How to Get Into Pomona College: Acceptance Rate & Admissions Strategies
All of the member schools within the Claremont Consortium have excellent reputations, but Pomona College and its 1,477 brilliant undergrads, edge out Claremont McKenna for the title of “Most Selective.” In fact, along with schools like Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, and Bowdoin, Pomona College is one of the most revered liberal arts colleges in the United States. The Pomona College acceptance rate is around 6-7% each year, a far cry from 1988, when the acceptance rate at Pomona approached 40%.
Because elite liberal arts colleges are lesser known to the average person than Ivy League universities, some parents/students make the mistake of assuming that a Pomona is easier to get into than a Penn or a Dartmouth—this assumption is simply incorrect. All colleges of this ilk, Pomona included, reject a fair number of valedictorians each year as well as those with near-perfect scores on the SAT/ACT. None of this is meant to scare you—we just want to make sure that students and parents alike possess and understanding of the following:
- Pomona’s Early Decision acceptance rate
- Pomona’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Pomona College applicants
- Admissions trends
- Pomona College’s system for rating applicants
- A look at the demographics of current Pomona College undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend the Pomona College (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Pomona College
- How to assess whether applying to the Pomona College is worth the $70 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Pomona College Acceptance Rate (Early Decision)
Pomona’s ED acceptance rate was 12.7% for the Class of 2025. The ED acceptance rate compared quite favorably the to the Regular Decision figure. They have not yet released official Class of 2026 ED numbers.
Pomona College Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026
Looking at the unofficial Class of 2026 results, we see that Pomona’s official acceptance rate was roughly 6% which was actually slightly lower than the prior cycle. The Pomona College acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 was 6.6%. There were 736 total students offered a place in the freshman class of 2022-23.
Pomona College Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
For Class of 2025 members, the mid-50% SAT range for enrolled freshmen was 1480-1550, the ACT range was 33-35. Among enrolled 2021-22 first-year students, an impressive 93% hailed from the top 10%, while 100% earned a place in the top 25%. One-quarter of students in one recent freshmen class were the valedictorian of their high school class.
Admissions Trends & Notes – Class of 2026
- Only 55% of students submitted a test score with their application.
- The 736 admitted students attended 623 different high schools worldwide.
- 23% of students offered a place in the Class of 2026 were first-generation applicants.
- Admissions officers connected with 7,000+ students, parents, and counselors through virtual school visits, college fairs, and presentations.
- 20 students were matched through QuestBridge.
- Pomona has announced that it will continue to be test-optional for students applying for entry in 2023 and 2024.
How Pomona College Rates Applicants
Pomona College labels eight factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, class rank, GPA, recommendations, essays, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities. Factors that are “considered” are: standardized test scores, an admissions interview, first-generation status, geographical residence, racial/ethnic status, volunteer work, and work experience.
Since Pomona wants to see achievement and leadership outside of the classroom as well, it’s important to grasp what highly-competitive colleges are looking for when evaluating extracurricular activities. In short, they are looking for evidence of commitment and achievement in a couple of areas as depth is far more important than breadth. For more on the topic, we recommend reading our blog: How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
- 20% of students play on 21 varsity sports teams.
- Hundreds more participate in club and intramural athletics.
- There are eight musical ensembles on campus.
- There are more than 250 clubs and organizations at the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges.
Pomona admissions officers cite the following qualities as being of primary importance when evaluating candidates:
- 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 visual and/or performing arts (for students with talent in dance, drama, music and/or visual arts, we encourage the submission of an online arts supplement)
Pomona College Demographics
Let’s look at the demographics of Pomona College undergraduate student body. The states that saw the greatest number of Class of 2026 admits were:
- California (186)
- New York (48)
- Illinois (48)
- Texas (36)
- Washington (28)
- Florida (22)
- New Jersey (19)
- Maryland (16)
- Massachusetts (14)
- Oregon (13)
As at any highly-selective liberal arts college, Pomona applicants from states with very few applicants will receive an admissions boost. This preference for geographic diversity often benefits teens hailing from places like West Virginia, Idaho, the Dakotas, and other less-populated U.S. states.
The greatest number of international admits came from the following countries:
- China (17)
- United Kingdom (6)
- Canada (6)
- Hong Kong (5)
- Japan (5)
- India (5)
- Brazil (5)
- Turkey (5)
In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown of admitted students into the Class of 2026 is as follows:
- White: 21%
- Asian: 17%
- Hispanic: 18%
- African American: 16%
- Two or More Races: 10%
- International: 14%
- Native American: 1%
A look at the gender split reveals that the college admitted far more women than men into the Class of 2026.
- Men: 45%
- Women: 55%
The intended majors/concentration areas of admitted Class of 2026 students are:
- Humanities: 21%
- Interdisciplinary Fields: 24%
- Social Sciences: 22%
- Undecided: 6%
Pomona College’s “Yield Rate”
Pomona College’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 58%. For comparison, other top liberal arts schools have the following yields: Swarthmore College (45%), Williams College (52%), and Amherst College (35%).
Tips for Applying to Pomona College
If you plan on joining the 12,000+ Pomona College hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- If Pomona is your top choice, you’ll want to strongly consider applying ED I by November 15 or ED II by January 8. The Regular Decision deadline also falls on Jan 8, but the acceptance rates are significantly lower in this round.
- This school offers optional alumni interviews—however, they receive more requests than they have slots. Twenty-minute virtual information sessions with an admissions officer are also an option, but admissions staff do not conduct formal interviews.
- Pomona College does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
- Prospective students can apply through the Common Application or Coalition Application.
- You’ll need to submit a Mid-Year Report in late February, so remember to keep those grades up throughout your senior year of high school.
- Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental prompts required by Pomona College. In the 2022-23 cycle, the essays and short answer prompts are as follows:
(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. (max 150 words)
(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?
Should I Apply to Pomona?
Remember that the Pomona College acceptance rate is just 6%. Just about everyone admitted into Pomona finished at or near the top of their high school class. If you check these boxes then you’ll certainly be a competitive applicant at Pomona, but those with additional attributes and talents will fare best. As the school states, they are looking for candidates who exhibit a “love for learning, and a willingness to challenge yourself and go outside your comfort zone.” Any student applying to a school of Pomona’s caliber also needs to also have a proper mix or “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).