Pomona College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


Despite the fact that it often takes professors a couple tries to pronounce my name right, all of them DO remember my name (and really care about whether they got the pronunciation right or not). My favorite class at Pomona is Philosophy of Literature with Professor Erickson. He talks like he is reading out a book that's been edited twenty times though the lecture flows very naturally. I also have very good experiences with classes at Scripps (we can cross register). My decision of studying abroad in France is partially motivated by the amazing class on feminism in New Wave cinema in France I took at Scripps. I also took a very helpful class on the aesthetics values in the Tale of Genji there. People study A LOT at Pomona. There are definitely times that I just want my homework to finish themselves, but most of the time the assignments are interesting enough that I am actually enjoying the amount of work I put in. The general atmosphere at Pomona is certainly pretty laid-back. I've never sensed any overt competition though students are all highly motivated. Some people think people should have the right to feel comfortable about letting down the facade of "being chill", but for me the general laid-back vibe does make college somewhat easier and it doesn't really matter whether it's a pretense or not.


Professors generally know your name. At least all of my professors have. My largest class to date was 50 students and the professor knew all of our names. My smallest class was 4 people, so there was absolutely no way the professor couldn't know our names. Students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class. Even if the topic is something that seems really ordinary, there will still be academic references. Students are competitive with themselves. The pressure to do well is not societal, which is a problem at other schools. I prospied at another school and I could feel the tension between students during the weekend! However, just because other students won't bother you about comparing test scores or anything like that, a lot of people seem to pressure themselves. They don't always immediately let on that they do, but you can tell that people get stressed out over grades. You can spend time with professors outside of class is you want. Pomona has money set aside to fund faculty-student interaction, so the school pays for professors to have lunch with students. Professors also get incentives to live close to campus and will definitely invite students over for meals or to babysit their children or pets. I had thanksgiving dinner at a professor's house and another professor had our final class at her house over a nice meal and invited students to house sit for her over the summer (and she had an absolutely lovely house too). I wouldn't feel that Pomona is geared towards students getting a job. The resources are there, but you have to choose to take advantage of them. I have heard, however, that the administration is trying to create more programming at the Career Development Office that is built into first-year curriculum and general advising.


- Do professors know your name? YES. Classes are really small, and even in your bigger classes, professors will make a point of getting to know you. The biggest class I ever took at Pomona had almost 50 students (you won't find any classes bigger than that), and on the first day of class our professor had us all go around the room and say our first name twice, and then proceeded to recite all of our names, and only got two wrong! Not all professors have this bizarre skill, but they will know your name, and you'll probably get a meal with them at some point, or even visit them at their home. -Tell us about your favorite class. My favorite class was probably Children's Literature, which I took through the Religious Studies department. I got to use a secondary source we'd read about "Babar" which discussed parallels to colonialism, titled "Should We Burn Babar?" and assess a pre-teen Gossip-girl-like novel called "Massie" with my own essay, called "Should We Burn Massie?" - Are students competitive? Students are competitive with themselves, not with each other. My friends were extremely passionate and driven, with high standards for themselves, but you never heard of anyone asking how you did on a test, let alone sabotaging your research for a project, or anything like that. It's a very collaborative environment. -Is the education at this school geared toward getting a job, or learning for its own sake? Definitely learning for its own sake, but we have an awesome Career Development Center.


All of my professors know me by name, and some I even call by their first names. I have had classes with as few as three other students. Students always have intellectual conversations outside of class. Kids are just really smart here, but they're also very passionate about learning, so they don't just discuss intelligent stuff in the classroom. I am a biology major and history minor, and it's not unusual to have people who double major or take a minor in a subject completely unrelated to their main field of study. That's because Pomona students are very well-rounded. I'm pre-med and have already been accepted into my top choice medical school, so Pomona does a really good job of supporting you through that process. I know I will be really prepared for medical school next year because of Pomona.


All of my professors know me by name, and some I even call by their first names. I have had classes with as few as three other students. Students always have intellectual conversations outside of class. Kids are just really smart here, but they're also very passionate about learning, so they don't just discuss intelligent stuff in the classroom.


Academics at Pomona are very stimulating. Of the 12ish professors I've had, 1 was below average, maybe 2 were average, and the rest were great with 5 or so brilliant ones! Class sizes are small and other students are smart, they will push you to do your best. With that said, nobody is really that competitive and we work together on homework and studying all the time. It is tough, but generally manageable. The grade distribution seems to be pretty reasonable. On my last chemistry test for example, the average score was an 81 (B-).


