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Pomona College 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision: 

Pomona College 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 150 words, 2 essays of 200 words, 5 optional essays of up to 50 words

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

*Upon completing the Academics section: 

Students at Pomona are encouraged to take a variety of classes before declaring their major(s) in their second year. Tell us what gets you excited about the academic interest(s) you selected or any other fields of study you hope to explore in college. (150 words)

This 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 Optional Short Answer Questions:

1.) If there are aspects of your identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please provide that information below. (50 words or less)

Pomona College knows that you are a multifaceted person, that your identity cannot be boiled down to nuggets of information on an application. That’s why admissions is giving you this (albeit small) space to expand on an aspect of your identity. Scroll through your application (personal statement, activity list, major selection) and take a moment to think about what you haven’t been able to include. Regardless of what you choose to write about, you don’t have a lot of words to play with, so we recommend brevity!

2.) If not captured elsewhere in your application, please share with us how you have overcome challenges in your life. (50 words or less)

If you wrote your Common App essay in response to Prompt #2, which asks you to recount a time you faced a challenge, setback, or failure, you can skip this prompt. If, however, you have not addressed an obstacle you overcame elsewhere in your application, it’s time to brainstorm! Set aside five minutes and write down whatever comes to mind. Since you only have 50 words, you will need to explain the challenge you faced quickly; that way, you can focus most of your response on how you overcame it and what you learned from the experience.

Before jumping into the required essays, you have the option to show us a little more of your personality. You can answer one, two, three, or none of the following questions. (1-50 words each)

-What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
-What’s your favorite way to eat a potato?
-You’re relaxing on a Friday night. Suddenly, your favorite song pops into your head. What is it?

These prompts don’t have time for generalities or gentle introductions, so you’ll have to cut straight to the point. The more specific your words are, the more memorable your answers will be. Favorite way to eat a potato? Don’t just say “mashed,” how about “mashed and lumpy, next to my mom’s famous stuffing.” (50 characters!) If you can paint a funny picture or display a knack for wit, take this chance, but don’t force it. Anything that doesn’t feel like it merits a full essay can go here as a tweet, hot take, punchline, or elegantly-worded sentence.


Pomona Required Supplemental Essays:

Pomona is committed to achieving the benefits of diversity for all students by creating a community that learns and grows together through the exchange of different lived experiences and perspectives. Our community is made up of students from diverse cultures, races, ethnicities, and linguistic backgrounds; political, religious and social views; physical abilities; home environments and socioeconomic backgrounds; hometowns and regions; and sexes, gender identities and sexual orientations.
Choose one of the following two prompts:


1.) Tell us about an experience when you dealt with disagreement or conflict around different perspectives within a community. (200 words)

Admissions is curious to learn about your experiences engaging with others on important issues, so think about a time when you had an uncomfortable conversation with friends, family, or even mere acquaintances. Maybe you got into a disagreement with your cousins regarding mask mandates in your state. Were you able to clearly communicate your perspective? Were you able to listen to and reflect on your cousin’s point of view? Perhaps you discovered that your friends don’t believe in climate change. How did you broach the subject, and what was the outcome of your conversation? You don’t need to have changed someone’s mind to impress admissions here. You just need to show that you’re not afraid to speak up about issues you deem important, and that you’re willing to engage with those who may have different opinions than your own.

2.) Tell us about one of the communities you belong to and what it means to bring that shared belief and/or perspective to Pomona. (200 words)

This is a pretty standard community essay. Pomona wants to learn about a community you hold near and dear to your heart. You could be a part of a Moroccan Culture Club or a pickle appreciation association; either way, Pomona wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to describe the community and then detail your place within it. Next, address the second part of the question: how will you bring that shared belief and/or perspective to Pomona? The point of this question is to show admissions you will add value and diversity to campus, and that you are a proactive and involved student who will help to build their community.


Helen Keller once said, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Whether you aspire to be a hero or an honest worker, what impact do you want to have in the Pomona community, your community back home, or any new community? (200 words or less)

Community, community, community. Even though it doesn’t say it explicitly, this question is asking, “What do you hope to achieve for the greater good?” Pomona wants to know what motivates you to learn, work, and achieve. Perhaps you foresee late night study sessions with fellow Public Policy Analysis students in The Claremont Colleges Library, so you can ace your exams and enact real policy change to help your community back home. Maybe you’ve recently discovered meditation and hope to share this practice with your community at Pomona, to encourage mindfulness and compassion. Just be sure to be specific so that no one else could have written the response you will submit!

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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