Give It the Old College Guide*

The finer (and lesser) points of local institutions

CAL STATE FULLERTON (WWW.FULLERTON.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: $30 million expansion of library and bookstore. McCarthy Hall escalator. Journalism school includes media-law expert Rick Pullen. Baseball program is a perennial powerhouse. Good visual-arts program. Men's restrooms in arts building used to be notorious for unmentionable reasons. Chemists and biochemists can get molecular in the newly opened W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Molecular Structure, which includes the nation's first comprehensive x-ray crystallography facility; chemists can also get elemental in a newly launched state-of-the-art electronic classroom. Theater department sent entire cast of Hair to Democratic National Convention in 1996. Club 369 (about 2 miles away) is filled nightly with local and national acts. The Pub, adjacent to the bowling alley, is a fine, fine place. A Marriott Hotel is located on campus, a perfect place for incoming students to bag their first prof. Location of three other colleges (religious, legal and optometry) makes for North County minicollege row. Spacious football stadium is home to professional outdoor-soccer team the Splash. ON THE OTHER HAND: A commuter school as far removed from the traditional university-life experience as any you could possibly identify-say, UC Irvine. Layout of campus precludes any type of central gathering point. Virtually no student hang-outs near campus, excluding the Off Campus Pub and constantly changing restaurant across Nutwood. Axed football program in 1993; next year, finished impressive football stadium-go figure. Baseball facilities are so bad school can't even hold NCAA tournaments on campus, a fact that helped drive Augie Garrido, architect of the Titan baseball dynasty, out of California. Photojournalism program in disarray. Elevators constantly breaking down. DATALAB SCORE: 87. Add 5 points: Recently launched Center for Insurance Studies, with a $50,000 gift from Mercury Insurance. Subtract 5 points: Recently launched Center for Insurance Studies, with a $50,000 gift from Mercury Insurance. TOTAL SCORE: 87.CAL STATE LONG BEACH (WWW.CSULB.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: Among the best public universities in the nation for the arts, especially graphic arts, ceramics, dance and theater. An excellent art museum rivals the area's finest. Gifted poets Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee run a cutting-edge English department. Emphasis for tenured faculty is on teaching, not research, meaning the quality of education in some programs is much better than you'd expect at a state school. Large activist gay and lesbian community. Striking blue Pyramid area and ungodly beautiful Earl Burns Japanese Gardens. Nationally ranked in baseball and men's and women's volleyball. Chris Carter, Steve Martin, Mark O'Meara, Dave Alvin, Richard and Karen Carpenter, Brad Nowell, Roger Fouts, and Terrell Davis went to Cal State Long Beach. And-oh, yeah-so did Steven Spielberg. Good bars in town, too. ON THE OTHER HAND: Student services generally suck. Commuter campus translates into apathetic student body. Quality of the sciences and social sciences ranges from mediocre to average. Too many business and engineering students. Faraway parking lots mean long, long walks-uphill-to classes. Degrees offered in recreation and home economics. Large student body means long waits in line for books, financial aid, administrative assistance, etc. Inadequate library. Alumni include jackboot Republicans Curt Pringle and Dana "the Dope Man" Rohrabacher. DATALAB SCORE: 91. Subtract 15 points: State cutbacks lead to fewer number of classes offered, meaning you're not likely to graduate in less than six years. Add 5 points: You can graduate in eight years, and no one can call you lazy. TOTAL SCORE: 81.CERRITOS COLLEGE (WWW3.CERRITOS.EDU) AND CYPRESS COLLEGE (WWW.CYPRESS.CC.CA.US)ON THE ONE HAND: Staff members have been to both colleges. ON THE OTHER HAND: They aren't sure which college is which. DATALAB SCORE: 37. Add 20 points: We think Cerritos has lots of shade. Subtract 20 points: Or was that Cypress? TOTAL SCORE: 37.CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY (WWW.CHAPMAN.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: The members of the board of trustees are loaded, so there are plenty of cool amenities, like the state-of-the-art TV studio, the cushy Argyros Forum (a haven of economical, freezer-box cool on warm days) and up-to-date technology (witness the under-construction business-and-technology building). Chapman is a relatively small private school, affording you not only the ability to say [with a snotty voice], "I go to a private school," but also the luxury of knowing almost everyone. The student-teacher ratio is a slim 12-to-1; you'll get to know your classmates and teachers well, and there's no shouting across rooms, hoping you'll be heard by the professor all the way over there. A definite plus for sleepy heads: the campus is so small that you're never more than a five-minute walk from your next class. Campus boasts an "Ivy League" feel, with its old, pillared buildings (it's the former site of Orange High School) and abundant trees. When all that