First-Year Reflections: What I Wish I Had Known Before Coming to Pomona

Tree behind lake with open book on dock

By Ebenezer Mensah ‘23

It seems like only yesterday that I moved into Mudd Hall as a first-year student, but autumn and winter have passed by, concluding my first year at Pomona. Reflecting on my first year, these are the things I wish I had known before coming to Pomona.

Professors want to know you

student and professor working at white boardComing from an educational system that was not easily accessible, and where almost any form of teacher-student interaction was initiated by the teacher, I assumed professors in college would not be easily accessible. So for most of my first year, unless a professor requested to meet with me, I never went to office hours. However, in hindsight, I know my assumption was wrong, and professors here do relish spending time with students and getting to know them personally. So, my advice to the first-year students, especially international students who are new to this, is to get to know your professors, and you will be surprised just how much they truly care about getting to know you.

Attend mentor sessions

collaborative math learningComing from an educational system that placed so much emphasis on individuality and encouraged individual work, I was surprised to see just how much Pomona encouraged collaboration and group study. Because my previous educational system placed so much emphasis on individual work, I did not take advantage of mentor sessions and group study sessions as much as I should have. Given what I know now, I will encourage you to attend mentor sessions regularly and form study sessions with your peers, if necessary, to collaborate on solving assignments. You will soon find out college work is intentionally difficult to encourage you to work with your peers.

Make friends

four students eating ice creamLast but certainly not least: Go out and make friends. I cannot emphasize this enough. You are not here just to study, but you are here to meet people and forge alliances. Don’t stay in your room studying all the time, but get out of your room and meet new people. Make friends outside your sponsor group and outside your regular classes. You will need them throughout your time here and your journey in life.