How to Get Into Barnard: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Barnard?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Barnard Students
- What is Barnard Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Barnard
Located in New York City’s Morningside Heights, Barnard College is one of the historic Seven Sisters, and is known for its close partnership with Columbia University which sits just across the street.
Founded in 1889 as a women’s college when Columbia University was still an all-male institution, Barnard College is now an independent college under the Columbia umbrella. It is fully autonomous, with its own admissions process and curriculum requirements, but Barnard and Columbia students can freely take classes on each other’s campuses and participate in clubs. Students at Barnard get the benefits of a personal education and close-knit community of a small liberal-arts college, as well as the advantages of having access to a large research university in one of the nation’s most important cities.
With a long history of offering rigorous education and championing women to change the world, Barnard to this day still is one of the leading academic institutions for undergraduates.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Barnard?
For the 2020–2021 admissions cycle, Barnard received 9,411 applicants, of which 1,280 were accepted. This means that last year, Barnard’ acceptance rate was 13.6%, making it a highly selective school. That same year, Barnard received 1234 early decision applicants, of which 317 were accepted, which yields a 25.6% acceptance rate for early decision. Barnard does not have early action.
While Barnard’s admissions rates are very low, they don’t necessarily reflect your personal chances of admission. Our free chancing calculator can help you better understand your chances of acceptance into any college. By taking into account multiple elements of your profile, including your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and more, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Barnard Students
Of the 27% of last year’s first-year students at Barnard who submitted class rank, 90% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, and 98% graduated in the top 25%.
While standardized test scores are usually required for applicants, Barnard is test-optional for three years, beginning with students entering in Fall 2021. Of the students who enrolled in Fall 2020, the top 25% of students scored above a 1500 on the SAT, with 65% scoring above 1400. The top 25% of those who submitted ACT scores scored above a 34, with 88% scoring above 30.
While Barnard doesn’t offer information on its students’ high school GPA, given that 90% of admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their class, you should aim for mostly A’s to be a competitive candidate.
What is Barnard Looking for?
From its founding, Barnard’s mission was to empower smart and ambitious women by providing them the rigorous and timely education that was only offered to men. Though we no longer live in the same social context today, Barnard still seeks women who are bold, socially-engaged, forward-looking, and impact-seeking. Barnard wants to see even at the high school level that you are taking risks, whether academic or extracurricular, and that you can excel at what you set your mind to.
How Barnard Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Barnard considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Academic GPA
- Application essay
- Character/personal qualities
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
- Class rank
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- Standardized test scores
- First generation
- Alumni/ae relation
- Geographical residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Level of applicant’s interest
And these are “not considered”:
- State residency
- Religious affiliation/commitment
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Barnard
1. Aim for all A’s while taking the most challenging classes available
Like most colleges, Barnard doesn’t have a “cut-off” GPA, nor does it offer GPA information about accepted students. However, accepted students across the board have strong academics. Since 90% of enrolled first-years last year graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, a competitive candidate for Barnard will need to have A’s in almost every class. Additionally, Barnard wants to see that students challenge themselves, so you should try and take advanced honors, AP, or IB classes.
If your GPA is lower, and you’re still a freshman or sophomore in your high school, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.
2. Write engaging essays and supplement responses
In addition to the Common Application/Coalition Application/Questbridge Application essays, Barnard will require you to respond to questions in the Barnard Writing Supplement, which includes two required questions and one optional question. These questions are to help the admissions committee understand how you could contribute to the Barnard community academically and personally. Barnard’s emphasis on a student’s written articulation can be seen through not only the writing supplements but also the school’s mandatory first-year writing seminar.
Think of the essay as your prime vessel to show your strengths, character, your authentic voice, and what you’re passionate about.
For tips on how to approach the supplemental essays, take a look at our guide to the Barnard essays 2021–2022.