schoolwork gets to you, you can make a quick escape up the block to the Plaza, home to Watson's (yummy sundaes and shakes), the Ugly Mug Caffe (a tiny slice of coffee heaven) and O'Hara's Pub (a real Irish bar with plenty of alcoholic temptations). ON THE OTHER HAND: Some Chapman administrators and staff can't see anything other than the school's grand "vision"; they can't see the problems through their tunnel vision. The library is kind of pathetic; technologically, it's fine, but just try to find all of Shakespeare's work on the shelves. Students are rarely able to use the library for research. Which is a prime example of the typical Chapman budgetary tyranny: if it's not a money maker, it doesn't get many resources. There's no official admission deadline, so if you couldn't get in anywhere else, and you've got $27,000 in your bank account, you're in. Living arrangements can be less-than-accommodating. You'll find roaches (and cracked ceilings and faulty plumbing) in the older dorms and surrounding for-student-rent houses. Residence Life isn't very mindful of the pressure of finals week: packing while you're studying can be very distracting (if you're not graduating, you have to be out 24 hours after your last final or by 5 p.m. that Friday; if you are graduating, they graciously allow you to wait until the morning after graduation). DATALAB SCORE: 74. Add 5 points: Choosing humanitarian Albert Schweitzer as a hero and inspiration. Subtract 10 points: Exploiting Schweitzer and neglecting to follow his lead. TOTAL SCORE: 69.CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY (WWW.CUI.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: Sits on prime, hilltop real estate smack in the middle of Irvine's tony Turtle Rock neighborhood. Boasts the best view of any college in the county. The 1,400-student campus, one of 10 in the Concordia chain established by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, might not be as well-known as OC's other private schools like Chapman University, but it offers nifty undergrad and postgrad programs, most notably in education and theology. Although the school is open to all-even the religiously challenged-the terrifying 3,290 pipe Casavant organ in the Space Mountain-esque main chapel is enough to help anyone find God. ON THE OTHER HAND: The athletic program, with the exception of the women's basketball team, could use a little de-slumping, having not found their way to a league title in years. The tuition, which is approaching $15,000, might give pause to students without an Easy Street address. DATALAB SCORE: 65. Add 5 points: Expensive, but still cheaper than Chapman. Subtract 10 points: Only alumni would recognize Concordia's name on a resume. TOTAL SCORE: 60.FULLERTON COLLEGE (WWW.FULLCOLL.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: Oldest community college in Orange County-now in its 85th year. Lots of tradition, and architecture from early '30s. Intimate campus and spacious quad give that old-time college feel. Student hang-outs like Togo's and Chicago Harv's right across the street. Downtown Fullerton's bars, restaurants, bookstores and shops are just a couple of blocks away. Hillside Park, a beautiful rambling open space once a big pickup spot for alternative-lifestyle types, is right up the street. The college is located in the city that one longtime local dealer claims is the nexus for marijuana sales and consumption in Southern California. Excellent music program-in fact, it's the only community college west of the Mississippi River with a metriculation agreement with the Berkeley School of Music. Well-regarded hands-on theater department led by Bob Jensen, recent Theater Administrator of the Year award winner. It's an ethnic microcosm of Orange County (just less than 50 percent Anglo, 26 percent Hispanic, 14 percent Asian, 3 percent African-American). Football team plays at Cal State Fullerton's very cool stadium. Women's basketball team advanced to state finals last season. ON THE OTHER HAND: Butt-ugly Hornet statue in quad needs to be bombed. Football team used to be one of the top programs in state when led by the legendary Hal Sherbeck; he's now gone, and the program is quite so-so. Same with journalism program. Close proximity to downtown-Fullerton nightlife also includes the rancidly popular Rock 'n' Taco Cantina, as well as Heroes, the bar with the best beer and one of worst ambiances in North County. Parking is a nightmare. Religious clubs and organizations are seemingly ubiquitous. DATALAB SCORE: 64. Subtract 5 points: Once a bastion of Right-leaning student organizations like Young Americans for Freedom. Add 10 points: It's not anymore. TOTAL SCORE: 69. GOLDEN WEST COLLEGE (WWW.GWC.CCCD.