Application Advice

By Oluyemisi Bolonduro ‘23

The other day I had a chat with a prospective student about Pomona. They leaned forward, lowered their voice, and said, “you need a 1500 SAT to get into Pomona, right?” To which I responded, “no… absolutely not.” Then, I proceeded to tell them the application advice for Pomona (and college in general) that I’m about to tell you. Disclaimer: I’m not an admissions officer!

  1. Get to know your school

palm treesI got to meet my admissions officer three times before applying to Pomona and even got to visit campus (which I know isn’t accessible for all, especially in a pandemic… see my blog post Picking Pomona for more details on that). I know many schools are offering ways for students to connect virtually: info sessions, Q&As, virtual tours, appointments, student chats… all of these are ways for you to learn more about the schools you’re interested in!

  1. Ask what you want out of your college experience

I knew I wanted small classes, collaboration, little competition (especially with grad students), enjoyable weather, research opportunities, and academic autonomy. Pomona gave me all that–and a social life, which I’m learning from some of my college friends isn’t something that naturally occurs in their campus cultures.

  1. Enjoy the application process

It may sound weird, but I had a relatively positive application process. I looked at all the essay prompts for the colleges I was applying to and thought, “how do I make this less of a drag??” When applying to Pomona, I had the option to include photos/videos through the Coalition application that made it more enjoyable. For other colleges, it was the opportunity to use imagery in my essays for the Common Application. One piece of advice I was given was, “if you can’t think of anything for the prompt after a week or so, that’s a pretty good indication that the type of student they want reflected in prompt responses isn’t you.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of stressing over draining applications, I was able to focus on colleges that most excited me.

  1. Make your weaknesses your strengths

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I don’t properly indent my paragraphs. That’s because I never figured out how to do it right in K-12. It’s been explained to me multiple times, and I could easily look it up, but the rules have never stuck. This is the type of format I used on my personal statement, but I made it intentional. It created a ~cool aesthetic~ to my essay, when, really, I just don’t know how to indent consistently. It’s not like my admissions officers knew that (ahaha).

  1. Ignore the stats

statistics stock imageWhen I first started my application process, I was calculating how many standard deviations I was away from certain averages. Then, my brother sat me down and basically said “a 1600 SAT with a 4.0 GPA is what people think is key. But it means nothing if you write negative two words on your statement or they don’t think you’re a good fit.” Once I got past that numbers barrier, I was able to focus more on colleges that “fit” my personality instead of colleges whose stats I “matched.”

Two years ago (wow!), I was applying to college. I know the process is difficult and it’s easy to invest yourself in others’ perceptions of you (this is completely normal). That being said, I wish peace of mind and confidence to whoever reads this… you got this!