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When should I apply?

“I looked for small liberal arts colleges that met 100% of demonstrated need AND were in big cities. Macalester was the only place that I felt really fit the bill.”

Ximena Silva-Avila ’20, Tucson, Arizona

When should I apply?

You may apply to Macalester once the Common Application is available on August 1. Macalester offers Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision rounds.

Admission rates at highly selective institutions often vary widely depending by application round. To what extent this occurs is a good question to ask college admission officers. To guide you in your own choice during the submission of your Macalester application, below are the 3-year average acceptance rates for Early Decision compared to the Early Action and Regular decision rounds. If you have any questions, contact us at or (800) 231-7974.

Acceptance Rates 3-Year Average
Early Decision56%
Regular Decision and Early Action (new in 2020)33%

Macalester’s financial aid policy is to meet the full demonstrated financial need (100%) of every admitted student in all applicant rounds. All applicants for admission are considered for merit-based scholarships.

Early Decision

Early Decision is the best option for students who know that Macalester is their first-choice college, and if admitted, are ready to enroll. Early Decision is restrictive in that students must withdraw all other applications assuming the financial aid award makes attendance at Macalester financially feasible.

EARLY DECISION I: November 1 Application Deadline, December 5 Decision Release

EARLY DECISION II: January 1 Application Deadline, January 30 Decision Release

Why should I apply Early Decision?

Early Decision applicants are eligible for our early financial aid assessment. Early financial aid assessments allow these students to apply for financial aid and find out their need-based financial aid eligibility before choosing to apply Early Decision.

Early Decision applicants receive their admission decisions early in their senior year. Early Decision I applicants learn of their admission decisions by December 5; those applying under Early Decision II are notified by January 30.

The Admissions Committee evaluates Early Decision candidates with the same standards as students applying in Early Action and Regular Decision.

Early Action

Early Action is a non-restrictive option for students that are ready to apply to Macalester on November 1. Early Action applicants receive their decision by December 19. Those who apply for need-based financial aid can expect to receive their financial aid result in mid-January.

Why should I apply Early Action?

Students applying for need-based financial aid will receive financial aid decisions much earlier than those who are admitted through Regular Decision. The factors that determine your financial aid award, including merit-based scholarship opportunities, are the same in Early Action as they are for Regular Decision.

Early Action applicants receive their admission decisions by December 19, early in their senior year and more than three months earlier than Regular Decision.

Early Action applicants may apply to other colleges through regular decision and other non-restrictive early action plans. Admitted students can accept the offer of admission on or before the May 1 National Reply Deadline.


Regular Decision is a non-restrictive option with the latest application deadline of January 15. The decision release for Regular Decision is March 27. The Admissions Committee evaluates Regular Decision candidates with the same standards as students applying in Early Decision and Early Action.

Why should I apply Regular Decision?

Regular Decision applicants may want the grades for the first terms of their senior year to be reviewed with the application or are not ready to submit their applications in the Early Action Round.

Regular Decision applicants may apply to other colleges through other regular decision and other non-restrictive early action plans. Admitted students can accept the offer of admission on or before the May 1 National Reply Deadline.

QuestBridge and Posse

Macalester Admissions partners with QuestBridge and Posse, two unique organizations with similar goals to support students. Learn more at applying through QuestBridge and the Posse program.

Student stories about applying early

Ximena Silva-AvilaXimena Silva-Avila ’20

Tucson, Arizona
Majors: Mathematics & Political Science

Why Early Decision?

I looked for small liberal arts colleges that met 100% of demonstrated need AND were in big cities. Macalester was the only place that I felt really fit the bill. So I attended an information session at my high school and fell in love. The location, the size, professors, classes, extracurriculars, and financial aid fit my list perfectly. I was ready to commit so I applied Early Decision. 

What do you love about Mac?

Macalester’s location made my internship at the Minnesota State Capitol possible. Internships are a great way to expand your experience and build meaningful professional relationships. I love that the Mississippi River is a mile away from campus. And you probably won’t be pushed harder in a more caring and compassionate environment to grow academically, socially, and emotionally…while being able to enjoy great food.

Julia CarpenterJulia Carpenter ’20

Stevensville, Michigan
Majors: Psychology & Creative Writing

Why Early Decision?

I knew that I wanted to go to Mac after visiting and didn’t see a reason to wait. While everyone else was deciding which school to pick, I was able to look forward to going to Mac in the fall.

What do you love about Mac?

Mac has given me so many unique opportunities to explore academic interests, meet people from all different backgrounds, and continue to play softball competitively. The people I have met here are the hardest workers and most motivated people I know. They’ve taught me to be more concerned about the world outside Macalester, whether that means thinking about environmental sustainability or paying attention to the political climate in the U.S.

Academics are challenging and rigorous, but they are rewarding. I have learned so much in my classes here and discovered subjects I’ve grown to love. The professors care about you as an individual and take all of the extra steps to help you succeed – something I really valued when choosing a small liberal arts education. Athletics have never gotten in the way of academics for me – the professors are really understanding and accommodating if we miss a class for a game. More than that, I was drawn to the D3 level because it would allow me to prioritize academics over sports – my education wouldn’t have to be sacrificed because of my commitment to athletics.

Alec BeattyAlec Beatty ’19

Topeka, Kansas
Major: Political Science
Internships: UBS Financial services company (2016) and Skyhawks Sports Academy (2017)

Why Early Decision?

I visited Macalester in early June of my high school junior year and knew right away that is where I wanted to be. Knowing Macalester was my #1 school, going ED1 was an easy decision. It not only helped me finish a long and tiresome process of college searching, but also showed the school and coaches I was just as invested and committed to them as they were to me.

What do you love about Mac?

I love Macalester because it will challenge you intellectually, socially, and as a football player, physically. The interactions with the variety of people you meet here will help you shape who you strive to become in life. At Macalester, the opportunities are endless to meet new people, join clubs/activities, or just try something new.

Coaches and professors alike put you in a position to succeed. Professors are personable when you have scheduling conflicts due to sports or need extra time outside of class. If you are willing to learn, they will always be willing to help.

After Macalester: Alec graduated in May, 2019 with a Political Science major and History minor. He was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which will take him to Kosovo. As a receiver on the Macalester Football team, Alec broke school records and earned All-American honors.