Lauralyn Lin 6 min read Applying to College, College Lists

What Does It Take to Get into Indiana University Bloomington?

If you love the Midwest and thrive in big crowds, then Indiana University Bloomington (IU) may be the school for you! While the Hoosiers take their basketball quite seriously, IU’s incredible offerings in music, business, and the foreign languages definitely aren’t second string. With a gorgeous campus set in nature, IU’s 32,000 undergraduates can find their niche in over 200 academic programs and 750+ student organizations. They also enjoy the blessings of a great college town, and revel in an intense rivalry with the Boilermakers at Purdue.


Prospective applicants will find last year’s 76% acceptance rate quite encouraging. Keep reading to find out what it takes to get in!


Applying to Indiana University Bloomington: A Quick Review


Indiana University Bloomington accepts the IU Application, the Common Application, or the Coalition Application. The non-binding early action deadline is November 1, while regular decision applications are due by February 1. To apply, be sure to send in all of the following materials:


  • $65 application fee
  • Completed IU, Common, or Coalition Application, including a 400-word essay
  • High school transcripts and a full senior year schedule
  • SAT or ACT test scores


Note that 60% of each year’s incoming class is admitted to IU’s general University Division, where they spend a year or two fulfilling requirements before applying to one of IU’s ten schools (the College of Arts + Sciences, Kelley School of Business, the School of Education, etc.) in order to pursue specific majors. However, if you wish to maximize your chances of being directly admitted to one of these schools, you should apply by the early action deadline. An earlier application will also increase your likelihood of securing a merit scholarship.


Indiana University Bloomington Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?


44,169 students applied in the fall of 2018, of whom 33,970 were accepted. This places the acceptance rate at about 76%, making IU just slightly selective. Of those admitted, 8,058 students ultimately enrolled, which makes for a 24% yield rate.


With these numbers in mind, you should strive to challenge yourself to a rigorous and comprehensive high school course load — while keeping your grades up, of course. You’ll also want to score as highly as possible on the required standardized tests, which will likely mean taking these tests a few times, and incorporating regular test prep into your schedule leading up to the exam. Be sure to check out our posts on how to improve your SAT and ACT scores for helpful hints as your prepare to take (or retake) these exams. 

So, How Does One Get Into the Indiana University Bloomington?


Above all else, IU wants to admit students with strong academic records, as this is the best indicator of future potential. Here are the three most important characteristics they’re looking for:


Academic Strength. This is the first cut for most schools, and IU is no exception. The middle 50% of 2018 admits had a GPA range of 3.57 – 4.00. They also had an SAT score of 1180 – 1370 and an ACT between 25 – 31. Almost 70% were also in the top quarter of their class! Make sure that your own statistics fall within (or exceed) these ranges in order to maximize your chances of admission.


Academic Preparation. The university wants to see a comprehensive and balanced course load, including the following:


  • 4 years of English
  • 3.5 years of math, including 2 years of algebra, 1 year of geometry, and half a year of pre-calculus, trigonometry, or calculus
  • 3 years each of the social sciences, including 1 year of US history and 1 year of world history
  • 3 years of science, of which 2 must include be lab sciences
  • 2 years of world languages
  • 1.5 years of other college-preparatory courses.


IU also recommends additional math courses for STEM students and additional world language studies for all. Keep in mind that IU considers the rigor of your studies as well, so make sure that you not only fulfill these requirements but also take the most challenging classes available to you.


Character. Who are you, and why do you want to attend IU? These are the questions you must address in that 400-word essay. Given the short length, you’ll need to be concise, specific, and persuasive. What you write here can tip the scales in your favor and even potentially win you a merit scholarship, so use this essay to contextualize your application and communicate your passions. Don’t forget to discuss your interest in the school either — be sure to show IU some love! For more help on the essay, check out our post, How to Write the Indiana University Bloomington Essay 2018-2019


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Given the crowd of almost 45,000 applicants, you’ll want to make sure that your application stands out. Here are some suggestions for how to boost your application:


Apply early. The earlier you apply, the better your odds of admission and getting a nice scholarship. This means that you should start researching and preparing your application as early as possible, i.e. the summer before senior year! Make sure that your SAT/ACT scores are settled by August, at the latest, and try to finalize the application by October. Following this timeline will ensure that you are ready to apply by the non-binding early-action deadline and that your application is one the first they’ll see, which means you’ve stood out already — just by preparing early.


Write a stellar supplement. You only have 400 words to talk about yourself, your priorities, and why you want to attend IU, making this supplement no easy task. Again, clarity and specificity are the keys to success. While IU does not track demonstrated interest, you will likely benefit from visiting campus, attending information sessions, and reaching out to the admissions office with questions. All of these interactions will provide valuable information that you can then integrate into your essay. Impress your readers with your knowledge of IU and a vision of what you want to accomplish there.


Be passionate. The admissions office needs to go through 45,000 applications, so if you want yours to stand out, you’ll need an extra boost. The best tactic is to tell them about your passions. IU knows that its most impressive applicants have real-life interests, things that they’ve invested considerable time and energy in exploring. So, whatever it is that you spend the most time on — sports, volunteering, stamp collecting, literally anything — be sure to tell IU about it. After all, this is what admissions officers will remember after reading through thousands of applications.


What If You Get Rejected?


That’s okay! Take a deep breath. There are plenty of schools out there and just as many paths to take which can lead you to wherever you’d like to end up.  It is understandably difficult to be rejected from any school, and even more so when it’s one of your top choices. But rest assured that with enough ambition and hard work, you’ll find a way to get the opportunities you want and accomplish your goals at any of your other choice schools.


If your heart is set on IU, though, there are a few options. The school does accept admissions appeals, so if you can demonstrate significant academic growth or clarify any issues in your record, then you can choose to work with your college counselor on the petition to appeal IU’s decision. IU also keeps a waitlist, and they accepted around 65% of their transfer applicants in 2018. While getting off the waitlist can be difficult, you may have a decent chance of transferring into IU after a year elsewhere — a process you can read more about here.


Another option is reapplying after a gap year, however this is a much riskier choice than simply committing to another college. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.


In most cases, however, we would recommend moving on. The Indiana University system has eight campuses, of which the Bloomington location is only one, so you might consider applying to one of the other campuses which offer comparable academic programs with slightly higher acceptance rates. Alternatively, you can look into other nearby options such as Indiana State University, the University of Indianapolis, or DePauw University. For help adjusting to a different path, read our post, Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


For more resources on the college application process, check out these CollegeVine posts:


How to Write the Common Application Essays 2018-2019

How College Applications Are Evaluated

What is a Merit Scholarship?


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Short bio
Lauralyn is a junior at Wellesley College studying political science and psychology. She's been with CollegeVine for two years now as a test prep consultant, marketing intern, and livestream host, and spends the rest of her time on ballroom dance and books.