U.S. First-Year Applicants
Welcome to this important next step! By following this checklist, logging into your application portal regularly, and reaching out when you have questions, you’ll be better equipped to complete your application to Macalester.
Requirements for Your Common App Application to Macalester
Common App Account & Application
At commonapp.org you can create an account. There are many resources to help you in your application process – including an Application Guide for First-Year Students.
Early Decision Agreement
If you are applying Early Decision, the Early Decision Agreement certifies that Macalester is your first-choice college and agreement that, if admitted, you will enroll at Macalester and withdraw all other college applications. More about Early Decision
High School Transcript
Request that your secondary school(s) send Macalester official transcript(s) of all classes and grades beginning with 9th grade, through junior year.
Two Recommendation Letters
Required: Two recommendation letters
- One recommendation letter from a counselor or school official
- One recommendation letter from a teacher – An evaluation from a teacher in one of the core academic subjects (English, social studies, world language, mathematics, or science.
First Marking Period/In Progress Grades
Early Decision and Early Action applicants are required to submit official or self-reported first quarter, first marking period, first trimester, interim, or in-progress senior grades as soon as they are available. First term grades may be submitted after the application deadline but please note First Marking Period/In Progress Grades must be received for an admissions decision to be determined.
First term marking period grades may be submitted by:
- Completing First Marking Period/In Progress Grades Form available in the Application Portal
- Sending directly from a high school official (counselor or registrar)
Regular Decision applicants must request that a school official (counselor or registrar) send us an updated transcript by February 14 if senior year first-term grades are not on the initial transcript. If an updated transcript is not available before February 14, please contact email@example.com.
ACT or SAT (optional)
Macalester recently adopted a permanent Test-Optional admissions policy, starting with the Fall 2021 first-year class. This includes ACT, SAT, SAT II, AP, and IB.
There will be no penalty for students who choose not to submit test scores in the selection process or distribution of merit scholarship. You can learn more about our Testing Policy here.
If you believe your standardized test scores will add another positive layer to your application file, then please feel free to submit scores to our office or self-report them in the Common Application. Macalester’s testing codes are 2122 (ACT) and 6390 (SAT).
Submit Art Samples or Portfolio (optional)
If you have made a substantial commitment to the arts in the areas of fine arts, music, theater or dance, you are welcome to submit samples in your application portal.
Online Interview (optional)
High school juniors can interview as early as the January prior to their senior year. Seniors who wish to interview must do so by February 1 of their senior year. Each student may only interview once. Learn more or schedule your interview here.
Additional Recommendation Letter (optional)
Applicants are not required nor encouraged to submit more than the two required recommendations. However, if you wish to have an additional letter of support, we ask that you choose carefully to ensure that the additional recommendation provides a new perspective not already present in your application.
Macalester accepts the Common App or QuestBridge Application.* Learn more about all the key dates associated with each application process, and find out why Early Action or Early Decision may be right for you.
- Early Decision I November 1, 2021
- Early Action November 1, 2021
- Early Decision II January 1, 2022
- Regular Decision January 15, 2022
* September 28, 2021 is the deadline for QuestBridge Scholar Program applicants.
Ready to choose Macalester?
If your sights are set on Macalester, why wait? Early Decision is an excellent option for first-year applicants who know Macalester is their first-choice college.
How will the admissions committee review my application?
Macalester Admissions practices holistic admission review. Factors such as academic performance in context, recommendation letters, essays, leadership experience and potential, and extracurricular involvement are thoroughly reviewed by the Admissions Committee. The most important part of your application is something you’ve already been working on throughout high school: your performance in high school! It is this performance that is the best predictor of success in college.
How will you review transcripts, considering grading policy changes and distance learning due to COVID-19?