You get to know all the professors in your major. Class size depends on the major, but by upper levels, you'll probably have less than 10 per. Currently I have classes with 3, 8, and 8 students (+ independent study one on one). Physics has a reputation of professors that are too awkward. True, but it's getting better. We just hired two young guys who are great. People will love to talk to you about what you do, and people do interesting things. Let me put this a different way. My close work with professors have gotten me two summer jobs at Caltech and most recently at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institute of Washington. I have mixed feelings about such meritocracy. Welcome to the academic world. Unlike Harvey Mudd, Pomona kids take more classes for general interest or will double-major in strange ways. Most people have broad perspectives.


Academics at Pomona are stellar, and I'm reminded of/am thankful for that every time I take a class at one of the other Claremonts. At Pomona, the more time and work you put into a class, the more you get out of it. This, of course, seems logical, but it definitely isn't the case for classes at other schools. Participation is expected and encouraged, and is rarely a burden. Since classes are generally small, participation is friendly and interesting. I learn almost as much from listening to my peers as I do from my professors. Every professor usually has 2 to 5 office hours a week, and I have often made appointments or had lunch with professors. The whole school kind of has this feeling of "learning for learning's sake". I definitely have intellectual conversations outside of the classroom every day, and that's how most Pomona students feel it should be. I have friend that are majoring in everything from Black Studies to Molecular Biology to Linguistics, therefore we have a lot of different things to talk about and we all have a genuine curiosity for what each other are learning. I will say that the education is definitely focused on learning and not on job placement, but I think that's what Pomona students applied for and what they desire. If you want to go to college just to get a job...go to CMC! Intellectual is not part of their vocabulary. Zing!


First off, I love the fact that Pomona has VERY few general education requirements. We only have to take at least one class in 5 different “areas.” I think the areas are science, math, creative expression, social science, and humanities. But they are very broad and easy to complete. If you are a science person, you can take organic chemistry, but if science isn’t your thing, “Physics or Music” would also fulfill that requirement. They say the point is that they want you to learn “ways to think.” Besides the 5 requirements and the classes you take for your major, the rest of your classes are electives or whatever you want to take. I’ve taken Human Sexuality, a psychology course about drugs, intro to philosophy, a Spanish course on linguistics, Intro to International Relations, World Music, Statistics, Sociology, to name a few. There are a lot of great classes to choose from. The classes tend to be smaller, and there are student/professor interactions. In general people are not very competitive here, and there is a lot of collaboration. Also, the course load is very manageable. I normally do a fair amount of work Sunday-Tuesday night, but then little to no homework/essays/studying Wednesday-Saturday. However, my impressive is that people in pre-med have more homework and tests.


Class sizes are small enough that most professors know your name. Students study quite a bit every day pretty much, depending on their major. I know premeds are always swamped with work, but they get through it all:) The students are not competitive but instead we all work together to do well together.


I like the Breath of Requirements, they give you enough categories in each requirement so that you don't feel like you will get stuck in class you will totally detest if it's not really your area, but yet it'll get you to take classes you would've never taken otherwise. I wasn't very interested in science, and a lot of first years take Chemistry if they are thinking of taking the pre-med route, but there are still a lot of other choices. My geology class was really interesting, and a lot more laid back than Chemistry; thus, it was a fun class to take to fill a requirement. Usually, there are really cool, laid back classes that one can find if they just need to fill a requirement. The classes really are small, unless you are in a huge, introductory Chemistry or Biology class. Even then the professors will usually know your name, though you might have to make more of an effort. If you talk to them, they'll remember you. In small classes, they will definitely get to know you. My professors were really good at responding to questions through email outside of class, and they are usually really helpful. Assuming that everyone at Pomona wants and cares about good grades, studying time varies depending on your classes. It somewhat depends on how much of an expert you are in the subject, but sometimes the work is just plain time consuming, no matter how good you are at it, like some of the math and sciences. Other courses may be more reading and writing intensive, but everyone reads and writes at different paces, so it really depends. The amount of reading material might depend on the professor and their expectations. In my experience, the students are pretty laid back, not so competitive at all. Sure everyone wants to do their best, and sure there is always that one person that tries to out do everyone, but for the most part, people are laid back.


In two semesters of taking mostly introductory courses, my largest class size was 28. Every professor knows each student by name within a month of each class. Class participation is encouraged and professors tend to be engaging. The course material is difficult but manageable.


I call most of my profs by their first name, as they do me. It is extremely student oriented and lots of personal attention. The profs make it easy to meet outside of class. You can tell that they really want you to learn. They love the students.


