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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 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.

  • Senior Year Grades

    Early Decision and Early Action applicants must self-report in-progress senior grades using the In-Progress Grades form in your portal checklist. Grades must be submitted between the following dates:

    • ED I between November 1 and November 18 
    • EA between November 1 and December 1
    • ED II between January 1 and January 18

    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 admissions@macalester.edu

Optional Items

  • ACT or SAT

    Macalester has a Test-Optional admissions policy for ACT, SAT, AP, and IB. We aim to reduce the anxiety many students experience regarding standardized exams and hope to provide applicants more freedom and flexibility to consider which portion of their academic record they would like Macalester to consider in the review process. 

    There is no penalty or disadvantage for students who choose not to submit test scores in the selection process. All applicants are given equal consideration for admission and scholarship opportunities. 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 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).

  • Art Samples or Portfolio

    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

    Macalester interviews are offered to applicants who have begun their application process. Interviews are reserved for domestic applicants who are rising seniors, seniors, or prospective transfer students.

    Admissions interviews at Macalester are recommended, but are not required. Your interview will be part of your application file, so it’s an opportunity to share or address anything you’d like included in your application.

    All interviews are conducted by a Macalester staff member and are only offered virtually.

    Interviews for rising seniors begin on August 1. Seniors who wish to interview must do so by February 1 of their senior year. Transfer students must request an interview by April 15. Each student may only interview once and interviews are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Learn more or schedule your interview here.

  • Additional Recommendation Letter

    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.

Application Deadlines

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, 2022
  • Early Action November 1, 2022
  • Early Decision II January 1, 2023
  • Regular Decision January 15, 2023

* September 27, 2022 is the deadline for QuestBridge Scholar Program applicants.

Early Decision

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.

Macalester Campus
ADMISSIONS

Connect with Us

Questions about Macalester, your application, or the application process? Get in touch with the Admissions Officer for your region.

Application Review FAQs

  • How will the admissions committee review my application? What is the most important part of my Macalester application?

    Macalester Admissions practices holistic admission review. Factors including 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 academic performance! It is this performance that is the best predictor of success in college and the most important factor in our application review process.

     

  • What classes should I take in high school?

    The best preparation for the rigor and depth of the college academic experience is strong performance in a balanced and rigorous high school curriculum. You should focus your coursework 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 classes, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Most Macalester applicants will complete at least 20 academic core courses by the time they graduate high school.

  • Do you require standardized test scores?

    Macalester has a Test-Optional admissions policy for ACT, SAT, AP, and IB. We aim to reduce the anxiety many students experience regarding standardized exams and hope to provide applicants more freedom and flexibility to consider which portion of their academic record they would like Macalester to consider in the review process. 

    There is no penalty or disadvantage for students who choose not to submit test scores in the selection process. All applicants are given equal consideration for admission and scholarship opportunities. 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 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).

  • Do you have a minimum GPA or class rank in order to be considered for admission?

    The grading and ranking policies of school systems around the country and around the world vary significantly. Accordingly, the Macalester Admissions committee reviews an applicant’s high school record in the context of their individual school rather than requiring a minimum GPA, class rank or test score in order to be considered. 

    We also recognize that many schools do not report a GPA or rank in class and in those cases that information is not required. Whatever the context for an individual student, we look for evidence that the applicant has performed at a very high level academically and has pursued a rigorous and well-rounded curriculum. 

  • 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 continued 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 our understanding 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.

  • Do you have an additional supplement question in the Common Application?

    The Macalester member section has an optional essay prompt specific to Macalester. “Macalester is one of few highly selective liberal arts colleges located in the middle of a metropolitan area. Students benefit from the strong sense of community on campus and opportunities to engage in academic, social, and civic engagement options in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Have you thought about how Macalester’s location might impact your experience? If so, in what ways?”

  • 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.

ADMISSIONS PROCESS FAQs

  • How selective is Macalester? How competitive is the admissions process?

    Macalester is a highly selective liberal arts college and our applicant pool has continued to grow in recent years. In a typical admissions cycle, Macalester seeks to enroll 545 incoming first-year students. For Fall 2022 entry, 9,622 students applied for entry as first-year students and 25% of applicants were admitted.

    Additional information on our application rounds and structure, helpful dates, details, and descriptions can be found here.

  • Should I interview with Macalester?

    Macalester interviews are offered to applicants who have begun their application process. Interviews are reserved for domestic applicants who are rising seniors, seniors, or prospective transfer students. Admissions interviews at Macalester are recommended, but not required. Interviews are conducted online by Admissions staff members and usually take 30 minutes. Seniors who wish to interview must do so by February 1 of their senior year and 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 about the interview process and timeline here.

  • How do I share more with Admissions about my specific situation? What is the best way to tell Macalester Admissions more about my high school experience?

    Good question! The Common Application includes a section for ‘Additional Information’ that provides an open text box that allows you to inform all of your college options about any additional context, information or updates that you would like to provide. Many applicants utilize that space to share information they believe to be essential to their application. The additional information box is a great place for context and stories that may not fit neatly into another section of the application. 

    Additionally, Macalester encourages all applicants to reach out directly to their Admissions representative with any questions or updates as they navigate the application process. Our Admissions counselors and traveling staff are always happy to connect on the phone or via email. 

  • What advice would you give sophomores and juniors?

    Congratulations on starting your search early! Our biggest piece of advice is a simple one – there is no one ‘correct’ way to navigate the college search process. Our Admissions team encourages you to continue to pursue the academic and extracurricular opportunities that interest you most while still leaving room for exploration. Continue your involvement in courses and extracurriculars you care about and be willing to step out of your comfort zone, too! 

    As you pivot toward thinking about college, keep an open mind and start thinking about what your priorities (college size, setting, particular majors or extracurriculars, etc.) are for your next community. After you have identified what institutions might work well for you, then connect with the staff and students at those colleges to get a taste of the college experience before narrowing down a list. If Macalester is on your list – and we certainly hope it is! – our one-stop-shop for programming and visit opportunities can be found here.