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The Classroom Experience

One of the few things we know with some certainty about the future is that it will reward people who are intellectually resilient—people who can think critically and express themselves clearly; people who are skilled at solving problems and identifying opportunities; people who have learned to embrace life creatively and thoughtfully, whatever circumstances may confront them.

Developing and nurturing these abilities is the main point of what goes on inside Pomona College classrooms and laboratories.

With an average size of 14, most classes here are taught as seminars, in which the professor serves not as the source of all knowledge, but as a participant in a common search for understanding. In the lively discussions that are the heart of these classes, you will be free to draw your own conclusions and express and defend your own ideas. Even those rare classes that do number more than 30 students typically have smaller discussion sections or laboratory components. And all classes are taught by faculty members—not by graduate students. As senior English major Molly Berman puts it, “At Pomona it’s not about regurgitating facts; it’s about synthesizing knowledge. I probably won’t remember all the facts I’ve memorized for tests, but I think I’ll always remember the interactions I’ve had here in my seminars.”

Indeed, those interactions will begin during your very first semester at Pomona with the Critical Inquiry seminar. As a first-year student, you will choose from a list of 25 to 30 interdisciplinary courses on such varied topics as “Dangerous Books,” “Malfunction of the Mind,” “Blood and Belonging: The Global Politics of Identity,” and “Why We Get Sick: The Evolution of Health and Disease.” Enrollment is limited to 15, giving you a chance to work closely with faculty and peers.

If you already know what you want to study, you’ll receive plenty of encouragement and support. By the time you begin your senior exercise, however, you may find that your academic path has taken some unexpected twists and turns. About 80 percent of our students end up doing something other than the probable majors they listed on their applications. You may discover your life’s passion in a conversation with a professor, or while taking an elective to fulfill the College’s General Education requirements, or while spending a semester abroad in one of our globe-spanning study-abroad programs, or while taking advantage of one of the countless other opportunities Pomona will put in your path.

Whatever you choose to study, you’ll work closely with academic advisers who will take the time to get to know you and to help you find not the path of least resistance, but the path that leads where you really want to go.