omona College is a private liberal arts school in Claremont, CA, and it is one of the most selective schools on the West Coast. Pomona is also the founding member of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five independent colleges that together allow for the academic and social resources of a larger research university (they share libraries, dining halls, and other facilities). Nearly all of Pomona’s 1,545 students live on campus, in one of twelve residence halls. This arrangement fosters a tight-knit community where students get to know one another quickly. Pomona is also a fairly diverse campus, with a large Asian-American/Pacific Islander community. The academics are top-notch, with many notable professors and alumni. The college’s proximity to Los Angeles is also appealing to many students, as is its relative proximity to the mountains. “Ski-Beach Day” is a popular tradition that happens each spring. Students take a bus to the mountains, where they ski or snowboard all morning, and then re-board the bus and head to a Los Angeles beach, where they surf and tan the afternoon away.
Pomona College fosters a very social, tight-knit community
of students, but also tends to be something of a bubble. A senior writes, “If there was one thing I would change about Pomona, I would make it bigger. Socially, it can be quite stifling. You can branch out to the other 5 colleges, but that often takes more effort than most are willing to give. If anything embarrassing or tragic happens though, everyone knows about it pretty much immediately.” The affiliated
Claremont Colleges, however, can help students reach out to other students and
groups. “The school is, admittedly, a bit on the small side, but luckily the 5C environment allows us to participate in a larger community as well,” writes one freshman. “I'm a part of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company, or the CCBDC. It's a 5C organization, and a fun, great way to meet other people.” Furthermore, if students make the effort to
get off campus, LA is not far away, nor are the mountains and other
recreational spots. A senior comments, “The good thing is that if you have a car or know someone with a car you can easily get to the beaches, J-Tree, the museums, Pasadena, or concerts.”
Whether or not they deserve it, Pomona students are often seen
as the most pampered and stuck-up of the Claremont Colleges. “Within the 5C community there are stereotypes that say that we think we are better than everyone else,” writes a
junior. Addressing this stereotype, she
writes, “The first one is a half truth in that we think we have better academics and th[at] Pomona is more difficult to get into than the other 5C's. On the other hand, the stereotype makes it seem like we think we are better than everyone else and inherently snobby, which is not the case.” It is true, though, that Pomona can sometimes
feel like a country club. “Sun, palm trees, sprawling green lawns, terracotta roofs...there is simply no more beautiful place to go to school,” writes a
sophomore. “I like to tell my parents that they are essentially paying for me to be on vacation, as virtually year round I find myself frequenting the pool, margarita and textbook in hand along with several friends.” A junior studying international relations
writes, “If I could change something, it would be to be able to get a better experience of independence . I am fed everyday by the dining hall. I don't clean my own bathrooms. Not that this is bad, but I feel like I am in a hotel sometimes.”
Nearly all the students rave about Pomona’s academics,
however. “I'm premed and the premed track here has excellent classes and professors,” writes one sophomore. “Almost all the professors I've had know me by name and they are very accessible.” Another sophomore comments, “I get more individual attention at Pomona than I did in high school. Professors not only know your name, but they ask for you to come in and see them if they think you are having trouble.” Pomona is a selective liberal-arts college,
and classes tend to be very small, with even its introductory lectures
remaining under 50 students. A senior
majoring in history writes, “I like the fact that I've had classes as small as 5 students and others as large as 50 students.” In terms of competitiveness, students tend to
be overachievers but relatively laid-back in public. As this freshman puts it, “Students NEVER talk about their grades and therefore aren't competitive with each other about grades, although they are very competitive with themselves.”
In true California fashion, the basic student outfit is
shorts/jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops.
“Our students are not very preppy,” writes a junior studying
economics. “It is common to wear shorts
and a t-shirt. I recognize that I am a little out of place in my dress. I wear
more collared shirts than most people and people think simply because I do I am
an asshole. I think it is a little
unwarranted...” The campus places an emphasis on being
politically correct (some students say too much so), and the student body is
relatively diverse. “I feel that there is a great deal of diversity at Pomona in terms of race, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc.,” writes one freshman.
“A student who would feel out of place would be someone who is only comfortable being around people who look, talk, and think like them.” Not everyone is of the same opinion
though. “If I were to change anything, I would first increase the number of students of color and first-generation college students on campus, then move campus closer to Los Angeles or at least out of the rich, white retirement community of Claremont,” writes one senior.
A sophomore involved in the Pan African
Student Association and Associated Students of Color says the following: “Pomona is also very segregated. Even though we're liberal, if you look at dining hall tables, most groups are homogeneous in terms of race, class, sexuality, sometimes gender. So if you want to actually have an integrated experience, you'll have to do some legwork on your own as well.”
Politically, Pomona students are very liberal, and they tend
to be environmentally conscious. “People seem to lean left/liberal/progressive and can be pretty adamant about it,” writes a senior
studying political science.
Another student comments that “Pomona's very PC for the most part. The only type of person that I can think of who would feel out of place is either a very conservative person, or a very outspokenly religious person.” All in all, the small campus and dorm living
(98% live on campus) create a very open, friendly atmosphere with a lot of
social interaction. “In high school I spent at least 5 hours every day online talking to friends. During my entire first year at Pomona I have IMed one person once,” writes a freshman.
“There is so much more actual human interaction here at Pomona, because the people are so cool, and they're right there in your hall or down the street.”
Pomona competes in Division III athletics, and their team
mascot is the Sagehen. A junior on the
basketball team writes, “There's a lot of participation in athletics here but sports games don't seem to central to social life. Football and men's basketball games get really crowded but most of the other sports don't draw too many spectators.” Recreational athletics are also very
popular. A student writes, “Especially coming from cold and snowy Minnesota, spending 8 months of the year in the beautiful SoCal climate is a wonderful change. It also makes outdoor sports an option for recreation year round, which is a boon to players of Frisbee, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball, etc.” A sophomore studying philosophy says, “My favorite place on campus is Marston Quad - a wide open field in the center of campus where you can always find a sunny spot to work, play Frisbee, slackline, or meet friends.”
Greek life is virtually nonexistent at Pomona, but there is
a plethora of college-sponsored parties.
“Harwood Halloween and Smiley 80's are the biggest Pomona parties of the year,” writes one sophomore. “There is usually a big party going on every weekend at at least one of the schools. Harvey Mudd's Foam Party is AMAZING and you should go to it if you can. Death by Chocolate happens at the end of first semester and the school has a big ballroom and fills it with all the candy, chocolates, ice creams, eclairs, etc that you can possibly eat.” Despite some complaints, most Pomona students
report an overwhelmingly positive experience with the school. In summing up her time there, this senior
writes, “Pomona is a fabulous school—it really doesn't get any better than this place: incredible financial aid, lots of services and support, good people, beautiful dorms, great weather and stellar academics.”