An Interview On
Pomona College

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Indian American
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Public magnet school in Austin, Texas with a graduating class of 59 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Economics and Computer Science
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC), which is the student council. I deal with athletic clubs and organizations and I get a monthly stipend. I’m also part of the Judicial Board, which is one of the few student-led disciplinary boards across the country. In cooperation with the deans on campus, we decide how to reprimand or discipline student cases. I work on the newspaper and play basketball for fun.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The Senate and the Judicial Board have. Pomona is known for having close relationships between the administration, students, and the professors. This makes a lot of things I want to do easier because I can just go talk to them and ask them about it. All of them have helped me meet a lot of people both on Pomona’s campus and in the 5 colleges.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Economics and Computer Science majors?
It depends on the class, but in Computer Science I’ll usually have one three-hour lab a week. One of the courses I’m taking this year does have problem sets, and I did just have a lab on the weekend, but that’s not a weekly event. If you want to major in Computer Science at Pomona, you have to take the core classes on Pomona’s campus. In Economics, we have weekly problem sets. It’s nice because it’s very scheduled, and they are always due on Mondays. The graded assignments in the STEM classes are mostly exams. In the one Humanities class I’ve taken here, there are essays.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
The professors in the Computer Science department are very devoted to helping students. They are very focused and lenient if you’re willing to put in the work and learn. It’s a little crowded and understaffed, so getting into classes can be hard. Hopefully, the hiring in the next couple of years will fix that. The Economics department is very solid, it’s been here forever. I don’t know that much about it, but so far, I like it.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It wouldn’t say it’s competitive. It’s pretty collaborative when we work on problem sets, and a lot of that depends on contributions from other people. I’m lucky enough to have friends in my classes, and I don’t feel like I compete with them as I did in high school.

How accessible have the professors in your departments been?
They are very accessible. My Computer Science professor holds office hours every day, which is kind of rare. Other professors hold them three times a week and you can go in to talk about anything. A lot of professors in Computer Science and in other departments have a lunch sign-up sheet outside their door, so you can sign up to get lunch with them any day. I’m also a Teaching Assistant for the Computer Science department, and through that, I’ve gotten to know the professors very well.

Why did you pick your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I think I’m a little unique in the fact that I already know what I want. All of us come in undeclared, and usually people take the full two years to decide what they want to do. Especially since Computer Science is pretty popular here, I wanted to get in the introductory classes to get that started. I’ve always liked math and economics, and I think the combination is well supported and pretty common.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Mudd Blaisdell on South Campus with one roommate. Not all dorms have air conditioning, but this one does.

How was transitioning from Austin to Claremont, CA?
Claremont is a very cute but small town. It has almost everything that you could need right in the village, which is three minutes away from South Campus. There’s a pharmacy, a couple of market stores, and a ton of restaurants along with other random things. For people who are really used to a bigger city, you have to get used to the fact that we’re living in Los Angeles County, but in a very small suburb of that. The campus is really pretty, and I feel like I always want to be on campus, but if I want a break, it’s not the easiest to get. We’ll go into L.A. using the train to hang out and watch the view at a couple of mountains that are 20-minutes away.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Pomona is really safe. My roommate and I have left our room unlocked all year. At night, I feel safe walking home alone, it’s pretty well lit, and there are a lot of people around all the time. You have to swipe into the dorms to get in.

Pros and cons of being located in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) The weather. It’s only cold for a month, and otherwise it’s pleasant in the high 70s.
2) It’s a very small school, yet you can make it as big or as small as you want. I feel very comfortable on this campus. I’m always walking around saying hi to people, but if I feel like it’s too small I can go to the other colleges whenever I want to meet new people.
3) The school really care about the freshman experience, and they do a lot of work toward that.

