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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 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.

  • School Report

    Request that your school counselor complete the School Report and Counselor Recommendation.

  • Two Teacher Recommendations

    Invite two teachers of core academic subjects (English, social studies, foreign language, mathematics, or science) to submit recommendations.

  • Mid-Year Report and First-Term Senior Grades

    Early Decision applicants must request that a school official (counselor or registrar) send us their first-term senior grades (e.g., first quarter or first trimester). When the marking period ends, students must ask school officials to also complete the Mid-Year Report and send us an updated transcript as soon as it becomes available.

    Regular Decision applicants must request that a school official (counselor or registrar) complete the Mid-Year Report and send us an updated transcript if senior year first-term grades are not on the initial transcript.

Optional Items

  • 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.

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, 2020
  • Early Action November 1, 2020
  • Early Decision II January 1, 2021
  • Regular Decision January 15, 2021

* September 29, 2020 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.

FAQs

  • How will the admissions committee review my application?

    Macalester practices holistic admission review. Factors such as academic performance in context, teacher recommendations, essays, leadership experience and potential, extracurricular involvement, and standardized testing results 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 have modified their grading processes to a Pass/Fail system, while other districts continue to use their Letter Grade system. We have always reviewed 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 has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Part of our transcript review may rely on how your experience with virtual learning has been. We know that many students have been challenged to stay motivated, engaged, and attentive during virtual class sessions and this may have impacted your ability to be successful. We encourage you to let us know about your experiences with virtual learning in the Common Application, under the Education Progression section and/or the Additional Information section. The more transparent you can be with how you have handled remote learning, the better we will understand how this pandemic has impacted your academic performance.

  • 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 your 2020 endeavors are different under these circumstances.

    That being said, dedicating some time over the summer to hobbies and passions will be just as important to share on your application as formal extracurricular activities. To the extent that it is safe, do what you love!

  • Do you require test scores?

    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.

    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 scholarship. 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. 

  • Should I interview?

    Admissions interviews at Macalester are recommended, but not required. Interviews are conducted by Admissions counselors, interns, and interviewers, and usually take 30 minutes. 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.

  • 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 foreign language. Be sure to challenge yourself by taking honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, if available at your high school. Most applicants will complete at least 20 academic core courses by the time they graduate high school.

  • 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 college catalog or call the Registrar’s Office at (651) 696-6200.

  • How selective is Macalester?

    39% of applicants were admitted for the fall of 2020.
    The middle 50% of students admitted:
    –scored 29-33 on the ACT*
    –scored 660-740 on SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 660-760 on SAT Math
    * Test-optional policy is new for students entering in 2021
    Macalester also looks carefully at non-academic involvement and achievement.

     

  • 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 question 2 and taking 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.