An Interview On
Pomona College

Background

Interview Date:November 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: African-American
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school in Northern Virginia with a graduating class of 600 students. There was a culture of going to college
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with a specialization in Politics
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I play Club Basketball, I’m part of the Black Student Union and a grassroots student-run political organization on campus, and I work for the school newspaper.

Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
The grassroots political group did because it gave me the opportunity to get hands-on experience with what I want to do with my career. The Black Student Union has allowed me to meet people like me. Club Basketball is just a lot of fun.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
So far, it has been mostly readings and the coursework has been pretty theoretical. [The major graded assignments are] essays.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
Given that the department is a combination of departments, it’s really flexible and versatile. It gives you a lot of freedom to choose how you want each part of the major to be structured. With that being said, I think one area where it could improve would be to have more practical material so students could see how the theory applies to the practice.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative because it relies on students both learning from the professor and also the other students.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
Macroeconomics or Economics Statistics

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Microeconomics

Do you feel like people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I definitely do.

How accessible are your professors?
They make themselves available, but it can be difficult to get to their office hours because everyone tries to see them. I think everyone trying to see them is a testament to how accessible they make themselves to each student.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I knew I was a humanities person and that I liked politics. I wanted to try economics and am considering law school, so I thought PPE gave me the tools for each.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman & Sophomore: Mudd-Blaisdell in a double freshman year and a single sophomore year. The rooms are small, but it’s close to the dining hall and the Claremont Village.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve felt pretty safe. I think campus security does a good job of [keeping students safe] and making sure students are aware when there are safety issues on campus. We get text updates whenever something happens in Claremont Village or in a town nearby. I can say that safety here is a top priority.

How was transitioning from Northern Virginia to Claremont, CA?
It was a pretty big shift, but it was also a really positive one. People here are a lot more conscious of race, gender, and how to treat people. People are much more accepting in how they treat people, and that has allowed me to be as conscious as I want to be.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Blaze Pizza

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to the library because it’s between the other colleges’ campuses. I also like studying in the study spaces that are made available to me on other schools’ campuses.

Pros and cons of being in Claremont, CA?
Pros: (1) The weather.
(2) The location allows for a lot of diverse outdoor experiences. You can go skiing one day, go to the beach the next, and go camping the day after that.

Cons: (1) The traffic is horrendous all the time. It’s completely unpredictable. [Los Angeles is the worst city in the world for traffic.]
(2) The air quality is bad.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I’m somebody who likes to go out. There’s not a lot of nightlife in the Claremont area, but if that’s something you’re really about you can go to LA. I go to parties on Pomona’s campus or other campuses, or I like hanging out with friends and going to get food.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I go to parties Friday and Saturday night depending on the weekend.

What have been some of your favorite times at Pomona?
Getting fountained by my friends on my birthday is one. That is a campus tradition. Also, there is an Office of Black Student Affairs retreat where all the mentors and mentees to go to Big Bear and hang out for two days and one night. That was a great time to hang out and get to know people.

Can you describe a typical night out freshman year?
I’d do a little bit of homework until 8, hang out with friends from 8 to like 10. Around 10-10:30 we’d go out to a party until 12, then get food and go to sleep.

Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
No, there’s no trouble getting into a party as a freshman.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Pomona? Is there anything you would change if you could?
If I could change anything, I would fix the drinking policy because I think it breeds a binge drinking and pregaming culture. Pomona is strict on drinking and having parties in your dorm, and if anybody is underage and caught with alcohol it can lead to more disciplinary action. In my opinion, this leads to freshmen pregaming so they will be drunk later on and not drink in a healthy manner.

Do you go to parties just with Pomona students or with students from the other Claremont McKenna colleges?
The five-college party culture is shared. There are a few one college parties and at those parties if you know someone you can usually come in as a registered guest. It’s a big mix.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Some of them were on the same [Orientation Adventure] as me. Pomona has orientation trips which let you meet people outside of the stressful school environment. I met some friends in my sponsor group, which is a group of 10-20 students in your hall led by two sophomores who live there with you to foster a community and have people living next you give a support system. I also made friends through classes.

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s a close-knit school. By the end of freshman year, you will know everybody in your class, or at least everybody through someone, and a good amount of people in the class above you. We all stick together and support each other academically and socially. It’s a cool group of people.

How would you describe the student body?
One thing that the student body shares is that it’s all people who love to learn, and value education and learning. Everybody has one very cool thing they’ve done that has helped them get into Pomona and they are really passionate about something. People here are also conscious of others and have the best intentions in mind.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Especially during freshman year, they mix heavily because of sponsor groups and orientation adventure groups. Like most schools, there is a trend to self-segregate and gravitate towards people who are like you. It’s a lot less here given that it’s one of the most diverse schools in the country. It is common to see racially mixed social groups on campus. [35% of students are White.]

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Pomona?
I think by senior year people are happy with it. Few students transfer and go somewhere else. [Pomona has a 98% retention rate.]

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating were they to your needs?
Yes, and they’ve been really accommodating. They offered me the best package of the schools I applied to. I had special circumstances that I couldn’t express in my package and they were open to listening to them and changed my package the same day I expressed my concerns. Pomona meets all of a student’s demonstrated need. [Pomona is a need-blind school.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Pomona before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had made a greater attempt to get to know all my professors and to realize that relationship wasn’t a hierarchal one. It’s a relationship where we can both benefit, enjoy, and learn from. I wish I took more advantage of that because they are accessible and help students in a life-long mentoring way.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
In terms of physical things on campus, you will miss the state of the South and North Campus dorms because you don’t get taken by there. The North Campus dorms are actually really nice. There are also some cool events that organizations the administration host that prospective students don’t know about. Like the Women’s Union and the Office of Black Student Affairs host events that are nice.

What is something a prospective student who is from far away may want to know?
Pomona isn’t as close to LA as they say they are. It’s about a 45-minute train ride in.

What is something a prospective African-American student would want to know?
The Office of Black Student Affairs is great for getting to know Black students on campus. It’s a social resource that is very useful. Also, they should try to branch out as much as they can.

Reasons to attend Pomona:
1) If you’re a person who is intellectually passionate, you’ll find people and professors here to fuel that passion.
2) Professors care about students. If you find an area where they don’t, you’ll have the tools and people to change that.
3) You have a say in your education.

Reasons to not attend Pomona:
1) If you’re looking for a huge school with an extensive alumni network.
2) If you want non-liberal arts major offerings. You won’t find a business major here or a finance major here.
3) If you’re super career oriented and looking to get your career off to an amazing start right after college and are not looking at higher education as a potential offering, I wouldn’t say don’t consider Pomona, but maybe don’t put it at the top of your list.

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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