Pomona/Claremont: colleges and area

Sep 30th, 2003, 10:13 AM
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Pomona/Claremont: colleges and area

My daughter, a very bright and academically oriented kid, wants to go to school in a sunny, warm climate. I have heard good things about Pomona and the Claremont colleges except I am concerned about air-quality and intellectual rigor. Any comments about the area or the college(s) in particular? Thanks!
ducks53 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 10:45 AM
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Hi ducks53!

Love the area! Great, great colleges!

Best of the lot is Pomona, and the students there know it! Gets the brightest and the best. Very difficult to get into. One of the top colleges in the nation.

Not too far behind is Harvey Mudd, for the science-minded.

Then there is Claremont McKenna College and Scripps College, Scripps is all women.

The intellectual lightweight in the group is Pitzer. Nothing against the Pitzies, tho!

Two graduate schools: The Claremont Graduate College, and the Keck Graduate Institute for life sciences.

That's the Claremont group of colleges.

Going to Scripps is not like going into a nunnery, there is a lot of cross socializing among the colleges. Believe that the students can also dine in one another's dining halls. They can also take classes in the other colleges, although preference is given first by a college to the students in its own college and then, if there is room, students from the other colleges may attend the classes.

Very, very good intellectual life and great education in all the colleges. Small college atmosphere, but with the different campuses grouped together, there is a large university feel as well. Kind of unique in that way.

Not bad social life either, but these are top education schools, so they are not known as "party" schools.

Try the Princeton Review of 330 colleges for better descriptions than mine.

Downtown Claremont has more charm than most small towns. Students go there all the time. The weather is fine. There is smog all over the Los Angeles Basin, but Claremont-Pomona doesn't suffer from poor quality air. I've been there in all seasons and the air is perfectly breathable.

A great life awaits your daughter at Claremont! Good luck to her in college!

jason888 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 11:20 AM
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Our son graduated from Pomona a couple of years ago; his uncle (wife's bro) went to CMC in the 70s/80s, many of my friends went to Mudd back when Isaac Newton was still news. Generalizing is dangerous but some observations:

There is less interchange now between the colleges than there was before. That can be good in that it enforces the "small college" atmosphere; or it can be bad because the diversity and synergy you get from more kids is not there. Not far away, just not there.

The faculties at the undergraduate schools don't appear as research-driven as their counterparts at bigger colleges. The grad school, while part of the Claremont Colleges, isn't as much of a presence as you'd find at combined undergrad/grad schools. Again, that can have both positive and negative connotations.

We certainly saw no lack of intellectual rigor. (Lapses maybe, but nothing we couldn't relate to as former 20-yo's) Heavens knows you're not going to have football riots if the PP Sagehens get beat in OT by the Accidental Tigers. Pretty smart, serious, fun-loving kids. One of our son's alternatives was a big school in Harlem (you guess) and the clincher was (a) the Pomona people seemed more serious (!) and (b) he liked the idea of rolling out of bed into flipflops in January instead of parka and mukluks. And it was so.

Claremont is a very nice little town, surrounded by suburban dreck or worse (IM not so HO). Air quality is better than 20 years ago but that's not saying that much - the valley used to be just gawdawful - smog alerts and 100 degrees, yum. Now you can see Mt. Baldy many times a year. The fleshpots of SoCal are easily reached from Claremont, so if big city issues are an issue, watch it.

I could get all philosophical about undergraduate v. postgraduate education but I won't. Pomona just got named in the Wall St Journal (other places too?) as one of the very best "feeder" schools to top-tier graduate schools; only Stanford on the west coast ranked higher. Pomona seemed to send gaggles off to medical schools, CMC seems to feed legal schools. If your daughter is interested in politics or economics, be advised CMC is an acknowledged center for "neo-conservative" thought (whatever the hell that means. I think I smell a Gingrich.)

The schools are very expensive, but you probably know that already.
Gardyloo is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 01:56 PM
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Thanks so much for the useful information. Actually, that school in Harlem is on her wish list; we thought being from NY state might help her get into a California school. Also nice to try out another part of the country and really get away from home.
ducks53 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 03:37 PM
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Not sure that being from NY State will help get into a CA college. I know it works the other way round, but relatively few CA students want to leave the State, other than for Ivy League schools, so E. Coast schools are always desperate to get the ones that will leave. As so many students want to come to CA, it doesn't work in reverse. Your daughter might also look at the UC schools. They can be slightly easier to get into from out of State, but still difficult.
Barbara is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 07:09 PM
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On the other hand, all colleges and universities want "diversity" - not just color, but also geographic and, perhaps, otherwise!

