How to Get Into Pomona College: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Pomona College?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Pomona College Students
- What is Pomona College Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Pomona College
Pomona College is a unique institution, offering the closeness of a liberal arts college as well as the resources of a large research university. Pomona is a founding member of the Claremont Colleges—a collection of five undergraduate and two graduate schools that share resources such as libraries, organizations, extracurriculars, and athletics. The Claremont Colleges also share courses, so Pomona students can supplement their curriculum with classes at any of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Pomona College?
Admission to Pomona College is extremely competitive. Pomona received 10,388 applicants to its Class of 2025 and accepted only 895 students, for an overall acceptance rate of roughly 8%. Pomona College has an early decision admissions process and 1,496 students applied through it, of which the college accepted just 211 applicants—an early decision acceptance rate of approximately 14%.
Pomona College’s acceptance rate is incredibly low; however, your odds of admission vary depending on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can help you better understand your chances at Pomona. It uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate the likelihood of acceptance, as well as to provide tips on how to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Pomona College Students
Pomona College didn’t publish the average high school GPA of its Class of 2025, but rest assured that nearly every applicant to Pomona has an outstanding academic profile.
The middle 50% SAT score of Pomona’s Class of 2025 is 1390-1530 and their middle 50% ACT score is 32-35.
Pomona’s Class of 2025 performed exceptionally well academically in high school—90% of them graduated in the top tenth of their class, while 98% graduated in the top quarter.
What is Pomona College Looking for?
There is no one thing that defines a Pomona student, although Pomona students do share some common characteristics. Namely, they’re academically driven and focused on doing something meaningful with their lives.
Pomona values fielding diverse classes and bringing together students from a range of backgrounds. On Pomona’s campus, you’ll find students from every state and more than 60 countries. More than half (54.8%) of Pomona’s Class of 2025 identifies as domestic students of color and nearly one in five (18.5%) of the class are first-generation college students.
How Pomona College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Pomona College considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Recommendation letters
- Extracurricular activities
These are “considered”:
- Test scores
- First generation
- Geographical residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
- State residence
- Applicant interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Pomona College
1. Achieve the highest GPA possible while taking the most challenging classes available
GPA, class rank, and course rigor are all “very important” to admissions at Pomona. Nine out of ten applicants admitted to its Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class. To submit a competitive application to Pomona, you’ll need to earn all, or mostly all, As in the most challenging coursework available to you.
According to Pomona, “Students who have taken and succeeded in challenging courses in high school are more likely to be prepared for Pomona courses.” It’s common for students at highly ranked schools such as Pomona—which counts itself among CollegeVine’s 15 best liberal arts colleges in the country—to have completed upward of 12 AP courses.
Hyper-competitive colleges like Pomona use a tool known as the Academic Index to facilitate admissions decisions. Academic Index is a representation of your entire academic performance by a single number and if your Academic Index fails to meet Pomona’s threshold, you risk not being considered a serious candidate.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore with a GPA below Pomona’s standards, there is still time to raise it—check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, the easiest way to improve your Academic Index is to earn higher test scores.
2. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Extracurricular activities give admissions officers an idea of your interests outside of the classroom. Pomona views extracurriculars, along with the talent they often display, as “very important” factors in admissions decisions.
A standout extracurricular profile to a selective school like Pomona often features a highly developed interest known as a “spike” and one or two eye-catching activities. But not all extracurricular activities are equal, and some are more influential than others. The four tiers of extracurriculars provide a good guideline for understanding how colleges view your activities outside of the classroom.
- Tier 1 extracurriculars are the most impressive, least common, and hold the most weight in admissions. These activities demonstrate huge accomplishments or leadership, such as winning a prestigious national award or attending an acclaimed merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 activities exemplify great achievement or leadership, but are more common, hence they are less influential than Tier 1 activities. Tier 2 activities include earning a state-level distinction or holding a leadership position, such as student body president.
- Tier 3 is home to extracurricular activities that highlight your interests but lack the prestige of the higher tiers. For example, holding a lesser leadership position in a well-respected club or earning recognition in athletics, such as winning a Player of the Week award.
- Tier 4 extracurriculars are the most common and least impactful. These include participating in a club, playing in a sport, and general volunteering.
3. Write engaging essays
Essays are an excellent area for you to distinguish yourself from other applicants. According to Pomona, “We look not just for strong writing, but for individual voice, passion, and thoughtfulness. What do you care about? What do you wonder about? How have you responded to events in your life?”
In addition to the essay component of whatever application you submit—Pomona accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application—and requires students using the Common and Coalition Applications to submit three essays. There are also four quirky short-answer questions (50-word max) that allow you to show off aspects of your personality not reflected in other parts of the application.
When writing essays, it’s important to write in your authentic voice and let admissions officers see your human side. After all, there is more to you than just great grades and stellar test scores, which are characteristics shared by nearly every Pomona applicant. A standout essay will also highlight how you’ll fit into Pomona’s creative and collaborative culture and show how the school will benefit from you being on campus. For more Pomona-specific advice, check out our article, “How to Write the Pomona College Essays 2021-2022.”
4. Letters of Recommendation
Pomona views recommendations as “very important” and requires you to submit a counselor recommendation along with two letters of recommendation from teachers with your application. Counselor recommendations should show what type of student you are inside and outside of the classroom and your involvement with the community at large, while teacher recommendations demonstrate what type of student you are and what kind of student you have the potential of being.
You play a significant role in the quality of recommendations you receive. Teachers are busy, have a lot of students, and are not compensated for writing recommendations—which makes it imperative that you provide them sufficient time and enough material to compose a compelling letter. The nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers are a great resource for ensuring you get an attention-grabbing letter.
5. Apply Early Decision
Pomona has three paths to admission: early decision I (ED I), early decision II (ED II), and regular decision (RD). Applying for either ED I or ED II can significantly improve your odds of acceptance. Pomona’s roughly 14% early decision acceptance rate is nearly double its approximately 8% overall acceptance rate.
Applying early decision can improve your chances of admissions, but it is not right for every applicant. Both ED I and ED II are binding and if you’re accepted through either path, you’re committed to attending Pomona. This makes early decision best suited for applicants who are positive that Pomona is the school they want to attend.
How to Apply to Pomona College
Early Decision I
By December 15
Early Decision II
By February 15
By April 1
Pomona College accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and Questbridge Application. Other requirements include:
- High school transcript
- School report
- Counselor recommendation
- Mid-year report
- Two teacher recommendations
- Pomona writing supplement
Other optional materials include:
- SAT/ACT scores
- Art supplement
Learn more about Pomona College
Interested in learning more about Pomona? Check out these other informative articles:
- What Does it Cost to Attend Pomona College?
- Eight Sights to See On Your Campus Visit to Pomona College
- The 15 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.
Want to know your chances at Pomona? Calculate your chances for free right now.