After reading many articles with a title identical to that of this post, I realized that these articles often suggested questions helpful to a broad audience, even though each college applicant is different and thus has different priorities and needs. So I did some soul-searching about what I really wanted. Personally, what I came to appreciate about a school was not its quantitative merits (rankings, number of majors, student:faculty ratio, etc), but its community culture - a school’s various intangible, collective values from which many tangible features are derived. After all, regardless of your major or extracurricular activities, campus culture is deeply embedded and will impact your daily college experience. [Read more…]
This is a post for all of the no longer “prospective students” but for the future attendees of some of the best and most elite colleges and universities in the country. I know you all are about to embark on a monthlong breakdown full of college admitted student day trips, getting to know new people and places, [insert college name here] Class of 2019 Facebook group notifications, and most importantly, decisions that are basically going to affect the rest of your lives, and I just wanted to let you all know that I am here for you.
Yes, that’s right! Through all of that madness you all have beeing going through, I just wanted to let you all know that I am here to hopefully help you navigate the world of college decision making, and more pressingly, the world of admitted student weekends! It is crazy for me to think about how I went through this process just a measly three years ago, but being that I have hosted several students on this weekend before, I know the ins and outs of how they function. They may seem overwhelming, but if they are accessible to you, I suggest going to all of your prospective colleges’ admitted students weekends. They are really there to help you explore different colleges and weigh your options when it comes to choosing your new home for the next four years. Here’s what to expect: [Read more…]
We see you!
‘Tis the season for prospective students, and sure enough, here you are! You’re walking around campus, going on tours, clutching maps, and carrying or wearing admissions paraphernalia. You are equipped with your nicest business-casual interview outfits and nervous-looking parents, trying to get a read on different schools and whether you might see yourself there. Right now, maybe you’re facing the first life-changing decision you’ve ever had to make. Many decisions have undoubtedly been made for you growing up, regardless of your background, and now here’s a decision that is — at least partially — yours.
My awesome friend/boss Feather Flores recently wrote a post about what Pomona isn’t, and I wanted to follow up on that. It’s decision time for the Class of 2019, so I’ll take this opportunity to tell you why I chose Pomona and why you shouldn’t. [Read more…]
As I’m starting my fourth month abroad in Budapest and the last month of my junior year, I’m starting to reflect on my time abroad, but also on my time back at Pomona College. I’ve begun to realize that leaving Pomona for a few months has made me realize a lot about the college, and I’d like to share a few of these thoughts with you. Quite a few of these are apparent but easy to forget while you’re still at the college:
1. The SoCal sunshine truly is wonderful.
Sure, I’ve always enjoyed the sunshine at Pomona. It’s always been nice to lie on Marston Quad with a book (probably assigned for a class), to eat lunch outside in the Frary courtyard, and to walk around in shorts even in February. But I didn’t appreciate the sunshine fully until I experienced two weeks straight of sun-less skies as soon as I arrived here. The forecast alternated between rain, snow, and generally overcast. The third week, as soon as the clouds cleared enough for the first rays of sun to peek through, my friends and I all rushed outside to soak in the Vitamin D (and take a few pictures for Instagram to document the occasion). All of a sudden, people seemed more cheerful and the city seemed more inviting, making me miss the days of Southern California sunshine at Pomona. [Read more…]
Regional difference was something I expected to be a challenge when I came to California. I love it here at Pomona College, but even the college recognizes its lack of representation of students from the South. In welcoming the Class of 2018, the admission office celebrates “a particularly strong increase in students from the South [+45%].” Of course, the percentage increased most likely from single digits.
College is an opportunity for building personal skills that are valuable in life generally, like how to adjust to new living environments. Highway this, highway that, San What’s-It-Called and San Who-Is-That. I had to take a moment to soak in all that is Southern California. After all, I’m from a state much more obscure, one that no one seems to remember, nor seems able to pronounce correctly: Arkansas. [Read more…]
As the head mentor for the International Student Mentor Program (ISMP), I have always felt that the presence of international students on campus brings an interesting dynamic to campus life. We grew up in different environments and cultures (what Bourdieu calls habitus), and the things we do and say here sometimes challenge assumptions that students and professors make both in and out of the classrooms.
However, I would like to focus more on the personal – how having a group of international students on campus made me a better person. Apart from the obvious reason of having a support network, knowing people from so many parts of the world has also made me reconsider much of my own thinking. The mainstream media shapes how we view different countries in the world, and we begin to have singular narratives of certain countries – what Chimamanda Adichie would term the “danger of a single story”.
