Breaking Down the Pomona Supplemental Essays 2020-2021

Padya Paramita

Breaking Down the Pomona Supplemental Essays 2020-2021

Pomona College has consistently ranked among the top 5 liberal arts schools over the past decade. This year, it came in at  #4 in the US News rankings. At Pomona, students can take advantage of studying at a small college with an average class size of 15, along with the opportunities offered by a larger university thanks to its connections to the other members of the Claremont Consortium — Scripps College, Pitzer College, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna. If you have your eyes on Pomona, you must communicate to admissions officers why you’re a strong fit through the Pomona Supplemental Essays 2020-2021.

Pomona is known for its challenging academic programs, liberal arts curriculum, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of student research and leadership opportunities across different fields. To be amongst the 7.4% students who are accepted each year, you must showcase how you would take advantage of the school’s resources and contribute to campus by writing stellar essays. In this blog, I’ve outlined the different prompts for the Pomona supplemental essays 2020-2021, how to answer them, and further tips to help you distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Pomona Supplemental Essays 2020-2021

Question 1

Students at Pomona are encouraged to take a variety of classes before declaring their major(s) in their second year. Tell us what gets you excited about the academic interest(s) you selected or any other fields of study you hope to explore in college. (150 words)

The key to answering this question among the Pomona supplemental essays 2020-2021 lies in conducting appropriate research surrounding the major and college you’ve chosen. Think about what your experiences have looked like so far — and most importantly, connect your past to your chosen field at Pomona. You can write about unique courses that are only offered at Pomona that appeal to you within your major,

The word limit (150 words) is extremely tight, so make sure to assert your interest in the subject into your essay as well. Mention any example from your high school experience that conveys your passion for the field. Elaborate on how your experiences and exploration of the topics within the discipline so far make you a strong candidate for the program. If there have been any ways you’ve actively pursued your interest - such as directing a play for the Theatre major or starting your own nonprofit that supports women as a future Gender Studies Major mention them in a sentence or two. 

Since there’s not much space, you won’t be able to get too much into the details about other areas of academic focus, and that’s okay. Drive home your enthusiasm both for your intended academic field, and how Pomona can specifically hone your skills and contribute to  your growth as a student. 

Question 2: Quick Responses

Prompt 1

All the questions in this section are entirely optional (and we mean it!). 

  • If there are aspects of your identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please provide that information below. (50 words or less)
  • If not captured elsewhere in your application, please share with us how you have overcome challenges in your life. (50 words or less)


    Although these questions are optional, answering them can help demonstrate your uniqueness to the admissions officer. You might wish to talk about your familial background or sexual orientation in response to the identity essay. You may also be compelled to answer the second prompt and briefly elaborate on a significant challenge you’ve faced. Discussing a part of you that’s personal can be a difficult and vulnerable experience so you shouldn’t feel pressured to talk about something you’re not comfortable with. But if something about your identity or a specific challenge you’ve overcome is central to who you are, we encourage you to use this space accordingly. 

    At the same time, be careful if you’re answering the question about a challenge you’ve overcome. Failing a math test might seem shallow in comparison to a student who may have tackled serious issues like losing someone close or facing homelessness. . Only use this space if, when thinking of the general application pool, your challenge was objectively significant.  Think carefully about your response, and answer if you feel comfortable.

    Prompt 2

    Before jumping into the required essays, you have the option to show us a little more of your personality. You can answer one, two, three, or none of the following questions. (1-50 words each)

    • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
    • What’s your favorite way to eat a potato?
    • You’re relaxing on a Friday night. Suddenly, your favorite song pops into your head. What is it?

      The key to writing these very short answers is to make sure you’re being truthful. Don’t just try to aim for what you think the admissions officers want to read. Clearly, these answers want you to get creative and showcase a more fun side. You might think McDonald’s fries are the best way to eat a potato or maybe.... Don’t overthink it — write it down. The same tip applies to your favorite song. You’re a high schooler — no one is expecting your favorite song to be a classical jazz piece. If that is truly the case, of course you should say that. But if you prefer a pop group or emo band, be honest. Admissions officers just want to get to know you!


      Pomona College requires two short essays (200-250 words each) to complete your application. Please choose two of the three essay prompts for your responses. 

      Choose one of the following two prompts:

      Prompt 1

      Tell us about an experience when you dealt with disagreement or conflict around different perspectives within a community.

      This can be a challenging essay to tackle if you were involved in a controversial disagreement. However, if there was an incident that could show your honesty and integrity — and your unique perspective — you should definitely choose this prompt. Think about how the incident would reflect on your character and whether you’d want such a person at your school if you were in the admissions officers’ shoes.

      In your essay, outline what happened and how you dealt with the conflict — but focus most of your words on what your takeaway was from the situation. You can try your hand at this essay if you encountered a situation where you acted with integrity. It might be a good chance to showcase your qualifications as a leader and desirable candidate. Or if you made a mistake - yet the situation respects boundaries and won’t portray you negatively - and you have learned from the incident since, you could also try that angle. Admissions officers want to know how you act when faced with a tough situation and whether you’re someone who is either reliable under pressure or someone who has grown from their mistakes.

      Prompt 2

      Tell us about one of the communities you belong to and what it means to bring that shared belief and/or perspective to Pomona.

      Since the prompt does not mention specific boxes which your choice of community has to check, think about a place where you’ve actually made the biggest impact. Think about how to differentiate yourself - while service trips abroad definitely could count as community service, they won’t help paint a memorable picture of you because lots of students participate in them. You could write about smaller circles such as your family, friend group, or neighborhood. You may have helped the community as a whole or you could have helped one or two individuals who belong to it. 

      To think about the kinds of contributions to elaborate on, ask yourself the following questions:

      • How have you collaborated with others in your community?
      • Have you taken any risks to help others? How have they paid off?
      • Have you spearheaded any initiatives towards change?
      • Are there any service examples that portray your curiosity and creativity?
      • Why do you care about this community? How have you shown it? 

      If you choose a larger community - like your whole school or city - make sure your essay still focuses on your own contribution and role. A response to such a prompt needs to follow the classic “show, not tell” advice. Admissions officers won’t be satisfied with just “I helped my family.” You need to dig deeper and convince them through the Pomona application essays 2020-2021 that you are the kind of hardworking and passionate individual who can thrive at Pomona.

      Further Tips for Answering the Pomona Supplemental Essays 2020-2021

      • Be Careful About Repeating Your Personal Statement - Pomona College is a member of the Common App, so there’s no point repeating what you’ve said in your personal statement, especially considering that Prompt 1 in Question 2 is very similar to the Common App prompt: “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?” Because admissions officers want each essay to add something new to your profile, don’t repeat yourself. Or, if your Pomona and Common App questions overlap, write about a different experience for Pomona. If you keep repeating information, your application is pretty much bound to bore the admissions officers. That’s the last thing you want.
      • Be succinct but confident - The Pomona supplemental essays 2020-2021 have a tight word limits. The longest word limit is only 250 words. So in a matter of 100-200 words, you have to confidently answer questions by convincingly telling a story, providing a clear picture of yourself, and outlining your goals in relation to the programs at Pomona. Don’t beat around the bush. Get straight to the point and go through multiple drafts while internally reflecting on how Pomona is the right school for you.

      The best way to stand out from your peers in the Pomona supplemental essays 2020-2021 is to emphasize qualities and experiences that are unique to you and the school itself. If admissions officers come away from reading your responses knowing you’re making a well-informed decision, they’re more likely to go to bat for you. Ultimately, make sure your responses have highlighted the perspective you’ll bring and how Pomona resources can help you achieve your goals. Best of luck!

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