Academics at Pomona are great. The clases offered are usually exactly what I want and if you don't get into a class you want you can usually talk to the professor and get into it. My biggest classes have been large survey intro classes of no more than 40 students and the average is around 10 though I've had one history seminar with two other students. The work is there and at times can feel overwhelming but you can also choose an easier path if you like, though most students choose not to and most people take a heavier course load then required and many are double majoring. THis intellectualism carries over to the discussions at meals which are always interesting even if they aren't purely academic. The nerdiness aspect of Pomona means that the classses are not really geared towards professional careers exactly, but you can always take your accounting class at CMC.


Classes are small and intimate and professors are extraordinarily accessible. There isn't much competition in academics, and I've had many great intellectual conversations outside of class. Discussions in class are a bit more disappointing. I don't know what it is exactly, but a lot of times, discussions just aren't interesting. Requirements are not very hard to fulfill, and encouraged me to take classes I wouldn't have taken otherwise. Nothing I've learned at Pomona has been useful at all in terms of getting a job or entering the "real world," but that's just made me enjoy my classes more because it's fun to fill your head with theory and impractical academia.


Excellent academics. Small classes, great professors, and smart, enthusiastic students. Humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences are all strong, and there are great profs in every department. Of course there are some bad profs, but no school is perfect. All professors always know your name, and if you want, you can get to know them really well. The math department is outstanding. The general requirements make you take one class in each of 5 academic categories, but this doesn't feel like a chore - it's an opportunity to take full advantage of everything Pomona has to offer. Pomona students learn for the sake of learning, and most kids don't know what they want to do after school (usually because they are so multi-talented and adventurous / open-minded that they just can't decide).


Professors always seem to know the name of every student in their classes. Professors often invite students to their house for dinner or plan picnics with their class or just invite students to lunch. There's also a lot of opportunities to do research with professors in the summer. They are always accessible to help students through e-mail and office hours as well. My favorite class last year was my freshman seminar: dangerous books. The professor was amazing and we spent the class reading books like The Communist Manifesto, The Kinsey Report, etc. There's a lot of options for freshman seminars and it's pretty easy to find one that fits you, however it's important to look up reviews on the professor before deciding because if you just choose a seminar based on the course description the class may turn out different than you expected. Pomona students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class, but overall students are not competitive at all. Most students won't even share their grade, although students do strive to get good grades. My major is politics, and the politics department at Pomona is amazing. There's a lot of young, enthusiastic professors in the department and the classes are really interesting. Pomona's academic requirements are easy to fulfill and it's not hard to find a class you like in each breath requirement. The education is definitely geared toward learning not toward getting a job, although Pomona students don't seem to have a lot of trouble finding jobs when they graduate.


I came from a public school where the writing stuff was ok, but the science was definitely weak. That was a problem for me, a bio major. In my first year of chem and genetics I definitely struggled, while some of my friends were like "oh yeah, we did this a bunch last year" and I was like "I've never heard of translation in my life". But pomona does it's stuff well, and I've felt more and more comfortable every year. It does take some work (well, depending on the person) but Pomona's academic reputation is seriously well-deserved. Pomona's bio department is good- though i've learned to appreciate it more over time. at the beginning, since the first classes are genetics and cell bio, things i'm not really interested in, I sort of had a hard time getting into it. However, since then, i've taken some really amazing classes, like insect ecology and animal behavior, and i've gotten close with some of my professors. One of them helped me find a summer job in Montana and came to visit me. Competitiveness never really seems to be an issue- when we get grades its more like, "oh cool, I did well," or "oh shit, I fucked that up," not like "I got a 97.5{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c} what'd you get?" No one really cares about "messing up the curve" or things like that. It also helps that there's quite a bit of grade inflation-meaning that no matter how you do in percent, in the end your grade is usually ok. Pomona students are the type that are naturally motivated to do well and learn. We want to do well on our tests just because, and so not having the pressure of grades hanging over our heads makes it a little easier.


