An Interview On
Pomona College

Background

Interview Date:May 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Biracial: Japanese and African-American
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private school in Kansas City, Missouri with a graduating class of 89 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Economics
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I am a student-athlete.

What impact did your sport have on your experience?
It definitely doesn’t give me much time to do other things. I am generally either studying or at practice.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Economics major?
It really depends on which classes you’re in, but now that I’m moving into the upper-level courses there are lots of problem sets, there could be research or weekly reading responses, and I’ve had a paper. The homework assignments are mostly problem sets, and we have two or three exams.

Is there anything you feel the Economics department does especially well or especially poorly?
Since the 5 C’s are smaller in general, you have a lot of one-on-one time with your professors. My Economics classes tend to be small, with no more than 25 students per class. We also have mentor sessions during the week and on the weekends. The mentor is someone who has previously taken the class who can go over homework or exam questions with you. The mentors also helped with the research for my Applied Econometrics class. One thing I don’t particularly like about Pomona’s Economic department is that the courses can be somewhat limited compared to Claremont McKenna. We don’t have as many electives, but you can take classes at one of the other 5 C’s. With that being said, you can only take two off-campus Economics classes that would count for your major. [The average class size is 15.]

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s competitive, but you can collaborate during the mentor sessions with other students in your course, and everyone has been super helpful. I’ve never felt like other students weren’t there to help, or that they’re there to bring others down. We’re all struggling together, so we work together to the task done.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They are very accessible. They always give us their office hours, which are usually two days a week. On top of that, you can email them, and they’ve always been very responsive. If they are too busy that week, you can also contact the mentors for help.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
Out of all the classes, probably Macroeconomic Theory. It was a really tough course, but the professor did a great job of making the material understandable while relating it to current affairs in the world. We didn’t just read from the textbook, and we weren’t given problem sets that didn’t mean much to us. At the end of the day it made going to class entertaining.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I was pre-med coming into Pomona, but it was more so my parents who were leaning toward that, and I wasn’t really sure. Once I got here, I realized I wasn’t interested in pursuing more school after college, so I started thinking about what other majors could help me after graduating. I took a computer science class, and it wasn’t for me so I took a couple of economics classes. It’s not that I fell in love with it, but I loved the professors, and I enjoyed the material enough to be comfortable that I could do well, and that I could take it to the next level when I look for jobs.

How was managing both your sport and coursework?
It’s been tough. I haven’t had a full season due to injuries, but I really don’t have much time to do things besides my sport and schoolwork. When you are a student-athlete, there are certain things that you have to give up, and I didn’t want to give up my social life. I think some people dial that down and join a club, but my closest friends are on the team. Because the team is a combination of two schools, my friends aren’t just isolated to Pomona. The general environment of going to the 5 C colleges is that because they are so small yet close together, and you can take classes wherever you want, you really do gain friends from different backgrounds and interest. Once you play a sport, you know what your schedule is. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Wig Hall with one roommate.

Sophomore: Norton-Clark Hall in a single. It is a substance-free dorm.

Junior: Norton-Clark Hall in a single.

What was your favorite living situation?
The single. I personally don’t identify with a substance-free lifestyle, but because that was where most of the singles on North Campus are, I decided to sign the substance-free agreement and live there. Honesty, it was really nice because it was always super quiet and clean. [All halls are smoke-free, and there are special housing options, such as substance-free housing.]

How was transitioning from Kansas City to Claremont, CA?
It wasn’t too difficult for me, especially because my family is from all over the U.S. and Japan. I’ve traveled a good amount of times and have been to L.A. before. Most of the differences were pleasant. The weather is much nicer in L.A, and it’s more conducive to playing my sport and hanging out outside throughout the year. The only downside that I wasn’t expecting is thinking I would be going to hang out in Los Angeles a lot more than I’ve ended up doing. All three years I’ve been at Pomona, I’ve only been to L.A. 5 or 6 times. Some students are a lot more gung-ho about going into the city, going to eat, or going to see a movie, but because I was busy I didn’t have the time to do that. It’s a really big city and doesn’t have the greatest public transportation. Once you get there you’re kind of stranded unless you pay for an Uber.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had any issues whatsoever, and I definitely think I’m riskier. I walk around at night with my headphones on or ride my skateboard. Once in a while, we do get notices from campus safety saying someone’s room got broken into, but in general, compared to other schools more embedded in a city, I think it’s very safe.

Pros and cons of being in Claremont, CA?
Pros:
1) It’s very close to L.A.
2) You are kind of halfway between L.A. and the Joshua Tree area, so if you’re very outdoorsy, you can go surfing or hiking.

Cons:
1) It’s a very quiet town. School sanctioned parties have even been shut down because of complaints from the neighborhood. Claremont is definitely an older folks’ town, and because that is the case, there isn’t much to do after 10 PM. If you’re looking for that city experience, you will have to go into L.A.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Pomona?
If I don’t have a sports commitment, I’ll generally go to a kickback and hang out with my friends. I’m not the type of person that likes to be caught up in sweaty parties with a lot of people. You can go do that which is a nice thing, but a lot of people all just chill in their suites and listen to music.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, or just Thursday and Saturday. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to start on Thursdays because I usually don’t have Friday classes.

