Harvard vs. Pomona: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students sitting in the stairs of a building.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Which University is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing a university, it can be a tough decision. Two schools that often come up in the conversation are Harvard and Pomona. While both schools offer exceptional education, they have their differences. In this article, we will dive deep into Harvard vs. Pomona and discuss the pros and cons of attending each. By the end, you should know which school is right for you.

Pomona: Which Offers the Better Education?

Both Harvard and Pomona are Ivy League schools, so it is safe to say that they both offer excellent education. However, Pomona is a liberal arts college, whereas Harvard is a research university. This means that Pomona places a greater emphasis on undergraduate education, while Harvard has more graduate programs and opportunities for research.

This difference in focus means that Pomona may offer a more personalized education. Students have more opportunities to work directly with professors and classmates, and the curriculum is more flexible. Harvard, on the other hand, offers more specialization and depth through its graduate programs and research opportunities.

Another factor to consider is the campus culture. Pomona is a smaller school with a tight-knit community, while Harvard is a larger institution with a more diverse student body.

Pomona’s focus on undergraduate education also means that there are fewer distractions from research and graduate studies, allowing students to immerse themselves in their undergraduate experience fully. On the other hand, Harvard’s size and resources provide students with a wider range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for networking.

Location: The Pros and Cons of Studying in Cambridge vs. Claremont

Location can be a major deciding factor for students when choosing a university. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just a few miles outside of Boston. Meanwhile, Pomona is in Claremont, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

The allure of living in a big city like Boston or Los Angeles can be a major draw for some students. Harvard’s location means that there are plenty of opportunities for internships, job prospects, and cultural experiences. However, this also means that the cost of living is higher than in Claremont. Additionally, the weather in New England can be harsh in the winter.

Three students walking in the school campus.

Pomona’s location offers a more laid-back atmosphere with easy access to both the mountains and the beach. It is also less expensive than living in Cambridge. However, some may find Claremont to be too small or too far from the hustle and bustle of a major city.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations of Harvard and Pomona is the transportation options available. Cambridge has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses and trains, which makes it easy to get around the city and explore the surrounding areas.

On the other hand, Claremont has limited public transportation options, and students may need to rely on cars or ride-sharing services to get around. This can be an added expense and inconvenience for some students.

Applying to Harvard and Pomona: What You Need to Know

When it comes to applying to college, both Harvard and Pomona are highly selective. Harvard’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2024 was 4.9%, while Pomona’s was 8.2%.

Both schools require standardized test scores and transcripts, and they both offer need-blind admissions, meaning they do not consider an applicant’s financial situation when making admissions decisions. However, Harvard also offers early decisions, which can increase an applicant’s chances of being accepted.

In addition to standardized test scores and transcripts, both Harvard and Pomona require applicants to submit essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. These components provide insight into an applicant’s personality, interests, and achievements outside of academics.

Harvard and Pomona also have different application deadlines. Harvard’s regular decision deadline is January 1st, while Pomona’s is January 5th. However, Harvard’s early decision deadline is November 1st, which is earlier than Pomona’s early decision deadline of November 15th.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Campus Life

Campus life is an important aspect of any university experience. Both Harvard and Pomona offer a wide range of student activities and organizations.

Harvard is home to over 400 student organizations. These range from cultural clubs to performing arts groups to political and social advocacy organizations. The school also has a strong athletic program, with 42 varsity sports teams.

Pomona has fewer student organizations, but this is likely due to its smaller size. The school still offers a variety of student-run clubs and organizations. Pomona is also part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, meaning students can take advantage of the resources and activities of the other colleges in the consortium.

Despite the differences in the number of student organizations, both Harvard and Pomona have a vibrant campus culture. Students at both schools are encouraged to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

This can be seen through the numerous events and activities that take place on campus throughout the year. From guest speakers to concerts to cultural festivals, there is always something happening on campus to engage and inspire students.

Faculty and Curriculum: How Harvard and Pomona Differ

As previously mentioned, Pomona places a greater emphasis on undergraduate education. This means that the faculty is primarily focused on teaching. Harvard, on the other hand, has a larger emphasis on research. This means that there are more opportunities for students to conduct research alongside faculty members.

