The Claremont Colleges: The Unrivaled Consortium

By Linda Phan ‘24

College consortiums—a cluster of academic institutions that share resources amongst their students, such as classes—are notable opportunities that attract students. Why not? Consortiums promote expanded educational specialization and exploration. Five Colleges (Amherst College, Smith College, U Mass Amherst, Hampshire College, and Mt. Holyoke College) and the Quaker Consortium (U Penn, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and Swarthmore College) are a couple examples of college consortiums in the U.S beyond our beloved Claremont Consortium.

Not to be a hater, but the Claremont Colleges (or 5Cs) have a lot of advantages over other college consortiums. For starters, Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College are basically one shared campus. Arguably, it’s pretty feasible to get from one college to another (in my opinion, the 20-minute pilgrimage from Pomona’s South Campus to Harvey Mudd can be a little bit of a mission). In the 15-minute gap between my classes, I can skateboard from my Scripps history class to my Pomona politics class. I even have time to spare, so I can probably walk across the consortium and still get there on time. Sometimes, I’ll stop by my dorm to grab a snack. Unlike the layout of other consortiums, the 5Cs are so close that I don’t need to drive between schools to get to my classes. Since it’s so easy and feasible to take classes at different schools, literally every single person I know on campus has done so. It’s an amazing way to meet friends outside of your respective college, network with other professors, and overall build connections throughout the consortium.

5C Womxn's Ultimate Frisbee Team
5C Womxn’s Ultimate Frisbee Team

Another significant advantage of the Claremont Consortium is that it shares certain extracurriculars, such as clubs or sports. Due to the small size of each college, Pomona and Pitzer (PP) have combined their DIII sports teams into one, and Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps (CMS) have done the same. Campus competition such as the Sixth Street Rivalry (Pomona and Claremont McKenna are separated by 6th Street) are especially fun, as students from different schools in the consortium root for the same teams despite attending different schools.

The Claremont Colleges also have club sports, such ultimate frisbee, which I’m a part of! Club sports are open to students at all five colleges. The frisbee team has been one of the main ways I’ve met and become close with people outside of Pomona. Besides frequent practices, we have fun social events with the men’s team and go to tournaments, so it’s hard not to love my teammates after so much time spent together. A cute part of the team culture is that all players get fun nicknames based on a silly story or aspect of themselves. Mine is “Ollie,” because I’m all-in when I play, and Ollie sounds like “all-in” when you say it fast.

Beyond classes and extracurriculars, we share other resources, such as dining halls and the Honnold-Mudd Library. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has restricted 5C students to eating in their own dining halls, all six dining halls are traditionally open to all Claremont Colleges students. (Pomona has two dining halls while the other colleges each have one.) There’s even an app with the menus of each dining hall, and students will strategize which dining hall to go to during mealtimes to secure the best eats of the day. In terms of the library, students from all the colleges can be seen there studying, checking out books, or hanging out, especially during finals week.

Group of smiling students in selfie

Lastly, the biggest advantage that I have enjoyed here in Claremont are the people I can access beyond Pomona. While I got lucky and lived with Pitzer students during the virtual Spring 2021 semester, all Claremont students experience the same ease in befriending people from different schools. Whether you meet them in your classes, extracurriculars, through mutual friends, or a party, each little liberal arts college doesn’t seem so small with four other institutions nearby. When I committed to Pomona, I didn’t have the same concerns as my friends going to other small liberal arts colleges because I knew the Claremont Consortium was special. As a Pomona student, I don’t just belong to the 1,700 bright-minded individuals in the student body. I also have the privilege to call myself one of the nearly 6,000 undergrads who are at The Claremont Colleges.