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Quest Advice

Current Quest Scholars at Pomona were asked to give one piece of advice on topics ranging from personal, academic, social and financial. Keep in mind this is only one collection of advice. You don't have to take it all. Advice is useful, but evaluating advice based on your own needs is even more important.


Student Life and Health:


  1. Don't be afraid to speak up. You've earned your right to take space here at the 5Cs.

  2. Never feel as if you don't belong here. You do. You deserve all of the resources and opportunities that Pomona has just as anyone else does. You have the same rightful voice and power as a full-paying student to speak your mind about anything that causes you discomfort and dissatisfaction.

  3. I wish I had really used my time to the fullest. As a rising senior, the realization that I only have one year left to do all that I really wanted to is quite concerning. I wish I had really sat down and thought about what I could only do at Pomona and what I could do at any time so that I wouldn't have regretted as much what I did end up doing.

  4. Find an organization that will make your college experience fun and/or stimulate your curiosity. Whether it be athletics, cooking, music, intramural sports, clubs, etc., find something outside academics that you can escape to when times get tough. You won't regret it.

  5. Write everything down! I find calendars super helpful, because I can plan out my week and leave myself to-do lists in addition to marking down any and all events and meetings I have, from dinner with a friend to interviews to laundry reminders.

  6. Try to avoid all nighters as much as possible. I would recommend planning out your schedule to avoid an all nighter if possible. However, sometimes life happens and you simply need that pre-morning time to get something done. It's always a good idea to find time to rest up or at least take a little break after each all nighter.

  7. Make time for naps, regardless how short it is. You'd be surprised what a 20-30 minute nap can do to rejuvenate you during those trying college times.

  8. If you ever have time (which I am sure is always hard to find), go to the rooftop garden in Sontag Hall and watch the sunset, the sunrise or just enjoy the view. Let the breeze hit your face and the sun warm your skin. I feel that this place is seldom-used, so take advantage of it.

  9. If you're a lucky, make your way to the 3rd floor of Lincoln Hall into the Neuroscience (I think) wing, and you will find the most comfortable place to work and take naps. The couches are worth every penny we use to pay for tuition.

  10. If you’re having trouble with your roommate, talk with your sponsor about possible solutions. If things are still not working out, contact Frank Bedoya or OHRL for a possible room change.  

  11. If possible for you, photograph Pomona and show everyone the beauty that is your backyard!

  12. DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK TO UPPERCLASSMEN, especially reach out to sponsors, RAs, mentors, etc. Trust me, doing this can alleviate a LOT of stress from your life.

  13. Mental health is as important as any other type of health. Give yourself the time and space to continuously evaluate your mental state. Know that it is okay to not be okay or know what is wrong, and use the resources Pomona provides. Book an appointment with Monsour Counseling, either on your own or with the help of a friend, sponsor, mentor, etc. If Monsour does not feel like a safe space, reach out to the Mental Health Alliance, the 2017-18 president is Sherwin Shabdar (Head Sponsor 2016-2017).

  14. ALWAYS ask for consent and be aware that the absence of a “no” does not mean yes.

  15. Be aware that the Health Education Office (HEO) in Tranquada has free hygienic/personal health products including: condoms, lube, dental dams, and tampons. They will even show you how to use these products. Sponsors usually also put condoms and lube in Freshmen halls.

  16. If you have SHIP,  STI testing should be free as long as you have an appointment.

  17. If possible, take at least one PE class every semester. It's very easy to become sedentary at Pomona and the all you can eat style food doesn't help. Plus, exercise works wonders for focus and attention.

  18. If this is possible for you: GO TO RAINS. Get up and go for a run. You're paying for that gym, so go sweat out all the stress and worries. Your problem sets can wait, making time to get some sort of physical activity five days a week is key in staying motivated and happy.




  1. One thing I found really helpful was telling my family about what my academic, work, and extracurricular schedule was like. Once my mom knew the sort of stuff I had to do on a weekly basis, she was more understanding about why I called her so infrequently or why I wasn't able to answer or call her back at certain times of the day. Also, it allows your family to indirectly be a part of your life because they're not totally in the dark about what you're doing. (My mom, for example, would call me and ask me stuff like, "How was your theater class?" or "Make sure you go to sleep early because you have an Econ exam in the morning!")

  2. Communication is key. You need to let your family know how you are feeling and what you are thinking, so they can adjust accordingly.

