How To Get Into Pomona College: Admission Requirements

California coast line
April 26, 2024
7 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Want to join a close-knit and diverse community of scholars, entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists who are passionate about making the world a better place? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to get into Pomona College!

A strong launch into life. It’s a simple five-word motto, yet it holds a world of meaning. It’s a goal that all college students aspire to achieve, that their post-secondary institution provides them with the resources and education to lead successful lives working in their dream careers. 

At Pomona, this aspiration becomes a reality. Established in 1887, Pomona acts as the first, and most influential, destination on students’ post-secondary journey. Through this strong foundation, Pomona produces leaders in practically every field: medicine, business, arts, scientific research, law, and academic research.

Now it’s time to discuss what you’ll need to offer them to gain acceptance to this leading college. As a school that prioritizes excellence, prospective students are expected to show great academic potential, integrity, and drive.

Pomona College Acceptance Rate: 7.4%

The Pomona College acceptance rate is 7.4%. This admission rate underscores the school's highly selective nature, meaning you’ll need an exceptional application to stand out! 

To help you better evaluate your chances of getting into this school, consider its acceptance rates from the last four years:

Year # of Applicants # of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2020 11,620 772 6.5%
2021 10,663 736 7%
2022 11,132 757 6.8%
2023 10,666 749 7%

Pomona College Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Pomona College has an Early Decision acceptance rate of 17.8%. Applying for ED can significantly boost your chances of admission.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Pomona College?

With an acceptance rate of only 7.4%, Pomona College is one of the most selective schools in the country. You'll need stellar grades, test scores, essays, and extracurriculars to be a competitive applicant.

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Pomona.

Pomona College Admission Statistics

To get into Pomona College you’ll need to impress the admissions committee beyond just academic scores. However, meeting at least the average of the following scores will increase your chance of acceptance.

Pomona College Average GPA: 4.0

The average GPA of admitted students at Pomona is an unweighted 4.0. Over 90% of admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their high school class. If you have a low GPA, you may want to improve your studies for acceptance into Pomona.

Pomona College Average SAT Score: 1490

The middle 50% SAT range for admitted Pomona students is 1450-1540, with an average of 1490. Scoring above 1500 will put you in a very competitive position.

Pomona College Average ACT Score: 34

The middle 50% ACT range at Pomona is 33-35, with an average score of 34. A score of 34 or above is considered very competitive.

What is Pomona College Looking For In Applicants?

As one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country, Pomona College evaluates applicants to find students who are intellectually capable and academically committed. But you can’t just be good on paper; you’ll also need to demonstrate why you make the perfect fit for Pomona’s campus culture.

Academic Excellence and Rigor

First and foremost, Pomona looks for students who are academically prepared to thrive in its rigorous curriculum. The admissions committee closely examines an applicant's high school transcript, considering factors such as grades, course rigor, and curriculum. 

Pomona recommends that applicants take 4-5 academic courses per term, including 4 years of English, math, and science (with at least 2 lab sciences), plus 3 years each of foreign language and social science. However, these are recommendations, not strict requirements. Pomona evaluates each applicant in the context of the opportunities available to them.

Intellectual Curiosity and Creativity

Beyond academics, Pomona seeks applicants who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, creativity, and a genuine enthusiasm for learning. The admissions committee looks for evidence that an applicant will actively contribute to the lively academic discussions that characterize a Pomona education. 

Applicants can showcase these qualities through their essays, extracurricular pursuits, and recommendations.

Diversity and Accessibility

Pomona also highly values diversity and strives to enroll students from many different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. Applicants are encouraged to share in their application how their voice will enrich the Pomona community. 

The college is need-blind for most applicants and meets 100% of demonstrated needs, ensuring a Pomona education is accessible to all admitted students regardless of financial circumstances.

Engagement and Character

Pomona looks for applicants who are engaged in their communities and who will contribute positively to campus life. The admissions committee considers an applicant's extracurricular activities, leadership, and personal character. They seek students who will collaborate with and learn from their peers both inside and outside the classroom.

Holistic Admissions Process

While strong grades and test scores are important, Pomona ultimately takes a holistic approach to admissions, considering both academic and personal factors to get a full sense of an applicant's potential to thrive at the college. The application essays in particular allow students to authentically share their personality, values, experiences, and goals.

Crafting a Competitive Application

To put together a competitive application, students should challenge themselves academically, pursue their passions, contribute to their communities, and thoughtfully share who they are and what matters to them. 

Applicants can apply through the Common App, Coalition App, or QuestBridge; there is no advantage to one application type over another. Students should choose the application that allows them to best showcase their talents and experiences.

The Ideal Pomona Student

With a highly personalized, holistic admissions process, Pomona evaluates each applicant as a unique individual, looking beyond numbers and accolades to understand their full story and potential to shape the Pomona community. 