Academics at Pomona are top-notch. Classes are small and tend to be discussion oriented. Professors know all their student's names, eat meals with them, and are willing to see you to talk about just about anything even when it isn't their office hours. Discussions are often animated, with a lot of student participation, and they then tend to continue after class! Its isn't uncommon to hear students continuing an academic debate at dinner or even at a party later that night. For the most part, Pomona students tend to be supportive of one another than competitive. There are of course a few competitive people, but most of your classmates are more likely to want to study together or work on a homework in a group than try to sabotage you or see if they have a better grade than you. Classes are really cool, ranging from basics like General Chemistry to really out there stuff. I took an anthropology class called Altered States of Consciousness, where we talked about shamanism, meditation, and psychedelic drugs. For my final project, I practiced mindfulness meditation for a month! For science students, especially those interested in research, Pomona is awesome. There is a lot of funding for student research, and if you're proactive about it you can begin your own independent research project with the professor of your choice your freshman year. Pomona students get published as first authors, present their research at national conferences, and win awards. Pomona's educational program simultaneously prepares you for whatever your next step is (law school, graduate school, a job) and teaches you that most important skill of all: how to think critically. In your different classes, you'll learn facts and techniques for a number of different subjects, but at the end of the day all your professors are trying to teach you how to think about a problem, and then how we might solve it. You gain a lot of knowledge at Pomona, but it isn't just for knowledge's sake. Pomona teaches you to apply what you've learned, and to be a problem-solver and critical thinker in the real world. This isn't so much academics, but I think its also important to touch on how the PC-ness of Pomona affects you. The debates, discussions, and fundraisers all teach you one thing: to never be satisfied with something that isn't right or isn't fair. That you should always keep arguing for what you believe in. Pomona teaches you to never be satisfied, to never say that things are "good enough". As one of my classmates said in his senior speech, we must try to always be "under construction".


It's always a bit of a shocker for students who were virtually all at the top of their class to come to Pomona, and students here are no academic lightweights. Fortunately, students are largely non-competitive and I cannot imagine going to a school where it was any other way. Grading scales are all set out on the first day of class so there is no incentive to hurt your other classmates. The professors are all highly accessible and open to providing help, advice, or research opportunities. The intro science classes tend to be larger and more lecture-y, but almost all other classes are small and have at least some discussion component.


I love my professors. All of my professors (and a couple that I've never taken their class) know my name. I attend professors office hours regularly. My personal advisors and I also regularly meet for coffee/lunch to talk. I would recommend the following professors for history: Yamashita, Summers-Sandoval, Woods, and Tinker-Salas, and Lemelle. I study alot, but then again I am a history major and sociology and Chicano studies (minors)


The academics at Pomona are rigorous depending on your major. Math, Econ, IR, and the sciences can take a major toll on your social life, but antro, sociology, and art history are a joke. The class discussion is usually limited to the handful of people that talk, but those people have great ideas and the discussion is always interesting. The young professors are excellent at stimulating conversation, while the older ones tend to lecture more. I have learned a great deal so far at pomona. The intro classes are way to easy and nothing is really to be gained from them, however upper division classes are fantastic and worth the extra time in studying and reading. Two of the more interesting classes I have taken are Topics in Media Studies: Postmoderism and Environmental Analysis: City Planning.


At Pomona, only intro science classes are anywhere near large. I'm not a science student, so my largest class this past year was probably 25 people, and it felt huge. Even in that class, my prof knew everyone's name and whether or not we participated very often. One thing to keep in mind is that even if you think you know what you're majoring in, don't forget to branch out and take classes that sound just plain interesting. That's actually how I found out what I want to major in; conversely, one of my friends only did required classes and has now decided to completely switch her major, meaning her past classes that were tedious and stressful were not very relevant. Don't get stuck in a major! Yes, you have to pick by the end of sophomore year, but even after that a lot of people switch. A lot of people get to know their professors and even eat meals with them, just chatting or asking for advice. Profs are always eager to talk about anything, and most email all the time (if all you have is a simple h/w question). By far, the most interesting class I've taken was called Race, Gender, and Science Fiction. Basically, we read a lot of awesome books that are LESS than 50 years old, watched movies, wrote a lot of essays, and discussed some common themes in sci-fi. Who knew you could take a literature class about sci-fi? Pomona students are obviously competitive or they wouldn't have the academic background that got them admitted in the first place; however, it's more competitiveness with themselves than with others. It's very hard for us smart kids to handle anything less than an A, so we work our butts off to get them here. We're also all for helping each other achieve the same. Of course, there are those who study all the time and those who never study. And yes, it pays off to study. Being a liberal arts school, Pomona obviously values learning for its own sake more than direct career education, but certainly if you're pre-med, Pomona helps you get to med school. The requirements can be annoying, because there are five areas of study in which you have to take at least one class each, in addition to a foreign language requirement. Not being a science person, I'm hard-pressed to find a science class I actually want to take, but the whole idea is to spread out and explore. Maybe I'll find I really like astronomy. As far as languages go, we have quite a variety, from Spanish and French to Chinese and Japanese, and high school background in another language makes that requirement pretty easy.


