Anu Krishnan takes a screenshot of herself with a Zoom background of a bird's-eye view of the Pomona campus. (Photo courtesy of Krishnan)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Anu Krishnan, ’20, appreciates Pomona College’s effort to recreate close-knit community online

Anu Krishnan, ’20, attends Pomona College in Claremont while living at home in Sacramento. She plans to study neuroscience and mathematics.

Q: Why did you choose Pomona College? 

A: I wanted a small and intimate community with an undergraduate focus, and at Pomona, it’s acceptable to be ridiculously excited to learn. I also felt that Pomona had a healthy integration of work and play. Pomona has everything: great people and professors, a liberal arts education and it’s not too far away from home.

Q: Did the coronavirus affect your college decision in any way? 

A: I wanted to stay close to home. Also, I wanted to go to a smaller environment with more engagement. Because of the pandemic, that was more of a priority, but Pomona was always my top choice. Pandemic or not, I would have gone to Pomona.

Q: Why do you want to study neuroscience and math?

A: At Pomona, I believe you declare your major at the end of your sophomore year. I haven’t decided on a specific major, but I’m interested in studying neuroscience and mathematics.

They’re both subjects I enjoy taking classes in and like learning about. Also, especially with neuroscience, it’s a very interdisciplinary approach at Pomona. So, I take classes in a wide field of subjects for that major. It’s all stuff that I’m interested in, and it’s all very fascinating.

Q: What is your living situation like? 

A: I am remote because of the pandemic, so I’ve been taking classes from home for both the fall and the spring semester.

Q: How has virtual learning affected your college and learning experience?

A: It’s definitely not how I expected to start college, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s been a bad thing. Both my brother and I are at home taking college classes, and it’s been fun — not a huge transition from high school. Overall, I’ve had a bonus year at home spending time with family. But obviously, there’s things that are missing. My social life is a lot smaller because I’m not living in a dorm at Pomona. 

However, they’ve tried to sort of reconstruct that at home. We have these groups at Pomona called sponsor groups, and these are the people that would’ve been my hall- or floor- mates. It’s about two to three upperclassmen with a whole bunch of freshmen, and they’re like your little family at Pomona. They’re called your spiblings, your sponsor group siblings. We meet every now and then to play games and talk. They’re there as a resource and also as built-in friends. 

The professors have been very flexible with online learning. They’re also learning how to teach from their homes with students from different time zones, so everyone’s adapting, and it’s really not been that bad.

In general, I don’t have any complaints. I’ve tried to make the best of it, and I think that Pomona has also tried to make the best of it. Sometimes when you’re in class, you meet your professor’s kids because they’re running around the house, and your professors get angry at them — that’s pretty funny.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: I’m taking the second part of my general chemistry series, which takes two semesters — I took the first part last semester. I’m also taking cell biology, Introduction to Psychological Science, Survey of British Literature, multivariable calculus and yoga, which is my PE class.

Q: Have your AP credits helped you?

A: Pomona takes a maximum of two AP credits, and that’s only if they’re 4s or 5s. Those don’t count for course credit; they count for just overall graduation credits. The AP language exam isn’t included in those two credits, instead they go toward the liberal arts language requirement. Because I took AP Spanish Literature in high school, I was able to place out of the language requirement at Pomona.

Q: Do you have any other required classes at Pomona?

A: In the fall of your freshman year, all freshmen have to take ID 1, which is a critical inquiry seminar. There’s a list of 30 different options, and everyone ranks their choices. I got my first choice, which was science and public health. Especially in a time right now, science and public health are important. This class was co-taught by a husband and wife team; the husband was part of the chemistry department at Pomona and the wife was a public health professional.

Since Pomona is a liberal arts college, we also have general requirements focusing on six areas of study known as our six area requirements. These include creative and performing arts and quantitative studies. We also have overlay requirements that focus on speaking, writing and the analysis of differences. Language and PE courses are required for two semesters.

Q: Do you have a favorite class?

A: Honestly speaking, I like all of my classes, and I love all of my professors. If I had to choose, I think it would be between my multivariable calculus class and my Introduction to Psychological Science class just because they’re both very interesting and fun. 

Q: What’s your least favorite class?

A: My English class meets once a week, and the only really bad part about the class is that I have to sit there for three hours. It gets annoying just sitting there for three hours, but our teacher is really fun, and she makes a lot of jokes. I do enjoy reading all of the short stories and poetry.

Q: What are your class sizes like?

A: My classes are not very big or super small. I’d say they’re roughly between 20 to 30 kids per class. I think my biggest classes are probably my bio and chem classes. Those are closer to 30 kids.

Q: How does your college workload compare to the workload you had at Country Day?

A: At Country Day, I always had a full load of classes, and I was always a part of various extracurriculars, so I didn’t necessarily have a lot of free time. That work ethic has helped me at Pomona as well since I’ve been doing the same: taking a full load of classes and trying to be part of different extracurriculars. 

Q: Speaking of extracurriculars, what school activities are you involved in?

A: I am on the senior staff of “The Student Life,” which is the student newspaper at the Claremont Colleges, and coincidentally another one of my classmates from Country Day (Larkin Barnard-Bahn, ’20) is also on the newspaper but in a different section. We don’t really work together, but it’s always nice seeing a familiar face on Zoom. For the newspaper, I write articles, help edit and manage the news section.

I am also a part of the Claremont Journal of Medicine and Social Justice, and I’m on the board of the South Asian Student Association.

In SASA, I help plan events for the South Asian community at the Claremont Colleges. We have events like Chai and Chat to get to know people. We also have game nights, movie screenings and dance workshops, and we write newsletters for our community. For the Claremont Journal of Medicine and Social Justice, I work as an editor, so I have four writers who work under me, and I help them come up with topics to write about and then edit their work. I help them find sources to interview as well. CJMSJ a student publication which we publish every year. Both of these clubs cover all the five Claremont undergraduate campuses.

Q: What’s your favorite part of college?

A: I enjoy learning and getting to meet new people. My peers and professors have all been wonderful, and everyone at Pomona is very motivated — it’s not competitive, cutthroat or anything like that.

Q: How was the transition from Country Day to Pomona College?

A: I wouldn’t say there was much of a transition because I was taking classes from home. The classes are a little harder and more work, but I was already taking more classes and harder APs at Country Day, which carried over to college.

Q: Any advice for the class of 2021?

A: No matter what college you pick, you will know that you have made the best choice for yourself. Be flexible, too. College is a fun but different experience.

Pomona College
Quality of classes
Student-teacher interactions
School spirit

— By Sanjana Anand

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