The College Search: Sage(hen) Advice from Oluyemisi

graphic for Sage(hen) adviceThis is the fifth in a six-part series of advice for high-school-aged students about the college search process. Enjoy!

By Oluyemisi Bolonduro ’23

Salutations all,

My name is Oluyemisi Bolonduro, and I’m a second year at Pomona majoring in Africana Studies. Some of you may have nooooo idea where you want to go to college and others of you have had an idea for years. Whether you’re a sophomore or junior in high school, my advice for you is quite similar. The college search is less about the academic aspects of things and more about the personal. I think high school me was very lost and unstable. She wasn’t rooted in herself and catered to everyone else until the very end. Once I knew who I wanted to be and where I could find that person, the college process was quite exciting.

palm treesI believe the college application process should be about where you think your personality and existence will fit. My place is at Pomona. But there’s no way for you to have an idea of where this place is if you have no idea who you are. Also, some people have multiple places where they could fit—there’s not just one institution for them. So, here are three tips that I think will help you find yourself (as cheesy as that sounds) and hopefully find a place you can see yourself thriving in as a college student.

(1) Leave what does more harm than good.I was your typical ASB/Leadership kid in high school until I wasn’t. At some point, the goals of my peers were different from mine. It was exhausting to exist in that environment, so I left it. I also left my high school cross country team to join the hip hop team. Some people threw shade at me, saying dance wasn’t even a sport. But I grew so much through dance and wish I had started dancing with the team earlier. I don’t regret either decision because I was able to dedicate more time to myself.

Oluyemisi with a Princess backpack(2) Find something that brings you joy and hold onto it. I used to dedicate hours of my life to writing, and I mean I lost this side of me in high school and, when I think hard about this loss, it kind of makes me tear up. Perhaps it was the, “become a doctor because it’s a lucrative career” mentality that made me take an excess number of honors and APs and join STEM clubs I didn’t really care about … I dunno. I also used to dedicate hoooouurzzz to reading, another thing I lost. Both have been found again, but I often wonder how I would’ve continued life without reviving these passions.

(3) Do something *just* for you. On my 17th birthday senior year, I buzzed alllllllll my hair off. It was the statement I made to myself to take a different direction in life. In some ways, shaving my hair off felt like removing layers of myself I didn’t like or wanted to change. Senior year was my best year of high school because I finally felt like I was becoming the type of person I had always admired.

The reason I share these three things is because they’re core aspects of my existence. #1 is proof that I’m capable of making decisions that keep my best interests in mind. My parents didn’t want me going to Pomona, but here I am. #2 is a reflection I turn to when I feel like I’m going under. College application season is stressful; hold on to your top two joys when things get rough, and you’ll be okay. Whenever I feel restricted by the world around me and that I’m just conforming to appeal to whoever, #3 is my key into freedom. Find what makes you feel free, so when it feels like the world is closing in, you have a constant escape.

I hope at least one of these tips helps you through the college process and maybe even life as a whole!

Best of the best,


P.S. I’ve written a blog post on application advice if you’d like to hear more about academics and not personal life!