The college seeks bright, motivated, diverse students who embody the spirit of inquiry and engagement that defines a Pomona education.

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation(s) X

Non-Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

Pomona College Admission Requirements 

To apply to Pomona, you'll need to submit the following requirements:

Common Application, Coalition, or QuestBridge

Pomona College accepts Common App, QuestBridge, and Coalition applications. You will be submitting all of your application materials through these apps and sharing your personal profile, including your contact information, personal essays, academic information, extracurriculars, and more. 

Application Fee

Students will have to pay a fee of $70 to apply to Pomona College.

High School Transcripts

Now, to get into the bulk of your actual application. Students must ask their high school counselors to submit their transcripts to Pomona College. It’s also recommended that students complete the following courses:

  • Four years of English
  • Four years of natural sciences (two should be lab science courses)
  • Four years of mathematics (STEM majors should complete calculus)
  • Three years of a foreign language
  • Three years of social science 

Your transcripts will also be used to determine the rigor of your curriculum, the types of courses you took, and your level of academic aptitude. Consider taking AP or IB classes to demonstrate strong college preparation.

School Report and Counselor Recommendation

Your school report will share information about your school's academic curriculum, grading system, and context, while your counselor's recommendation will provide valuable insights into your character, achievements, and overall suitability for higher education. 

Letters of Recommendation

Students are asked to include two letters of recommendation from teachers in their application. These recommendations will be best received if they’re written by teachers from the recommended core courses that can attest to your academic performance and potential. 

You’re also required to submit a counselor recommendation. This recommendation will go beyond your academics and attest to your integrity, involvement in activities and clubs, and overall presence within the school.

A Personal Essay

Students are required to submit a personal essay through the application they use. For instance, the Common Application will ask students to craft a response to one of the following prompts:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

When writing your essay, ensure to read the prompt thoroughly and address each point. Students applying through the Coalition app can expect similar prompts:

1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

2. What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?

3. Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?

4. Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?

5. What success have you achieved or obstacles have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience? 

The final way students can submit their application is through Questbridge. Questbridge offers a more open-ended personal essay prompt that simply asks students to describe how the most influential factors and challenges in their lives have shaped them into the person they are today.

Supplemental Essays

Along with your personal essay, you’ll have to complete several Pomona-specific supplemental essays. As we share more about how to get into Pomona College, you’ll learn how important these essays are in the application process!

Transfer Student Requirements

Transfer students are required to submit the following application materials:

  • Application fee of $70
  • Official transcripts from each college attended and final transcripts from your secondary school
  • College report/transfer report to confirm your academic standing
  • Two academic evaluations from your college course instructors and an optional third letter of any type
  • Mid-term report/curriculum report 
  • Personal essay

Students may also submit their SAT/ACT scores if they would like them to be considered. 

International Student Requirements

International students have the same requirements as domestic ones, but will also be asked to submit either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test if English is not their primary language of instruction.

Pomona College Application Deadlines

As important as it is to create a compelling application, it’s equally as important to submit this application on time so you have the best chances of acceptance! Here are some deadlines to consider as you begin your application:

Application Type Application Deadline Notification Date
Early Decision I November 15 By December 15
Early Decision II January 8 By February 15
Regular Decision January 8 By April 1

Students should be aware that both Early Decision applications are binding. You must be certain Pomona is your first choice if you submit this type of application.

Pomona College Regular Decision Deadline

The submission date for the Regular Decision deadline for applicants to Pomona College is January 8. This deadline is especially pivotal for students who are finalizing their college applications.

Pomona College Early Decision Deadline

Pomona College offers two Early Decision deadlines. Applicants who are sure of their future studies at Pomona should apply to the early decision.

How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Pomona College

To maximize your chances of admission, you need to know exactly what the admissions team is looking for. Follow these tips to meet their high expectations:

1. Don’t Try to Fit a Mould

Pomona College has some general qualities they search for in each student: intellectual capability, academic commitment, creativity, inquiry, diversity, and an interest in the community. However, they emphasize there isn’t just one way to show all of these traits.

Instead, they encourage students to demonstrate each trait in a way that reflects their unique personality traits. No application should look similar to another! Don’t give in to the idea that there is just one blueprint of the perfect Pomona College student. 

Your individuality, personal experiences, and values are what will help you contribute to their community, so ensure they shine through!

2. Pursue Meaningful Community Service

Pomona College highlights the importance of community service more than any other extracurricular. While it’s essential you still participate in school clubs, sports, competitions, or employment opportunities, you should make significant contributions to your community. 

This doesn’t mean volunteering at a new organization each weekend! Choose one or two organizations you have a deep connection to and dedicate a few hours per week for at least six months. Prove you’re an active member of this organization and are committed to community development. 

