Why a Liberal Arts College May be Just for You & Claremont Colleges College Tour


Liberal Arts. Gasp! (Insert sarcasm here) But what about the laser-focus? The foundation in something substantial. Liberal Arts you say? There can’t possibly be Math or Science happening. I don’t get it. How can you be successful with LIBERAL ARTS? 

It’s okay to admit that you may not be as familiar with the liberal arts model. But it’s not okay to not EVEN explore just a LITTLE and learn about a system that may be the ideal setting for your college experience. I visited Pomona College and Harvey Mudd, two colleges within the five-college consortium that makes up the Claremont Colleges. A cluster of liberal arts universities, each with their own distinctive flair all within a couple square miles walk. I’ll chat about the Pomona and Harvey Mudd, but for now let’s debunk and define what Liberal Arts actually means.

A Liberal Arts education leaves you with…

…the freedom to explore and grow is a part of the liberal arts experience

 …skills, experiences and tools that will transition with you. 

…the ability to collaborate, solve complex problems and work in small groups.

…the ability to read and write and present yourself in a transparent, transferrable way that is vital to today.

Core Make-Up of the Liberal Arts Experience

  • Interdisciplinary: In addition to your major students will experience a breadth of studies and coursework enhancing and adding to their chosen field. You’re a scientist? Well you’ll still spend time in the land of English, Art and Social Sciences. Take a look at Pomona’s review below for an idea of the type of curriculum you would see.
  • Experiential, engaged learning in typically a small classroom environment: The liberal arts curriculum lends itself to a smaller classroom that fosters discussion-based learning. Walking around a liberal arts campus you most certainly will find more round table classroom setups than the larger lecture halls. Access to faculty and growth in learning beyond note-taking is not hard to find here.
  • Undergraduate focused: A liberal arts campus often is a completely undergraduate campus. That research? It can be all yours. That professor? Well you don’t have to go through a grad student to get to know them and ask questions. Faculty is invested in undergraduate students which can equal more opportunities to build out that resume and experience throughout your undergraduate experience. It’s not foreign to have faculty as advisers, mentors and even living on campus in faculty housing hosting student events and immersing and investing in the student experience.

Pomona College

There are five colleges within the Claremont Colleges:

  • Pomona College
  • Scripps
  • Harvey Mudd
  • Claremont McKenna
  • Pitzer

Pomona is the most traditionally liberal arts of all the colleges. Students will complete a breadth of curriculum in addition to their core major. At Pomona students can major across the fields including STEM, Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences. Check out some highlights below and as always, I encourage you to go directly to the university’s website for the most up-to-date and accurate program information. Pomona College Website

  • Experiential learning, study abroad, research and internships are all accessible within the Pomona experience
  • 55% of students will study abroad (BTW they will pay for your plane ticket and additional costs if there is a need!)
  • Majority of students complete two internships upon graduation
  • Top 5 in the country for retention rate (the percentage of students that return after their first year)
  • Once admitted you complete a summer assignment with your academic/social interests and get connected with an academic adviser
  • 96-97% of students live on campus all four years
  • All students have access to free music/vocal lessons
  • Can take courses on any of the other neighboring consortium campuses within walking distance
  • Located near Los Angeles (metro station within walking distance to take you there)
  • Financial Aid
    • Need Blind institution (don’t consider financial aid in their admission decision)
    • Meets 100% of demonstrated need
    • Do not use loans to fill any gaps in a financial aid package

Harvey Mudd 


Harvey Mudd is the STEM focused campus and the mission statement really describes it in the best way:

Harvey Mudd College seeks to educate engineers, scientists, and mathematicians well versed in all of these areas and in the humanities and the social sciences so that they may assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society.

While Harvey Mudd is the STEM heavy hitter of the colleges, it still has the ethos of a liberal arts institution where students will be taking other courses. Take a look at the three part academic makeup of a degree at Mudd:

  • Core curriculum
  • Major coursework
  • Humanities and Social Arts

There are 10 majors to choose from and most of the majors are an overarching general major in a particular focus. For example, if you’re wanting to major in engineering, regardless of your focus (chemical, electrical, etc.) you’ll receive a general degree in engineering. Students have the opportunity to focus their degree, but receive the ultimate benefits of a larger liberal arts curriculum.

Admission facts (visit their website for more information HERE)

  • Two SAT Subject tests in addition to the SAT/ACT (in Math Level II and any other subject of your choosing)
  • 3 Letters of recommendation (one STEM teacher, one counselor and one from any other teacher)
  • Can interview over the summer on campus or locally with alumni in the Fall
  • Additional scholarships may be available for students particularly interested and experienced in robotics.
  • Regular Decision admit rate 16%, Early Decision 15%
  • Admissions is not only looking for your rigor and strength in STEM, but also showcasing how a liberal arts university is important and a part of something you want (example: being a part of a larger community, how your STEM work can affect, change and help others in a positive way)

Access full website here: https://www.hmc.edu/


Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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