Why I Applied Early to Pomona

2 years ago, around this time, I told my parents that I wanted to apply ED1 to Pomona College.  It had been a long process of considering all of my options, a few hours of meditation, and a lot of listening to thought provoking music before I knew for sure.  The long two hour conversation I had with my parents after telling them only confirmed my desire to apply ED.  The main question I received from friends and family over the subsequent weeks was, ‘why?’ Specifically, ‘Why Pomona?’  With the next generation of ED students considering whether to take the plunge or not, I figure I’ll try and explain the most important decision I’ve made to date.

I hail from the great state of NY, and on first glance I would probably seem to be a pretty stereotypical East Coaster.  I walk a little too fast and with a little too much purpose, throw around EC slang, and I’m a little bit too familiar with I-95.  However I’m a born n’ raised die-hard SF Giants fan, worked in LA the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, and declared at a young age that I was going to move to the West Coast ASAP.  That being said, when it came time to look at colleges, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go West Coast.  My mother really wanted me to stay within driving distance, preferably not 3,000 miles away.  A lot of kids from my high school weren’t even allowed to go past the Mississippi River, and my closest friends planned on staying closer to home.  That being said, I decided to visit a series of West Coast schools, and from the moment I stepped on Pomona’s campus I felt a kind of energy I hadn’t felt anywhere else.

There’s always a group of people who will be passionate about the same things you are.

If you’re interested in Pomona and you’ve been on the campus, you’ve probably felt it. There’s no way to describe it other than an undercurrent of passion.  In the very fiber of this school, there’s passion.  Passion for literally everything you could possibly imagine, from a super specific area math to the most broad genre of film.  Everyone I spoke to in my visits to Pomona had a passion, and sometimes they had zero to do with school.  I met a guy who’s passion was announcing sporting events, a girl who learned Elvish and could recite the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and a guy who designed crossword puzzles for the New York Times, all within 10 minutes of my tour. I have a passion for stories, so the idea of being surrounded by 1500+ people who all had passions and stories to tell was electrifying.  And when you realize the school itself is passionate, you have a community that is constantly becoming more and more passionate about more and more topics.  Some people will talk your ear off about how great the number 47 is (myself included), but not everyone loves 47.  The main thing, though, is that even the people who dislike 47 respected that passion.

Other schools were passionate, of course, generally about their athletics or a program or two, but nowhere else was as passionate about passions.  When I told my parents I wanted to apply ED1 to Pomona, I didn’t argue it for the top liberal arts college or the consortium or any of the many other pros that Pomona really pushes in their brochures.  I told my parents that I wanted to go to a school that would support my passions, surrounded by others who were just as passionate about their subjects as I was about mine.  There are tons of logistics for ED1, stuff that needs to be figured out both with family and on a personal level.  ED is not the right call for everyone, for a whole host of reasons, but if you’re considering applying ED anywhere, go with the place where you feel a special kind of energy.  I chose ED to Pomona because I wanted to be surrounded by passion.  And I can say with full confidence that it was one of the best decision I’ve ever made.


This Post is for the Prospective International Student (Especially Those of Asian Descent).

I am Yttrium Sua, a senior double majoring in anthropology and environmental analysis. I come from the tropical island-nation of Singapore and I spent my junior year abroad in Kyoto, Japan.

In my post, I hope to provide another perspective, to relate some of the things I have been exposed to during my 4 years in college and in the US – things I have experienced as a Pomona College student, an international student and a racial minority. These are things I wish platforms like Pomona Voices could have prepared me for before I came to college, things I hope will help prospective students realize that the most important education one can get in college comes when you are challenged, angered and proven wrong.

Today, I shall talk about English, a language Americans have claimed as their own.

Just this Fall semester, I arrived at LAX immigration customs, where I was asked to present my “blue form”. The following exchange soon ensued:

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A Major in Music and a Minor Identity Crisis

I’ve heard so many stories and jokes surrounding the indecisiveness of the majorless first-year, those lost liberal-artsers who constantly change their interests, take courses from every department possible, and woefully declare the hopelessness of their future. The good news is that all of these confused first-years eventually find something they love or something at which they excel and have perfectly normal and successful futures. Nonetheless, that wasn’t exactly my story.

