How to Write the Pomona College Supplement 2019-2020

Pomona College is a super small college near Los Angeles, CA. It’s a part of the Claremont Colleges, which consists of Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College. All of these schools are in Claremont, CA and share a somewhat collective campus spanning 1 square mile. These five undergraduate colleges are joined by two graduate institutions as well. Pomona is quite selective. They did not release their acceptance rate this year, but last year’s was 6.9% and we imagine that it was even lower. While they don’t have a totally open curriculum, their core requirements are flexible and can be satisfied across a broad range of departments so you can still take courses aligned with your interests. Let’s dive into their supplement.

What gets you excited about your academic interest selection(s) above? 300 words.

This prompt isn’t included in the “writing supplement” section. It’s hidden within the academic concentration section where they ask you to select your department/area of interest. This is Pomona asking: Why Pomona (academics)? Be specific and do your research. Find some classes that excite you and align with your interests and explain why you’re interested in taking them. How will those classes add heft to your academic foundation and help you accomplish what you wish? Perhaps there’s a professor who teaches at Pomona who is researching something that you’d like to get in on. Use this as an opportunity to show the research you’ve done and how you’ve conceptualized your academic journey at Pomona. 300 words isn’t a lot, so you have room for essentially a very brief (and quippy) intro, a class that intrigues you above all else and how you will utilize the information that you learn, a professor whose research you admire and why, and then one final sentence about why you can only expand your academic horizons in the direction that you wish to at Pomona.  

Choose one of the following prompts and respond in 200-250 words.

Prompt 1: Imagine having a 1 a.m. debate/discussion with your peers in college about an issue you care about. What is that issue, and what is the discussion?

The word that came to mind when we read this was: YIKES. Our instinct is always to make the admissions reader laugh whenever possible throughout the reading of your application. If you go the funny route, it might come off as glib or vapid. We don’t want you to come off that way because it’s not reflective of who you are. The way that this is phrased leads us to believe that Pomona does not want you to take this concept or visualization lightly. They want to get to the nitty gritty of your politics. And fast. While we stand by the assertion that you should not be afraid to share your opinion, we also hold the belief that you should keep your potential reader in mind. Should something spring to mind that you think you could really paint a picture (and debate) of for this, then go for it. It should be serious, but it should also reflect the tone. Make the reader feel like they are there in the room with you--exhausted, at 1am, perhaps after a night of studying, maybe you’ve had one too many espressos, and here we are. The tone should reflect the almost feverish scene that this prompt sets for an intense discussion. 

Prompt 2: Share your favorite quote, and tell us what it means to you. The quote can be from an author, leader, musical artist, family member or other source—famous or not. (Your response should be 200-250 words not including your quote.)

We’re not positive, but we’re pretty sure that Pomona meant “quotation” here. Might be being nitpicky. Excuse us. Regardless, we encourage you to respond to this prompt if you can summon an excerpt or quotation that is truly unexpected yet relatable. To be clear, we’re not saying obscure. You risk coming off as obnoxious. Other options also put you in a vulnerable position to be read as cliche or vapid. Basically, this is a bit risky. We trust you if you think that this is absolutely made for you to respond to, but we also implore you to consider what value the quotation and your reflections on it add to your application as a whole. If it’s just an excuse for you to flex in some way, then challenge yourself to a different prompt. And to be clear, we tried to think of what we would use for this prompt and we decided we would answer prompt 3. That says something. Onwards. 

Prompt 3: We want to understand you better! Tell us about a skill you have (useless or useful) and what it says about you. 

We really like this prompt. We don’t say that a lot. We like that it’s open-ended and indicates the idea of usefulness or uselessness. This is an opportunity to let the admissions reader get a glimpse into how you *really* spend your free time. It also gives you a chance to highlight a meaningful or funny part of your life that isn’t finding its place anywhere else in your application. They’re teeing you up to explain your love (and talent) for growing fresh herbs in a tiny Brooklyn apartment and using them to make the best roast chicken with chimichurri known to humankind. This is your shot to share that you’re the most intense speed reader (or “spreader,” as it’s referred to in the policy debate world) your debate coach has ever known. You broke the school record for number of evidence cards read in a 1AC round this year. 37 evidence cards in 8 minutes. Think about your quirks and what makes you, you. And share it.

Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or need any help at all. We’re here to help you answer every question authentically so that you feel proud hitting “submit.”
Drop us a line.