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: Compared to the other 30 community colleges in California with 10,000 to 15,000 students, Golden West ranked second in 1995-1996 for the number of degrees awarded, seventh in transferring students to universities, and ninth in the number of vocational certificates awarded. The grade-point average of students who transfer to state universities is higher than the average of students who began their studies at universities. The Rustlers have won more than 20 state championships in various sports in the '90s. Al Gasparian, who has logged more than 300 victories in his 14 years as the women's volleyball coach, went through a decade-long stint without a loss. Super Bowl, Rose Bowl and Freedom Bowl teams have practiced on the football field. The college's International Symphonic Band performed this summer in Scotland, London and Spain and in the International Mass at the Lourdes Basilica, France. ON THE OTHER HAND: The campus is surrounded by excruciatingly uninteresting strip malls. Unless you know the area, you can think you're driving to the beach and wind up in Little Saigon. Have you ever tried to get to a basketball game there in a torrential rainstorm? There are no overhangs between the parking lot and the gym. Such a bitch. DATALAB SCORE: 68. Add 10 points: Informed source Jim Washburn says the swap meet on its grounds is among the best in the county. Subtract 15 points: They have a Star Trek Club. TOTAL SCORE: 63.IRVINE VALLEY COLLEGE (WWW.IVC.CC.CA.US)ON THE ONE HAND: There's plenty of parking, getting classes is a snap, and many day classes are also offered at night because most students are older and have real jobs. The campus is so small you can arrive five minutes before your first class, search every room before finally finding yours, and still not be tardy. Yeah, it's Saddleback's little sister, but the faculty here will tell you they're more-how should we put it?-academically inclined than their more vocational colleagues down the 5 freeway. A huge push to be up-to-snuff in the computer age has resulted in expanded course offerings (digital photography and design-now filling up). There's no football team, but the Lasers compete in 14 other sports and boast a damn fine soccer program. ON THE OTHER HAND: You're stuck in the middle of nowhere, man. There's a lot of on-campus friction. District trustees are morons, the college president is their monkey boy, and the faculty union (which is controlled by Saddleback's more senior professors) is dirty, vocal IVC teachers say. Often. The administration has clamped down on students stating views it deems political anywhere outside of PoliSci. Speaking of administrators, one of the best in the state left IVC last year because he didn't want to do the reform-minded trustees' bidding. And on top of all that, the food is nothing to write home about. DATALAB SCORE: 46. Add 10 points: Republicans love these class sizes; the student-to-teacher ratio is about 20-to-1. Subtract 5 points: Orange County's last remaining orange groves had to die so you can get an education. TOTAL SCORE: 51. ORANGE COAST COLLEGE (WWW.OCC.CCCCD.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: OCC's distinguished alumni include OC sheriff Brad Gates, former traffic reporter Jill Angel, best-selling mystery novelist T. Jefferson Parker, current Republican state Senate minority leader Ross Johnson, marine novelist Clive Cussler, and OC Weekly art director Heather Swaim. Twelve dollars per unit is nothing to sneeze at. Campus-safety measures are fairly visible in the evenings, with escort services, call boxes and patrols driving around the parking lots. Caffeine addicts can get their fix at a number of coffee carts and the cozy Lighthouse Cafe, which also offers tasty grub. ON THE OTHER HAND: Despite additions and updates, the campus still retains some traces of its Santa Ana Army Air Base origins. Some buildings smack of stale army barracks. Some classes are so impacted that the crowds of students wanting to get on a waiting list for them spill out the rooms on the first day of class. While it may seem big from the outside, the library leaves much to be desired: namely, any smidgen of ambiance and a sadly lacking and outdated selection. DATALAB SCORE: 74. Add 10 points: For a local junior college, this one actually has a history-it's celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Subtract 15 points: Mostly uninviting architecture that would make Martha Stewart cringe. TOTAL SCORE: 69.SADDLEBACK COLLEGE (WWW.SADDLEBACK.CC.CA.US)ON THE ONE HAND: Golf-driving range, solar observatory and semiprofessional baseball team the Vigilantes. Because they work at a two-year college, Saddleback teachers tend to be into actually teaching you rather than worrying about what article they'll publish next. Big buildings make you feel like you're attending a real college-not high school-in the rolling Mission Viejo hills. The 22,600 or so students come from a wide range of backgrounds, including everyone from high school geniuses to mothers who are interested in obtaining a higher education and, of course, the lifers. Saddleback offers a variety of classes-everything from cosmetology to physics-which are about as cheap they get anywhere. Why spend $400 on a general-education class at a four-year school when you can get it for about $50 at Saddleback? ON THE OTHER HAND: Saddleback suffers from Junior College Syndrome: people take off as soon as classes are over, aren't interested in campus goings-on, view the school as an intermediate before transferring someplace else, and are slightly embarrassed to be going to a two-year college. Finding parking is like playing a video game in which you drive around and around to outwit numerous fierce competitors. Despite the extensive classes offered, general-requirement and transfer classes can sometimes take a couple of semesters to squeeze your