session each week where they answer questions about the material, create worksheets, and conduct reviews. Free tutoring is also available. Each professor has office hours each week that you can attend to get some one-on-one instruction. These are super helpful and I attribute much of my success to consistently going in for help. I think this individualized instruction is a huge bonus to going to a small school and should be taken advantage of.
Overall, majoring in science is obviously hard as the undergraduate studies prepare you for highly competitive jobs in the future. For this reason, I’d say that you have to love it. Know what motivates you and keep that in sight. I think that the Chapman program breeds success because there are so many resources such as office hours available to get extra help. These professors truly want you to succeed. I also find it helpful to take minor classes that are separate from science to feed my creativity and provide a change of pace. I’ve learned from being a student athlete that the key is balance. I believe that if you time manage efficiently, you can get the full college experience and a high quality science undergraduate education.
Q: Is there a lot of school spirit?
A: Sadly, no. As an athlete, I was used to having a decent support system at most of my games, but hardly anyone comes out for sporting events except for the homecoming football game and some men’s basketball games. The fact that Chapman is a D3 school isn’t an excuse for a lack in spirit. The culture here is more arts oriented, so attention, support and funds are also generally funnelled there. While students and alumni are proud to be panthers, the lack of athletic support is frustrating and sometimes disheartening. With this said, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee has voiced intentions to create an end-of-the-year event for all athletes which is currently in the works and reflects some of the progress that athletes are making.
Q: What are the dorms like?
A: The dorms are coed, but you’ll be living with people of the same sex. I lived in a triple with two other roommates and two suite mates. Yes, that means that five girls share one bathroom, but we managed alright. While we were too late to order a micro-fridge (microwave/refrigerator) from Chapman, one of my roommates brought a mini fridge, and we would borrow our suite mates’ microwave. (Just order our micro-fride early.) The best parts about living in the dorms were the pool, easy access to campus and the fact that I never had to struggle to find parking. I loved my dorm room because it was my safe place and home away from home. I was concerned to have to share a room with strangers. You hear roommate horror stories, but most people have positive experiences and remain friends with their freshman year roommates. Check out Kaitlyn’s article here.
Q: Do you have to live on campus?
A: No. You are not required to live on campus, but most students choose to as a freshman for the experience. The dorms are extremely comfortable and convenient, and you are placed according to major. After freshmen year, students have the option to either stay on campus in upperclassmen apartments and dorms, or they can move off campus with friends like Kaitlyn and I decided to do this year.
Q: How’s the food? What’s the meal plan like?
A: The caf food is not bad at all. Compared to most of my friends, our caf food ranked pretty high against other institutions. The excitement of having food magically prepared for me soon wore off, as I grew tired of the repetitive nature of eating in a cafeteria. There are a few different options for meal plans including commuter, 10, 12, and 14 meals per week. If you are living in the dorms, you have to purchase a meal plan. Depending on which one you purchase, you also receive Panther Bucks. These are basically credit that you can spend at any of the dining options on campus such as Qdoba, Einstein’s, and Starbucks. Both Kaitlyn and I had the 10 meal/week plan which also included around $400 Panther Bucks per semester. This worked fine for us, especially since we liked to explore and try different food options on the weekends.
Q: Is the campus and surrounding area safe?
A: It’s definitely safe. There was never a time on campus or in the dorms that my safety felt threatened, but if that were to occur, Chapman has the blue light system that most college campuses have today. Old Town Orange is also very comfortable to walk around in, even at night. In college, I think it’s all about not being dumb. Like, “Hmm, that dark alley looks kind of sketchy. Maybe I shouldn’t walk down it late at night by myself on a Saturday.” In my opinion, safety is 85% common sense. But yes, I’d say the area is safe. Even the neighborhood that we live in now has always felt safe, and our neighbors are always looking out for us.
Q: What is there to do within walking distance of campus?
Q: Is greek life big on campus?
A: Yes! I overheard a tour being given, and the guide said that around 25% of students are affiliated, however, I wouldn't be surprised if the number was actually higher. Although I’m not personally affiliated, a lot of people I know are, and they seem to love it. I was going to rush my freshman year but had to go to Colorado for volleyball. When I came back and saw the havoc within the freshmen dorms caused by rush, I was convinced that I’d be okay without it. To be fair, I was really lucky to play volleyball and have a built in group of friends. You can definitely get involved through clubs, intramural sports, etc on campus, so don’t feel like you MUST join Greek Life. But if you are at all interested, definitely look into it!
Q: How is social life?
A: Personally, I have multiple groups of friends. This will probably happen naturally as you vibe with people from your hall, classes, clubs, sports teams and hometown. It’s fun to have a wide range of friends, as it expands and educates your worldview. I’d say that 99% of the people I meet at Chapman are really awesome. So don’t worry. You’ll make friends!
As a freshman in the dorms, it was extremely fun to go “home” and have your best friends living down the hall or maybe even in the same room. Once you move off campus, your opportunities to meet new friends decrease since once class is over, many students pack up and go home.
On the weekends and sometimes weekdays, it’s not unusual for students to hit the pool, play sand volleyball or shoot hoops near the dorms. A lot of people workout, so the gym on campus is usually full, but the gym in Henley (freshmen dorm) basement is also a good option. Lots of students op to eat in the Circle when they grow tired of caf food. There is a plethora of affordable restaurants, impressive vintage shops and aesthetic boutiques.
Q: Are there parties? How are they?
A: At Chapman and most other universities alike, there is a party culture. If you are excited to party in college, know that that is definitely available to you regardless of what you’ve heard about the Orange ordinance. Sports team and fraternities are usually the ones to host larger parties, and frats sometimes have venue parties with shuttles to get you safely to and from the event.
On the other hand, I spent the entire first semester hanging out with friends in the dorms and around campus while others went out partying. If you aren’t into partying or are looking forward to lazy weekends in, you can definitely do that too. However, know that the dorms are deserted on a Saturday night, and it can get boring if you don’t have friends down to have a sober time with you. However, not to worry. We are currently working on an article giving you suggestions for a fun and sober weekend.
Q: Are the guys hot?
A: It depends on your type. Chapman is a majority white campus, however, the university is working on improving diversity. Even though I’m a fun sized 5’2” (barely), I find most guys at Chapman to be really short. Another way to look at it is that according to Niche.com, Chapman ranks 16th for colleges with most attractive men, whereas, Chapman is ranked first for colleges with most attractive women. Step up your game boys!
Q: How is undie run?
A: It’s so fun! If you aren’t comfortable running in your undies, wear a banana suit like Kaitlyn! You don’t need to pregame. You don’t need to bare-ass it. JUST GO. IT’S A CHAPMAN TRADITION. IT’S COLLEGE.
In the end, college is going to be one of the greatest times of your life. I thought it couldn't get any better after high school, but college takes the cake. The friends you'll meet, experiences you'll share and memories you'll create will never leave you. College is a time to grow and mature intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually (shoutout to the 4 pillars). You'll discover things about yourself and about the world you never intended to, and your time in college will become a major part of who you are. Regardless of where you decide to go, we hope that you live while you're young and have the greatest times of your life in college.
As always, I'm wishing you the best from behind the screen
Have more questions we didn't answer? Leave them in the comments below!