How to Get Into Wellesley: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Wellesley?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Wellesley Students
- What is Wellesley Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Wellesley
Looking to join the ranks of Madeleine Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Nora Ephron, Diane Sawyer, and Desiree Rogers? These are just some of the notable alumnae of Wellesley College.
Wellesley, now one of the most acclaimed liberal arts colleges in the country, was founded in 1870. A member of the Seven Sisters, it remains an all-women’s college. Every year, women from all over the world (more than 80 countries) head to Wellesley, Massachusetts, to study at this prestigious school.
Admission is fiercely competitive, so if you’re hoping to attend, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of the admissions process and what Wellesley is looking for.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Wellesley?
Of the 6,581 students who applied to Wellesley in the 2020–2021 admissions cycle, 1,343 were admitted, for an admissions rate of 20.4%. Meanwhile, the Early Decision acceptance rate was 40%.
Despite Wellesley’s low acceptance rate, your personal chances of admission depend on your unique profile. Try CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator to better understand your odds of acceptance — plus get free tips on how to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Wellesley Students
Wellesley does not release the average GPA of accepted students. However, you should aim to take the most challenging courses available at your school and get all A’s.
With 68% of Wellesley’s freshman class submitting SAT scores, the middle 50% range was 1350-1520. Meanwhile, with 41% submitting ACT results, the middle 50% range was 31-34.
Of those submitting class rank, 85.13% of students were in the top 10% of their graduating high school class, and 100% were in the top 25%.
What is Wellesley Looking for?
“Wellesley students are generally ambitious, passionate, and kind people who care deeply about their communities, like to stay involved, and are eager to bring about change or have some sort of impact on the world,” writes CollegeVine’s Lauralyn Lin. “As such, you should demonstrate character and passion, highlight community engagement and advocacy, and craft a narrative of being dedicated, determined, and likely to accomplish great things for the people and causes you care about.”
Wellesley seeks students with strong voices — and the willingness to listen to others. It wants risk-takers and people who are looking to join a community. After all, the college is all about connection.
As with other highly selective schools, Wellesley employs a holistic admissions process, considering both qualitative and quantitative aspects of applications in order to gain a better understanding of the applicant and her potential to contribute to the community.
“When I read a student’s application, I ask myself: Who is she? What makes her interesting? Is she curious or adventurous? Does she seek out challenge? Is she willing to take risks? Will she be an active participant in our community? What will she bring to our community? What’s her story?” says Anna Young, associate director of admission.
While there is no fixed high school preparation plan required for students, most students have completed four years of college prep work that includes writing, literature, history, math, foreign language, and science.
How Wellesley Evaluates Applications
According to Wellesley’s 2020–2021 Common Data Set, these factors are considered “very important” in the admissions process:
- Rigor of secondary school record
- Academic GPA
- Character/personal qualities
These are “important”:
- Class rank
- Application Essay
- Extracurricular activities
These are “considered”:
- Standardized test scores
- First generation
- Alumni/ae relation
- Geographical residence
- State residency
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
- Level of applicant’s interest
This is “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation/commitment
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Wellesley
1. Achieve at least a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
While the average GPA for accepted students is not published, Wellesley certainly seeks students with strong academic credentials. Many schools with this level of selectivity use the Academic Index, including metrics like GPA and test scores, to ensure that you meet the minimum standards, before reviewing qualitative factors.
You should also take a rigorous curriculum to demonstrate that you’re up to the challenge of Wellesley’s coursework. That means APs or IBs and honors courses if they’re available to you.
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 1520 SAT and 34 ACT
In light of COVID-19, Wellesley is currently test-optional. However, we recommend taking the test if you can safely, because students who do submit scores are admitted at higher rates than those who don’t. Therefore, it’s a good idea to submit your scores if they are at or above the 25th percentile for admitted students at Wellesley (1350 SAT and 31 ACT). Get recommendations on whether you should 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 at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
“Who are you outside of the classroom?” asks Jordan Peterson, assistant director of admission at Wellesley. “Explain all the exciting things you’re involved in! Whether it’s family responsibilities, work, clubs, sports, or volunteer work, be descriptive about the time you spend there and what you contribute. If you simply list ‘Art Club’, we don’t know if that means you paint once a week to relieve stress or advocated for club funding from your school board to found the club. Don’t assume we know what you mean, explain it to us!”
Your activities carry a lot of weight in the admissions process. Consider your extracurriculars according to the 4 Tiers, with Tier 1 being the most rare and exceptional type and Tier 4 being the most common — and least impressive — type.
You should aim to have one to two Tier 1-2 activities, along with a handful of Tier 3-4 activities. The majority should be grouped around one or two specializations to demonstrate that you’ve found a passion that you wish to pursue in college.
Check out these examples of impressive ECs for college.
4. Write engaging essays
Essays give your application a voice — one that might not come across through the rest of your application. They allow the adcom to get to know you as a person.
When writing your essays, Wellesley suggests the following:
- Set reasonable expectations for yourself (meaning you don’t have to have had “extraordinary” experience to write an amazing essay).
- Write several drafts and get several reads.
- Give yourself a pep talk.
5. Apply Early Decision
Wellesley’s overall admissions rate is 20.4%. Meanwhile, the ED acceptance rate is 40%. GIven the nearly double the admit rate, it’s clear that applying early can increase your chances of admission even when controlling for profile strength.
Still, it’s important to remember the limitations of applying ED, such as the fact that the decision is binding, meaning you’ll be required to attend Wellesley if you’re admitted under this plan.
6. Secure strong teacher recommendations
Teacher recommendations are considered very important in Wellesley’s admissions process. The college offers this advice: “Carefully consider which teachers you want to ask to fill out your evaluation. Have they gotten to know you personally? Have they seen you improve? Can they comment on your learning style?”
7. Convey your diverse background
Wellesley seeks out students with a range of backgrounds. That includes undocumented and DACA students, people of many different races and ethnicities, first-generation students, and those from many different countries.
The college also notes that it will consider admission for any applicant who identifies as a woman. That includes candidates who were assigned male at birth who now identify as women, as well as those who were assigned female at birth and “feel they belong in our community of women.”
How to Apply to Wellesley
Early Decision I
Early Decision II
- Common Application or Coalition Application
- Wellesley essay supplement
- Two teacher recommendations
- School Report
- SAT or ACT (currently optional)
Optional items (submit only if relevant to your application):
- Arts, music, or theatre portfolio
- Athletic supplement
Learn more about Wellesley