  3. Send pictures to your family! Of the college, your classrooms, your friends, etc.. So they can see what you're up to.

  4. Know that it is okay to come from a family that does not fully support your decision to pursue a college education. I would encourage you to seek family in the Quest community.


How to Save Money in College:


  1. Make sure the PE class you're signing up for is Pomona. If you sign up for other college's PE class, you will have to pay the class fee or take out a loan. Pomona’s financial aid will not pay for PE classes outside of Pomona.  

  2. You can get Amazon Prime with multiple Pomona email accounts:,, first_lastname@pomona,edu and

  3. Be careful with your Amazon prime membership. It will AUTOMATICALLY renew itself, unless you disable the automatic charge. Make sure to disable it before you forget and lose $49 you didn't intend to spend. Set a calendar reminder on your phone!

  4. Fly with Southwest if they're available in your city. They check two bags in for free (a cost that can easily be $75 with other airlines), and they tend to have $49-199 promotions. Sign up for their mailing list and look out for their "72 Hour Specials".

  5. On a general note about flying, start looking around 6-8 weeks before you need to fly, and on a Tuesday. is a great comparison website to see where the cheapest flights are. Go incognito so that booking websites cannot track you and raise your ticket price.

  6. Attend events with friends because they will likely have free food!!

  7. Avoid eating out/ordering food more than once a week or at all. Go get your meals from the dining halls as frequently as possible.

  8. Buy tupperware and then take it with you to the dining halls and steal their food. That way, you can use your meal plan to get you a midnight snack and you won't be spending $20 ordering Domino's at 12 AM. It's a wise investment.

  9. If you are going on a target run, try to go on a zipcar with multiple friends, so it reduces your total cost.

  10. Find deals on Groupons. Split the cost among friends. If you can walk, walk because Uber/Lyft adds up!

  11. Always see if you can get Pomona to pay for it! Apply for grants, even emergency grants, the worst that happens is they say no. The best is they say yes, and give you funding for summer research and pay for all the equipment you need.

  12. You can get emergency grants (an average grant is $300) and conference funds through the Dean of Students office.

  13. There are many ways not to pay full price for textbooks! Always ask other students, especially Questies, for PDFs or old copies. Also, look in the Quest Library, visit the Quantitative Skills Center, or ask your professors to borrow textbooks.


How to Manage Money in College:


  1. If possible, consider getting a starting credit card with no annual fee and low interest rates (apr). Credit becomes very important post-college but not enough students know how it works! Always pay your statements IN FULL AND ON TIME, and try to keep within 1/3 of your credit limit each period to build better credit.

  2. Do research, or ask other Questies, to help you decide which credit card would be best for you, apply, and once you get it, do NOT spend more money than you normally would. Pay off your balance every month, and get that credit score up, this will be so useful after and maybe even during college.

  3. Open a savings account if you don't have one and make it to where a portion of your money from work study or anything like that goes to your savings account instead of your checking account. You're more likely to save that money if it's in a different account and not as readily accessible.

  4. If you want to hang out with friends but don't want to spend money, you can use flex at the Motley (Scripps) and Jay's Place (Harvey Mudd).




  1. Take the time to explore. My high school didn't offer courses like philosophy, art history, and geology, so many potential majors could slip away without taking full advantage of all I could do at Pomona. I took an art history class and it became my favorite one at Pomona. Now I'm an art history major.

  2. Take the classes you're really interested in, even if it's not what you thought you'd be interested in. It's okay to change your mind, but you'll regret not exploring.

  3. Learn computer science. Learn computer science. Learn computer science.

  4. If you are thinking about applying to medical school, plan out when you are going to take the required math and science courses. The sooner you take them the better. I encourage you take those courses your first semester, Pomona has the resources to help you succeed.

  5. If the class isn't for your major, don't be afraid to take a class pass/fail if you find yourself struggling. Trust me, you will love yourself a lot more and your GPA will thank you in the end. There aren't as many consequences to that move as you might think - speak with the pre-law/ pre-health advisors at the CDO if you plan to pass/fail a class and go to law/med school.

  6. If you think you want to travel at all in the future, an investment in a foreign language is priceless. The college provides a 4-year window of intensive study to reach fluency, something you may not have later on. I opted out for my first year because I thought it would be too difficult--and now regret wasting that time.

  7. Study abroad, study abroad, study abroad! You may not get this opportunity ever again in your lifetime- especially not close to fully funded. Study abroad changed my life. Definitely consider it.                                                                                    However, it is also important to acknowledge that it is not possible for all students to study abroad. Do not feel like you are missing out on an essential piece of college if you cannot go abroad.

