March 24, 2024

After a gap year:Β  How I got into Pomona College with a Full Scholarship

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Aser from Egypt πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬

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After a gap year:Β  How I got into Pomona College with a Full Scholarship

Hello! I am Aser from Egypt. I graduated from the STEM High School for Boys on October 6, 2020. I am currently a junior at Pomona College. I ended up taking a gap year because I was not admitted to any college during my senior year.

Why Pomona College

Choosing Pomona was a totally random decision. I was applying during my gap year, and I had a friend whom I always asked for college recommendations whenever I applied early decision, but I never actually followed his suggestions. This was my last early decision application. So I thought, "This time I'll apply wherever he recommends." And he recommended Pomona for my early decision. It felt like my final chance to get in somewhere. Looking back, I can confidently say it was the right choice to come to Pomona. The culture here is amazing. It's extremely diverse, and it's so easy to get along with people.

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States, Grades, and Test Scores

My school curriculum did not calculate GPA, but my total grades were B+ in Grade 10, A in Grade 11, and A in Grade 12. I took the TOEFL, in which I scored 109 out of 120. It is also important to consider that I was applying during COVID-19. I took the ACT and my score was 34 and 35 super-scored.

Top 3 Extracurriculars

Being an event manager at TEDxYouth@6OctoberSTEM was an impressive experience. Nevertheless, the event was canceled due to COVID, but we had 12 meetings with more than 50 members. The second one was the TED-Education Club. We were 30 students, and each one had to deliver a TED-like talk on any topic they were interested in. It was so diverse and the topics ranged from astronomy to psychology. The last one was PlaNana. PlaNana was a start-up we founded. Our school curriculum depended on a capstone project every semester which solved a grand challenge facing Egypt. For instance, generating clean energy resources to overcome Egypt's energy challenges. We made a nice recycled plastic prototype. After that, we transformed it into a start-up to set up pitching around and find seed funding.


My personal statement was about my experience learning how to do public speaking. To be honest, when I was young, I was not that extroverted. Therefore, it was challenging trying to get out of my comfort zone and get rid of this anxiety. I remember I mentioned in my personal statement the TED Education Club, which helped a lot. In conclusion, I wrote about my experience in giving a talk at the AUC auditorium at the NASA Space Apps 2019 event to pitch my project.

Importance of network

As a direct consequence of being in a public school, there were not many resources to help me in my college application journey. On the other hand, my friends were my main resource. My connections with school alumni, who went to top schools, were helpful. However, the most important pieces of advice I got were from my classmates.

Scholarship & Financial aid & Fee Waiver

I applied using the application fee waiver for every college except Rice University. For that one, I paid $75. As for my college, I got into Pomona College with a full scholarship. During my freshman year, I only had to pay $200. Honestly, the scholarship covered pretty much everything.

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How I chose my major

During my gap year, I attended the Ain Shams University Faculty of Engineering. The first-year curriculum included a class from each engineering discipline: mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, and so on. Computer engineering really captivated me. I liked translating my ideas into code. That's why I chose to major in computer science and minor in mathematics. I loved math and its real-life applications.

Campus experience

Pomona College is incredibly diverse, making it easy to make new friends. It's part of the Claremont Colleges, which are five colleges that share the same campus. So there's a large community of people to meet and many campus activities to get involved in, like joining clubs.

How I balance academics and social life

The transition to college academics wasn't too difficult for me. That's mainly because I was taking 10 classes in high school, and now I'm only taking around 4. So it was easy for me to adapt to the course load. Outside of classes, I stay involved in a lot of activities. Since my college is in Southern California, an area with many mountains, I mostly do outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and skiing.

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from Egypt πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬

Duration of Study

Aug 2021 β€” May 2025


Computer Science

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Pomona College

Pomona College

Claremont, USπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ


✍️ Interview by

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Youssef from Egypt πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬

High school student & Neuroscience passionate

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  1. πŸ’€


    4 months ago

    So impressed, btw can I ask, you some questions regarding Pomona college?