Academics at Pomona are what you make of them. You can take your classes to get a good grade, or you can take them to learn. Pomona students are much more competitive with themselves than the are with other students. Part of this is that students really don't talk about their grades much, so you don't really know how you fit into the spectrum. Most courses with problem sets (math, chem, physics, bio, econ) have weekly mentor sessions to provide you with a mentor (a student who has previously taken the class and done well in it) and just a space for you to collaborate with other students in your class. Of course profs are also available to help you out with problem sets, but they generally aren't available when most students are working on them (i.e. the evening before they are due!) Academic requirements are totally reasonable and easy to fulfill. Though I definitely go to office hours to speak with my professors about papers and problem sets, some of the best relationships I've had with profs are when we've served on the same committee and worked on a joint project. It's definitely much easier to get to know a prof if you know they won't be giving you a grade at the end of the semester! About some of the departments: The chemistry department is frequently regarded as top notch, and all chem majors seem to be incredibly happy with their profs, classes, and research opportunities. Same goes for the math department. The bio department usually receives lower marks. A frequent complaint at Pomona is that programs (as opposed to departments) such as the Neuroscience Program, Latin American Studies Program, and Environmental Analysis Program get short-changed since they can't hire their own faculty and thus must always coordinate with departments. One of the downsides of going to a small school, I suppose.


Probably the strongest asset at Pomona. Academics is a very important thing here...it's not about learning out of a textbook or memorization, but more about discussing issues and thoroughly engaging and questioning them. So expect more discussion-based courses an profs. And students do carry these conversations outside of class very often. We're not as competitive as some other places, but we all really care about our academic development. My department, Sociology, is small compared to others, but awesome. The profs are wonderful and the community is vibrant. With that said, the Pomona education is not about getting a job. You don't really learn anything practical. You aren't encouraged to solve problems, but just critique them. So that gets a little frustrating.


Every single one of my professors knew my name. I say hi to them on campus, and I see them at the gym. My professors have by and large been top notch (with one exception, but I think that's pretty standard). Classes are everything you could ask for in a small liberal arts school. There is lot's of academic rigor here, so be prepared to work your ass off, but it's also got that Cali feel. People are chill, professors are chill, and eventhough people are working just as hard as here as any school on the east coast, you'd never know it. Working hard is something you do at pomona, not something you complain about. We know why we're here, and we chose this for ourselves.


In most every class, the student to teacher ratio is very good. Accordingly, the professors know you're name and devote time and interest into developing a good relationship with the students. They make themselves accessible outside of class as both a professor and mentor. Students participate in class copiously and study a lot as well. Intellectual conversation continues outside of class. Students are competitive with their classmates and themselves. There's a lot of drive and interest for most subject matters. Since it is a liberal arts school, I believe that the education at Pomona is geared toward both getting a job and learning for its own sake.


Professors always know your name and are available to help. They encourage you to express your opinion, but challenge you on it so that you can back it up with facts. If you put in the time you will be rewarded in the classroom, both with respect to grades and overall knowledge.


Classes are generally small and professors know everyone. Intellectual conversations do not happen often outside of class, although ispecific ideas etc. are frequently alluded to... Most professors very friendly and reasonable, accessible. Grade inflation off the wall. Rumoured to be the second worst for grade inflation in the nation, next to Harvard...


Academics are pretty amazing. The professors know you, want you to succeed, want you to come to office hours and make appointments. Classroom discussions are high quality and interesting. The work load is challenging - you get used to it. Be wary of professors overly eager to snag you for their major, regardless of what you actually want to do.


I have a love hate relationship with academics at Pomona. I love being able to get to know professors both in and outside of class. With certain professors, I'll go to office hours to get help and end up staying for an extra 45 minutes just talking about life. Of course, there are some mediocre professors, just like there are at any institution, but for the most part our profs are devoted to teaching and do a really good job of it. What I hate about Pomona academics is the sheer volume of work and how much time it takes. The last few semesters, I've been spending 8-12 hours everyday either in class, studying, or doing homework -- including weekends.


The academics at Pomona are incredible and the professors are unparalleled (if you take the right courses). Professors are all about you learning the material. Since class sizes are so small, the professors know you by name, which makes for more personal feedback on your work. The environmental studies courses completely change the way you view the world.


Professors know your name because classes are small and they are almost always very interested in what students are up to. You truly get the sense that everybody is rooting for you. You're all on the same side. Professors are available outside of class and are eager to help students with a variety of needs. Students are not particularly competitive. Collaboration is almost always preferred to competition.