Two people talking in a library.

The curriculum at both schools is rigorous and challenging. Pomona offers a general education curriculum, while Harvard has a core curriculum. Both of these frameworks provide students with a broad education that extends beyond their major.

Another difference between the two schools is the size of their classes. Pomona has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, which means that classes are generally smaller and more intimate. This allows for more personalized attention from professors and a greater opportunity for class discussion.

Harvard, on the other hand, has larger classes, which can be both a benefit and a challenge. While students have the opportunity to learn from a wider range of perspectives, it can be more difficult to get to know professors and classmates on a personal level.

Additionally, both schools offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Pomona has a strong emphasis on community service and social justice, with many student-led organizations dedicated to these causes.

Harvard has a wide range of clubs and organizations, including a strong focus on athletics and performing arts. Both schools offer a vibrant campus life, with plenty of opportunities for students to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Cost of Attendance

The cost of attending college is another major factor to consider. Both Harvard and Pomona are private universities, meaning they can be expensive.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, tuition and fees at Harvard were $49,653. The total estimated cost of attendance, including housing, food, books, and personal expenses, was $72,357. Pomona’s tuition and fees for the same academic year were $54,762. The total estimated cost of attendance was $77,496.

However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages to students who qualify. In fact, both schools have need-blind admissions and meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students. This means that students who are determined to attend one of these schools should not be deterred by the sticker price.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance can vary depending on a student’s individual circumstances. For example, students who live off-campus may be able to save money on housing and food expenses. Additionally, students who receive scholarships or grants may have a lower total cost of attendance than those who do not.

Another factor to consider when analyzing the affordability of a school is the potential return on investment. Graduates from both Harvard and Pomona have high earning potential, which may make the cost of attendance worth it in the long run. However, it is important for students to carefully consider their career goals and the job market in their field before making a decision.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Notable Alumni

Both Harvard and Pomona have produced notable alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions to their fields. Harvard’s alumni include eight U.S. presidents, 158 Nobel laureates, and 14 Turing Award winners. Pomona’s alumni include three Nobel laureates, two U.S. ambassadors, and numerous writers and artists.

While the impact of alumni may not affect a student’s decision directly, it is still worth considering the notable accomplishments of graduates from each school.

Young man leaning on a school building.

One notable Harvard graduate is Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook while still a student at the university. His success has made him one of the wealthiest people in the world and has revolutionized the way people communicate and share information online. Similarly, Pomona graduate and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman made significant contributions to the field of physics, including his work on the Manhattan Project during World War II. These are just a few examples of the impact that alumni from Harvard and Pomona have had on the world.

Research Opportunities: Which University Offers More?

As previously mentioned, Harvard has more opportunities for research due to its status as a research university. However, Pomona still offers research opportunities for its students.

One way Pomona offers research opportunities is through its Summer Undergraduate Research Program. This program allows students to work on research projects with faculty members over the summer. Pomona also has partnerships with other colleges and universities that allow students to participate in research projects outside of Pomona.

Additionally, Pomona has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research. This means that students can work on research projects that combine multiple fields of study, such as biology and computer science or psychology and economics. This approach to research allows students to explore their interests in a more holistic way and can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

Furthermore, Pomona has a dedicated research center, the Draper Center for Community Partnerships, which focuses on community-based research. This center partners with local organizations and community members to address social and environmental issues in the surrounding area. This type of research allows students to make a tangible impact in their community while also gaining valuable research experience.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Campus Resources

Both Harvard and Pomona have impressive facilities that provide students with resources to aid in their education. Harvard has over 70 libraries, over 450 labs and research centers, and a world-class art museum. Pomona has a library system that is part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, allowing students to access resources from other colleges and universities.

While both schools have impressive resources, Harvard’s size and status as a research university mean that it may have more extensive facilities than Pomona.

However, Pomona’s smaller size allows for a more personalized experience for students. The labs and research centers at Pomona are often smaller and more focused, allowing students to work closely with professors and gain hands-on experience in their field of study.

