A Pitzer Education – Relevant Now More Than Ever

Angel Perez

Dean Perez meeting with students from all over the world who attend United World College in Costa Rica.

I have been doing a lot of travel lately. From New York to London, Seattle to Delhi, Alabama to Hong Kong, rural Maine to Paris and beyond, I’ve been meeting with students who aspire to a Pitzer College education. As I visit high schools, interview students, host receptions and conduct information sessions, I am inspired to help students determine whether a Pitzer liberal arts and sciences education is right for them.

Regardless of where I am in the world, I am in awe of the fact that there are several common themes every student highlights when I ask the question: “Why are you considering an education at Pitzer College?” The themes are simple, yet extraordinarily complex. Students want global citizenship, flexibility and a chance to make a difference in the world.

Global Citizenship: Students acknowledge that their generation will work in a globally interdependent economy. They want to go to school in a diverse community with access to global opportunities. They yearn to take classes with students from all over the world, but they also want to pick up and immerse themselves in a culture outside of their own. At Pitzer, they will take courses that begin in California and end in another country. They will look at world problems through an American lens and then analyze them through the perspectives of other nations. They might work in Los Angeles one term and intern in Italy the next. Pitzer students aspire to global citizenship. From the minute they arrive on our campus, our President tells them: “Make sure your passport has a lot empty pages in it, because you’re going to be using it a lot while you are with us.”

Flexibility: Students tell me they want more flexibility in how they approach their education. In many parts of the world, you are asked to choose a major (and therefore career) at the age of 17. Students find this extraordinarily stressful. They need more time. They want to explore the infinite possibilities, and aspire to leave room for the potential of majoring in something they never even knew existed. This generation of young people acknowledges that one-third of the jobs they will attain in their lifetime have not been created yet. They ask themselves: “How will I train for careers that don’t currently exist?” Students want depth, but they want breadth. They know that at Pitzer they will go deep into a subject, but they will also have exposure to academic areas that will make them strong critical thinkers, writers, analyzers, and responsibly engaged citizens. These are all skills that will carry them through each of their career moves and life decisions. At Pitzer, they won’t just be prepared for their first job –they will be trained for jobs decades later.

Making a Difference: This generation has grown up in a world where greed, social irresponsibility and intercultural misunderstanding have led to war, terrorism, financial collapse and environmental disasters. Young people today crave an education that empowers them to make a difference in the world. They want to use their education to benefit the lives of others. Throughout their short lives, they have witnessed some of the worst global atrocities and their goal is to prevent future ones. As one student in Hong Kong told me recently, “We’ve all seen what purely selfish pursuits can lead to. I think my generation’s job is to undo the damage of previous generations by using our education for the greater good.” At Pitzer, students will be joining a community of passionate leaders excited to leave their mark on the world.

While Pitzer’s education has always been relevant, I find that our mission resonates now more than ever. Ours is a values driven education that produces socially responsible citizens of the world through an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary liberal arts education emphasizing social justice, intercultural understanding, and environmental sensitivity. Fifty years ago, our founding President John W. Atherton boldly stated, “Pitzer was built of dreams. We are the wonder child who came to transform the world.” As I travel the world, I am inspired by students who want to actualize John Atherton’s vision. Will you join us?

Angel B. Pérez
Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid