Pomona College comes in 2nd in Forbes' list of best colleges

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Pomona College was ranked the second best college in the nation by Forbes Magazine Wednesday. It's the first time the top two spots were filled by non-Ivy League schools, and the first time California schools have made the top spots since Forbes began publishing its list six years ago.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby told KPCC the honor was well-deserved.

“Everyone is delighted that we are being discovered; we’re very proud of the quality of this place, and it’s nice others are recognizing it,” he said.

Related: President of Pomona College and Forbes senior online editor on AirTalk

Pomona beat out many well-known institutions such as Yale (ranked fourth) and Harvard (ranked eighth). The first place spot went to Stanford University.

Pomona College is a private liberal arts school with fewer than 1,600 students and a student to faculty ratio of eight-to-one .

Built in 1887, Pomona was the founding member of the Claremont Colleges. Students can choose from over 600 classes at the campus, and as many as 2,500 classes offered by the entire consortium of schools.

“We’ve built a group of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions that provide a critical mass,” Oxtoby said. “So in some ways we are like a small university, but we have the advantages of the small size of the college.”

Many factors considered

Forbes uses many factors when ranking schools, such as tuition, high four-year graduation rates and whether it provides interesting classes.

As much as 91 percent of students graduate from Pomona in four years. And although the total annual cost can be as high as $57,014, many students (about 66 percent) receive financial aid, according to Forbes.

Having well-known alumni may also play a factor in Forbes' rating. Just last year two Pomona alumni were named in Forbes “30 under 30” lists.

Kyle Lancaster, class of 2005, was part of “30 Under 30: The Rising Stars Transforming Science and Health” for his work in “solving an old chemical puzzle,” according to the article.

Alexander Garfield, class of 2008, was featured in “30 Under 30: Games and Apps.” He began his company — Evil Genius, an eSports agency — in his dorm room.  

Oxtoby said he feels there is usually an East Coast bias to what are considered the U.S.'s top-ranking institutions.

“There are so many colleges, they are very good and they all know each other” in the North East, Oxtoby said. “It’s not that it’s a club, but if asked about top colleges you naturally think of places close to you.”

He said he was thrilled to see California colleges given the top spot. “Here in California we’re a bit fewer and farther between, but having Stanford up in the Bay Area and us here in Los Angeles is a nice statement about California.”

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