way into. It's easy to get sucked into other students' indifference. The campus food strives for some diversity, with Taco Bell and Subway. However, it's still like campus food everywhere: overpriced, limited selection. Despite attempts to cover your eyes and ears, you can't escape the fuss about controversial South County district trustee Stephen J. Frogue. DATALAB SCORE: 75. Add 5 points: During the district board's controversial meetings, there are more cops on campus than in Huntington Beach on the Fourth of July. Subtract 10 points: If you're not careful while walking up to the Student Services Center, you can easily lose your balance, tumble down the hill and roll all the way to Encinitas. TOTAL SCORE: 70.SANTA ANA COLLEGE (WWW.RANCHO.CC.CA.US)ON THE ONE HAND: This college, founded in 1915 on the grounds of Santa Ana High, has metastasized into a 32,000-strong commuter campus. It's a truly international college, with OC's most diverse student body. It boasts California's highest transfer rate for students going on to universities and one of the 10 highest Latino graduation rates. It has rather high standards, good science and math classes, helpful counselors, and ridiculously high parking fees. ON THE OTHER HAND: All your life, you're going to have to write in your resume's margin: "No, I didn't earn my diploma in jail. This is actually a pretty good college." But it might not remain such a good college: the board of trustees is "in danger of being taken over by those who are beholden to the Christian Right," according to Lee Mallory, professor and political-action officer of the teachers union. If that happens, maybe you'll have to commute to Golden West College to take an evolution class. DATALAB SCORE: 59. Add 20 points: Attractive campus, comfortable toilet seats and a four-color newspaper. Subtract 20 points: They call themselves the Dons, there are no nearby bars, and the X-rated movie theater across the street was bulldozed. TOTAL SCORE: 59.SANTIAGO CANYON COLLEGE (WWW.RANCHO.CC.CA.US/RSCCD/SCC)ON THE ONE HAND: We got lost once in the hills above Orange and came across this campus by accident. ON THE OTHER HAND: We didn't stop in for a look. DATALAB SCORE: 63. Add 5 points: The hills are very green. Subtract 10 points: What's that smell? TOTAL SCORE: 58.UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE (WWW.UCI.EDU)ON THE ONE HAND: UCI can claim deconstruction giant Jacques Derrida; Nobel Prize winners F. Sherwood Rowland (chemistry) and, until his death last week, Frederick Reines (physics); Francisco Ayala (evolutionary biology); Mark Poster (critical theory); David Easton and Harry Eckstein (political science); Metropolis nightclub and the Irvine Improv across the street; William Pereira landscaped the campus (which served as setting for 1960s Charlton Heston vehicle Planet of the Apes); buildings by Eric Owen Moss, Charles Moore, Frank O. Gehry and James Stirling; advantages of going to school in Asia with none of the nasty Communist Party politics (52 percent of students identify themselves as "Asian/Pacific islander"); tied with University of Wisconsin Madison for No. 36 in U.S. News & World Report annual ranking; No. 9 among public universities; Irvine is safer than Singapore and has fewer canings. ON THE OTHER HAND: Basketball team is mediocre when playing well; outgoing chancellor nearly turned UCI into a patent-hungry business; said outgoing chancellor's ambition produced the demoralizing still-born privatization of the UCI Medical Center; lack of campus social life means you still have to leave OC to get a real college experience (this ain't Madison); maybe because it's young, or because it has no real center (in the semiotics sense), the school has all the identity of a Denny's (and hey!-there's one across the street); monopoly landowner Irvine Co. hasn't done much to cultivate college-town atmosphere, except to name city streets "Oxford," "Harvard" and "Berkeley." DATALAB SCORE: 83. Add 10 points: No football team. Subtract 5 points: No football team. TOTAL SCORE: 88.* Note: In previous analyses of Orange County colleges and universities, researchers at the OC Weekly DataLab examined-but ultimately ignored-the problem of controlling for a chaotic system embedded in a time-varying environment, where the environmental variation may be of relatively larger amplitude and may have a fairly irregular nature. In this year's model, OC Weekly DataLab chief E. Costello borrowed from the analysis of M. Ding, E. Ott and C. Grebogi (1994) to allow for an older method adapted to this irregular situation, one that selects and stabilizes unstable steady states or unstable periodic orbits. Some readers will note that researchers P.M. Gade and R.E. Amritkar have already identified problems in this method ("Spatially periodic orbits in coupled-map lattices") and that the results of our college roundup are therefore vulnerable to idiosyncrasies usually associated with one-dimensional and higher-dimensional lattices. We refer them to Knightly and Sather's work in Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Mathematik Und Physik (44:1-16). Okay by you? Any questions, comments or criticisms should go to Helen Waite, OC Weekly DataLab, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

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