I've taken eight classes at Pomona and loved them all so far. The professors are great, they're very fun to listen to. My classes weren't as small as I expected them to be, but some of my friends were very surprised with how small their classes were. Students were used to getting As in high school so a lot are all fussy that they can't manage that in college. That being said, they're not competitive, just a little high strung about their work. Some of them. I took one class called Farms & Gardens where I got to spend my Thursday afternoons on the organic farm picking berries and learning how to thin out fruit trees. Pomona's academic requirements are fine, you have five area requirements to fill and those classes count towards your major. There's also a language requirement and a freshman seminar. A lot of classes, talks, and groups at Pomona lead students to be more socially or environmentally aware, but it's also easy to sit comfortably in your privilege among the rose bushes and palm trees and forget about what's going on in the world. I guess that could happen at any college.


At Pomona students study, but don't kill themselves. In general, we strike a very happy balance between work and play. Classes are challenging but manageable, and really your courseload is only as hard as you make it. Students are opinionated and vocal, and professors are attentive and available. Classes are small and typically have a non-stressful, laidback enviornment that fosters participation and communication. Requirements are not too restrictive, which enables students to take fun, different classes just for the sake of learning. Intellectual conversations occur ona regular basis, and there is no end to the diversification of opinions and the number of people readily willing to share their own.


Professors know your name and they care about you. After the first week all of my teachers knew my name and something unique about me. It was easy to go in and talk to teachers; they are very accessible and are willing to help. My favorite class was probably introduction to genetics; I had a great professor and the topic was incredibly interesting. Students study quite a bit at Pomona, yet there is a good balance between studying, extracurriculars, and having fun. Class participation is something all Pomona students do. Students don't have to be encouraged to participate, because the students like to actively participate. Students aren't competitive, they are supportive. Pomona's academic requirements are not too bad; they are easy to fulfill. People at Pomona love to learn, yet the education is geared to getting students a job.


The educational opportunity here is great. There are so many unbelievably cool and engaging professors here. Granted, there are a few here and there that make people wonder "How'd they get a job here?", but largely, students know and love their profs, and often end up in their research labs, co-authoring papers, chatting in office hours, babysitting their kids, even meeting up for lunch. The atmosphere of the college is intellectual, but it's remarkable, given the level of competition in the admissions process, how little peer-to-peer competition their is in terms of grade performance. Pomona students are very internally driven, but they strive to succeed for themselves, not to outperform their peers. I've never felt, in 3 years, any sense of academic competition from a peer, something I frankly expected at a school like this. Career services are excellent and always available to help, from correcting typos on your resume to contacting alums working in your field to locate internships, to locating job placements or grad schools for life after Pomona. In sum: this is a great place to get a great education to set yourself up for a great career.


Excellent. Lots of amazing professors and strong departments. At a school of this caliber, academics are what you'd expect.


Since I'm an art major, I have come to know the department and staff very intimately and this seems to be the same in other departments as well. The teachers are all very approachable and genuinely interested in their field and many of them will go out their way to help a student, whether it concerns the class or extracurricular interest. In the case of art classes, the beginning level courses can be very competitive, but the teachers always help those who are majoring or minoring to get in, as well as seniors who may not have another opportunity to take the class. Also, professors often organize events to get the know the students better and they will even open up their homes for meetings or get-togethers. In my experience, the faculty emphasizes learning for the sake of better oneself rather than just training to work.


Academically, Pomona is certainly rigorous, but not competitive between students. Cooperative projects and work is common, and most people relish the ability to bounce ideas off each other and to constructively critique each other's work. Classes can be hard sometimes, but hey, you aren't coming to Pomona if you don't expect to be academically challenged.


Classes are small so professors know your name. Most of my classes were discussion based so how much you participate plays a roll in grading. Students aren't competitive. Pomona strives to have a non competitive atmosphere. Pomona's general education requirements aren't difficult to meet. Students can choose from many different classes in each general education area. The most unique class I've taken was TV novel. We read a serial novel and watched the first season of Six Feet Under and The Sopranos. We analyzed the materials and wrote about them. This class really helped me improve my writing and analytical skills.


