Most Pepperdine students are happy with the college they picked, their minor critiques of particulars giving way to an overall appreciation of the experience and benefits Pepperdine has granted them that no other school could. Students who don’t gush forth wholehearted and unwavering words of love usually cite the school’s size and social climate as the source of whatever dissatisfactions they may have. When people decide to transfer from Pepperdine, it isn’t because of the lack of dining halls and parking availability, or some qualms they have about student housing; it’s because of the other Pepperdine students and the community environment they create. For example, some religious students are dismayed to discover that many don’t share their Christian enthusiasm. Others, in contrast, find the Christian atmosphere to
Many students complain that the high schools they attended were larger and less strict than Pepperdine, with more to do on the weekends, while others with similar high school experiences find Pepperdine a welcome respite. And while some find the small campus and even smaller student population comforting, others find that Pepperdine’s quaintness inhibits their growth and restricts their social life. There’s nothing small, though, about the 125-foot cross that stands at the forefront of the Malibu campus the job of which is to proclaim loudly and clearly that Pepperdine’s mission is not merely academic.
Ultimately, Pepperdine’s considerable Christian affiliation defines it as a school. More specifically, it’s the interaction between the religious emphasis and seemingly contradictory elements—luxury automobiles, non-Christian students, high heels and mini-skirts, a broad liberal arts education with its overwhelming price tag, the desire to let loose and party once in a while—that makes Pepperdine a dynamic and truly unique environment. The most amazing thing about Pepperdine may be that it has managed to hold onto its religious inclinations while still maintaining an excellent academic reputation. The University’s mission statement affirms that “the educational process may not, with impunity, be divorced from the divine process.” This language contrasts markedly with the prevailing public opinion that religion and academic rigor simply don’t mix, and it highlights Pepperdine’s willingness to approach higher education in unconventional ways. In the end, Pepperdine is a small Christian school that really wants its students to grow into people who might make the world a better place. It is not for everyone, but it offers plenty of rewards to those willing to take advantage of the educational and spiritual environment that is, after all, the reason they built Pepperdine in the first place.