I know many of you may be baffled by the recently released Forbes Rankings. Pomona? What? Why is it in the top 10? I feel like my own personal story and some facts about Pomona might help you understand it better.
Carnegie Hall at Pomona during Autumn. Yes, Pomona sees seasons!
When I was applying to colleges, I was not even going to consider the liberal arts colleges. I did not know about Pomona until just last August. I was name brand obsessed. Fortunately, an amazing English teacher convinced me to look at the liberal art schools, and soon after researching Pomona became my first choice school. I am blessed to be accepted.
Lyon Court at Pomona, home to the Museum of Art
One of the reasons a liberal arts college appealed to me over a research university was the nurturing community. Neither of my parents graduated from college, and I came from a significantly different culture than I would be used to at a collegiate experience. I felt the university setting was cold, aloof, and too independent for me to completely fit into. Pomona was different. It offered a beautiful, warm place filled with amazing people to develop as a person, but it also offered an elite education. It felt like it would make a good transition between my teen years and my early adulthood years. When I arrived to campus for the admissions weekend program, I felt as if I had met long lost best friends.
Alexander Hall at Pomona, home to administrative buildings
Pomona’s premier strength is the amazing education. The learning experience is truly wonderful. First of all, it is comprehensive. Pomona is in a consortium with 4 other exceptional liberal arts colleges, and these combined offer 2500 small, seminar-styled classes no more than a 10 minute walk from where you’ll be on campus. Each with amazing professor accessibility and an emphasis on learning for the sake of learning. No other place in the country offers that type of versatility and options. Secondly, it is developed. At Pomona particularly, the bonds you make between your professors will last a life-time. Classrooms are designated to involve the entire class, which offers a great deal in terms of perspective for everyone. The atmosphere tries to get a unique voice out of each person in the class, and I loved that. Even in science classes, I felt like I would be asked pressing questions through which I could seek answers to potential setbacks. The collaborative nature of the school really appealed to me. Thirdly, it is well-endowed. Pomona has amazing facilities for a school of its size, including a 2 million+ volume library and a 50 acre biological ranch for students to do research. It is always listening to the demands of the students, ensuring that facilities are constantly renovated and kept-up-to-date. Fourth, it extends well beyond the classroom. Pomona has a well-balanced intellectual atmosphere, and there are always famous people on campus through which you can enhance your perspective. More importantly, research positions and internships are easy to acquire- Pomona actually pays for your job and transportation if you get an unpaid internship. Having these resources without the limitations imposed by graduate students was truly the biggest reason I chose Pomona.
Bridges Auditorium, a premier venue for concerts, orchestras, and theatrical performances.
I’ve already described the students, but it’s true. The diversity of the student body, their well-balanced intellectual dispositions, their laid-back and collaborative nature, and their friendliness was so apparent on campus that I felt right at home. I really appreciated how academically diverse the students were- equally mixed among natural sciences, humanities, and the arts. They are seriously smart and well-rounded, yet humble folks- you look at them with initially and may not note the multitude of amazing things they are up to. The administration is really friendly and genuinely cares for the students.
The Smith Student Center, which organizes events and programs for the students.
Pomona is all about balance. It is balanced in terms of experience in particular. Thanks to the consortium, the school feels a lot bigger than it is, but it feels very tight-knit by itself. The consortium brings a lot of benefits that other liberal arts colleges don’t see- 7 dining halls, a multitude of things to do on campus, a larger population. I love the social life at Pomona- it’s not so demanding as to make the school revolve around it, but it’s definitely not non-existent either. The location also encompasses balance. Pomona is in arguably the safest, most beautiful city in the San Gabriel Valley. The town of Claremont is charming, offers a decent amount of activities for its students, and doesn’t get nearly as smoggy as LA. Downtown LA is accessible- only an hour away from campus, so you can get both the quaint setting and a bustling metropolis to make for an amazing experience. The location is simply the best you’ll see in an undergraduate college. The weather is always pleasant year round, and an hour away in all directions are national parks, the ocean, Disney Land, mountains, beaches, ski resorts, and the desert. It’s such a happening place to experience your undergraduate years.
Seaver Biology Building, one of the newer buildings on campus, is LEED-Silver certified.
Another unique thing about Pomona- the endowment. I was given a full scholarship thanks to the school, and that is only one of the ways Pomona uses it. First of all, even if you pay full price, the school will still be subsidizing the actual cost of the education. A typical Pomona education is valued at 80000$ but costs at most 55000$. Pomona’s endowment is MASSIVE. It’s more than a million dollar per student. Pomona happily funds students ideas and prospects, whether you need to cover the cost of a trip to Japan to master the language, reagents for your research project, or a rare collection of books not available on campus. You truly get a personalized education at Pomona.
