Nate Jakobs, ’19, attends Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. He plans to major in economics and minor in data science and possibly politics. He also is a reserve outfielder on the Division III Pomona-Pitzer baseball team. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jakobs is taking online classes at home for the remainder of the school year.
Q: Why did you choose Pitzer College?
A: I was looking for a good school with good weather where I could play baseball and have small classes. I (wanted) good access to my professors and good discussion-based classes but still have the resources of a large school. Pitzer really fits that, having the other four schools (Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pomona and Scripps) there and just being part of a good place to access a lot of good resources.
Q: What is the atmosphere of the five schools like?
A: (Each) school has a unique identity and distinct campus, but since the campuses are connected, there is a good (intermixing) of people. I see (students) from each of the five schools every day. Very few Claremont McKenna (CMC) classes are open to non-CMC students, which is unfortunate because there are some intriguing options. (CMC) is also our rival.
Q: Why do you plan to major and minor in those subjects?
A: I like economics and politics. I’m interested in how the world works as a whole and how everything interacts to create the system we have. So that’s where politics comes in, as I’m really interested in American politics.
I’ve had some really good professors and some interesting class topics that all play into what’s going on (with the) political climate. It’s been a good time to take those classes.
Q: Has the school lived up to your expectations?
A: It’s been what I expected in some ways and different in (other) ways. I’ve really enjoyed being there. I didn’t realize how good the access would be to the other schools. I thought I would take most of my classes at Pitzer, which has been true so far but isn’t necessarily going to be going forward. You can take classes at any of those schools. They’re on the same campus, basically.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: Fall semester, (I took) Macroeconomic Principles, Calculus 2, Intro to American Politics and a first-year-seminar called Understanding Change and Envisioning the Future.
Spring semester, (I’m taking) Microeconomic Principles; Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology; Nationalism, Populism and Social Media; and Presidential Politics.
Intro to American Politics and Presidential Politics are at Pomona. The rest are at Pitzer.
Q: How large are your classes?
A: I have one class that’s 15 (students) and three that are about 30. They function the same way (as Country Day) in that regard: open discussion and you work with the professor. (There aren’t) professors lording over (you) with information, unless lectures are necessary.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: My favorite has been Nationalism, Populism and Social Media. It’s been fascinating to analyze the forces that interplay to create the populist movement that’s occurring in the U.S. and U.K. I learned a lot about potential origins of the current nationalist and populist movements; why populist rhetoric worked particularly well in (those countries); how Twitter, Facebook, and Google shape political discourse; the influence politicians have in social media; and the effects of identity on the political (and) voting behavior. The focus of the class is: Why Trump?
Q: What is your least favorite class?
A: I don’t have a least favorite. I’ve had a really good semester.
Q: What is the workload like?
A: On a weekly basis, I have an average of about 500 pages to read between all my classes and then some problem sets.
Q: What is it like playing college baseball?
A: (Baseball) averages about four to five hours a day. During the season, I got a bit less sleep, and I never had any downtime.
It’s been a big step up. The quality of pitchers I’m facing — they’re throwing a lot harder. They throw better and have better pitcher arsenals as a whole. And they can throw any of those pitches at any point in the count. Overall, learning how to hit off better pitchers has been the thing.
Q: What was your housing situation like?
A: I’m not living there anymore, obviously. My first year, I had a double room with a bathroom in between another room. The suite was two doubles with the bathroom in between. The bathrooms were pretty sizable. My roommate was a freshman pitcher, and I will be rooming with him next year.
Q: What was your transition from Country Day to Pitzer like?
A: Honestly, it was pretty easy. None of my classes this year were that much harder than the classes at Country Day. So far, my courses have been somewhat similar in that they’re a wide range of liberal arts classes: math, a couple of econ and politics (classes) and some writing classes.
Nothing has really been a surprise. Country Day prepared me well for the types of classes in a lot of ways. For the basic writing classes, we’re far ahead with the writing skills. I’ve been able to pretty easily coast through a lot of essays. I did have one challenging 12-page final for my first-semester writing class, Understanding Change and Envisioning the Future.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2020?
A: Don’t let the prestige of a school define your college choices. You can go just about anywhere and find good resources to improve and get smarter. Find a college that’s a good fit.