UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students talking in a bench while holding their notes.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college is a big decision that can greatly impact your future. UC Santa Barbara and Pomona are two top-notch institutions of higher learning, both renowned for their academic rigor, state-of-the-art facilities, and dynamic campus life. Whether you’re deciding where to apply to college or choosing between admission offers, this article will provide you with a comprehensive comparison of UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona. Read on to find out which college is right for you.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Location

Both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona are located in California, but they couldn’t be more different. Nestled on the California coast, UC Santa Barbara offers breathtaking views of the ocean and a laidback beachy vibe.

Pomona, on the other hand, is located in the bustling Los Angeles area. While both locations have their perks, UC Santa Barbara’s peaceful coastal setting offers the perfect backdrop for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Meanwhile, Pomona students can take advantage of the many job and internship opportunities available in the L.A. area.

UC Santa Barbara’s location also provides unique opportunities for marine research and study. The university’s Marine Science Institute is located right on the coast, allowing students and researchers to study marine life and ecosystems up close. Additionally, the nearby Channel Islands National Park offers a chance to explore and learn about the diverse marine life in the area.

On the other hand, Pomona’s location in the heart of the entertainment industry provides students with access to a wide range of cultural events and experiences. From concerts and film festivals to museums and art galleries, there is always something to do in the L.A. area. Pomona students can also take advantage of the city’s diverse food scene, with countless restaurants and food trucks offering cuisine from around the world.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Campus Size

UC Santa Barbara offers a sprawling 1,055-acre campus with state-of-the-art facilities, beautiful architecture, and ample green space. Meanwhile, Pomona’s 140-acre campus is smaller and more intimate, but no less impressive. Both campuses offer a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities, from world-class research facilities to vibrant student organizations. Ultimately, the campus experience you’re looking for will influence which college is the right choice for you.

One advantage of UC Santa Barbara’s larger campus is the variety of resources available to students. With multiple libraries, research centers, and recreational facilities, students have access to a wide range of resources to support their academic and personal growth. Additionally, the larger campus allows for more diverse student populations and a wider range of perspectives and experiences.

University students walking in the hallway.

On the other hand, Pomona’s smaller campus offers a more tight-knit community and a greater sense of intimacy. Students may have more opportunities to interact with professors and peers, and the smaller campus size can make it easier to navigate and feel at home. Additionally, the smaller campus size may lead to a greater sense of community and school spirit, as students are more likely to see familiar faces and feel a sense of belonging.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Academic Programs

UC Santa Barbara and Pomona are both renowned for their academic excellence and offer a wide range of programs in various fields, from engineering to the arts. UC Santa Barbara is particularly strong in STEM fields, with notable research centers like the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Pomona, on the other hand, is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum and interdisciplinary approach to education. Ultimately, your academic interests and career goals will determine which college is the better fit for you.

Three students looking at each other.

It’s worth noting that both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer unique programs that set them apart from other universities. For example, UC Santa Barbara has a highly regarded marine biology program, with access to the nearby Channel Islands National Park for research and fieldwork. Pomona offers a unique program called “Media Studies and Practice,” which combines theory and hands-on experience in various forms of media production. These specialized programs can be a major factor in deciding which college is the best fit for your academic interests.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Admission Requirements

UC Santa Barbara and Pomona have different admission requirements and criteria. UC Santa Barbara uses a holistic approach, taking into account factors such as grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, and essays. Pomona, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and may require applicants to submit additional materials like writing samples or portfolios. Both colleges are highly selective, and admission is competitive. It’s important to do your research and thoroughly prepare your application to increase your chances of getting accepted to either college.

Group of students walking in the school campus.

Another important difference between UC Santa Barbara and Pomona is their approach to standardized testing. UC Santa Barbara is test-optional, meaning that applicants can choose whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Pomona, on the other hand, requires all applicants to submit test scores, although they do allow for self-reporting of scores. It’s important to note that while test scores are not required for UC Santa Barbara, they may still be considered in the admissions process if submitted.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Student Life

UC Santa Barbara is known for its active social scene, with plenty of parties and social events on and off-campus. Meanwhile, Pomona’s social scene is more low-key and centered around campus culture and intellectual pursuits. Both colleges offer a variety of clubs, organizations, and events to engage students and build a sense of community. Ultimately, the social scene you’re looking for will influence your decision of which college to attend.

