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Pomona College leads the way in yearly top colleges list

Forbes recently released its eighth annual ranking of America’s Top Colleges, and Pomona College has nabbed the No. 1 spot.

The designation marks the first time a southern California school has topped the list. Williams College, Forbes’ top pick last year, was bumped down to No. 2, followed by Stanford, Princeton and Yale at numbers three, four and five, respectively.

Forbes rates schools on a return-on-investment scale, awarding points for “low debt, high graduation rates, student satisfaction and career success.”

Forbes notes some trends among its top-ranking schools, including low student/faculty ratios (8:1 at Pomona College) and high retention and graduation rates. The schools are all quite venerable, with 1887-founded Pomona College being the youngest. 

Among the local liberal arts college’s specific draws, Forbes cites the fact that 57 percent of freshmen receive grants averaging almost $40,000. That’s certainly a plus at a campus where the annual cost of attendance averages $62,632.

Another positive is the proximity and access Pomona’s 1,610 students have to the other undergraduate institutions in the Claremont Colleges consortium. The Forbes profile notes that around 80 percent of Pomona students have taken a class at a neighboring college.

Pomona sophomore Marisol Diaz weighed in on her college choice in a recent ABC7.com interview. “A lot of students here got accepted to Ivy League schools. We applied. We thought about them. They were options for us, but Pomona just fit us better,” she said.

Striving students pay attention to Forbes’ list, so Pomona College president David Oxtoby has warned the admissions staff that they may receive more applications next year.

In a KPCC interview, Mr. Oxtoby was asked how the college managed to shoulder its way to the top of the prestigious rankings.

“There’s a recognition of quality of our education, the financial resources that we provide for financial aid for accessibility and affordability and the outcomes that our students are going on to do amazing things,” Mr. Oxtoby said. “I don’t think that changed dramatically this year, but maybe just enough to push us to No. 1.”

For more information on Pomona College and other schools that are top-ranked by Forbes, visit www.forbes.com/top-colleges.