How to Get Into Williams College: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into William College?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Williams College Students
- What is Williams College Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Williams College
One of the best non-Ivy league schools in the nation, Williams College is considered among CollegeVine’s 15 best liberal arts colleges in the U.S. Located in western Massachusetts, Williams offers between 60 to 70 tutorials across its curriculum. Tutorials are a style of curriculum adopted from Oxford University that allows two students to develop and critique independent work under the guidance of a professor—providing a remarkable and unique educational experience and forming tight bonds between students and professors.
How Hard Is It to Get Into William College?
Getting into Williams College is difficult. Williams received 8,745 applications for its Class of 2025, of which it accepted 1,322 students—giving the college an overall acceptance rate of 15%. Williams accepted 249 of 634 applicants who applied through its early decision program, for an early decision acceptance rate of 39%.
Williams College’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, but your personal chances of acceptance depends on the strength of your profile. To better understand your odds at Williams, we recommend using our free admissions calculator, which uses your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance. It can even provide insight into your profile and highlight areas for improvement!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Williams College Students
Williams College didn’t publish the average high school GPA of its Class of 2025, but know that nearly every student is academically outstanding.
The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores of Williams Class of 2025 are 1430-1540 and 33-35.
An impressive 95% of Williams’ Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school classes; 99% of the Class of 2025 graduated in the top quarter of their high school.
What is Williams College Looking for?
There is no cookie-cutter Williams College student and, when fielding a class, the college thinks about “the range of talents, interests, experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds that will make this a dynamic place to call home.” Williams values students who are creative thinkers and welcome intellectual challenges. They also look for smart, ambitious, and caring applicants who will have a lasting impact on the college.
Williams fields diverse classes and places an emphasis on well-rounded students. Compared to its peer institutions, Williams looks more favorably on extracurricular profiles that demonstrate a depth of interest, rather than the level of accomplishment.
How Williams College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Williams College considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Test scores
- Recommendation letters
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
- First generation
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- Geographical residence
- Religious affiliation
And these are “not considered”:
- State residence
- Application interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Williams College
1. Achieve the best possible GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
Williams views GPA, class rank, and course rigor as “very important” to admissions. A staggering 95% of Williams College’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class. To submit a competitive application to Williams, you’ll need exceptional grades in the most challenging coursework available. It’s common for applicants to top-tier schools like Williams to have taken upward of 12 AP classes.
Colleges like Williams commonly use a tool known as the “Academic Index” to aid in the admissions process. The Academic Index is the representation of your entire academic performance by a single number—and if your academic index falls beneath a school’s standard, you risk not having your application given serious consideration.
If your GPA is in need of improvement and you’re early on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. Juniors and seniors will find it more challenging to increase their GPA, making high test scores the most effective way to increase their Academic Index.
2. Aim for a 1540 SAT and 35 ACT (use the 75th percentile)
Standardized test scores are “very important” to admissions at Williams. The middle 50% SAT range of Williams College’s Class of 2025 is 1430-1540 and the middle 50% ACT range is 33-35. Anything in the middle 50% is acceptable, but the higher you score in the range, the more you’ll stand out as an applicant. Williams superscores the SAT and ACT and students should plan on sitting for one of the exams between two and three times to maximize their 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
Williams College adopted a test-optional policy for students applying during the 2020-2021 admission cycle and has extended that policy to the 2022-2023 cycle. If you can take either the SAT or ACT safely, however, you should. Students who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who do not. CollegeVine recommends submitting scores at or above the 25th percentile. You can get further recommendations on whether or not to apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
3. Secure strong recommendations
Recommendations are a “very important” aspect of Williams admissions. Williams requires a counselor recommendation, as well as two teacher recommendations. A standout letter of recommendation will separate you from other candidates and highlight your “character,” another quality Williams views as “very important” to admissions.
Getting a great recommendation involves more than merely asking your favorite teacher, it’s imperative to ask the “right” teacher, leave them enough time to write a compelling letter, and provide them with the supporting material needed to put you in the best light possible. The nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers provide a good outline for ensuring a persuasive letter of recommendation.
4. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars
Extracurriculars are “important” to Williams admissions and they view them a little differently than its peer colleges. Williams focuses on finding well-rounded students, placing more weight on your depth of interests, as opposed to the prestige of your activities outside of the classroom. That said, the more distinguished an extracurricular, the more likely an admissions officer will take notice.
The four tiers of extracurriculars are a good guideline to understanding how colleges value your activities outside of class.
- Tier 1 extracurriculars are the most impressive and uncommon activities, these include winning a renowned national award or attending a selective merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 activities highlight achievement and leadership but don’t wow in the way that those in Tier 1 do. These activities include winning a state-level recognition competition or serving as student body president.
- Tier 3 activities are more common and less attention-grabbing than those in the higher tiers and include activities like holding a leadership position in a club or captaining a varsity athletic team.
- Tier 4 extracurriculars are the most common and least impressive; for example, general club participation, volunteer work, or playing a sport.
A healthy mix of activities will serve you well at Williams, but the more you have in the higher tiers, the better.
5. Write engaging essays
Like other LACs, Williams places a lot of weight on your essay; the college considers it an “important” part of your application. The application essay at Williams is optional, but seeing how Williams values essays, serious applicants should strongly consider submitting one.
Williams College’s writing supplement is different from that of many other colleges. Rather than an essay about themselves or their views on a college, Williams encourages students to submit a three- to five-page academic paper completed within the past academic year, along with a description of the assignment or prompt. For advice on how to handle Williams’ unique essay requirement, check out our article, “How to Write the Williams College Essays 2021-2022.”
6. Apply Early Decision
Williams has two admissions tracks: early decision (ED) and regular decision (RD). Applying ED can give your application a considerable boost—Williams’ 39% ED acceptance rate is substantially larger than its 15% overall acceptance rate.
Early decision isn’t for everyone. ED is binding and students who apply through it commit to attending Willaims if accepted. ED is best suited to students who are positive that Williams is where they want to attend college and are sure they can afford it.
How to Apply to Williams College
First week of April
Williams College accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. Other requirements include:
- School report
- Counselor recommendation
- Two teacher recommendations
- Mid-year report
Optional materials include:
- SAT/ACT scores
- Writing supplement
- Studio/Performing Arts portfolio
- Scientific Research Abstracts
Learn more about Williams College
Interested in learning more about Williams College? Check out these other informative articles:
- The Ultimate Guide to Williams College
- What Does it Really Cost to Attend Williams College?
- Amherst vs. Williams: Which College is Right for You?
- 20 Top Non-Ivy League Schools You Should Consider
Want to know your chances at Williams? Calculate your chances for free right now.