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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Use the Pomona Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

Have your heart set on Pomona? With an admit rate as low as a T15 school, you'll have your work cut out for you. But the Pomona Common Data Set shows that you can give your application a strategic boost by focusing on your character, emphasizing community fit, and possibly applying Early Decision.

Pomona is one of the most selective small liberal arts colleges in the country. If you’re applying there, you need all the help you can get. That’s where the Pomona Common Data Set comes in.

In this blog, we work through the Pomona Common Data Set with you. For each key section, we show you how the data can inform your application approach.

We’ll start by looking at how Pomona admissions officers evaluate applications.

How Pomona Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

Because Pomona is a liberal arts college, their application evaluation breakdown comes as no surprise. While most schools take a holistic approach to admissions, liberal arts colleges are known to be extra holistic.

That’s why Pomona ranks all eight of those factors—rigor, class rank, GPA, essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, talent, and character—as very important.

You have to have the academic chops, but you also need to show exceptional involvement and character. Pomona admissions officers are looking for the whole package.

Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor   Test scores Alumni/ae relation
Class rank   Interview State residency
GPA   First generation Religious affiliation
Essay   Geographical residence Level of applicant interest
Recommendations   Racial/ethnic status  
Extracurriculars   Volunteer work  
Talent/ability   Work experience  
Character/personal qualities      

Does Pomona track demonstrated interest?

No. Pomona does not track demonstrated interest. Pomona admissions officers aren’t evaluating how much you’ve engaged with their office. Just because they’re not tracking it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still engage, however. Be sure to read the website, do a virtual, and, if possible, an in-person visit—not because it will look good on your application but because it will help you learn more about the school. (You’ll be well-poised to write strong supplemental essays, too.)

Does Pomona care about standardized test scores?

Yes, Pomona cares about test scores, but they aren’t the most important part of your application. Admissions officers will consider how your scores fall in relation to their averages, but they aren’t likely to decide your application’s fate based on your scores alone.

These sentiments are reflected in the number of enrolled first-year students who submitted their scores. Only 37% submitted an SAT score, and an even smaller 29% sent in an ACT score.

Does Pomona care about essays?

Yes. Your essays are very important to Pomona admissions officers, and they have the power to make or break your application. Because they’re so important, you should spend a good deal of time and attention on them. (Our Pomona supplemental essay guide might help.)

What GPA do I need to get into Pomona?

The Pomona Common Data Set doesn’t report any GPA information. But we do learn a bit about where enrolled first-year students ranked within their high school graduating classes.

For those who submitted class rank, 93% were in the top tenth. The remaining 7% were in the top quarter.

Since class rank is one of the most important evaluation criteria, you should consider your own class rank when applying to Pomona.

Pomona Acceptance Rate

Pomona received applications from 11,620 students and offered admission to only 771 of them, making the acceptance rate 6.6%.

That’s lower than acceptance rates at Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell.

Pomona Early Decision Acceptance Rate

You have the option to apply under a binding Early Decision agreement to Pomona. Doing so might just double your chances of being accepted.

Of the 1,606 Early Decision applicants, 205 were admitted—an admit rate of 12.8%, nearly twice the Regular Decision and Early Action rate.

What’s the right application option for you?

Because Early Decision applications are binding, you’re expected to attend the institution you ED to if you’re admitted (with a few exceptions, like financial aid). The binding contract means that you shouldn’t apply Early Decision unless Pomona is your top choice.

But because you only get one Early Decision application (or two, if you go the Early Decision II route), it’s important that you use it strategically. If you have a 2.0 and no extracurriculars to speak of, then an Early Decision application to Pomona probably won’t sway the admissions committee in your favor.

To read more about ED strategy, check out our Early Decision strategy post.

Most popular majors at Pomona

Another feature of the Pomona Common Data Set tells us what students major in most frequently. While the report doesn’t list major-specific information directly, we can get at the same data by looking at where the most degrees are awarded each year. This information can be useful as you build your school list and determine whether it’s worth it to brave that 6.6% acceptance rate.

As you can see in the table, the top three most popular majors at Pomona are those in the social sciences, biological and life sciences, and physical sciences. Together, they accounted for 43.8% of degrees conferred. The top-ten list also boasts some humanities, STEM fields, and a relatively high percentage of visual and performing arts.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Social sciences 24.05
Biological/life sciences 11.14
Physical sciences 8.61
Computer and information sciences 8.35
Mathematics and statistics 6.84
Visual and performing arts 6.58
Interdisciplinary studies 5.32
Psychology 4.81
Area, ethnic, and gender studies 4.65
Communication/journalism 4.56

Why is this information helpful? Because it can show you whether Pomona is a good fit for your major interest—and how much competition you’ll face given your academic goals.

Because you’re applying to Pomona as a whole, you’ll have less major-related competition than someone who has to apply to, say, Cornell Engineering. But it’s still important to be mindful of.

All that said, if you’re applying to Pomona to study any of the fields on this list, it’s a safe bet that Pomona has a great program for you.

What should you do with all this information?

93.4% of applicants are rejected from Pomona. If you want to stand a chance on the admissions committee floor, a strong application strategy is a must.

Using the Pomona Common Data Set data, you can focus on what matters most. Namely, you can show Pomona admissions officers that you’re the kind of student they’re searching for. You won’t do this through your grades alone. You’ll also need to focus on the other parts of your application—like essays, extracurricular activity descriptions, and recommendations—that factor into the holistic review.

So as you’re crafting your essays, ensure that they showcase your character and strengths. When you write your activities descriptions, emphasize your magnitude, reach, and impact. And when you request your letters of recommendation, be sure you’re asking teachers who know you well and can speak to your academic and community contributions.



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