By Arianna Chen ’19
Great! You’ve started your college search/gotten into Pomona (among other schools), and you’re trying to decide which college is right for you—congrats! As a soon-to-be senior and the host of numerous prospies, I’d like to think that my wealth of experience and reflections during my 3 years here qualify me to give you advice for choosing the right college for you!! (especially if it’s Pomona!)
Here are 9 different factors I kept in mind while considering different colleges that helped me narrow my list down and, ultimately, choose Pomona:
1. My priorities First and foremost, I decided what my top priority was: being able to continue to play tennis competitively at a high level, but not sacrificing the quality of academics. While playing tennis was important to me, having my academics as the priority was even more important to me, especially since I wanted to study abroad. This narrowed my search down to primarily Division III schools, and Pomona so far has held a pretty good balance between academics and athletics. Decide your priorities, and keep those in mind during your search to help narrow your list down!
2. The academic environment While I wanted the academics to be at a high level, I wanted a more collaborative environment as opposed to a more “cutthroat” one. This eliminated a lot of schools whose environments, I felt, didn’t foster organic growth but rather unhealthy competition. Pomona highly values students collaborating together, and many classes have mentor sessions where classmates come together to bond, struggle, and learn together.
3. The size I personally wanted a smaller school as I tend to get overwhelmed in a larger environment. Sometimes, it can be tiring to see people you know so often, but, for me, this is where being part of a consortium plays a huge role in making campus feel bigger (but also, as an introvert who generally keeps to themselves, I’m still meeting new people every day and haven’t found this to be much of a problem!). And don’t let the small size scare you away—we still have amazing resources!
4. The “vibe” I don’t really know how to explain this one, but this is where visiting in-person can be really helpful. If you have the resources and time to do so, I would highly recommend doing so. Personally, when I came, I just felt that everyone was very quirky and more importantly, nice and, honestly, that’s what put Pomona over the edge for me. When I visited I could just imagine myself being here and having a good time.
5. The weather This one seems sort of silly, but it’s on the list because Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real y’all. Being located in Southern California means that you get more sunny days than most schools. I took official visits to Carnegie Mellon, Amherst, Tufts, and Case Western, and, while the fall colors made me happy, the cold and gloomy weather did not.
6. How I want to be valued as a student I’m not saying that big schools don’t value their students, I’m just saying that it’s easier to not get lost in the system and make more meaningful relations with your professors at smaller schools like Pomona. With an average class size of about 15 and passionate professors, I find that I feel valued as a student, and I’m really grateful for that.
7. What I wanted to study (or lack thereof) As someone who had absolutely no idea of what she wanted to do, Pomona got on my good side because it’s easier to switch majors and explore different areas (my first 2 years here, I tried pretty much every discipline possible), and every discipline here is strong. It is often difficult to explore or switch majors at other colleges, whether it be that they do not have enough spots in impacted majors or have rigid tracks for your major.
8. Location During my college search, I had thought that location wouldn’t be a big deal for me. But as time has gone on during my time here, I’ve started to become a lot more grateful for Pomona’s location. I’m from NorCal, which means that I’m about a 5.5-hour drive away or a 1-hour flight away—this makes it very convenient for me to go home if I need to or for my parents to visit me and watch my tennis matches when they can. At the same time, it’s still far enough that they can’t just randomly show up to “check up on me.” Additionally, I also appreciate that it’s out of the hustle and bustle of the city but is still relatively easy to get there if you want it.
9. Most importantly, that I’m the one who’s going to be stuck here for the next 4 years—not my parents, not my friends, and definitely not society that’s telling me one school is better than the other. While your friends and parents probably do want the best for you and are trying to help you, and it’s not a bad idea to take their opinions and thoughts into consideration, remember that, ultimately, it’s you who’s going to be spending the next 4 years at college, not them. Follow your heart!
And there you have it, the most important things that I considered when choosing colleges. Pomona was the right decision for me, but it’s not going to be right for everyone. I hope this post helps y’all in making your decisions. Good luck!!