By Jacinta Chen ’21
During my sophomore year of high school, I attended the Pomona admissions info session and was so excited to hear about the intellectual and collaborative nature that Pomona would offer me. Essentially three and a half years later, I can say that Pomona’s academic environment has not only met, but exceeded my expectations. I’d like to share five key components that I believe make Pomona so special for students.
- Office hours
At many colleges, office hours with the actual professors are rare or students do not have much interest in getting to know their professors. However, I’ve tried to make the most of my small college experience by attending office hours at least once for all of my classes. Through office hours and appointments with my professors, I’ve had a chance to develop even more as a student with one-on-one feedback and to also receive excellent advice from some of the greatest minds in their respective fields. My professors have generally been extremely approachable and have been willing to help me reach new heights in my writing and understanding of their classes. By having lunch with professors on occasion and going to office hours once or twice a week, I’ve gotten to know some of them really well and learned about their fascinating life experiences too!
- Mentor sessions
For classes that tend to have problems sets like Macroeconomics, Calculus, and Geology, Pomona’s professors find students who are generally majors in their departments to lead mentor sessions. During my first year, I found that attending mentor sessions for my STEM classes was an excellent way to get feedback from the mentors on the way I was solving my problem sets and to also ask questions I had concerning the course material. Mentors were often able to answer questions outside of the mentor session hours too. I now serve as a mentor for Principles of Macroeconomics at Pomona, and have really enjoyed helping my peers by answering their questions and enhancing their understanding of the fundamental concepts for the course.
- Quantitative Skills Center and Writing Center
In addition to office hours and mentor sessions, Pomona has two tutoring or academic help centers — the Quantitative Skills Center (QSC) and the Writing Center. Personally, I haven’t needed to go to the QSC, since office hours and mentor sessions for my math, economics, and science courses have provided me with adequate help. However, I have heard great things about the center’s tutors and intellectually-stimulating environment from my friends who either go there for help or work there as tutors. Meanwhile, for my writing intensive classes, I am always sure to book an appointment or drop in during the center’s appointment hours for help. During my first semester at Pomona, I signed up for a regular writing partner who I met with roughly once a week to go over the essays that I was writing in my ID001 course (Critical Inquiry Seminar). By meeting with her regularly, I was able to write in a much more succinct and clear manner by the end of the semester. Her help coupled with my professor’s guidance allowed me to improve tremendously.
- Foreign language partners and specific department mentors
Beyond the QSC and Writing Center, Pomona has some foreign language partners and mentors (who are majors from specific departments) who provide additional help. Foreign language partners can help extend students’ conversational skills, read their essays for clarity and ideas, and provide help beyond what the language professors can provide. As a student of French at Pomona, I have met with a French language partner a few times. She provided me with a couple grammar tips as well as wonderful feedback as to how I could restructure and enhance the ideas of my essays. For non-STEM classes that do not necessarily require group mentor sessions, departments like philosophy are also available to help. Since I had less experience with philosophical writing, I met with one of the philosophy mentors on multiple occasions for help with brainstorming ideas, structuring my paper, and clarifying my arguments.
- Collaborative nature of student body
Most importantly, Pomona’s student body is filled with extremely supportive and collaborative students. Besides all of these academic resources, my friends at Pomona are always around to help me out—we peer edit each other’s papers, exchange notes, work on problem sets together, and study for exams together. My friends at Pomona enhance learning and make every opportunity that much more memorable. Overall, at Pomona, I’m never afraid to ask for the academic help I need to succeed and I enjoy helping my friends and peers out in any way I can.