For example, before coming to Pomona College, my impression of Pakistan was that it was a dangerous, lawless and a fundamentalist Islamic state. This was what I got from the news I saw on television, and trust me, my parents will freak out if I ever tell them I now want to visit Pakistan.
But I had the luck of making a Pakistani friend after coming to college, and she overturned many of the prior impressions I had about the country. I learnt that Lahore, where she comes from, is a beautiful city with a thriving arts scene. I learnt that Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad are all cities in Pakistan with different characters and “feels”. But most of all, I managed to have a human connection with the country, so that the Pakistanis I see on television are no longer just disconnected “Others” to me, but have their own agency and thoughts beyond the simplified portrayals I see on television. [Read more…]
Pomona is an incredible institution, so it makes sense that so much of what you hear about it is positive. If you like to measure the worth of things in rankings, we’re #8 on the Forbes national list, #5 on the U.S. News & World Report liberal arts college list, #20 on The Daily Beast’s list (#1 and #7 on the “Student Life” and “Campus Quality” sublistings, respectively), and a bunch of good numbers on the Princeton Review’s various lists. If you prefer measuring the worth of things empirically, ask a random student on campus how they feel about the college and you’re guaranteed to come away with at least one positive remark– “The campus is so beautiful!” ; “There are lots of opportunities and supportive professors” ; “The people here are just the best.”
That’s a lot to take in. And it’s a lot of positivity.
This year, I am one of Pomona’s 70-something sponsors; I live in the same hall as, and (try to) serve as a mentor to, 14 first-year students, along with my co-sponsor. (Shout-out to Zach Hauser, who may possibly be the greatest human being alive.)
One of the biggest things I’ve watched my sponsees struggle with is the process of re-evaluating their prior notions of life at Pomona. Because there is so much positive rhetoric surrounding the college–though not without good reason–it’s easy to form misconceptions about what being a student at Pomona is really like. After all, it’s always different once you’re on the other side.
So I want this post to be a space for you, the future Class of 2019, to read about some of the elements of being a student at this college that you normally won’t hear about until you get here. Without further ado,
5 Things Pomona College Isn’t [Read more…]
A new land. A new territory. A new adventure…
Everything will be new, or so it seems. I can imagine, if you are a newly admitted student, how complicated your feelings must be. You are excited, you are overwhelmed, and you are nervous as you prepare to bid farewell to your high school career and move on to college. If you are an international student, you might feel even more so, knowing that your family may have to travel a long way to visit you, and that it will take a long time to reunite with your current friends.
For international students like myself, it’s undeniably daunting to think about this new experience at first. Leaving your home, adjusting to a different lifestyle, having to deal with the sometimes too-slow Internet connection when you Skype with your family and friends, working out the time difference between Claremont and where you have been calling home… Yes, I’ve felt all these emotions. Instead of sharing them with you today to empathise with you, I write instead to enumerate all the resources Pomona provides in order to help you with the adjustment to college, and to flourish in this unique environment.
You might have read my previous blog posts about some of these resources. For your convenience, here is a list of resources (which surely is not comprehensive) of which I have personally taken much advantage, as well as links to a few of my previous blog entries on Voices: [Read more…]
One of the opportunities the Office of Admissions offers first-year students is the chance to be a Student Ambassador. After you apply, eight first-year students are chosen to give tours, host prospective students, coordinate events for the tour guide and overnight host programs, and collaborate with the Office of Admissions on other projects.
The tour guiding aspect of being a Student Ambassador is one of my favorite ways to give others a taste of Pomona. So, without further ado, here is a tour guide’s list* of 47 Reasons Why Pomona is a Special Place, in no particular order of importance: [Read more…]
On the Wednesday afternoon of spring break, I sat in the Coop Fountain staring at my laptop screen. My real spring break had started thirty seconds beforehand, when I clicked “send” on an email to my advisor containing the first draft of my independent study paper. The moment felt surprisingly anticlimactic. I shut my laptop, walked outside into the sunny spring weather that had been staring me down through the windows for the past few days, and cheerily dialed my family to chat and catch up.
Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly. I had been working intensively on the paper since Saturday morning, but also had taken a day trip on Sunday to Long Beach (which is about an hour away). The next couple days also included occasional sanity breaks for card games (my suite has recently developed a weakness for Sentinels of the Multiverse), food, and much-needed sleep. Nonetheless, I spent most of my waking hours in the first half of the week typing, making diagrams, or tapping my fingertips impatiently on my keyboard while waiting for coherent thoughts to form. It sounds pretty awful, save for the fact that this will be — no, really – the most important paper I’ve written in college so far.