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Pomona College 2021-22 Supplemental Essay Guide

We try our best to make sure our guides are as up to date as possible, but we still recommend confirming each prompt and word count with the school in question.

Pomona College 2021-22 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: 

College is about more than your major. It’s about learning through classes, conversations, experiences and finding connections across multiple topics. Tell us about a time recently when you became excited to learn more about something: a time when your curiosity pushed you to eagerly pursue an idea or topic further through research or discussion. (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.) 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)

-Marvel or DC? Pepsi or Coke? Instagram or TikTok? What’s your favorite “this or that” (you are not restricted to these three examples), and which side do you choose?
-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. ) We believe that everyone has something to contribute and receive from a diverse community. Why is belonging to a diverse and inclusive college community important to you?

Ah, the infamous “community” essay. Many schools ask students about their communities because they want to know how you relate to the people around you, forge connections, and commune with your peers. In this particular instance, the question emphasizes diversity and inclusivity. What do these words mean to you and how do they relate to a community that you’re a part of? Maybe you’re very involved in a community of makeup vloggers that celebrates its members differences, including trans and gender-nonconforming members. Perhaps the friends you made on your school’s step team have welcomed you, the only Asian member, with open arms. How do you see diversity and inclusivity play out in your community? And, looking forward, how would you keep those values alive at Pomona next fall?

2.) Advancing diversity and inclusion (D&I) can be hard work and a continuous learning process. Tell us about how you have either recently championed D&I or how you plan to maintain a deep commitment to D&I in college.

If you choose this prompt, then social justice is probably pretty important to you. And you don’t have to be a big-city protest organizer to impress admissions here. It can be just as important and challenging to engage in a dialogue with family members from older generations on controversial topics or make TikToks criticising the media’s representation of marginalized communities. If you’re feeling stuck, maybe start by thinking about the topics that are most important to you. What keeps you up at night? Income inequality? Police brutality? The prison industrial complex? Next, think about what steps you’ve taken in your life to create change, inform, and/or organize. Ultimately, the key to writing an excellent response to this prompt is in the details. Don’t just tell Pomona about something you’ve advocated for recently; tell them why you did so, and if you can, share how you would like to continue championing for diversity and inclusion in your future at Pomona. 


According to our Board of Trustees, “Institutions such as Pomona College should prepare their graduates to lead lives of creative leadership and exemplary service.” How do you hope to use the knowledge you will gain in college to impact something greater than yourself, such as your family, neighborhood, community, city or society? (200 words or fewer)

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!

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