We understand that some school districts modified their grading processes to a Pass/Fail system, while other districts continue to use their Letter Grade system. We review applications on a case-by-case basis and are very intentional about understanding the context of a student’s high school experience. We will review your transcript within the context of how your school district responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know some students were challenged by the transition to virtual class sessions and this may have impacted their ability to be successful. We encourage those students to let us know about their experiences with virtual learning in the Common Application, under the Education Progression section and/or the Additional Information section.
What if my non-academic pursuits were affected by COVID-19 or distance learning?
We recognize that many students are unable to pursue internships, volunteer opportunities, jobs, and other experiences due to the pandemic. Rest assured that we will evaluate your application carefully, fully aware that 2020 and 2021 endeavors were impacted.
Do you require test scores?
Macalester adopted a permanent Test-Optional admissions policy, starting with the Fall 2021 first-year class. This includes ACT, SAT, SAT II, AP, and IB.
We aim to reduce the anxiety many students experience regarding standardized exams and hope to provide applicants more freedom and flexibility in presenting their best selves to the Admissions Committee.
There will be no penalty for students who choose not to submit test scores in the selection process or distribution of merit scholarships. You can learn more about our Test Policy here.
If you believe your standardized test scores will add another positive layer to your application file, then please submit your scores to our office or self-report them in the Common Application.
Should I interview?
Admissions interviews at Macalester are recommended, but not required. Interviews are conducted online by Admissions counselors, interns, and interviewers, and usually take 30 minutes. Seniors who wish to interview must do so by February 1 of their senior year. Each student may only interview once.
We view the college interview as an opportunity to learn more about the experiences, backgrounds, interests, and fantastic personalities of high school students. We also want the interview to be a time in which students can learn more about Macalester. During interviews, students can expect to be asked questions about their high school environment, extracurricular activities, and other interests. Students will also have time to ask their own questions about the Mac community. In the end, our hope is that each interview is more like a conversation over virtual coffee than a job interview.
Find more information here.
What classes should I take in high school?
The best preparation for college is a balanced and rigorous high school curriculum. For balance you should take classes in all five academic core subjects: English, mathematics, history or social science, laboratory science, and world language. Be sure to challenge yourself by taking the advanced curriculum available at your school. Some examples include honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Most applicants will complete at least 20 academic core courses by the time they graduate high school.
If you’d like the perspective of an admissions staff member on your course selection in high school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I receive college credit for classes I’ve taken? Can I use these credits to place out of classes at Macalester?
For students admitted to Macalester through the first-year admissions program, Macalester will accept for credit no more than the equivalent of twenty (20) Macalester credit hours earned from a college or university prior to matriculation at Macalester. Summer session college credits, Minnesota Post-Secondary Education Options Program credits, International Baccalaureate credits, General Certificate of Education (GCE), and AP Program credits are included under this limitation. For more information refer to the Registrar FAQ.
How selective is Macalester?Macalester is a highly selective liberal arts college. In a typical admissions cycle, Macalester seeks to enroll 545 incoming first-year students. For Fall 2021 entry, 9,046 students applied for entry as first-year students and 31% were admitted.To help choose the application round that’s the best fit for a student, helpful dates and details can be found here.
Do you have a minimum GPA?
Since school systems vary a great deal, we look at an applicant’s high school record in the context of their school system, rather than listing a minimum GPA. We also recognize that many school systems around the world do not report a GPA or rank in class, and in those cases that information is not required. Whatever the system, we look for evidence that the applicant has performed at a very high level academically and has pursued a rigorous curriculum.
What advice would you give to sophomores and juniors?
Congratulations on starting your search early! Academically, sophomores and juniors should focus on their classes, paying attention to the recommended secondary school curriculum mentioned in the question “What classes should I take in high school? and take advantage of the rigor available to them. Continue your involvement in extracurriculars you care about that are available. We encourage you to keep an open mind and start thinking about what your priorities (college size, setting, particular majors or extracurriculars, etc.) are for college. Then connect with the staff and students at those colleges to get a taste of the college experience before narrowing down a list. Macalester’s programming and visit opportunities can be found here.