How to Get Into Claremont McKenna: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into CMC?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted CMC Students
- What is CMC Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Claremont McKenna
A relatively young liberal arts college, Claremont McKenna College was founded in 1946 and is based in Claremont, California. With strong programs in a wide range of sectors, including international relations, economics, and government, CMC attracts a diverse student body and prepares individuals to thrive in their chosen careers.
CMC is a member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium that allows students to participate in courses and activities with other schools in the region, including Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College.
Admission to CMC is fiercely competitive, and thousands of students apply for a spot annually.
How Hard Is It to Get Into CMC?
In the 2020–2021 admission cycle, 5,306 students applied to CMC, and 708 were admitted — an admissions rate of 13.3%.
This might feel intimidating, but remember that your personal chances of admission depend on your profile strength. Find out your true chances of acceptance by using our free admissions calculator — and get tips on how to improve your application and profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted CMC Students
CMC does not publish the average GPA of admitted students, but students should strive to get all A’s and take the most challenging classes available at their high school.
For the class of 2025, the middle 50% SAT score range was 1330-1460 (62% submitting) and the ACT range was 31-34 (44% submitting).
Ten percent of the freshman class submitted their class rank, and of those who did, 73% were in the top 10% of their high school class, and 94% were in the top quarter.
What is CMC Looking for?
“Claremont McKenna College students are dreamers and doers — high achievers who understand that learning informs impact and that impact, in turn, inspires learning,” says CMC.
CMC employs a holistic review, considering students’ “academic and leadership achievements, commitment to CMC’s values, and potential to benefit from and contribute to CMC’s mission.”
Leadership, in particular, is a critical quality CMC seeks in students, as is intellectual curiosity. The college fosters a close-knit community, and students are expected to demonstrate that ability and desire to form connections with faculty and students alike.
You should also have a desire to explore multiple interests, as evidenced by your academic and extracurricular pursuits.
Key questions the adcom asks are:
- How does your leadership impact the entire community?
- How do you extend engagement beyond the classroom?
- What is your potential to benefit from and contribute to CMC’s mission?
How Claremont McKenna Evaluates Applications
According to CMC’s 2020–2021 Common Data Set, these factors are “very important” in the admissions process:
- Rigor of secondary school record
- Class rank
- Academic GPA
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
These are “important”:
- Application Essay
While these are “considered”:
- Standardized test scores
- First generation
- Alumni/ae relation
- Geographical residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
And these are “not considered”:
- State residency
- Religious affiliation/commitment
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Claremont McKenna
1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
Your grades, school report, and counselor recommendation are one of the most important factors in being accepted to CMC. In addition to earning high grades, you should be taking the most challenging curriculum available to you.
“While there is no minimum GPA requirement, competitive candidates for admission pursue the most demanding coursework possible and receive strong grades,” CMC says. “We strongly recommend taking advantage of honors and advanced placement coursework when available.”
Remember that the adcom will evaluate you in the context of your high school, so don’t worry if your school doesn’t offer AP, IB, or honors courses.
Still, at minimum, you should take:
- 4 years of English
- 3 (preferably 4) years of mathematics at least through precalculus (Calculus is recommended)
- At least 3 years of foreign language
- At least 1 year of history
- At least 2 years of science
If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, 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. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 34 ACT
In light of COVID-19 test-optional policies, we recommend taking the SAT or ACT if you can safely do so and submitting scores if they are at or above the 25th percentile for CMC (1330 SAT and 31 SAT). After you submit your application, you have seven days to change your test-optional preference. Students can get recommendations on whether or not they should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine.
CMC superscores both the SAT and ACT, so it’s in your best interest to retake the test to achieve higher scores. While the 25th percentile is fine, aim for the 75th percentile (1460 SAT and 34 ACT).
To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Schools like CMC evaluate extracurriculars according to 4 Tiers, with Tier 1 representing the most specialized and outstanding activities and Tier 4 representing the most common and least impressive. You will probably have a mix, but aim to have at least 1-2 Tier 1-2 activities.
You should also group your activities around a couple of distinct niches, also known as a spike, to demonstrate your passion and focus.
Here are some examples of impressive ECs for college.
4. Write engaging essays.
Essays provide insight into who you are as a person — not just who you are in an academic sense. In addition to writing a Common App or Coalition App essay, you will also write essays unique to CMC.
Don’t overlook them as inconsequential — they are an important part of the application process. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but you should demonstrate thought, care, and the ability to express yourself in writing.
5. Apply Early Decision
For the class of 2023, 9.59% of applicants were accepted overall, while 28.22% of those applying Early Decision were accepted. This clearly demonstrates that applying early can increase your chances of admission, as is true for many other colleges and universities.
Do make sure CMC is absolutely your first choice before you choose the ED plan — and understand the limitations of applying ED.
6. Secure strong recommendations
Recommendations are an important part of CMC’s admission process. You should ask a teacher who taught you in a core academic area (English, mathematics, foreign language, science, or social sciences).
According to CMC, “Teacher recommendations are important in giving the Admission Committee insight into your engagement in classes, collaboration with peers, and ability to manage rigorous classwork. We recommend asking teachers who can speak to your strengths and progress academically and personally throughout high school.”
7. Request an interview
Interviews are not required as part of the application process, but they are strongly recommended. These are evaluative discussions that allow the adcom to learn more about your background and goals. In turn, you can learn more about the school and whether it’s a good fit for you.
You should schedule an interview sometime in June through mid-December, bearing in mind that they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to do so, you may submit a video response (those who do interview may also submit a video).
How to Apply to CMC
Early Decision I
Early Decision II
- Common Application or Coalition Application
- $70 application fee or fee waiver
- School report and counselor recommendation
- One teacher recommendation
- Official high school transcript(s) from all secondary schools attended
Learn more about Claremont McKenna