How to Get Into Colby College: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Colby College?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Colby College Students
- What is Colby College Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Colby College
There are numerous features that distinguish Colby from other colleges and make it one of the 15 best liberal arts colleges in the country. One characteristic that sets it apart is the college’s Jan Plan, Colby’s unique 4-1-4 academic calendar that allows students to explore a variety of intensive academic experiences—such as research, internships, or focused study—each January, in between a four-class schedule in the fall and spring.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Colby College?
Colby offered admission to 1,279 students—from a record-breaking pool of 15,857 applicants—to its Class of 2025. This gives Colby an exceptionally low 8% acceptance rate.
Colby College’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, but your chances of admission are tied to the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can help you better understand your odds at Colby. It uses metrics like GPA and test scores, along with factors like extracurricular activities, to estimate your likelihood of acceptance and provide tips to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Colby College Students
Colby hasn’t published the high school GPA of an incoming class in years, but it’s important to know that you will need excellent academics for serious consideration at the college.
The median SAT score of Colby’s Class of 2025 is 1520. Their median ACT score is 34.
Roughly 95% of Colby’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class.
What is Colby College Looking for?
Colby looks to field interesting classes populated with fascinating and intellectually curious students from a variety of backgrounds. Colby’s Class of 2025 comes from 48 states and 60 countries and 35% of the Class of 2025 identifies as a person of color.
It’s not just geographic and racial diversity that Colby courts, it’s also financial. The “Colby Commitment” is the college’s pledge to meet 100% of each admitted student’s demonstrated financial need without loans.
How Colby College Evaluates Applications
Colby College hasn’t made its Common Data Set available since the 2015-2016 admissions cycle. Between their 2015-2016 Common Data Set and the information available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), it’s safe to assume that Colby College considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
These factors are “important”:
- Test scores
- Extracurricular activities
- Racial/ethnic status
These are “considered”:
- Geographic residence
- State residence
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
- Applicant interest
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Colby College
1. Achieve the highest GPA possible while taking the most challenging classes available
Approximately 95% of Colby’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class. For serious consideration as a Colby applicant, you’ll need to earn all, or almost all, As in the most challenging classes available. It’s common for applicants at highly selective schools such as Colby to have completed anywhere between five and 12 AP classes.
To expedite processing all-time-high numbers of applications, top-tier schools like Colby use a tool known as Academic Index, which is an encapsulation of your entire academic performance by a single number. If your Academic Index fails to meet Colby’s standards, you risk being labeled as academically unqualified and not having your application given serious consideration.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore and your GPA is below Colby’s standards, there is still time to raise it. Check out our tips for increasing your GPA. Improving your GPA is more challenging if you’re a junior or senior. If you’re later in your high school career, the best method to improve your Academic Index is to earn high test scores.
Colby requires you to submit three letters of recommendation with your application: one from your counselor and two from teachers. An advisor recommendation puts your academic experience in context and may share insight into your involvement with the school community. Teacher recommendations provide a view of your abilities and strengths in the classroom and hint at your potential as a student.
Teachers are busy, often called upon to compose multiple recommendations a year, and not compensated for writing them. Because receiving an attention-grabbing recommendation can mean the difference from receiving an acceptance or rejection letter from Colby in the spring, it’s essential to ask the right teacher, provide them with the supporting material they need, and leave them enough time to author a compelling recommendation. The nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers provide a good guideline for getting a great letter.
3. Aim for a 1520 SAT and 34 ACT (use the 75th percentile)
The median SAT score of Colby’s Class of 2025 is 1520. Their median ACT score is 34. A score near the median is good, but anything better than it will improve your odds of admission. Colby superscores all exams, which makes sitting for the SAT or ACT two or three times a sound strategy for maximizing your score. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine 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
Colby transitioned to test-optional admissions in 2018, however, CollegeVine recommends taking either the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely. Students who submit test scores are admitted at higher rates than those who do not. Not sure whether you should apply test-optional or not? You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
4. Write engaging essays
Colby urges applicants to “tell us your story” and there is no better place to do this than the essay—essays are simply one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Whether you’re applying with the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you’ll need to complete the coinciding personal essay.
When writing your essay, it’s important to write in your own unique voice. A winning college essay will also highlight your interests, accomplishments, and strengths, along with how you’ll fit on campus, and how the college will benefit from having you there.
5. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars
Nearly every applicant to Colby will have outstanding academics, which makes it vital that you find other avenues, like extracurricular activities, to set yourself apart. According to Colby, they want you to “emphasize your dedication to both academic and extracurricular activities.”
Not every extracurricular activity holds equal weight in college admissions, some are more influential than others. The four tiers of extracurriculars offer a useful explanation for understanding how colleges like Colby view your activities outside of the classroom.
- Tier 1 extracurricular activities are the rarest and most impressive. These activities demonstrate exceptional achievement or leadership—for example, winning a prestigious national award or attending a renowned merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 activities also exemplify great achievement and leadership but are more common and a little less influential to admissions than those of Tier 1. Tier 2 activities include winning a well-known state-level competition, serving as student body president, or holding a leadership position in a club.
- Tier 3 extracurricular activities highlight your interest outside of the classroom but don’t have the same prestige or weight as those in the higher tiers. Examples of Tier 3 activities include holding a minor leadership position in a club, captaining a varsity sport, or playing in a regional music ensemble.
- Tier 4 extracurriculars are the least influential and most commonly seen by admissions officials. These include participating in a club, playing a sport, or general volunteer work.
6. Apply Early Decision
Colby College has three admissions processes: early decision I (ED I), early decision II (ED II), and regular decision (RD). Applying early decision can improve your chances at a school like Colby that has an extremely low overall 8% acceptance rate. In general, students who apply ED have higher acceptance rates than those who apply RD.
Early decision I and II typically have higher acceptance rates, but those come at a cost. ED is binding at Colby and by applying ED, you’re committing to attend the college if accepted. This makes ED best for students who are positive that they want to attend Colby.
How to Apply to Colby College
Early Decision I
On or before December 15
Early Decision II
On or before February 15
On or before April 1
Colby accepts the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and the QuestBridge Application. Other required materials at Colby include:
- Secondary school report
- Counselor recommendation
- Two teacher recommendations
Optional admissions application materials include:
- SAT/ACT scores
- Art supplement
- Additional letters of recommendation
Learn more about Colby College
Want to learn more about Colby? Check out some of our resources below!
- What Does it Really Cost to Attend Colby College?
- The 15 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.
- What Are the Little Ivies and NESCAC?
Want to know your chances at Colby? Calculate your chances for free right now.