Cons:
1) It’s far away from L.A. It’s 40-minutes away by train, but it’s kind of sketchy and can take an hour. It’s not super accessible once you get into L.A. because it just goes to Union Station.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pomona?
I’ll go out on two of the three weekend days to the other schools, specifically Pitzer and Claremont McKenna. On the third day I’ll watch a movie, hang out, or go somewhere in the city. A lot of these are Five C parties put on by the schools, but a decent amount of them are also in dorms.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There are a couple of groups on campus that do weekend related activities that aren’t parties. The Saturday Night Group might do crafts, movie nights, and a lot of people will go into L.A. Sometimes we’ll play card games in the common room. All the normal options you can think of are accessible here.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at Pomona? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Sometimes the parties aren’t as social or as busy as you’d want them to be, especially if you’re coming from a larger city. They are kind of low-key here, but once you get used to it, you can make them fun. We don’t have a Greek system, so it’s not the stereotypical college scene.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I did a thing called Sponsor Groups where we live with two sophomore mentors for the first year. They are meant to be our friends, give us advice, and can’t get us in trouble. We’re put together for a certain reason, whatever that may be. I ended up bonding with a lot of them, and they are actually my friends. A couple of other people I’ve met have also lived in my building.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Pomona?
For lack of a more concrete word, I think it’s very intimate. You know a lot of people really well and can walk around and recognize someone, or if you’re lost at the dining hall there’s probably someone you can go sit with. Again, if it feels too small, you can go to the other campuses.

Do you feel like you’re more so a student at Pomona or a student of the college consortium?
I would say I’m a student of Pomona College rather than the consortium. We have our own rival reasons, and I feel that we’re more rounded than the other schools. I think we provide a more holistic academic approach and the other schools. Claremont McKenna does more Economics, Harvey Mudd is about engineering, Scripts is more History. Pomona offers a lot of those majors from the other five schools on this campus, which is why I feel like Pomona is the bigger dog on campus. I think this would vary depending on the school you ask.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s a very environmentally conscious, friendly, intelligent group of people. Something to consider is that while people are very friendly and open-minded, it’s a very liberal heavy campus. That’s not to say there aren’t other opinions on campus, it’s just that one is showed over the others. People really like to play sports and hang out outside. There’s a big outdoors community that goes hiking, skiing, and goes to the beach. You can get to all those things very quickly. On The Loose is one of the biggest outdoors club here.

How do you like the size of Pomona in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 1,670 students.]
I love it, and I couldn’t imagine it any other size. I know a lot of people, but don’t recognize everybody. You’re still able to talk to a lot of people about things going on in your life. You can make it as big as you want.

How would you describe the South Asian community on campus? How strong is it?
I don’t directly participate in it, but I’ve definitely been given the opportunity to. There’s something called the Asian American Mentor Program, which encompasses all Asian countries. It’s a mentor program where you’re linked with two sophomores who you get weekly dinners with. There’s also the South Asian Students Association which I’m not part of, but it’s a smaller yet closer group of people on campus.

Careers

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
For Computer Science, I’ve learned PyCharm, how to run a terminal window, and Xcode. Economics has increased my efficiency in Excel.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Pomona before entering as a freshman?
The freshman experience is something they’ve honed in on and perfected.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Going to what we call the Coop Café, where we order food and sit and watch people interact. That’s a very normal thing to do on campus, and shows a better perception of student life.

Reasons to attend Pomona:
1) It forces you to focus on your education, learning, and your friends, because you don’t have a ton of other distractions to bother you.
2) It’s nice, and is a safe bubble to live in.
3) The collaborative learning environment.
4) You don’t have to know what you want to do, it’s very encouraged to try anything you want. This is fostered by the liberal arts college environment.
5) I think it’s a school that really cares about its students, and that’s reflected in how happy we are.

Reasons to not attend Pomona:
1) If you don’t want to be in a smaller town or have less accessibility.
2) If you know exactly what you want to do and are just looking to get the resources for that specific career, it’s not the place for you. It’s going to make you question your major and why you picked what you did, and your advisor is going to ask you to take a ton of different classes. If you want to know how to get a certain job, they aren’t going to tell you.

Notice: Pomona College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Pomona College.

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