It’s important to note that while UC Santa Barbara may have a more active social scene, Pomona still offers plenty of opportunities for students to socialize and have fun. Many students at Pomona enjoy attending on-campus events such as movie nights, game nights, and open mic nights.

Group of high school students walking together.

Additionally, the college is located in the heart of Claremont, a vibrant college town with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore with friends. So, while the social scene may be different at each college, both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer a rich and fulfilling student life experience.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance at UC Santa Barbara and Pomona can vary depending on several factors such as financial aid, scholarships, and housing options. According to the colleges’ websites, the estimated costs for in-state students at UCSB is $37,720 (including tuition, fees, and room and board), and at Pomona is $82,700 (including tuition, fees, and room and board). However, both colleges offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students to help offset the cost of attendance.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance can also vary for out-of-state students. At UC Santa Barbara, the estimated cost for out-of-state students for the 2021-2022 academic year is $64,677 (including tuition, fees, and room and board), while at Pomona, it is $78,980. It is recommended that students research and compare the cost of attendance for both in-state and out-of-state options before making a decision on which college to attend.

UC Santa Barbara vs Pomona: Financial Aid

Both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students. UC Santa Barbara’s financial aid program offers need-based grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities to qualified students.

Pomona’s financial aid program is also need-based and covers the full demonstrated financial need of each admitted student. Careful financial planning and research will help determine which college offers the best financial aid package for your situation.

It is important to note that financial aid packages can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances. Factors such as family income, assets, and number of dependents can all impact the amount of aid offered.

Additionally, some colleges may offer more merit-based scholarships or have different policies regarding loans and work-study programs. It is recommended that students and their families thoroughly research and compare the financial aid packages offered by each college before making a decision.

Housing Options: What Are the On-Campus Housing Options at UC Santa Barbara and Pomona?

Both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer a variety of on-campus housing options for students, ranging from traditional dormitories to apartment-style residences. UCSB also offers themed housing options, including language immersion houses and sustainability-focused communities. Pomona offers a residential college system where students live in one of seven residence halls, along with extensive dining options. Ultimately, the size and atmosphere of the residence halls will influence your choice of college.

It is important to note that both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona have limited on-campus housing availability, and students are not guaranteed housing. It is recommended that students apply for housing as soon as possible to increase their chances of securing a spot. Additionally, both universities offer resources and assistance for students who are seeking off-campus housing options, such as rental listings and roommate matching services.

Career Outcomes: What Are the Employment Prospects for Graduates of UC Santa Barbara and Pomona?

UC Santa Barbara and Pomona are both highly regarded by employers, and graduates of both colleges are well-prepared for successful careers. UC Santa Barbara’s Career Services Office offers a variety of resources, including job and internship postings, networking opportunities, and career advising.

Pomona’s Career Development Office offers similar resources, including career fairs, on-campus recruiting, and job search workshops. The educational background of each college prepares students for different career paths, from academic research to consulting to entrepreneurship.

Additionally, both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona have strong alumni networks that provide valuable connections and opportunities for graduates. These networks offer mentorship programs, alumni events, and job referrals. Graduates of UC Santa Barbara and Pomona also have access to a wide range of industries and employers, including technology, finance, healthcare, and government. With their strong academic backgrounds and extensive career resources, graduates of UC Santa Barbara and Pomona are well-positioned to succeed in their chosen fields.

Research Opportunities: Which College Offers More Research Opportunities for Undergraduates?

UC Santa Barbara and Pomona both offer a variety of research opportunities for undergraduates, ranging from independent study projects to faculty-led research teams. UC Santa Barbara’s research strengths include computer science, engineering, and physical sciences, while Pomona emphasizes interdisciplinary research and encourages collaboration across departments and disciplines. Ultimately, your research interests and career goals will determine which college offers the best research opportunities for you.

Group of students smiling at while talking to each other.

It is important to note that both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona have strong connections with nearby research institutions, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. These partnerships provide students with additional opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and gain valuable experience working alongside professionals in their field.

Additionally, both colleges offer funding and resources to support student research projects, including travel grants to attend conferences and present their findings. Overall, students at either institution can expect to have access to a wide range of research opportunities and support to help them succeed in their academic and professional pursuits.

Extracurricular Activities: What Clubs, Organizations, and Activities are Available at UC Santa Barbara and Pomona?

