Pomona: My EdUtopia in Real Life!

I applied to Pomona College as an international ED1 (first round of Early Decision) applicant from China, where, arguably, Pomona and other liberal arts colleges are still in the process of gaining widespread public attention, compared to large research universities that generate more craze and hysteria across the country. Among so many fantastic higher education institutions that America has to offer, why did I choose Pomona?

I fell wildly in love with Pomona even without the opportunity to visit the stunning campus, because it resembled my vision of an ideal university from so many angles.

A little context: back in high school, I was invited as a keynote speaker to talk about my vision of an “edUtopia (education utopia)” [here is my script] at an education salon in Beijing. Looking back at the model that I constructed, I have been exhilarated by how much Pomona resembles my edUtopia.

There are so many reasons why my fellow Pomona Sagehens and I chose to study here, as you have heard from other bloggers: the picturesque weather, the campus’ location in SoCal, the quality of education, the resources of the five Claremont Colleges, the breadth and depth of Pomona’s distributional liberal arts curriculum, the small class sizes, the College’s dedication to issues including diversity and sustainability… All of these reasons immediately attracted my attention as a high school student deciding on to which college she should apply to ED.

Let me share with you some less talked-about aspects of Pomona that make the education here truly personalized, challenging, and collaboration-centered.

April at the Pomona College Convocation
April at the Pomona College Convocation

To this day, I can still hardly believe that it has only been 8 weeks since move-in day. One of the essential reasons why I already feel so at home is the amount of effort and resources that Pomona puts into in helping students transition to life at college. Weeks before college stated, I started receiving emails and Facebook messages from names I had yet to familiarize with.

“Welcome to Claremont, April! We are excited that you are joining us!”

“Hey, this is your sponsor. Welcome to Mudd 1 Back (your future home for the next two semesters)!”

“Greetings from your ISMP (International Student Mentorship Program) mentor!”

“Hello from your AAMP (Asian American Mentorship Program) mentors! Much Love!”

“You have been assigned a faculty advisor based on your academic and co-curricular interests.”

And as I stepped into my dorm for the first time, I found numerous cards from all those wonderful individuals who represent the amazing support the College provides. From cultural adjustments to daily needs, we have so many go-to contacts with whom we have quickly established firm friendship and personal trust.

Academically, the College also provides every student with free tutoring. We can all register for tutoring for subjects including mathematics, economics, physics, Chemistry, biology, and neuroscience at the Quantitative Skills Center, language subjects at the Foreign Languages Resource Center, and 1-on-1 sessions with a Fellow at the Writing Center to discuss papers for various subjects.

Officially "Through the Gates"!
Officially “Through the Gates”!

A key emphasis of my edUtopia is collaboration. Prior to coming to Pomona, I could hardly imagine how students in elite institutions could truly collaborate with each other, when competition would probably be fierce. Pomona has managed to convince me that true collaboration is possible. For my mathematics and economics classes, we have mentor sessions and study groups that meet according to a fixed schedule, which can be flexibly adjusted whenever we are approaching exams or finals. These study sessions often go into late nights, helping students review and discuss academic aspects and often triggering new thoughts as everyone listens to each other’s perspectives on various topics of the course and the application in interdisciplinary fields. Our macroeconomics professor herself would be present every week, exemplifying how much our faculty members really cares about their students and wish them to succeed in every possible way.

I have by now reached the maximum word count. Oops. Please check out my future blog posts for more reasons on Why Pomona!