We look forward to learning more about your goals, your ideas and your evolving self through reading your application to Pomona. Our application review process does not rely on cut-offs or formulas. Instead, we consider many factors as we determine your academic readiness and fit for Pomona: your curriculum and grades, evaluations by teachers and counselors, your activities and talents, and your essays. We also look at each applicant in context: what courses are available at your school? What is the college-going culture at your school? What particular challenges or circumstances have supported or hindered your performance? We encourage you to use your application to present yourself authentically by sharing with us what activities mean the most to you, what goals motivate you and what ideas get you excited.
Our Application Review Process
In assessing applicants’ academic readiness and fit for Pomona, we take into account:
We recommend students complete four to five academic courses each term of 10th, 11th and 12th grades, with four years of English, natural science and mathematics. We recommend two of those science courses are lab science and that students interested in STEM majors complete calculus. Additionally, we recommend three years each of foreign language and social science. However, these are not admission requirements but recommendations for the best preparation for Pomona’s curriculum.
If your schooling has been disrupted due to COVID-19, you will not be at a disadvantage, and we are happy to discuss your best options with you. No designation for online courses due to COVID-19 is required on the transcript, nor is an update to admissions required if your school moved classes online. If you have been home-schooled or have pursued a unique educational path, contact us about submitting other evidence of your academic preparation for college.
Rigor Of Curriculum
Students who have taken and succeeded in challenging courses in high school are more likely to be prepared for Pomona courses. However, if you attend a school that doesn’t offer advanced course options, you will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. Neither do we expect or require applicants to take every class at the highest level of rigor, but to challenge themselves where appropriate. We consider what courses are available to you in evaluating your curriculum (including honors, AP, IB and other advanced designations) and your own choices. Typically, we have a profile of your school, which indicates what is available and how much choice you might have about your curriculum, but if you feel the need to explain any of your choices, feel welcome to do so.
Your GPA is a number, not a statement about your potential. We look closely at applicants’ transcripts, beyond the GPA, to understand academic performance. Grades matter, but we also consider trends and patterns in grades, the rigor of your curriculum and your course choices. We are looking for evidence of your academic aptitude and achievement, and grades are part of this evaluation.
We ask you to provide two letters of recommendation from teachers of academic courses you’ve taken. Ask teachers who can best speak to your classroom performance: in what class did you make the most meaningful contributions? Try your hardest? Collaborate the most successfully? We hope you will show us the kind of student you hope to be at Pomona by asking your teachers to share more with us about you. We also ask for a counselor recommendation, as counselors can speak to you as a student in your school—not just in the classroom, but in your athletic, musical or club engagements, and in the hallways and sometimes community at large. If your school is large, and your counselor does not know you well, this will not disadvantage you in the admissions process.
The personal essay, as well as the Pomona-specific essays, help us consider applicants’ fit with Pomona’s creative and collaborative culture. If you think of your application as a novel about you, in which you are the central character, the essays are where you can speak directly to us in your own voice. Your teachers and counselor have told us about you in the classroom and school, your transcript has told us something about your academic preparation, but we are eager to hear directly from you so that we might better understand you as a person. 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? We feel honored to read your essays and look forward to meeting you through them.
The Pomona-specific essay prompts for those applying for Fall 2023 admission include an academic interest statement (max. 150 words); a short-response essay (max. 150 words); and a longer-response essay (max. 250 words).
(1) Academic Interest Statement: What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.
(2) Short-Response Essay: choose to respond to one of the following three prompts in 150 words or less:
- At Pomona, we celebrate and identify with the number 47. Share with us one of your quirky personal, family, or community traditions and why you hold on to it.
- What item are you excited to bring with you to college?
- Describe a time when you felt empowered or on top of the world?
(3) Longer-Response Essay: choose to respond to one of the following three prompts in 250 words or less:
- In the past few years, is there something you have changed your mind about? Why?
- Reflecting on a community that you are part of, what values or perspectives from that community would you bring to Pomona?
- What strength or quality do you have that most people might not see or recognize?
When speaking about “fit,” we do not mean all Pomona students are the same. Far from it. Each is different, with diverse talents and perspectives that, when gathered into a community, creates excitement, innovation and constant forward motion: when your roommate comes from a different cultural background, has different abilities than yours, and pursues a different academic path, you will have a lot to learn from each other! So we look for evidence of various qualities throughout your application, including:
- Investment and involvement in a community or passionate pursuit (if activities are curtailed by coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions, we will obviously take this into account. Please stay safe!)
- A love for learning, and a willingness to challenge yourself and go outside your "comfort zone"
- An openness to new ideas and rejection of easy answers
- An appreciation for a collaborative learning environment
- Personal character — be it grit, kindness, diligence or serving others
- Creativity and innovation
- Appreciation for/involvement in the performing arts (for students with talent in dance, music, or theatre, we encourage the submission of an online arts supplement)
Students are encouraged to look at the different application types that Pomona accepts and choose the one that best allows you to showcase your abilities. Pomona does not have a preference between the Common Application and the Coalition Application. Pomona is also a QuestBridge College Partner, so students may apply to Pomona through the QuestBridge National College Match.
While the application asks if you have any relatives who have attended and/or worked for Pomona College, we do not use this information for evaluative purposes or give any preferential treatment to applicants based on this information. As has been the practice for many years, Pomona does not consider legacy or donor-affiliated status in the admissions process.
In addition to the College-wide policy, the Office of Admissions maintains its own policy with regard to student privacy.