There isn't much choice on the West Coast for great, small liberal arts schools, whereas you will find an entire gaggle of them in New England. But then, NE is not a "sunny, warm climate", cold and snow is more the order of the day.

The University of California is a good suggestion as an alternative, but it's a big, big university spread out on several big campuses. The three campuses in the Southland are ranked UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara. Leaving out UC Irvine - why? I dunno, just didn't feel like it is in the same league as UCLA, but I may be very wrong. How good any campus/college is in comparison to others is constantly shifting and changing.

For top-tier, small, liberal arts colleges where the faculty and staff are people oriented, the Claremont Group would be your best choice on the West Coast. The UC system is VERY impersonal. That's not intended as a criticism, it's may be what your daughter wants!

If you can at all afford it, I would strongly suggest coming out to the West Coast and visiting the various colleges: Claremont Group, the UC campuses of your daughter's choice; perhaps, add in Occidental and Mills colleges in California; Willamette, Lewis & Clark, and Reed Colleges in Oregon; and University of Puget Sound and Whitman College in Washington state.

We have gone on several trips around the country "hunting" for the right college. It could come down to how one building looks - good or bad to your kid! I'll never forget how my son got turned on to Bowdoin in Maine and had his heart set on going there. Then, when he took one look at the campus, he declared the buildings to be "too square" and crossed Bowdoin off his list! Lo!

Happy "hunting"!
jason888 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2003, 04:35 AM
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Thanks for the additional suggestions.
I am concerned about the impersonal nature of the UCs, do not think it would work well for my daughter. The Claremont colleges sound great, we will have to visit. PS any idea which dept are especially well-known at Pomona?
ducks53 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2003, 06:16 AM
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I'm not trying to dominate this, and please understand I'm speaking from only our perspective; you will obviously need more info than you'll get on a travel bulletin board.

Hard to go wrong at Pomona - known for arts and letters, sciences - classic liberal arts curriculum, with lots of acknowledged teachers. (Again, more teaching- than research-driven in our experience.) Pre-med and pre-law are big streams at Pomona, so natural and life sciences and politics/economics are major majors (sorry Catch 22 fans.) Our son was in one of these arenas and the staff were, by and large, excellent. However, the schools are very small, so if one or two teachers isn't to your daughter's liking, that's a big percentage of the total faculty in her field. We had an experience where feuding faculty members in a key department (to us) caught some students up in the middle, turning the place into dysfunction junction for a semester. Sometimes with small schools you've got nowhere to run.
Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2003, 08:14 AM
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Just a comment on the air quality. (I live nearby in Pasadena.) Most of the year the air is fine and the weather is delightful. The bad times tend to be in the summer and early fall, and your daughter won't normally be in school during much of that time. Also, when the air is bad, it's usually during a particular window of time, normally mid afternoon. Air quality in the morning and evening is good even in the summer. In short, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Miranda is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2003, 11:49 PM
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I wouldn'
t write off the UC System. They are ranked most highly, they offer the widest range of opportunities, and your daughter may prefer to live in a larger city atmosphere than Pomona.

I think UC Irvine is a great school, perhaps more science oriented. It has a smaller feel than UCLA.

If your daughter is pre-med or pre-law then going to a UC will give her the best chance to get into a grad school in CA.

Good luck in your search!
Alisa is offline  
Oct 4th, 2003, 03:22 PM
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Our daughter is currently a junior at Pomona and my wife also attended Pomona. She wasn't too keen on going where her mother went to school, but it had the best to offer. She looked at many east coast schools and some in the Pacific Northwest.

She's really blossomed there. She was a bit quiet in high school but when there's only 10 kids in a college class, it's hard to be annonymous.

The coursework is demanding, but the students just seem to get into it. The students seem to stay on campus on the weekends, at least enough of them so it doesn't feel like a commuter school. There's really a community feeling on campus.

She's made lots of friends and while home this summer, she couldn't wait to get back to Pomona.

I ask her occasionally about the air quality, especially during September, and she says she doesn't even notice.

The campus is beautifully landscaped and it's like being in a park. If you get the idea that I'm jealous of her experience there, you're right. And I'm very happy that she's doing so well there.

Good luck to your daughter.
Jerrymrehs is offline  
Oct 4th, 2003, 04:08 PM
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Gosh, I don't know where you guys are getting your air quality info but I suggest you check with the AQMD (Air quility management district). The whole Pomona Valley area is the pits, constantly having the highest number of smog alerts of anywhere on the west coast. Many times the schools in the area have to cancel PE and all outdoor sports because of it. My daughter recently played in a soccer tournament up near Clairmont and complained of a "sore throat" after the first game of the day. Actually it was because of the smog, which was gross. At the end of the day we all felt like we had a layer of it on us!!
Bubba is offline  

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