The Realities of Your First Year in College

In high school, you could afford to waste three hours of your day on luxurious naps and still find time to watch Grey’s Anatomy, along with the dozens of other shows you were catching up on, all while simultaneously balancing eight extracurricular activities on top of getting good grades. This was extremely overwhelming, given the pressure of imminent university applications, but the 24 hours in a day didn’t feel excruciatingly limited. In the meantime, you would daydream about your college days, how you would continue the tradition of taking your daily naps. Except now, they're on the luscious green quad as you bask under the generous sun, maybe even finding time to throw a Frisbee around between classes – you only take four, after all – all while maintaining a perfect GPA.

This image doesn’t quite align with the reality of college life, though. Taking a three-hour nap means pulling an all-nighter for all of the work you missed because before you can start on that pile of work, you have to attend a Cappella rehearsal or start your shift at the Coop Fountain. You haven’t watched your favorite television shows since summer "vacation" and, despite only taking on one extracurricular activity, your academics are barely hanging by a thread.

Kirara Tsutsui PO ’20 commented on this unexpected reality, saying that “sometimes first years find it difficult to strike an equilibrium of personal space and social integration. Time seems limitless, yet simultaneously so limited, and because we rarely change setting, things feel static, yet also as if everything is occurring all so fast.” She claimed that her experiences so far at Pomona have absolutely met her expectations prior to arriving on campus, yet activity-wise, “there are still so many cool things happening every hour of every day that [she's] constantly overwhelmed.”

Mirenna Scott PO ’20 claimed that she did have some prior insight into Claremont life as a result of her prospie experience.

“I did an overnight at both Pomona and Scripps. I expected Pomona to be very challenging, but didn’t anticipate how that would manifest itself," she said.

Referring to her experience as a prospective student, she commented on the rigorous, stressful atmosphere that seemed to imply no sense of balance, that her host was "working non-stop, sometimes until late hours of the night.” However, here, she understands the rigor of the academics and, although a lot of activities revolve around a work schedule, which Scott claims is something she’s still getting used to, there still manages to be a sense of balance ingrained through those activities.

In terms of student-teacher interaction, some were surprised that professors here are so involved in their students’ well-being. Scott remarked how professors’ keen encouragement for students to come into office hours was surprising. Professors will ask students to catch up with them over dinner and invite them to their house for a class meal. “They’re all so accommodating and are willing to help. It’s clear they care, especially during this critical adjustment period," she said.

Tsutsui went on to say that “the relationship between professors is as intimate as I anticipated it to be; office hours are a great way not to ask questions regarding the subject matter, but to even chat about life and receive some life changing advice.”  

Jia Wu PO ’20, a first generation college student who, in fact, didn’t quite know what to expect about the 5Cs, noted that she had “heard rumors of the Claremont Colleges being a space where affluent people flock, and [she has] seen the countless college alcohol-crazed stereotypes pushed by social media. [She] knew that Pomona would be neither of these extremes but still wasn’t sure if [she]'d be able to find a home here."

Now, after living here for over two months, Pomona seems to have surpassed any lingering, hidden expectations Wu may have inadvertently internalized.

 “I’m glad that I can say that I have found a home here now. Just starting from the hall I live in, I’ve met people from all walks of life. People that I’ve met here are all complex with varying interests, such that it’s easy to connect with them especially if we’re commiserating over workloads and exams,” she said.

Wu also noted how she was pleasantly surprised by the wide array of resources that are available to students; whether that’s found in the form of mentor sessions or providing a safe place for mental health, the 5Cs have a lot to offer.

The reality of college is that, though it may not fulfill all your idyllic fantasies, it does provide you with numerous resources, a community, and an education that surpasses the mere walls of a classroom.