Are there any events on campus that you like to go to?
I would generally go to other sports games here and there to support friends, but that’s really about it in terms of school events. Sometimes the school will host destress events which I’ll go to because there are puppies and free food.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Pomona? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty satisfied with the weekend options. I’m not really a big party type of person, but I know people like that who aren’t satisfied. If I want to just have a kickback in a room with 5 to 10 friends, I can do that without getting written up, so I’m generally pretty happy. Some weekends when I am craving that big state university type party, there’s a chance I’ll be slightly disappointed.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I definitely met my closest friends through my sport. From the first day freshman year we were practicing, and that’s who I’ve spent the most amount of time with. We’d go straight from practice to dinner, lunch, or breakfast after morning workouts. I met a couple of friends in some classes, and then through mentor sessions.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Pomona?
In general, the social life is pretty mixed. Some people will go out more, versus people who stay in the room like I do. Because of how small each class is, I think you really get to know your classmates well, and that might be your only form of interaction with people who you don’t see in certain clubs and anywhere on campus. I think it facilitates a very nice mix of social groups. In general, the social life is pretty relaxed, which is one of the reasons I chose Pomona. When I visited, people genuinely seemed happy and were smiling all the time.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
They mix pretty frequently. I don’t think Pomona is the most diverse place I’ve ever been to, but they have a lot of events that facilitate getting to know people from all different backgrounds. It’s an environment where you can feel comfortable disclosing certain information. People are very politically active and aware, so everyone is willing to communicate all these different things about their lives. [9% of students are Black, 14% are Asian, 16% are Hispanic, and 35% are White.]

Do you feel like you’re more so a student at Pomona or a student of the college consortium?
I’d say I’m still more so a student at Pomona. I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of the 5 C school system as much as my friends have. I tend to stay on Pomona’s campus to take classes. As much as we are a unified set of schools, there’s also this boundary of each student having pride about getting into whichever school they get to attend.

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 think the size is perfect for me. I went to a pretty small private high school in Kansas City, so it was a great transition. I recognize almost every face in my grade, and a lot of faces overall. You still get the quote on quote “big school experience,” because we are 5 combined schools in close proximity. The person standing next to you could go to Pitzer or Harvey Mudd. The perk of going to a small school is that your class sizes are very small and intimate. [The average class size is 15.]

How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
I get emails from the Black community all the time. They seem very active and have lots of social gatherings at their houses, but I don’t participate at all.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I’m actually working in Hong Kong this summer for an alumnus who runs his own hedge fund. I have no experience whatsoever, so I think if I weren’t a Pomona student, I wouldn’t have gotten a job this amazing. He’s already given me my project and is going to let me be hands on.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
The Career Development Office (CDO) is pretty helpful. I’ve gone there to edit my resume, and when I was thinking about going to law school they helped set my courses and look at what I was doing. The CDO provides funding for summer internships, which wasn’t successful for me because I didn’t apply early enough. Overall, they are pretty helpful in putting you in contact with the right resources.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I took an Introduction to Computer Science class, and I learned Python. It was a pretty easy course, but it was also very informative.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
I’m on financial aid and I’m very lucky to pay the tuition I do. They are easy to work with. There have been semesters where I couldn’t pay the bill on time, and that happened to be right before I needed to sign up for classes, which you can’t do unless the bill is paid. I was pretty straight up with them and told them I couldn’t get the money for a couple of weeks and they just cleared my name. At the end of the day, the financial aid office is there to help you. They are there to collect your money, but they are flexible and willing to work with students.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Pomona before entering as a freshman?
Everyone at Pomona is extremely intelligent. Even if you feel like one of the stupidest people in the class, or if you don’t know much in that subject compared to everyone else, you belong here. The imposter syndrome is very real for a lot of students here, but it’s important to know you worked to get yourself into this school, into this position, and that you deserve to be there.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I’d say an experience could be just checking out our four dining halls. Dining halls are crucial in terms of your college experience because that’s the place that will be feeding you three times a day. So just check out the kind of food you’re going to be eating, meeting the staff, and seeing the environment. Each dining halls has its own vibe. One may be more for students that are studying and maybe need to eat fast, and there may be more social ones. It’s nice that you can branch out to the other colleges and check out their dining halls to get a sense of the social scene at the 5 C’s.

Reasons to attend Pomona:
1) As stressful as the environment can be, people are very happy and enthusiastic to be there because the community is so great.
2) We have pretty good dining halls. Friends that have come to visit me are amazed at the selection we have.
3) The small class environment. Our introduction classes have a maximum of 30 people, so you do get that one-on-one interaction with your professors, and you get to know your classmates really well.

Reasons to not attend Pomona:
1) If you’re not motivated to study hard and do well, Pomona isn’t one of those colleges that will be easy to fly by in. It’ll be challenging, rigorous, and mentally stimulating. You’re going to have to work when you’re there, and it won’t be the most relaxed and comfortable college experience in terms of academics.
2) Our sports teams aren’t necessarily the greatest. If you’re really going for a school that has a sports team that unifies the entire student body and has tailgates, Pomona is not the place to be. We’re a D3 college, and are student-athletes. The student part always comes before the athlete part, so people are more focused on their academics than they are the athletic side.
3) The nightlife can be kind of crappy sometimes. You’re not going to have that frat party or frat house to go to on a Friday night. There are going to be some nights when you walk around aimlessly looking for the next party to stop by at, and it can be a bust.

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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