The best thing about Pomona's academics is what I've already said: the students are completely devoted to learning, engaged by whatever they're studying, yet also completely relaxed about it. So I'm not going to talk about that anymore. The classes are ridiculously small, with one or two basic science classes as the exceptions, the professors know everyone's name, often talk with students outside of class, and so on. The econ department is kind of iffy, with a couple intro classes taught by grad students (which, if you know Pomona at all, is absolutely unbelievable; it would NEVER happen in any other department), and the physics program is sub-par, to be flattering, but both are improving. These are the only two things anyone could possibly find to complain about, however. In all honesty. Pomona academics are amazing, with second to none history and philosophy departments (those are the two I'm most familiar with) and also a nationally very strong chem and bio departments. Except for econ and physics, Pomona's academics are amazing. Classes are ALWAYS engaging, professors, with remarkably few exceptions, are incredible teachers and really develop in their students an actual love of the topic.


I chose Pomona because it had the best academics of ANY school I visited, and I visited a lot of schools. At first, it's a little difficult to get involved in your classes. Early classes are often almost all freshmen, and freshmen at Pomona almost never participate. And, when they do, you almost wish they wouldn't. But, the amazing professors overcome this lack of participation. I would just suggest taking mostly lecture classes your freshmen year and taking more discussion based courses later on. You will quickly find that every department is very different. Some departments are weak, like physics. And some departments have amazing reputations, such as math and chemistry. You'll notice that I only mention the sciences because all of my friends are in the sciences. You'll have to ask someone else about the humanities. I was very late in choosing my major. In fact, I only declared psychology to get into a class. The psychology department can be very hard to break into. It's not great for people casually taking classes, but once you get to know the professors, the department is great. I know all of the professors and Sandy, the wonderful secretary. They just do awesome research, and they are all passionate about the field. Pomona is all about learning for its own sake. If you want applied classes, don't come here. We learn theories and how to complete our own research and how to do things on our own. A short story complements of one of my professors can describe our style of learning... Two men are fishing on a river, and suddenly a baby comes floating down. As soon as they save the baby another one comes around the bend. Babies just keep coming. Finally one of the men walks away in disgust. The other man yells, "What are you doing? We have to save the babies." The man responds, "I'm going upriver to stop whoever is throwing them in." Pomona is about learning how to stop the person throwing the babies in, not about learning how to save the baby already in the river.


Professors definitely know your name. And I run into my biology teacher at the gym all the time. It's generally a good thing, though-- it made getting letters of rec as a freshman (I was applying for summer programs) a LOT easier. It's only bad if you sleep through a class and then they ask why you weren't there... awkward. All of my professors are amazing at holding their own review sessions for tests and helping people during office hours. Really take advantage of office hours. The good thing about Pomona is that all the teachers are there because they like teaching and are good at it. Remember that just because some school you're looking at promotes that they have X number of Nobel prize winners on staff, it does NOT mean that those people are good teachers. All first-semester freshmen take a "Critical Inquiry" class-- there are TONS to choose from. Class size is limited to 15 and it's meant to have a lot of discussion and introduce you to college writing. Topics range from philosophy, math, science, history, religious studies, politics-- everything. Mine was about views of the apocalypse. Use it as a chance to take something OUTSIDE your intended major! Pomona has "Breadth of Study" requirements, but I fulfilled all of them accidentally within my first year-- they're very reasonable. You also have to either test out of a language with AP or take 3 semesters. Students are way more collaborative than competitive. I study with my friends for all my tests and work with them on my labs and homework. Nobody's out to try and beat anyone else, they're just trying to do the best they personally can. But that best is very good- be prepared to work hard to stay above the average on tests.


There is always intellectual conversations in class and out. I've had classes where I don't want to leave. I took Buddhism and my teacher was a legit monk(she shaved her head and wore the robes everyday). Feedback on papers can be around two full pages. Students are not extremely competitive, but definitely get their work done and there is sometimes...a lot...


I couldn't ask for more. The classes are small, and I have never had a professor who doesn't know my name and basically everything about me. If you don't show up to class, expect an email. If you sleep in through a test or final, expect a phone call from your professor to your dorm room or cell phone. This might drive some students crazy, but I have never felt anything buy cared for. You definitely cannot fall through the cracks at Pomona. Everyone is very invested in and cares very much about your wellbeing. It does border on what some may call "hand holding." The very, very best thing about Pomona's academics is that, no matter what your major is, you will have the amazing opportunity to conduct real research (and maybe even publish in academic journals) with your professors. At Pomona, we take this for granted, because basically anyone who is interested will have the opportunity, but in reality it is VERY rare for undergraduates to have this opportunity. From the experiences I have had doing research at Pomona, I basically feel like I have already been to graduate school.