3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Barnard seeks students who want to make their mark on the world. While that may sound like a tall order, this “mark” doesn’t necessarily mean on a global scale. It can be local, or even personal. Barnard wants students who are curious and explorative, and who can bring their independent thinking into the world. Barnard cultivates the transformation of knowledge into action by helping students engage in real-life experiences that inform the experiences in the classroom. The school wants to see that its prospective students have engaged with non-academic passions, whether that be through service work, debate clubs, or music competition awards.
In general, any activity that you do regularly outside the classroom counts as an extracurricular, as long as you can demonstrate that the activity has contributed to your growth as an individual and that you’ve applied any set of skills to your activity. However, not all extracurriculars are created equal. Extracurricular activities can generally be divided into four “tiers.” To increase your chances at Barnard, you should have one to two “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” extracurriculars.
- Tier 1 activities demonstrate exceptional talent, achievement, leadership, or merit. Activities and roles on the national level or which garner field-wide recognition count as Tier 1 activities. This may include winning a national award, qualifying for international competition and therefore gaining prestigious recognition, or starting a nonprofit that gains national traction. Having a Tier 1 activity marks you as a distinguished youth in the field of your activity, so having Tier 1 activities is rare.
- Tier 2 activities are more common than Tier 1, but still show high levels of achievement and potential. Holding school-wide leadership positions like student government president, winning regional competitions or awards, and local recognition as a student athlete or musician are all considered Tier 2.
- Tier 3 activities demonstrate sustained participation rather than exceptional achievement, and are frequently seen in applications, both across the board as well as in any given individual student’s application, as some students may have more than one Tier 3 activity. These activities can include holding minor positions in school clubs or being on a Varsity team.
- Tier 4 activities are the most common and have the lowest entry bar; they demonstrate interest without particular dedication. However, they are still important to include, especially if you have higher tier activities, because they can help show the diversity of your interests. Tier 4 activities can include regular volunteering, general membership in clubs or organizations, or taking any kind of music or art lesson over several years.
4. Ask the right teachers for recommendation letters
Barnard requires two letters of recommendation from teachers of an academic core subject (English, Math, Science, Social Studies or Foreign Language.) You also have the option to submit up to two additional letters of recommendation, preferably from instructors or mentors outside of a classroom environment. Barnard is a small college with a high faculty–student ratio (9:1) and where students and professors collaborate closely outside the classroom as well as inside.
Your letters of recommendation will show admissions officers what kind of student and peer you are. Letters of recommendation should come from instructors who know you the best and who can speak positively of your character and abilities. Take some time to think about which teacher will write you the most promising recommendation letter, and take a look at tips from CollegeVine to help guide you through the process.
5. Apply Early Decision
Since Barnard’s early decision acceptance rate is 25.6%, while the regular decision acceptance rate is 13.6%, students who apply early decision increase their chances of acceptance considerably, even after accounting for profile strength. If you have your heart set on Barnard, as early decision is binding, applying ED can be a great way to show your commitment. However, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind about applying early, including less time to refine your application, fewer financial aid packages options, and the obvious inability to try your hand at other colleges if you do get in.
How to Apply to Barnard
Planning on applying to Barnard? Here are some dates to keep in mind for the 2021–2022 application cycle.
Admissions Application Due
Early Decision 1
Barnard accepts applications through the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge National College Match application. There is no preferred application. To apply, you will need the following materials:
- All parts of your Common, Coalition, or QuestBridge application, including personal essay, extracurricular activities list, and application fee (option to request fee waiver)
- Official high school transcript
- School Profile and report
- Barnard Writing Supplement
- SAT or ACT (optional for Fall 2021–2023 enrollment)
- High school counselor letter of recommendation
- Mid-year report (first semester senior grades by March 1)
- Two letters of recommendations from teachers of English, Math, Science, Social Studies or Foreign Language, preferably from junior or senior years
Optional materials include:
- Arts or athletic supplementary portfolios
- Up to two additional letters of recommendation (preferably from non-classroom teachers, eg: club advisors, or part-time job supervisors
Learn more about Barnard