AO Dialogue: Pomona College – A Small School With Outsized Possibilities

Even though it’s small in size, Pomona College has a major reputation and is consistently ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the US. It’s strong in research, resources and professional opportunities for students, and diversity in its community. This is why Pioneer Academics recently organized an Admission Officer (AO) Dialogue session for its Pioneer scholars with Assistant Dean of Admissions at Pomona College Samantha Schreiber.

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Schreiber explained why Pomona’s size shouldn’t be considered a negative factor:

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˝Many of the opportunities for students exist because of the size of the school, and we can counterbalance our small size by having the consortium of Claremont Colleges. It’s also very easy to expand your circle here. Closer relationships are more valuable than having lots of people around.˝

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Pomona is one of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions that make up the Claremont Colleges Consortium. Even though Pomona has only 1663 students, there are almost 5,500 students living within a square mile radius/a 2.6 square kilometer radius, said Schreiber.

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The school is located in Claremont, only 45 minutes from one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world – Los Angeles. The location provides many opportunities for research, internships or just having fun on the weekend.

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.Studying in Pomona

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Pomona offers 48 majors. That broad array complements the fact that students here have a wide variety of interests, academically and outside of the classroom. They really make the most of of the liberal arts concept, taking classes for fun as well as for learning for the sake of learning. Students often try different courses until they know where they want to focus their attention. This is why those who want to focus on only one field and be around people who are similar to them might not find what they are looking for at Pomona.

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Students can also choose interdisciplinary majors like STS – science, technology and society – or PPE – philosophy, politics and economics. Media studies is another interdisciplinary major coordinated among different Claremont schools.

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Pomona also lays claim to an excellent school for the arts. Students can become a serious musician or dancer, learn an instrument for the very first time, or take dance or theater.There are many opportunities to develop one’s creative side. Those who do not intend to major in theater, art, dance or music can still submit art supplements, which showcase their arts backround and artistic work to demonstrate how proud they are of their accomplishments.

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It’s also important to mention that Pioneer scholars can submit the papers they have written, and the faculty at Pomona will examine them with interest.

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Shared Resources

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The consortium enables students to cross-register and take courses in any of the Claremont Colleges. In addition to academic and faculty support, the Claremont Colleges share many resources that aid the growth and development of their students.

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The most extensive Pomona programs for research and internships are the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).The PCIP was created because many internships these days are unpaid, so students have to choose between getting a job and getting important professional experience. If a student gets an unpaid internship, he can apply for the PCIP program which will pay for the internship. The program is run through the Career Development Office (CDO).

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The SURP program is used for funding research, be it domestic or international, over the summer. Students have to write up their proposal and have a faculty member sign off on it. SURP will ensure the funds to make that research happen. Over 200 students receive funding each year, and they present their experience at a poster conference in the fall.

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It’s very important to know that this is a widely available program; in fact, 45 percent of juniors and seniors receive this sort of funding. Prospecting students can find out more on the department’s website where receivers of the PCIP or SURP funding are listed along with the titles of their projects.

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The Student Experience

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Pomona has an enviable student-faculty ratio of eight students to one professor. This means a great deal of personal attention and face-to-face interaction with professors in class. Students are expected to be ready to participate and to engage. They are held accountable for their education and are expected to take it seriously.

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The one-on-one connection and personalization are a serious aspect of the academic experience at Pomona, even outside the classroom. Academic advising is done by the faculty, which helps students select courses and advise them on graduate programs. But the the most significant benefit they provide for students is showing them different paths to their goal. A great many students come with one idea about what they want to do, not realizing there are many ways to apply their knowledge or to accomplish their goals. It’s important that students come with open minds and explore different options before settling on one focus.

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The Sponsor Group Program and the ISMP

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The Sponsor Group allows each student to be assigned two or three class sponsors who help him with any questions.

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Pomona also offers a great deal of support for international students, such as the ISMP (International Student Mentoring Program). The program is optional. It allows international students to have a mentor, someone to talk to a to about the unique things they are experiencing while being so far away from home. Pomona’s first-year students are 12.5 percent international, while overall, international students comprise 10 percent of the population. This number is rising.

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Applying to Pomona

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There are two terms in which students can apply for Early Decision and one for Regular Decision. For Early Decision 1, the deadline is November 1st, and students learn the result on December 15th. The deadline for Early Decision 2 is January 1st, and the results are out February 15th. Regular decision deadline is January 1st, and the results come in by April 1st.

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The difference between Early and Regular Decision is that the Regular Decision option gives students more time to work on their application and explore more schools. It’s less about tactics and more about having all the information needed to make a thoughtful decision. Admission during Early Decision is binding and prevents the applicant from applying to other schools. There are no set quotas for these two terms, and those who qualify for Early Decision will also qualify for Regular. The question is whether the student is ready to make that commitment.

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Outside of the Classroom

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The largest student organization is called On the Loose (OTL). It runs programs almost every weekend to get students off campus and out into nature. The programs are all funded by the school because Pomona’s primary concern is that students have opportunities regardless of their financial situation.

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The Draper Center for Community Partnership is here to connect students to the surrounding community. A majority of Pomona’s students will at some point perform some community volunteer work like tutoring school children or helping in afterschool programs. April 7th is a big day for community service; the entire college is encouraged to engage in projects sponsored by the school.

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The Career Development Office (CDO) can meet students as soon as they set foot on campus and helps them find opportunities through the Claremont Connect website. The CDO has partnerships with different conosortia in this field which helps them find opportunities for students. Their staff is dedicated to specific areas like internships, graduate programs, and job programs, helping students at every stage of their career.

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Most students also attend career fairs, and a great many companies come to Claremont because it has five schools and a subsantial pool of highly qualified students.

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Schreiber finished her presentation by inviting Pioneer scholars to check out Pomona’s YouTube channel to learn more about the school and Pomona’s blog ‘Voices’ where students post their experiences.

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˝We also have interns and senior interviewers at our office,” Schreiber said, “whom you can contact online if you have questions.˝

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Important Note: Colleges’ and universities’ admissions departments do not endorse any program, organization or company. Any type of organized communication with admissions officers should not be construed as an endorsement of the communication organizer.