3. Excel Academically and Take Challenging Courses

Pomona places a heavy emphasis on academic achievement. Among enrolled first-year students in the Class of 2025, an impressive 90% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class. 

To be competitive, you should aim for mostly A's in the most rigorous courses available, such as AP, IB, or honors classes. Course rigor, class rank, and GPA are all considered "very important" factors in Pomona's admissions process.

4. Develop a Spike in Your Extracurriculars

Pomona values applicants who have made significant achievements in a few core extracurricular areas rather than superficial involvement in many activities. They consider extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities to be "very important" in admissions decisions.

5. Apply Early Decision

If Pomona is your top choice, applying Early Decision can significantly boost your chances. Pomona's ED acceptance rate is nearly double their overall acceptance rate.

They offer two ED rounds: ED I by November 15 and ED II by January 8. Keep in mind that ED is binding, so only apply this way if you're 100% sure about attending Pomona.

6. Write Compelling Essays

Pomona requires several essays and short answer questions which carry a lot of weight in admissions. Use an essay guide to help you craft an authentic piece that shares your personality, values, experiences, and goals. 

7. Seek Out an Interview

Pomona offers optional interviews with alumni or admissions staff which can provide valuable insight into your personality and potential fit with the college. Interviews are considered in the admissions process, so take advantage of this opportunity if offered to demonstrate your interest and learn more about Pomona.

8. Focus on Recommendations

Recommendations from your counselor and two teachers are "very important" to Pomona admissions. Make sure to request recommendations from teachers who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities, intellectual curiosity, and personal qualities. Give them plenty of time and any helpful information to write a thorough and positive recommendation.

Getting into Pomona is undoubtedly challenging, but by excelling academically, developing your extracurricular passions, applying early, writing thoughtful essays, seeking out an interview, and securing strong recommendations, you'll put yourself in the best position for admission. Stay true to your authentic self throughout the process - Pomona wants to see the real you.

Pomona College Essay Prompts

The essays students write as part of the application process help the admissions committee decide if they’ll fit in Pomona’s creative and collaborative culture.

The way they see it, your application is like a novel about you. You are the central character and your supplemental essays allow you to use your voice to speak directly to the committee, almost like you’re breaking the fourth wall!

As such, these writing pieces play an important function in the selection process. The best way to write the most impressive essays is to start early and give yourself time to revise them until you’re completely satisfied. To start this process, you’ll need to know what the prompts are!

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?

While writing several essays for the Pomona College application may seem like overkill, it just goes to show how interested the admissions committee is in learning more about you, your principles, and your experiences!

Use these supplemental essays to your advantage and share what makes you unique and how you’d make an excellent addition to the Pomona community. 

Pomona College Interview

Students may request a virtual or in-person interview with a Pomona graduate if they wish to learn more about the school. Only around 10% of students engage in these alumni interviews, and they do not have any effect on the application process.

To prepare for this interview, go over common interview questions and come up with a few meaningful questions you’d like to ask your interviewer. 


In case we missed any of your inquiries about getting into Pomona, here are the most frequently asked questions about this school. 

1. How Hard Is It to Get Into Pomona College?

Considering its acceptance rate of only 7%, getting into Pomona College will be difficult. Students must focus on their academics and differentiate their applications through unique extracurriculars and compelling essays.

2. What Kind of Student Gets Into Pomona?

Diversity is one of the top qualities that Pomona prioritizes during the selection process, so there isn’t just one kind of student that gets into Pomona. While all students must demonstrate academic commitment, curiosity, and community involvement, they should do so in their own way!

3. What Does Pomona College Look for in Its Applicants?

The most important trait Pomona looks for is your ability to succeed in college. This can be best shown through your GPA, your courses, and other academic projects you pursued.

4. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Pomona College?

Students should aim for a GPA as close to 4.0 as possible to get into Pomona College. The range of previously accepted students is about 3.82-4.0. 

5. Why Is Pomona College Acceptance Rate So Low?

Pomona College is one of the top-rated and sought-after liberal arts colleges in the nation. It has a relatively small student body and is highly prestigious, meaning it has rigorous admission standards.

6. When Do Pomona Decisions Come Out?

Early Application I decisions come out by December 15, Early Application II notifications come out by February 15, and regular application decisions come out by April 1.

7. Does Pomona Have Early Action?

No, Pomona offers a binding Early Decision, not a non-binding Early Action application. 

Final Thoughts

Pomona College is one of the few universities that offers its students exceptional opportunities. Their average class size is 15 students, taught by leading faculty, they offer an intimate learning environment with the same resources as large universities and allow students to gain significant research experience during their undergrads.

This research experience won’t only involve cleaning beakers or making coffee! Since Pomona has no graduate students, undergraduates are thoroughly engaged in all research projects.

So, now that you know how to get into Pomona and the unparalleled resources it can offer you, are you ready to get launched into a bright future?

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