  8. Use office hours, mentor sessions, the quantitative skills center, and the writing center in that order. They really do help.

  9. Reach out to your profs, even if they appear intimidating at first! I made the mistake of hiding my difficulty adjusting to college academics freshman year; only when I started going to office hours and meeting with profs did I realise many are very understanding and down-to-earth. If you don't jive with your profs, don't be afraid to seek out other faculty or college admins that can provide advice or mentorship!

  10. Get to know your professors! Go talk to them about how they got to where they are, their research, and tell them about yourself, your hobbies, your goals, etc. Finding that 1 or 2 faculty you can go to to talk about things with or seek advice can keep you sane, plus they could potentially turn into your mentors and vouch for you in the future.

  11. Give yourself the opportunity to study in groups, but also make sure you know the material on your own.

  12. I would encourage you to go over graded homework and tests with your professor so you can identify your mistakes. Make sure to speak with your professors throughout your writing process.

  13. Your grades do not define who you are!

  14. This is a very subjective piece of advice and many would likely disagree, so keep that in mind. Grades aren't everything. It's important to do generally well, but sacrificing time for everything else just to get a perfect GPA is seldom worth it. The exception I can think where you do want to get close to a perfect GPA is if you're applying to a hypercompetitive fellowship like the Rhodes or medical schools like Yale.




  1. Networking IS really important, but it's scary. Start by talking to professors you admire, and ask them how they network. Ask people all the questions you have, and if you're too scared, at least Google it and talk to a friend about it.

  2. Internships are important. Networking is important. Take advantage of the Career and Development Office's (CDO) funding for the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) and the Summer Funding (SURP).

  3. Make a professional LinkedIn profile and start developing your network. Headshots can be taken at the CDO!

  4. There are a lot of conferences meant for college students to meet the leading minds of the industry, connect with other students and employers, and learn a lot in those few days. Research them and then apply! Most of them cover all costs for free, but even if they don't, ask Pomona for financial assistance and they'll gladly provide it to you.

  5. LA is a complex metropolitan area of near 18 million people. There are many people here who are underprivileged, underrepresented, and unappreciated. With your Pomona education, you'll have a power that most others in the world don't have, but you also have a responsibility to help others out. Our Draper Center for Community Partnerships is a great way to make a meaningful impact to the local community, and I strongly urge you all to be involved with the organization.

  6. Work on your resume, template cover letter, and interviewing ASAP. The CDO is can be very helpful book an appointment online (on Handshake) or walk-in during drop-in hours.

  7. Since Pomona is need-based, it often gets funding from different sources other than federal grants or the general Pomona scholarship. Make sure to fill out the scholarship data sheet sent out each year! It takes less than 10 minutes to fill out, but it makes you eligible to many different scholarships. Even though your aid won't change, you can check your financial aid package to see if you've been named for specific scholarships or funds and you can put these on your resumes and CVs.


Overarching Advice:


  1. Be confident in who you are and the knowledge you carry. Visit your professors during office hours - ask questions about the material and their interests. Look them in the eye and know that your experience and your intelligence and wisdom is as valid as that shared by your professors or any of your peers. Know that you are talented, passionate, and worthy. Know that you are capable. Realize that this privilege comes with expectations, but that you are allowed to make mistakes from which to learn and grow - and that your mental, emotional, and physical health are as, or more, important than your academics.

  2. Don't be afraid or anxious about the various contradictions that you will encounter in college. You'll come to experience several of these, both internally and externally, but I feel that contradictions are a natural result of living in such distinct identities. This experience will build upon you, not subtract away from it, and I think that is a beautiful thing.

  3. Everyone is on their own path, so do not compare your position in life to others'. We all come from different places, have had different experiences, and have different interests and ambitions and strengths.

  4. Don't beat yourself up. You're doing the best you can. It's never going to help to feel guilty about anything. You deserve to be here, you deserve to take breaks, you deserve to be healthy.

  5. Let's face it; college ain't easy and it really ain't made to look out for people like us. But there are a couple of things you can do to help keep yourself from going stark raving mad. Find a couple of really good people that make you happy and laugh, and keep them close. Find some activity or club that you enjoy putting time into. Stuff like that helps make those 4 years more bearable, trust me.

  6. These next for 4 years will be the worst/best time of your life. I encourage that you learn as much as you can, fail at things, try new things, experience your discomfort with friends. You can do it.


Updated: 08/09/2017

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