The Surprise of the Trip: Chapman University

I’ve been looking forward to writing this review more than any other since I started this blog. Chapman really caught us off guard, in a (very) good way, but I need to set it up first, so bear with me :).

By this point in our trip, we only had a few schools left, and as mentioned in my last entry, the previous day was our last full day in L.A.. When we got back to our apartment after the UCLA tour, we looked over the schedule for the following day, which included touring Chapman and CSU San Marcos on our way down to San Diego, and after some discussion decided that we’d skip both tours and get some much needed rest. For CSUSM, we really didn’t feel like it would be much different from the other CSU schools we’d seen. For Chapman, we figured we’d stop in Orange and drive through the campus just to check it out, but being somewhat burned out, figured we’d just skip the tour we’d scheduled for 10am. That gave us more time in the morning to relax, pack up, and get out of town after rush hour.

We got to Orange around 1pm or so, and driving around the town, really liked what we saw in the area surrounding the school. It appeared to be a nice, quiet area, with Angels stadium a few miles away. Being baseball fans, that’s a positive for us. Honestly, my wife and I both fell in love with the area, and even started checking out housing prices in the city. When we finally got to campus, we parked in the lot right outside the admissions office, which was also right next to the football field:

Up to this point,we’d been going back and forth on whether or not we wanted to walk the campus, but decided to take a look, and in retrospect, it was a great decision. We headed into the admissions building to grab a campus map and get some info on the school, and were informed that the 2pm tour was leaving shortly if we wanted to join it, so we decided to give it a shot. As it turns out, the 10am tour had been pretty full, but the 2pm tour only had one family currently scheduled, so this worked out much better.

Not expecting to actually tour any campuses that day, my daughter had worn her UCLA tank top she’d gotten the day before, which our guide had a little fun with :). He did a great job on the tour, and because it was such a small group, was able to make it a little more personal, focusing more information on the areas of study my daughter and the other rising senior on the tour were interested in.

The campus size was just about perfect to us, we were able to see everything except for their film school, which is actually a few blocks off campus. He did recommend that we head over there after the tour was done to check it out, as the building was open until 5pm. More on that later. On the tour, he took us through all main areas of campus, giving us a chance to see a higher percentage of the school than we’d been able to see on tours of some of the larger campuses. For the last part of the tour, we headed over to the dorms, which were some of the nicest and largest we’d seen to date. They felt more like apartments, with a common area that included a pool and sand volleyball court. We got to see one of the rooms, which was huge (by comparison) and air conditioned, another rarity. Considering the average temperature in the area’s not that bad during the school year, not sure if it’s always needed, but still a nice touch. I did manage to get a quick shot of the model room while we were in it. It’s a little blurry, sorry, didn’t realize that until we were out of there:

(There’s a second bed that I’m standing next to, which would be positioned in the bottom left section of the shot)

After looking at the dorms, we headed back to the admissions building. He took us up to the main admissions office, and had us hang out for a minute in the board room while he went to get the admissions counselor for our territory. While waiting, we started talking about what we’d seen an heard, and all agreed that we loved it. A school that none of us really knew anything about a couple hours earlier had suddenly moved to the top of my daughter’s list. It was the first one we’d seen that was putting up a serious challenge to UCSB for the #1 slot.

When the admissions counselor came in, she was very thorough in asking about my daughter’s current school, class load, interests, and other pertinent information. She gave us a good understanding of what it took to get in, and how selection worked for their film school (Dodge College), and also encouraged us to head over and check it out after we were done. Overall, the visit with the counselor was outstanding. Rather than repeat the admissions info, feel free to check out their site if you’re interested in Liberal Arts colleges in SoCal:

When we were finished, we decided to drive over to Dodge, but not before we headed to the school store one last time. Before the tour, my daughter had picked up a school sticker, like she did at every school we visited, but Chapman had moved up to “I want to buy myself a sweatshirt” status, something reserved only for the schools she really, really liked. Unfortunately, by the time we finished, the store was closed, so she’ll just have to pick one up online. At that point, we headed over to Dodge, and while we didn’t get to see a lot of it, the inside and outside areas we did get to see were as impressive as the main campus.

Looking back, we were all very happy things worked out the way they did that day, and that we ended up on the later tour. We came really close to skipping the stop entirely, which would have been a huge mistake. The school is the perfect size in our opinion as parents, with a campus that doesn’t take all day to cross, an undergraduate class size of around 5k students (~2k grad students too), a far cry from the 45k+ students my wife and I experienced in college (Ohio State for her and Arizona State for me). We also really liked everything he heard during our visit (well, except the cost 🙂 ) and found everyone we encountered to be very friendly. With film production being the major my daughter’s interested in, Dodge would be a great school if she was fortunate enough to be accepted, as it’s considered one of the best film schools in the country. Chapman really seemed like a great fit in all aspects. This school was one of those that made flying across country worth the cost. Again, if you’re looking at Liberal Arts colleges in SoCal, be sure to check Chapman out!

I’ve got quite a few pictures here, including a picture of their section of the Berlin Wall, and a couple pictures outside of Dodge (the last two pics). Oh, and once again, thank you to our guide at Chapman for pointing out Loyola also has a section of the Berlin Wall, since our guide there never mentioned it. Knowing what the tagged concrete slab I’d randomly chosen to take a picture of on that tour actually was is always good.

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4 thoughts on “The Surprise of the Trip: Chapman University

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed my alma mater. My experience was exactly the same. Came down to SoCal and almost skipped Chapman because I was tired. Was so pleased by it and the surrounding area it became my first choice and the school I graduated from with a film degree. What they have done sicnr I graduated (2005) is astounding. The film school is ranked in the top 25 in the world, resources beyond belief. Good luck on the admissions process, I think your daughter will be pleased with her time there.

  2. I am doing a blog for my English course and your post about Chapman was recommended to me while I was typing up a post. I am a Freshman Accounting Major at Chapman University and was in the same position as your daughter only a few months ago. Chapman wasn’t even on my radar when I started applying to schools, but after visiting the campus I fell in love. I have been living at Chapman for about a month now and it is absolutely incredible. All of my professors are extremely knowledgeable and most of my classes are the same size as, if not smaller than, my high school classes. The student body is incredibly friendly and everyone is eager to get you involved in organizations and the community outside of class. I haven’t had a single negative experience since I arrived.

    I wish you the best of luck in the application process; I know just how stressful it can be.

  3. Thank you for posting! It’s great to hear from people who have gone to or are attending, and my daughter loved reading this (as did my wife and I) Thank you again, and hope you have a great year!

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