This letter of advice comes from junior Mark Munro. Mark hails from outside of Portland, Oregon–a fact easily identifiable vis-à-vis his solid collection of Patagonia. He is currently repping CMC in DC this semester but while on campus, Mark enjoys serving as the President of Students Promoting Environmental Action and Responsibility (SPEAR), editing for the Port Side, assisting Professor Faggen with research, and coordinating overnight stays at the Admissions Office.

Greetings Freshmen,

Although I have not had the chance to welcome you to the idyllic bubble that is Claremont, I am excited to meet you this spring. I am taking a brief hiatus from CMC to intern in our Nation’s Capital as part of the Washington Semester program. From my work in the Admission Office, I know you have spent the last four years working tirelessly to get where you are today.  I imagine that some of your parents and counselors advised to lead certain clubs or delve into community service so that when the time for applying to college arrived, you could stand out amongst thousands of applicants, and you did.

As clubs, research institutes, and a cappella groups court you with meeting requests and applications, remember that you no longer need to impress anyone. While calling cities to determine their “cost of doing business” at a certain research institute might thrill some of you, others will find the work dull. Joining clubs remains a great way to meet like-minded people, but focus your energy on activities that you enjoy. I have regretted taking on leadership roles without having my priorities aligned, letting down those closest to me for an added line on my resume. With the Robert Day School of Economics’ heightened reputation, I have friends who felt compelled to study economics or tack on a finance sequence purely because their peers considered that the path to “success.” Our school’s pragmatic focus might suggest otherwise, but careers on Wall Street and in Washington are not the only places that one can demonstrate leadership.  While you are at 5Cs, one can demonstrate leadership by building a contraption for Harvey Mudd’s E-4 engineering class, cooking at Pitzer’s The Shakedown (props to Julian for his Pad Thai), or volunteering at Pomona’s Organic Farm (a personal favorite).

Take some time to reflect on what you want to do with your time at CMC, and then even a bit after that. If you are anything like me, you may begin to change your mind on a bi-weekly basis about what it is you want to do. But, the beauty of it is, you don’t have to figure this out. To quote Steve Jobs, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect the dots looking back…Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart. Even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.” If you can confidently say that you are enjoying what you’re doing and feel fulfilled, then that’s progress. Stay true to your values, act on them, and you will leave CMC feeling satisfied.

From Career Services’ internship grants to the Athenaeum’s head-table, CMC has a lot to offer that will enrich your college experience, but only you can choose to take advantage of these resources.  If you have the courage to forge your own path, reach out to alumni for opportunities. I would not be where I am today without the alumni that I have met during my time at CMC.

Lastly, throw caution to the wind, and go to Table Manners. You won’t regret it.


  1. This is some of the best advice I have received. As a freshman who is feeling very overwhelmed, I thank you for the wonderful article. You made me realize that it’s time to take some time to reflect and realize that I do not have to figure out the rest of my life right now, but rather enjoy whatever it is I choose to do and be satisfied.
    Thanks Mark

  2. Mark why is there not a article yet on you and your rad roommates from the summer

    • I’m an intern for our Public Affairs office and we are always looking for suggestions. You should send Amy Bibbens an e-mail ([email protected]) with a little more details about why you think Mark would be a good article, and I’m sure she’ll consider it.

      Also, Mark, props to you! What a crucial message that is often forgotten on our campus. Thanks!

  3. Mark why is there not a article yet on you and your rad roommates from the summer

  4. Miss ya, Mark. Keep changing your mind on a bi-weekly basis. It’s part of why I think you’re great.

      • Yeah, because when someone asks you for advice via writing emails to you about what dorms to live in, what meal plan to go on, etc. and you give them advice, that’s totally the same thing as going out of your way to offer unsolicited advice on 1) relationships and 2) what you should do on campus. God are you guys really this dumb? Or is it that you are just political hacks?

    • Ya guys! Why take what experience we’ve built and offer insight that is impossible to garner without having taken the road we specifically chose at CMC! Let them fumble around in the dark until they can figure out what we could have helped them to realize in two hours! In fact, we should get rid of career services, the writing center, financial aid, etc. etc. They’re offering unsolicited support and help in expediting numerous processes on campus as well as increasing efficiency. That’s some bull, right guys?

      That’ll show em! Muahahaha! Now back to my mad scientist lab to make a potion meant to turn ginger into dark chocolate.

      • Because you clearly haven’t build much experience or wisdom that they couldn’t get by figuring some of this stuff out on their own or listening to the numerous exhortations that already exist to use these services….

    • It’s ironic because “Let them make their own mistakes and develop their own prejudices” is also advice.

    • It’s ironic because “Let them make their own mistakes and develop their own prejudices” is also advice.

  5. I retract my previous comment. For those who are unaware of my failed presidential campaign of the previous semester… well now you are aware. I would like to recruit campaign managers to assist me in impeaching the current “leader”. Please send all applications to my cmc email. Apply quick because these spots are sure to be spilled soon.


    • I didn’t write this, obviously, but impeachment may not actually be a bad idea, seeing how low the bar for competence has been set. It’s not even October yet and a speaker has been stolen, the parking scheme has gone totally awry, and TNCs were canceled because ASCMC tried to play a fast one on DOS.

  6. Mark, amazing article! Can’t wait to have you back on campus, Table Manners was awesome this week 🙂

  7. Although I enjoyed your article, rough hit at the Rose Institute by dully summing up the work done there as only “calling cities to determine their ‘cost of doing business.’ ” The Rose does actually do some truly interesting and enjoyable work.

    • I have not worked at the Rose, but know many who did and some who still continue to work there. My understanding is that the newly hired freshman mainly work on the Kosmont Cost of Doing Business Survey. While the Rose does some fascinating work with redistricting, I know that people are drawn to work there because of the prestige and perks that come with the job. If you enjoy your work there, good for you. But, if you don’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t invest energy in something purely for a few free dinners and the prestige that comes with the job.

  8. Maybe before insulting a research institute you should get your facts straight. Yes, first semester at the Rose freshman call cities. It’s a necessary first project so that freshman can understand how the Institute works and meet other students and our senior fellows before jumping into an array of different projects. However, after first semester students are free to do any project that interests them. Second semester freshman are welcome to do our redistricting work and write for our blog. I don’t know of any other place on campus that gives freshman the possibility of having their work picked up by major media sources, but if you’ve found one please let me know.

      • First semester at the Rose isn’t all that fun. I guarantee you that your first semester playing a sport, your first semester on the debate team, and your overall first semester at CMC won’t be the best either. It only gets better.

        Mark is right, it’s not for everyone. But it’s a great place for the lucky students that get hired. The best thing about CMC is that there’s a plethora of employment opportunities for everyone. I don’t think Mark was hating on the Rose, and I’m sure his many friends who work there (myself included) won’t hold anything he said against him.

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