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Pomona College 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Guide

Pomona College 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words each, 1 essay of 250 words

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

The Pomona-specific essay prompts for those applying for Fall 2024 admission include an academic interest statement (max. 150 words); a short-response essay (max. 150 words); and a longer-response essay (max. 250 words).


(1) Academic Interest Statement: What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

This prompt is asking you to describe what you want to major in and explain why you like it so much that you’re willing to dedicate four years of life to its study. The admissions officer reviewing your application will likely expect you to connect your intended major to some prior experience and/or passion as well, so tell a story. The essays that stick with us are the ones that jump off the page with concrete descriptions from real life. What interests you and why? How have you gone about learning more about your subject of interest? What will this degree allow you to do (if you’re going in decided)? How have you already explored your inclination? While you don’t need to narrow in on the exact moment you became interested in geology or music education, try to focus on one significant experience. Your story should showcase your unique connection to your chosen course of study. 

(2) Short-Response Essay: choose to respond to one of the following three prompts in 150 words or less:

  • At Pomona, we celebrate and identify with the number 47. Share with us one of your quirky personal, family, or community traditions and why you hold on to it.

The fun thing about community essays like this one is that the word “community” can refer to many kinds of groups/cultures/online clubs—if you’re connecting to others, that’s a community! The tradition you choose to discuss could be from an established community like your church or mosque, but it could also be from any other group you consider yourself a part of. Maybe you found an important group of friends and mentors once you got into artistic swimming and you are now the proud owner of a cherished good luck charm that will accompany you to college next year. Or perhaps you have a family tradition of playing a game of basketball after Thanksgiving every year. Do you look forward to it? Would it still be Turkey Day without your uncle’s famous alley-oop? If you’re drawing a blank, try to list out a few individual people who have impacted your life for the better. Then try to fit them into a larger community. How have your Twitch followers enriched your gaming experience? How can you lead admissions to a new way of understanding the person you are today?

  • What item are you excited to bring with you to college?

Do not overthink this prompt, dear applicants, for it is just another opportunity for admissions to get to know you better. If an item immediately comes to mind, we say run with it. If nothing comes to mind, fear not; you can work backward. Is there an element of your life, dreams, or personality that you have yet to share with admissions? Which item unlocks a story that demonstrates that aspect of your identity? You might be excited to bring a souvenir to campus that will serve as an icebreaker for meeting fellow students. Maybe you’re more of a mental health advocate and want to share how you’re bringing a weighted blanket to help ease potential anxiety. Perhaps making bracelets has always helped you to clear your mind and ground yourself in the present moment. Will you be bringing three packs of embroidery floss to campus? This prompt is so open-ended that anyone can make it their own, including you!

  • Describe a time when you felt empowered or on top of the world?

Pomona College wants to know about a time when you felt empowered. What happened? How were you feeling? How did you grow from the experience? What skills did you develop? What did you learn? Maybe you stepped out of your comfort zone to audition for the school play and were, to your surprise, cast in a leading role. Perhaps you learned first-hand that great risks can yield great rewards and you plan to take that mindset with you to college. Did you bond with a student you tutored after school as part of a volunteer program? Maybe you continued to help him with his homework long after the program ended, cheering him on when he made Honor Roll for the first time, an achievement he never foresaw for himself. Whatever your top-of-the-world-moment is, don’t forget to connect it in some way to the type of college experience you hope to have at Pomona.

(3) Longer-Response Essay: choose to respond to one of the following three prompts in 250 words or less:

  • In the past few years, is there something you have changed your mind about? Why?

Admissions wants to know that you can view life from different perspectives by reflecting on your own behavior, values, and thought processes and drawing conclusions that best align with your values. As you consider this prompt, think back on those impassioned “aha!” moments that forced you to drastically re-examine a long-held belief. As you tell your story, include sensory details to bring your experience to life and help them connect with you. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to the Pomona College community. If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, lean into it!

  • Reflecting on a community that you are part of, what values or perspectives from that community would you bring to Pomona?

This is a classic community essay, through and through. While it’s similar to the tradition question above, it also asks you to dive deeper into a community you’re a part of and explain how they affect you (and vice versa)—with that in mind, it might be a good idea to select a different community than the one discussed in that answer! Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person and how has that made your perspective unique? What traditions or aspects of your community would you like to share at Pomona? What you address can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or as specific as an ideology shared by your community theater troupe. Consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? Were you raised in an intentional community? Do you identify as a BIPOC? Have you lived on three different continents? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Pomona?

  • What strength or quality do you have that most people might not see or recognize?

This prompt is the perfect outlet for you to showcase your more personal skills and/or quirks. If you choose to respond to this prompt, have fun with it! Maybe you’ve always had an uncanny talent for reading body language. Do your friends refer to you as a “mind reader”? Maybe you have a knack for bringing people together and making them feel included. How do you foster an inclusive environment? If nothing immediately comes to mind, try working backward: What do you want admissions to know about you? What is one trait you’re proud to embody? What kind of impact would you like to have on the world? Your answers to these questions will likely lead you to a quality response (pun intended).

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School Stats:

State: California
Acceptance Rate: 7%
Undergrad Population: 1,791
Tuition: $64,999
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