Both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, and organizations. UC Santa Barbara’s diverse student body has formed over 500 student-run organizations, ranging from political organizations to cultural groups. Pomona’s smaller student body is involved in a variety of clubs and organizations ranging from music and art to service-oriented initiatives.

At UC Santa Barbara, students can participate in a variety of sports teams, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball. The university also has a strong intramural sports program, allowing students to compete in a variety of sports at a recreational level. Additionally, UC Santa Barbara has a thriving Greek life community, with over 20 fraternities and sororities on campus.

diverse group of students smiling while their photo is being taken on campus

Pomona College offers unique extracurricular opportunities, such as the Outdoor Education Center, which provides students with opportunities to explore the outdoors through activities like rock climbing and backpacking. The college also has a strong emphasis on community service, with many students participating in service-oriented clubs and initiatives. Additionally, Pomona has a vibrant arts scene, with opportunities for students to participate in music ensembles, theater productions, and art exhibitions.

Campus Amenities: Which College Has the Best Facilities, Dining Halls, Libraries, etc?

Both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer state-of-the-art facilities, including extensive library resources, technologically advanced research labs, and well-equipped dining halls. UCSB has an especially impressive recreation center with an Olympic-size pool, rock climbing wall, and fitness classes.

Pomona has seven dining halls and cafes on campus, including vegan and halal options, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Both colleges offer an array of campus amenities to support the academic and personal needs of their students.

In addition to the impressive facilities and dining options, UC Santa Barbara also boasts a beautiful beachfront location, providing students with easy access to the ocean and outdoor recreational activities. The campus also has a strong focus on sustainability, with LEED-certified buildings and a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Pomona College, on the other hand, has a unique partnership with the other Claremont Colleges, allowing students to take advantage of shared resources and facilities. The campus also has a strong emphasis on the arts, with a variety of performance spaces and galleries, as well as a museum of art on campus.

Athletics Programs: How Do the Athletics Programs at UC Santa Barbara and Pomona Compare?

UC Santa Barbara boasts a strong athletics program, notably in soccer and basketball, with Division I and II teams. Pomona’s athletics program is Division III, but no less impressive, with over 20 varsity sports teams, including swimming, tennis, and soccer. Both colleges emphasize a balance between academics and athletics and offer extensive recreational sports programs for all students.

Despite the differences in division level, both UC Santa Barbara and Pomona have a strong commitment to their athletics programs. UC Santa Barbara has invested in state-of-the-art facilities, including a new soccer stadium and basketball arena, to support their teams. Pomona has also made significant investments in their athletics facilities, including a new tennis center and a renovated swimming pool.

Additionally, both colleges have a strong tradition of producing successful student-athletes. UC Santa Barbara has produced several professional basketball players, including Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally, while Pomona has produced several Olympic athletes, including swimmer Anita Nall and track and field athlete Gwen Wentland.

Student Support Services: What Support Services are Available to Students at UC Santa Barbara and Pomona?

UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer a variety of support services to meet students’ academic, personal, and health needs. Support services at UC Santa Barbara include academic advising, tutoring, career counseling, mental health resources, and disability services. Pomona’s support services include academic advising, mentoring programs, counseling services, and health and wellness services. Both colleges prioritize providing students with the support they need to succeed academically and personally.

By considering factors such as location, campus size, academic programs, student life, cost of attendance, financial aid, housing options, career outcomes, research opportunities, extracurricular activities, campus amenities, athletics programs, and student support services, you can determine which college, UC Santa Barbara or Pomona, is right for you.

Whether you choose UC Santa Barbara’s easygoing beach culture or Pomona’s intellectual atmosphere, both colleges offer a high-quality education and countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. The decision is ultimately yours to make, based on your unique academic and personal goals.

Additionally, UC Santa Barbara and Pomona offer support services for international students, including language support, cultural adjustment resources, and immigration advising. These services help international students navigate the challenges of studying in a new country and ensure that they have the resources they need to succeed academically and personally.

Furthermore, both colleges have programs and resources specifically designed for first-generation college students. These programs provide academic and personal support to students who are the first in their families to attend college, helping them navigate the college experience and achieve their goals. With a focus on inclusivity and diversity, UC Santa Barbara and Pomona strive to provide all students with the support they need to thrive.


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