How to Get Into Barnard: Admissions Stats + Tips
- 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
- How to Apply to Barnard
Barnard College, an esteemed member of the historic Seven Sisters, is known for its rigorous academic environment and highly selective admissions process. Crafting an application that resonates with Barnard’s distinctive ethos and academic rigor is crucial for aspiring students. This guide is tailored to help you navigate the intricacies of the application procedure, ensuring that you highlight your strengths and potential to contribute to this vibrant intellectual community.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Barnard?
For the 2022–23 admissions cycle, Barnard received 12,009 applicants, of which 1,056 were accepted. This means that last year, Barnard’s acceptance rate was 8.79%, making it a highly selective school.
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 over 1,500 colleges across the country. 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 even give you tips on improving your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Barnard Students
Of the 31.3% of last year’s first-year Barnard students who submitted their class rank, 94.6% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, and 99.5% graduated in the top 25%.
While standardized test scores are usually required for applicants, Barnard has been test-optional for a couple of years, beginning with students who entered in Fall 2021. Of the students who enrolled in Fall 2020, the top 25% of students scored above 1500 on the SAT, with 65% scoring above 1400. The top 25% of those who submitted ACT scores scored above 34, with 88% scoring above 30.
While Barnard doesn’t offer information on its students’ high school GPAs, 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?
At its founding, Barnard’s mission was to empower smart and ambitious women by providing them with the rigorous and timely education that was only offered to men at the time. 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 Barnard’s 2022–23 Common Data Set, they consider 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 relation
- Geographical residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Level of applicant’s interest
And these are “not considered”:
- State residency
- Religious affiliation/commitment
Barnard is seeking individuals who not only achieve intellectually, but also provide a strong and well-rounded character for their campus community. This is seen in the focus placed on course rigor, academic GPA, application essays, references, and character/personal traits.
The main emphasis for applicants should be on demonstrating their intellectual curiosity through a demanding high school curriculum and their capacity to express their ideas, experiences, and goals in essays.
While important, extracurricular activities, class rank, talent/ability, volunteer work, and job experience should be considered almost supplementary to your application, rather than its defining characteristics. These need to provide an image of a dedicated and enthusiastic person who is active in and has an influence on their community.
That said, even if they are only taken into consideration, results from standardized tests and interviews have the power to swing a tight choice, so be ready for them. It may make a big difference to show that you truly are interested in Barnard via attentive application writing and interview responses.
Given the new modifications to the way that race is evaluated in college applications, students have to handle this facet of their identity with caution. If your racial or ethnic heritage is a significant aspect of your personal identity, you should feel welcome to incorporate that story within your essays and interview responses. In the context of these personal remarks, you have the chance to highlight facets of your individuality that numbers and checkboxes are simply unable to depict.
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 94.6% of enrolled first-year students last year graduated in the top 10% of their respective high school classes, 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 to take advanced honors, AP, or IB classes.
If your GPA is on the lower side and you’re still a freshman or sophomore in high school, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a high school 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 score on a standardized test, either the SAT or the ACT.
2. Write engaging essays and supplement responses
In addition to the main 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 essays as your primary opportunity to show your strengths, your character, your authentic voice, and the things you’re passionate about.
For tips on how to approach the supplemental essays, take a look at our guide to this year’s Barnard essays.
Your essays are the most important part of your Barnard application process as they let you show how you would blend in and add to the vibrant campus community. Barnard’s Writing Supplement goes beyond the Common Application, Coalition Application, or Questbridge Application primary essays. It consists of two mandatory and one optional question that is designed to assess your potential academic and personal influence on campus.
When it’s time to review your Barnard essays, gaining a fresh perspective is invaluable. Utilize our free Peer Essay Review tool for feedback from fellow applicants. If you’re eager to elevate your essay further, consider CollegeVine’s expert advisors. Our team has a track record of guiding students through successful applications to top-tier institutions like Barnard.
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 exploratory, 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, music competition awards, or something else entirely.
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 those that 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 quite 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 achievements.
- Tier 3 activities demonstrate sustained participation rather than exceptional achievement, and are rather 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 things like 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. When selecting recommenders, consider Barnard’s core values and choose teachers who can authentically highlight qualities in you that resonate with those values.
Extra letters should only serve to reveal new facets of your profile that aren’t apparent from your existing application materials. A strategic approach to your letters of recommendation is key to ensuring they provide the greatest impact on your application. For further advice, including how to ask for a recommendation, check out the tips from CollegeVine to navigate this part of Barnard’s applications effectively.
Take some time to think about which teacher will write you the most promising recommendation letter, and take a look at CollegeVine’s list of rules for requesting a letter of recommendation to help guide you through this process.
5. Apply Early Decision
Since Barnard’s early decision acceptance rate in 2021 was 25.6%, while the regular decision acceptance rate was 13.6%, students who apply under early decision have considerably higher statistical chances of acceptance, even after accounting for profile strength. If you have your heart set on Barnard—since the 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 package 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 2022–23 application cycle.
Admissions Application Due
November 1, 2023
January 1, 2024
Late March 2024
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 (there is an option to request a fee waiver)
- Official high school transcript
- School Profile and report
- Responses to the Barnard Writing Supplement
- SAT or ACT (optional for Fall 2022–23 enrollment)
- High school counselor letter of recommendation
- Mid-year report (first-semester senior grades by March 1)
- Two letters of recommendation 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; e.g., club advisors or part-time job supervisors)