How to Get Into Macalester College: Admissions Stats + Tips
- How Hard Is It To Get Into Macalester?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Macalester Students
- What is Macalester Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Macalester
- How to Apply to Macalester
“Where ideas and intellectual curiosity matter.”
That’s how Macalester College defines itself. Founded in 1874 with the “firm belief in the transformational power of the liberal arts,” the college is an undergraduate, four-year institution with a diverse student body and plenty of opportunities for students around the world.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Macalester?
Macalester has a 39% acceptance rate. In 2020–21, 6,373 students applied, and 2,466 were accepted.
Meanwhile, of the 296 students who applied Early Decision, 179 were accepted, for an admissions rate of 60.5%.
Macalester is highly selective, but your personal chances of acceptance may actually be higher or lower, depending on your profile strength.
We recommend using our free admissions calculator to better understand your chances of admission. Using your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and more, we’ll calculate your odds of acceptance and give you tips on improving your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Macalester Students
With 59% of enrolled students submitting SAT scores, the middle 50% range was 1290-1430. The ACT middle 50% range was 29-33, with 57% submitting scores.
In the freshman class, 66% of students graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, and 91% were in the top 25%.
What is Macalester Looking for?
Like many other selective schools, Macalester practices a holistic admissions review. In addition to strong academic credentials, you should show evidence of extracurricular commitment and dedication to your passions. You should be open to a challenge and “contribute to campus life beyond the classroom.”
“The most important part of your application is something you’ve already been working on throughout high school: your performance in high school!” Macalester says. “It is this performance that is the best predictor of success in college.”
You should also show “particular promise to profit from and contribute to the intellectual life of the college.” This evaluation is based on factors such as recommendations from secondary school personnel, the student’s application essays, and co-curricular participation, along with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
How Macalester Evaluates Applications
According to the 2020–2021 Common Data Set, the following factors are “very important” in the admissions process:
- Rigor of secondary school record
- Academic GPA
These are “important”:
- Application Essay
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
These are “considered”:
- Class rank
- Standardized test scores
- First generation
- Alumni/ae relation
- Geographical residence
- State residency
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation/commitment
- Level of applicant’s interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Macalester
1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.
“The best preparation for college is a balanced and rigorous high school curriculum,” Macalester says. “For balance you should take classes in all five academic core subjects: English, mathematics, history or social science, laboratory science, and world language. Students should challenge themselves by taking the advanced curriculum available at your school. Some examples include honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Most applicants will complete at least 20 academic core courses by the time they graduate high school.”
Your grades, too, should be high in your courses. The school will evaluate both your GPA and the rigor of your curriculum in the context of your high school.
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 1430 SAT and 33 ACT.
Along with the majority of colleges and universities, in light of the pandemic, Macalester is currently test-optional. The school says there is no penalty for students who choose not to submit scores; however, we recommend taking the test if you can do so safely because students who submit scores are accepted at higher rates than those without.
If your scores are at or above the 25th percentile for enrolled students (1290 SAT and 29 ACT), then it’s a good idea to submit them. Get recommendations on whether or not to apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine.
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
3. Cultivate a strong portfolio of extracurriculars.
Many colleges evaluate your activities according to the 4 Tiers of Extracurriculars. Tier 4 is generally considered the least impressive, while Tier 1 is the most impressive.
Macalaster is very selective, so you should aim to have at least 1-2 Tier 1-2 activities, along with a handful of Tier 3-4 activities (here are some examples of impressive ECs for college). You should also aim to group all your extracurriculars around a couple of well-developed interests to demonstrate commitment and passion.
4. Write engaging essays.
Once you clear the academic thresholds, essays are the best way to set yourself apart from other applicants. This is an opportunity to speak to your strengths, share your true voice, and demonstrate your commitment to Macalester.
5. Apply Early Action/Early Decision.
Macalester’s Early Decision acceptance rate is significantly higher than its overall acceptance rate — 60.5% and 39%. And applying early can increase your chances, not to mention offer you peace of mind if you get in.
Still, it’s important to consider the limitations of applying ED, such as the fact that you will be required to attend Macalester if you’re accepted.
Macalester does have an Early Action plan in addition to two ED plans, which has fewer limitations. However, applying EA won’t boost your chances of admission nearly as much.
6. Participate in an interview.
Interviews are not required, but they are recommended. That means you should make every effort to schedule one (you can do so here).
Interviews are conducted by admissions counselors, interns, and interviewers. They are an opportunity for the adcom to learn more about you, as well as a chance for you to learn more about the school. Be sure to prepare well for these discussions, but also remember that they aren’t meant to be intimidating.
7. Secure strong recommendation letters.
Recommendations are an important part of Macalester’s application review. The college asks for one recommendation letter from a counselor or school official and another from a teacher in a core subject.
You may submit an additional letter, but the adcom notes that you should only do so if it genuinely presents an additional perspective not already present in your application.
Take care when selecting your recommenders, choosing not only the teachers whose classes have been strong for you but also ones who know you as a person.
How to Apply to Macalester
Early Decision I/Early Action
Early Decision II
- Common Application
- High school transcript
- One recommendation letter from a counselor or school official
- One recommendation letter from a teacher in a core academic subject
- Updated or in-progress transcript
- SAT/ACT scores
- Art samples or portfolio
- Additional recommendation letter