Big City Family Fun

Southern California College Shopping 101

Pomona College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Stroll through the Pomona College Campus while visiting Claremont, California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My teen will be headed out to college soon so we need to tour some perspective colleges. She loves the sun of the Southern California, especially around Los Angeles. With the weather and the beaches, SoCal is a hit with teens. Then add to it close by mountains with some of the top ski resorts in North Americaand she’s sold. So I’m here to pass on my notes on college shopping in Southern California.

The Claremont Colleges

With a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate liberal arts colleges, the Claremont College campuses connect and cover approximately one square mile in central Claremont, an Los Angeles suburb. Students can easily walk in-between campuses and we did during our campus tours.

With 2,000 courses offered across all the campuses, students can take classes at any of the five colleges. In total, there are 7,700 undergraduate students and 3,600 members of faculty and staff.

Make the most of your time and visit a handful of top colleges in Southern California with your teen. Got all the information you need to visit Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California.

Most undergraduate students live on campus all four years and 2/3 of the students come from outside of California. The students can dine at any of the seven dining halls located across the five colleges and most do.

The Claremont Colleges don’t offer Greek Life organizations though boasts lots of organizations and school-led outings. Several clubs are open to all Claremont College students and the intermural teams enjoy a good-natured rivalry.

The Claremont Colleges also pooled their resources for a central library and bookstore. The schedules for each college are aligned and their systems connected.

Pomona College Gates. College Shopping in Southern California.
The gateway to top liberal arts education. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pomona College

As the founding member of the Claremont Consortium, Pomona College was established in 1887. Modeled after the small colleges of New England, Pomona accepts about 1,600 students a year.

Pomona College tops the list of best liberal arts colleges according to several publications. Offering the largest range of courses of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona boasts a high student retention rate and professors teach all courses.

Pomona College features mature trees and landscaping throughout the campus along with Spanish Colonial architecture. Though the newest building, Studio Arts Hall is thoroughly modern.

Claremont-McKenna College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Claremont-McKenna attracts students studying economics and government affairs. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Claremont-McKenna College

Next to Pomona College, Claremont-McKenna College began as men’s college in 1946, switching to co-ed in 1976. Claremont-McKenna specializes in government, economic and public affairs classes and also considered a top liberal arts college in the U.S.

Located just north of Pomona College, it’s the second largest school in the Claremont Colleges. It accepts about 1,300 students a year that live on campus. Most students spend a semester or summer abroad or at a school-sponsored internship.

Harvey Mudd College, College Shopping in Southern California,
Harvey Mudd College is a leader in Math, Science and Engineering. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Harvey Mudd College

Opening its doors in 1955, Harvey Mudd College specializes in engineering, science and mathematics. Considered by most to be one of the top colleges for science and math.

The campus sits at the northern boundary of the Claremont Colleges. It accepted just over 500 students for the 2016-2017 school year.

Since Harvey Mudd specializes in engineering, science and mathematics, its student population stays on the Mudd campus. Most of the buildings on the Harvey Mudd College are interconnected via their basements.

Pitzer College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Pitzer College has chickens on campus, I know my alma mater didn’t. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pitzer College

Just north of Claremont-McKenna College, Pitzer College began in 1963 as a women’s college and switched to co-ed in 1970. Pitzer College specializes in environmental studies, social sciences and media studies.

The contemporary architecture sets Pitzer College apart along with its xeriscaping and citrus trees. Pitzer College offers a community garden and students tend a flock of chickens located in the middle of campus.

Pitzer College boasts the newest collection of dorms among the Claremont Colleges that feature Dutch doors. This feature impressed my teen daughter.

Scripps College. College Shopping in Sothern California.
The Scripps College campus is a National Register of Historic Places location. of Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Scripps College

In the center of the Claremont Colleges, Scripps College began in 1926 as a women’s college and remains that way today. The campus is on the National Register of Historic Places and built in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style.

Most students major in the arts, biology or English. The hallmark of this campus is the beautiful landscaping including a rose garden along with citrus and olive trees.

Know Before You Go

If touring the colleges during the school year, a parking pass will be required. Though during the summer, the colleges are empty.

I found the signage at all the colleges lacking and the admissions buildings hard to find so give yourself extra time.


I was hosted as a part of a press trip.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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