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Pomona College 2019-20 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision: 

Pomona College 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 300 words, 2 essays of 200-250 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Oddball, Community


*Upon completing the Academics section: 

What gets you excited about your academic interest selection(s)? (300 words)

This brief prompt is nothing more or less than an academically-inclined Why essay. As you dig into the writing, aim to answer these two key questions: (1) What do you love about the subject? (2) How does Pomona’s specific program meet your needs or excite your curiosity? In other words, your goal is not just to geek out (although this is highly encouraged!), but also to demonstrate your fit for Pomona specifically. If you can demonstrate a knowledge or curiosity for your chosen major alongside some school-specific facts, you’ll show admissions that you’re motivated and dedicated to their institution. If that’s not a winning combo, we don’t know what is! So before you start scribbling away (or pounding out 300 words on your computer), remember that the backbone of any good why essay is research! Give yourself some time to dig through the Pomona website and get to know your department as well as any related programs, centers, and opportunities.

As you write the essay, make sure you’re thinking about how you will align your current academic interests and passions with Pomona’s offerings. Maybe you’ve become increasingly dedicated to saving the planet and learned the power of collaboration by starting a neighborhood composting program; so of course you’re drawn to the interdisciplinary and communal approach of the Environmental Analysis Program! Or perhaps you think Southern California would be the perfect place to declare a Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies Major. Or if you’re undecided, maybe you still have a whole list of subjects you’d like to try, and are excited by the scope of the 5Cs. Whatever the program and whatever your reasoning, build a bridge from your lived experience to your future life as a Pomona student.


Pomona College requires two short essays (200-250 words each) to complete your application. Please choose two of the three essay prompts for your responses:

Prompt 1: Imagine having a 1 a.m. debate/discussion with your peers in college about an issue you care about. What is that issue, and what is the discussion?

If you choose this prompt, take a little time to brainstorm a few contemporary issues — no matter how seemingly big or small — that bother you or affect your life. Now step outside your own perspective and imagine how your peers might feel about it; this is how you’ll thoughtfully and fully answer the question “what is the discussion?” Maybe it’s police brutality or the lack of queer representation on TV. Although the scope and scale of your problem can vary, remember that Pomona is looking for passionate students who think critically about the world around them. Criticizing Instagram’s new algorithm won’t win over admissions if all you care about is your own feed. If, on the other hand, you can describe how it is a catalyst for FOMO and loneliness in today’s young adult population, you could really be onto something!

Prompt 2: Share your favorite quote, and tell us what it means to you. The quote can be from an author, leader, musical artist, family member or other source—famous or not. (Your response should be 200-250 words not including your quote.)

Pomona is getting creative with their supplemental essay prompts this year! For this prompt, we recommend setting a timer for five minutes and writing down every quote (even if paraphrased–though you’ll look it up later for accuracy) you can think of. No idea is too silly; just trust your gut! Recall the song lyrics that have stuck with you, your favorite Lord of the Rings passages, the little sayings your Great Aunt Betsy used to repeat over and over. Whose words have touched you? Although you’ll be using someone else’s words, this is still an opportunity for you to reveal something new about who you are, what you value, or where you come from.

Prompt 3: We want to understand you better! Tell us about a skill you have (useless or useful) and what it says about you.

Think of a few skills you have and write them down. Can you train a dog to sit? Can you retain an unsettling amount of knowledge about celebrity feuds? Can you solve a Rubik’s cube? We all have unique superpowers that can shed light on who we are if we explain how we learned them and why they benefit us. Explore who taught you (or how you’re self-taught!) and how you use yours. Know that no matter how silly your skill may be, it will give admissions an idea of what you value and how resilient you are when it comes to learning new things. 

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