Additionally, Pomona’s location in Southern California provides unique opportunities for students to engage in research and internships in industries such as entertainment, technology, and environmental science.

Career Outcomes: Are Harvard or Pomona Graduates More Successful?

When it comes to career outcomes, both Harvard and Pomona graduates are successful. According to a study by PayScale, the median mid-career salary for a Harvard graduate was $143,000, while the median mid-career salary for a Pomona graduate was $126,000.

Three students holding each other while smiling at the camera.

However, it is worth noting that career outcomes depend on a variety of factors, including a student’s major, post-graduation plans, and personal drive.

Additionally, networking and connections can also play a significant role in career success. Both Harvard and Pomona have strong alumni networks, which can provide graduates with valuable opportunities and connections in their respective fields.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Extracurriculars

As previously mentioned, both Harvard and Pomona offer an array of student organizations and clubs. In addition to these options, both schools offer varsity sports programs.

Harvard has a strong athletic program, with 42 varsity teams and a history of success in sports like rowing, football, and basketball. Pomona also has a strong athletic program, with 21 varsity teams. However, the emphasis on athletics may be greater at Harvard than at Pomona.

Aside from sports and clubs, both Harvard and Pomona offer unique extracurricular opportunities. Harvard has a renowned debate team that competes nationally and internationally. The Harvard Model, United Nations conference is also a popular event, attracting high school students from around the world.

Pomona, on the other hand, has a strong focus on community service and offers many volunteer opportunities through its Draper Center for Community Partnerships. The center partners with local organizations to provide students with meaningful service experiences.

Diversity and Inclusion: Evaluating the Student Body at Harvard and Pomona

Diversity and inclusion are important considerations for students choosing a university. Both Harvard and Pomona have made efforts to create welcoming and inclusive environments for students.

Harvard has a dedicated Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging and offers programs and resources for underrepresented students. Pomona has a Center for Black Student Affairs and a Queer Resource Center, among other resources.

It is worth noting that both schools have room for improvement when it comes to diversity. Harvard has been criticized for its lack of diversity among faculty members, while Pomona has faced criticism for its handling of racial issues on campus.

Despite these criticisms, both Harvard and Pomona have taken steps to address these issues. Harvard has implemented a faculty diversity and inclusion action plan, which includes increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty members.

Pomona has also taken steps to address racial issues on campus, including creating a task force to address campus climate and implementing mandatory diversity training for all students.

Furthermore, both schools have diverse student populations, with students from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This diversity allows for a rich and varied learning experience, as students are exposed to different perspectives and ideas.

Harvard vs. Pomona: Admissions Statistics

We mentioned earlier that both Harvard and Pomona are highly selective. In addition to their low acceptance rates, both schools have high GPA requirements.

For the class of 2024, the average GPA for admitted students at Harvard was 4.18. The average GPA for admitted students at Pomona was 4.05. Both schools also take into consideration an applicant’s extracurricular activities, essays, and recommendations when making admissions decisions.

It’s important to note that while GPA is a significant factor in the admissions process, it’s not the only one. Admissions officers also consider an applicant’s standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, as well as their personal background and experiences.

Two students talking and reading.

Additionally, both Harvard and Pomona have holistic admissions processes, meaning they take a comprehensive approach to evaluating applicants and consider a wide range of factors beyond just academic performance.


Choosing a university is a big decision, and it is one that should not be taken lightly. Both Harvard and Pomona offer exceptional education and resources for their students. By considering factors like location, academics, campus life, and cost, you should be able to make an informed decision about which school is right for you.

Remember that while both schools have their differences, they have produced successful alumni and will provide you with a top-notch education.

It is important also to consider the culture and values of each university. Harvard is known for its competitive and ambitious atmosphere, while Pomona prides itself on its collaborative and supportive community. Think about which environment would best suit your personality and goals.

Additionally, don’t forget to research the specific programs and opportunities offered at each school. Harvard may have a renowned business program, while Pomona may have a strong emphasis on undergraduate research. Make sure to weigh these factors in your decision-making process.

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