2 Strong Pomona College Essay Examples
Pomona College is one of the five Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California. It is a small, highly-selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll go over two essays that real students submitted to Pomona College, and outline their strengths and areas of improvement. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
Alexandra Johnson, an expert advisor on CollegeVine, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, book a consultation with Alexandra Johnson or another skilled advisor.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Read our Pomona essay breakdown for a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental essays.
Essay Example #1
Prompt: We believe that everyone has something to contribute and receive from a diverse community. Why is belonging to a diverse and inclusive college community important to you? (200 words)
‘It’s almost bland! How’s that possible? But it looks good’, I thought as I tasted the jollof rice. All my 40-minute efforts were wasted due to just a missing piece: salt.
This experience engraved in me the appreciation of diversity in any successful environment. Whenever I get to any community, I see the community as a whole dish that’s to be made with different ingredients: people. To a casual onlooker, my perspective may appear inconsequential, but as it’s said: ‘the proportion of ingredients is important, but the final result is also a matter of how you put them together. Equilibrium is key’. My inclination towards diversity isn’t just contained to my culinary habits—it’s a recurring theme throughout my life. Raised in a diversified socio-cultural environment—Nairobi, a haven of 250+ tribes and languages—I have learned to respect, interact, and love others despite their backgrounds. Diversity opens doors for me to grow as I learn about people’s differences, hearing their stories and appreciating their backgrounds. It’s in doing so that the ‘dish’ becomes delectable. At Pomona, I look forward to meeting a tight-knit Sagehen-permeated community of tasty ‘ingredients’ (‘salt’ included) where I’ll be embraced as a vital ingredient: me.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay did a great job of sharing how the student has encountered diversity before and what they have learned from these experiences. The student mentions that they grew up in an environment with “250+ tribes and languages.” Then, they detail how they’ve learned to “respect, interact, and love others despite their backgrounds.” By including what they’ve learned, the writer shows how they thrive in a diverse environment and further, how they will contribute diversity to Pomona College’s campus.
The writer also has a great idea for a theme about recipes that ties into why diversity is important. They mention how having every ingredient in jollof rice is essential to the dish turning out well; similarly, they say that diversity on campus is important to promote learning. This theme is creative, and it allows the writer to include an activity they enjoy, cooking, in the essay. By including a brief story about cooking, the writer also has a great first sentence: “It’s almost bland! How’s that possible?” This dialogue catches the reader’s attention, and it gets the reader excited to read the essay. Try including a unique first sentence like this in your own essay!
What Could Be Improved
While the first line does well as a hook, the writer could have elaborated a little more on their ideas in the first paragraph. They could have improved this by sharing more about why they were making this recipe and how often they cook. Sharing details like this would allow the reader to learn more about the student and their interests.
Similarly, the student could have shared more about themselves and how diversity has directly impacted them. They begin to do this when they talk about growing up with many tribes and languages and how it taught them lessons about respect for those who are different. However, the essay would be stronger if the reader gave an example of a time when they learned to respect someone with a different background. An example would provide the reader with a better idea of how the writer interacts with those who are different than them, as well as what the writer has gained from diversity and wants to gain from the diverse environment at Pomona College.
Essay Example #2
Prompt: What gets you excited about your academic interest selection(s) above? (300 words)
Saved in the Notes app on my phone are three questions: What can I know? What must I do? What may I hope for? First asked by Immanuel Kant, these questions guide my pursuit of knowledge and organization of critical thought, both skills that are necessary to move our country and society forward in the right direction. As I am deeply passionate about political reform, I believe that a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics education will provide me the opportunity to understand the systemic problems in our country and devise effective solutions.
What can I know? Over the past years, I have been primed to memorize and regurgitate information. But to me, learning is not just about filling my mind with information; I crave an understanding of how to think critically about the things I know. I am particularly excited about taking the Political Philosophy and Ethical Theory courses at Pomona to ask the “Why does this matter?” question for information I learn. A multidisciplinary education will enable me to gain new knowledge and use it productively.
What must I do? I plan to pursue a career in the field of law, representing underprivileged members of society such as undocumented immigrants. Therefore, I believe that action beyond words is most important to giving people the justice they deserve. An education at Pomona would allow me to learn from professors such as Professor John Seery, who has had hands-on political experience working in Washington D.C. and serving as a city commissioner. Through the staff at Pomona, I will learn to use my knowledge as a vehicle for political activism.
What may I hope for? I am motivated to learn how to examine challenges holistically and help create a better America. Attending Pomona will be the first step to achieving this goal.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay takes an unconventional approach; rather than being more anecdotal, the author takes a famous philosopher’s questions and applies it to their own life. By bringing in a quotation by Immanuel Kant, they subliminally allude that they are familiar with his work and highlight their passion for philosophy from the get-go. Though less personal on the surface, the connections they draw between the inquiries and their own goals allows their personality to shine through.
Structuring their essay around the three Kant quotes is a nice way to bring a clear order and flow to the essay. The reader knows exactly what to expect from each paragraph. These quotes are also a nice choice because they naturally set up three very important aspects of a “Why Major?” essay: academics, extracurriculars, and career aspirations.
This student connected their academic interests to Pomona, going above and beyond the prompt. Even when you are not explicitly asked to discuss how you will explore your academic interests in college, including resources at the school and explaining how they will further your passion demonstrates 1) you have done research and 2) you would easily fit right in! Although they could have gone into more detail connecting the class and professor to them, just including these opportunities is a wise choice.
What Could Be Improved
This essay has a good premise, but it could be tightened up in a few areas. The first thing would be to be more specific about how and why this student wants to change the world. The quotes make for a perfect set up of them explaining a singular societal issue they learned about that deeply impacted them (“What can I know“), describing actions they have taken already to address that problem (“What can I do“), and discussing opportunities at Pomona that help them make a larger difference after graduation (“What may I hope for“). This would have had a far stronger impression on the reader than the more general sentences currently being used.
Another way this essay could improve would be by establishing more concrete connections between the Pomona resources and their interest. Telling us, “An education at Pomona would allow me to learn from professors such as Professor John Seery, who has had hands-on political experience working in Washington D.C. and serving as a city commissioner” is good, but why does this student want to learn from someone who has served as city commissioner? Something like this would’ve been useful: “Under Professor Seery’s wing, I will piece together the most useful policies for protecting undocumented immigrants so when I get to Capitol Hill I can introduce productive legislation.”
Finally, under the current structure of this essay, there is an imbalance between the three quotes. While they flesh out what they know and do with details about themself and the school, they use the third quote as a snappy conclusion. This leaves arguably the most revealing question without any concrete answer. To solve this, they could have cut down on the introduction a bit to make space to further elaborate on what they hope to achieve with concrete examples.
Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay
Want feedback like this on your Pomona College essay before you submit? We offer expert essay review by advisors who have helped students get into their dream schools. You can book a review with an expert to receive notes on your topic, grammar, and essay structure to make your essay stand out to admissions officers.
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