The gates at Pomona College
We at Pomona turned down the “more” prestigious options, including all of the Ivy League schools, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, U’Chicago, Duke, the other elite liberal arts colleges, and other top universities because Pomona was a better fit for us. It offered us a tough, rigorous academic course load, a truly accomodating and potential imposing community, and a low-stress environment through which we could thrive. It is truly the only coeducational school in the country which is equally as excellent in both the natural sciences and the humanities, offers both the benefits of a liberal arts college and a national university, and has such a distinguished, hard-to-stereotype student body. We will believe that Pomona is the nation’s true hidden gem. However, Pomona’s reputation is rapidly rising, and it has enjoyed an amazing reputation among those who really matter in terms of future prospects. It has some of the nation’s highest PhD production rates, acceptance to medical school rates, representation in top graduate programs in Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, law school acceptance rates, and business school acceptance rates. Pomona alumni have built a strong network and are represented famously in all aspects of society. The general public may not know about it, but as an incoming freshman from our class states, even though it feels risky to reject an Ivy League school for a smaller college that is unknown to many people, risks like these make the best life stories and bring the most rewarding experiences. And ultimately, that’s what really matters. The sense of making the most of it all.
Alfred Smiley Dorm, one of the oldest dorms in the West Coast
And for those who care about statistics or rankings, but it’s really to affirm the quality of the institution:
- More than a third of the class was valedictorian or salutatorian in their high school.
- 92% were in the top 10% in their high school.
- The average SAT range is from 2100-2360, and the average ACT is 31-34, of the enrolling students, tying it with Harvey Mudd as the most selective liberal arts college in the country and rivaling Duke, University of Chicago, Stanford, and most of the Ivy League.
- Only 12.8% of the applicants were accepted in 2012. Pomona’s ED rate of 19.7% was among the top 10 lowest early acceptance rates in the county.
- 40% of the class is students of colors, and nearly 70% of these students are out-of-state. More than 60% of the class are involved with athletics, 40% with music, 80% with community service, 30% of the class with debate, 25% of the class with newspaper and yearbook, 20% of the class with government, 20% with theater, and 10% with art.
- Pomona has the largest endowment per student among any liberal arts college and the fourth highest among any college in the country.
- 17% of the class are Pell Grant recipients and 15% of the class are the first to attend college in their families, similar to other top schools as Harvard, Williams, and Yale.
- Around 35% of the class majors in the natural science and mathematics, 30% major in the humanities, 25% major in the arts, and 10% major in interdisciplinary studies.
- More than 90% of Pomona pre-med students are accepted to medical student, which is among the highest rates in the country.
- Pomona is within the top 15 schools in the country to send graduates to top programs in the country.
- Pomona consistently produces the most Fulbright Scholars per capita and does exceptional in other prestigious awards as well, such as the Cambridge award, the Rhodes Scholarship, and the Marshall scholarship.
- More than 97% of Pomona students return the next year, among the highest retention rates in the country.
- Pomona has one of the lowest student to faculty ratio in the country- 8:1.
- More than 90% of Pomona students graduate within 4 years, which is the third highest in the nation and an indicator of how committed the student body is to learning.
- Pomona has been ranked in the Princeton Review among the Best Classroom Experience, Happiest Students, Best Quality of Life, Great Financial Aid, Dorms like Palaces, Most Accessible Professors, and Best Administration. Several dining halls that Pomona students may access have been ranked in Best Campus Food.
- Pomona has been called the best value liberal arts college in the country by Kiplinger’s and was one of the 10 schools mentioned by the Princeton Review as a best value school.
- Pomona was ranked 9th most desirable school in the country by Newsweek and was the 2nd liberal arts college to be mentioned, after Cooper Union. The measure of this was value, academic factors, non-academic factors, retention rates, alumni accomplishment, and several others.
*PS: There are several who call Pomona “The Ivy League of the West Coast”. We disagree with this perspective. Pomona is an extremely unique institution, both among national universities and liberal arts colleges. We chose Pomona because we truly wanted to be here, not because we want to tell other people we went here.
“Since the beginning, Pomona College has been on the forefront of education both in Claremont and around the country. Pomona was created in the form of the elite liberal arts colleges of the Northeast, but quickly built a name for itself. Pomona has the most broad ranges of study of all the Claremont Colleges, and is more balanced in terms of what their students major in than most other liberal arts schools. Dean Allen mentions Pomona’s location in the beautiful city of Claremont, its proximity to many educational and cultural opportunities, and its focus on maximizing the Claremont Consortium’s offerings as major drawing points for applicants. There is truly no other school like Pomona College in the country.”
—MJ Pomona 2016
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