The academics here are great. For all their flaws, people here are not very competitive with each other (although they tend to be very competitive with themselves… are always pushing and challenging themselves to do better), which creates a very friendly and supportive academic environment. This is a great contrast to what I’ve heard about East Coast schools (people tearing up each other’s notes or sabotaging each other’s experiments? Really? I mean, seriously? What the fuck?!). The class sizes, as already mentioned, are really small, which is great (example: my intro chemistry class that I took freshman year had 40 people so, which is the most populated course I’ve heard of by far… Now my classes range from 3-10 people). You get a lot of individual attention from professors and they always have time to help you outside of class or just to talk (you can grab lunch with them and so on). As a double-major in Cognitive Science and Philosophy, I can say that both programs are excellent (especially the Cognitive Science/Linguistics program). The Neuroscience program is also very good, and so are all the programs I would safely say. If you want to do Politics or Economics though, while the majors here are good, you are really better off going to Claremont McKenna, to be honest. Those two subjects are apparently stellar at CMC—I can’t tell you how many times my econ/politics friends have said they wished they went to CMC, haha. Academic advisors are here for you and can really help you out (as opposed to other colleges where they don’t even know if you exist or not). Profs are also very understanding about personal issues and complications in life that might affect your schoolwork/attendance. The classes work on an honesty-policy, so it’s common to see profs leave the class during tests or to have take-homes that you’re expected to work alone on. Students take this trust very seriously and I’ve never heard of anyone cheating or anything, so respect for academic honesty is very high here.


Profs always know your name, and then some. My general chemistry prof still comes to my volleyball games, and his class was the biggest I've ever had (60 students). He wrote me a personalized email at the end of the school year. Favorite class: My freshman ID seminar. Profs teach these about what they are interested in, so they are always lively. In mine, we learned about the formation of the universe/Earth, then about past Civilizations, then about problems facing Earth in the future, such as global warming. Other such seminars include: Advice about Love, Baseball in America, The TV novel, Food in Culture, Cities (you play Sim City), and so forth. Least Favorite class: Economic Statistics. My professor was the only one I have ever met who was more interested in his research than in teaching. You are expected to contribute to almost all of your classes (excepting things like some math and intro science classes). This is the biggest incentive to not put off all the readings until the test! I've heard that Pomona consciously does not kill students with a super-heavy workload because it wants them to do lots of extracurriculars and become a well-rounded person. Pomona is all about learning how to think (and live), and not about preparing for a specific career. I love this because I can learn about so many different things, and take a wide variety of classes - the GE requirements you can fulfill without even trying. Double majoring is made difficult on purpose - Pomona wants you to get both depth AND breadth. That is not to say that it is impossible - I know this guy who triple majored in English, history, and Math. Don't ask me how. Over half the class studies abroad, usually in their junior year. Some locales of my friends: London, South Africa, Nepal, Kenya, Botswana, Spain, Italy, Germany. Students definitely have intellectuall conversations outside class - that is what i love about POmona - people are so cool and smart at the same time! Classes are not graded on a bell curve, so there is not very much competition here at all. IT's really all about collaboration - study groups abound. There is also a sort of honor code thing here that says you don't really share your SAT scores, grades, etc. This surprised me when I first got here because it was so different from my high school! But now I like it - you're here, people know you are smart, no need to prove it. Grades aren't everything.


As you would expect from one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, school work at Pomona is difficult. However, I don't mind because I take classes that I am interested in. Because Pomona has very few general education requirements, it becomes easay to take a wide array of classes. Although I am a neuroscience/pre med major, I have also taken intro acting, Women in Islamic Tradition, Macroeconomics, etc. I love the fact that Pomona allows me to balance my heavy science curriculum with classes from other subjects. The special thing about Pomona's classes is that they are so small. The average classes size is 10-20 people. This allows classes to be very discussion based. Often I have found the best classes at Pomona are the one's that the teacher can't even get a word in because the students are offering such good insight on the topic. Pomona professors are extremely available outside of class. They are required to hold office hours twice a week for students to come in and ask questions about the materials they are having a hard time understanding. Professors also allow students to do research with them over the summer. This is a unique oppurtunity for undergraduate students.


Academics at Pomona are excellent. From the start, students are placed in small classes with top-notch professors. Professors tend to be very open to students of all ages and will make a point to get to know everyone in the class a little bit. Students work hard but learn as much for the sake of learning as for the final grade. Accordingly, there is almost no competition between students and instead Pomona's academic environment is a cooperative one that encourages learning. Students are always helping each other out, and intellectual conversation are very common outside of class.