My final fall semester at Pomona has been plagued with hysterical bouts of regret: Why didn’t I take an art class? Why didn’t I learn a new language? Why didn’t I plant something at the farm? But at some point I realized that all this time spent regretting was time I could spend actually doing the things I was missing out on.
So, in the spirit of positive thinking, this column is devoted to the things I did at Pomona that I don’t regret, the things that I wouldn’t change for the world. Without further ado, I present the not-quite-47 things everyone should do at Pomona (because I did them):
Take a frivolous-sounding class simply because it interests you. Because often they are not at all frivolous. You might stumble upon a class that’s a labor of love for the professor, which can make for a really transformative experience. I took “Rock and Roll Writing” last semester, and I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten more out of a class. I’ve never taken assignments more seriously, never received more thorough and impassioned feedback, and never been more proud of my work.
Cut class to continue a promising conversation. “You learn a lot of things in college. Some of them have to do with classes.” Most historical sources attribute these words of wisdom to one David Menefee-Libey. I’m going to have to agree with him here. I never learned more than in those moments when I sacrificed my formal education for the fruits that can only be reaped from an unstructured conversation. If you’re missing out on this, then you’re missing the point of a residential college.
Spend a summer at Pomona. It may sound lame to some, but trust me on this one. Too often during the school year, Pomona feels like an ant colony. We go about our business and don’t venture outside of our circles. During the summer it’s different. With no homework and no extracurricular demands, there’s time to really get to know new people, and time to really get to know people you know only casually. Not to mention time to grill.
Get to know your faculty advisor. It’s nice to have someone who’s got a real bird’s-eye view of your education. They can steer you toward classes you might not otherwise have considered, and they can call you out on bullshit when you get complacent. And they may even hook it up with cozy housesitting gigs.
Explore altered states of consciousness. Of course I would never condone heavy drinking or drug use, though that might be a good thing for some people. Do whatever you’re comfortable with: meditate, take a yoga class, or just stay up all night reading or writing or drawing. Sobriety can only take you so far in life. The stuff you learn in class might make a lot more sense if you think about it in a new way.
Try to understand what the people around you care about. So someone on your hall is an ardent feminist, or your roommate is a staunch libertarian. Instead of classifying their passions as “their thing,” try to figure out why they care so much. You may find out that you’re something of a feminist libertarian yourself. (Or something like that.)
Get to know the college administration and its politics. It’s never too early to get schooled in bureaucracy, and the myriad opportunities for student involvement in college governance are one way to do this. You will doubtless be surprised, pleased, and shocked by what you learn about how your college is run.
Lead an OA. Say what you will about the logistical shitshow that is preparing an OA trip, there’s nothing that can better renew your faith in Pomona than defending a troupe of enthusiastic first-years from black bears during their first week in college.
Take advantage of PEC Off-Campus Events (and all the other ridiculously subsidized opportunities offered to you). Thank you, Jeffrey Allan Levere.
Sacrifice schoolwork for something you really care about. You think I have nothing better to do than write for TSL?