Reason #1 to major in music: Someday you might get a tree planted in your honor!
Reason #1 to major in music: Someday you might get a tree planted in your honor!

I’d known for years that I wanted to be a music major. I’d auditioned for conservatories before deciding (partially through reflection and partially through botched auditions) that that environment wasn’t for me and that I’m a liberal-arts gal. I play piano and oboe, and I’ve fluctuated wildly in the degree of closeness I feel to each instrument. Every time it came down to it, though, I enjoyed playing. I tried to see myself as a performer. I also liked composing, and I’d done some of that and some pretty serious songwriting endeavors (three recorded piano-voice albums!) in high school.
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Why Study Abroad?

A pretty large number of my Pomona friends are studying abroad this semester, and if not this semester, they plan to go abroad in the spring. We are in places as far-flung as Cameroon, Germany, Australia, Hungary, China, Greece — the list goes on. We all made the decision to forfeit a semester at Pomona, giving up loads of interesting classes, on-campus involvement and responsibilities, Taco Tuesdays, perfect weather, all manner of Claremont traditions and shenanigans, and time together with friends, professors, classmates, and teammates. Why leave behind all these opportunities to go halfway around the globe? Here are a few of the reasons I chose to study abroad:

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Life on a Language Pledge

motorcycle - Madeleine
A scene from everyday life in Kunming.

Here in Kunming, I’m not just studying abroad in China. I’m studying abroad in Chinese. The Middlebury program I am on has a strict language pledge, essentially meaning we can’t speak anything but Chinese for the whole four months. It sounds intimidating, and it definitely was at first.

One complaint about the language pledge is that it makes it harder to make friends. Things definitely go slower with a language pledge. With limited vocabulary, you can’t readily express everything you want to. You’re a little more boring, a little less funny, a little less unique, a little less whatever-makes-you-you. You know that if you were allowed to speak English, you could really click with the other American students on the program, but instead you spend the first few weeks awkwardly stumbling around in Chinese, trailing off at the end of your sentences or finishing them with an uncertain “you know what I’m saying?”

Translating words and phrases is one thing, but translating your self into another language is definitely not easy.

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A Trip to Dali

This past long weekend, I was lucky enough to spend a couple days in Dali, a small(er than Kunming) ancient city that used to be its own kingdom. Dali is about a 6-7 hour drive from Kunming and is famous for its beautiful scenery, old town, and the Bai ethnic minority. Though it threatened to rain at times, for the most part, the weather worked out in our favor — meaning lots of outdoor activities!

We arrived in Dali on Thursday evening, and spent a few hours exploring Dali’s old town.

On Friday morning, a group of American students and some of our Chinese roommates biked 35 km around Erhai, the big lake next to Dali.

Mid-bike ride.
Mid-bike ride.

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5 Reminders I’m Not in Claremont Anymore

rsz_dsc_0105-1But first, a quick introduction. My name is Madeleine Colvin and I’m a third-year student at Pomona. As this post’s title indicates, I’m not in Claremont, but in Kunming, China, where I am spending the fall semester abroad at Yunnan University. While essentially everything I see/hear/smell/eat here is remarkably different from Claremont, here are some more obvious standouts (in no particular order) to give an idea of what my life in China is like:

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A Day in the Life (Abroad)

I’m Madeleine, a Pomona junior spending the fall semester abroad in Kunming, China. Here’s a little taste of my average weekday:

Fruit seller outside my dorm.
Fruit market outside my dorm.

7:00- If I wake up this early, I like to go down to Cuihu Lake where exclusively old people practice Tai Chi, their Chinese opera skills, embroidery, dancing, etc. I am a Chinese grandma at heart, so I feel especially at home here.

7:45- Wake up. Judge whether I have time for a shower. Buy new favorite delicious Chinese breakfast food (er kuai) from a street vendor on the way to class. Try to review how to write some characters before our daily quizzes.

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