Kimberly Liu
6 How to Get Into

How to Get Into Pepperdine: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

Nestled in the bluffs of Malibu, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean is Pepperdine University. This private Christian research university is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful places to study in the country.

 

In addition to its charming campus, Pepperdine boasts strong academics, an impressive study abroad program, and a wide global network, all housed under the Christian worldview and values. So, what does it take to get in?

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Pepperdine?

 

Pepperdine University is composed of four graduate schools and one undergraduate school, Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Seaver College, which follows a traditional liberal arts curriculum, has an acceptance rate of 42%. Out of 11,768 students who applied, 4,925 were accepted. Pepperdine does not have binding Early Decision, but does have non-binding Early Action.  

 

Wanting to get a sense of how your application may stack up against other potential applicants is expected yet usually difficult.

 

To better understand your chances at Pepperdine, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. By taking into account multiple elements of your profile, including your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and more, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile! 

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted Pepperdine Students

 

GPA

 

In Fall 2021, the average high school GPA of first-year students at Pepperdine’s Seaver College was 3.69. 14% of first-year students had 4.0 GPA

 

Class Rank

 

Of this year’s first-year students at Pepperdine, 40% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, and 88% graduated in the top 25%

 

SAT/ACT

 

For students applying for Fall 2021 to Fall 2023 enrollment, the SAT and ACT will be optional. It’s worth considering, however, that of this year’s (2021–2022) first-year students, 70% submitted SAT scores, and 38% percent submitted ACT scores. The average SAT score of these students was 1280, and the top 25% scored above a 1390

 

What is Pepperdine Looking For?

 

As a Christian university, Pepperdine takes pride in being a campus where students grow intellectually and also spiritually—in knowledge, and also in character. Students have rich opportunities to explore their Christian faith within a diverse community, including student-led ministries, “Seaver 200” (a mandatory community-building program for first and second years), and the Spiritual Life Advisors Program. However, Pepperdine welcomes students from all faiths, including those who identify with no particular faith, which composes about 11% of the undergraduate student body. 

 

Students at Pepperdine will find themselves at a college that values ethical decision-making, critical thinking in a global context, community, service, leadership, and learning at the intersection of faith and reason. 

 

How Pepperdine Evaluates Applications

 

According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Pepperdine considers the following factors “very important” in a student’s application:

 

  • Course rigor
  • GPA
  • Essay
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Talent/ability
  • Character/personal qualities
  • Religious affiliation/commitment 

 

These factors are “important”:

  • Recommendation letters
  • Volunteer work

 

These are “considered”:

  • Standardized test scores (optional until 2023)
  • Interview (optional)
  • First generation 
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Work experience
  • Racial/ethnic status

 

And these are “not considered”:

  • Class rank
  • Geographical/state residency
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Pepperdine

 

1. Achieve at least a 3.7 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.

 

Since the average enrolled first-year student’s high school GPA is 3.69, you should aim for a 3.7 GPA to be a competitive candidate when applying to Pepperdine’s Seaver College. This will be the first step to getting the rest of your application read. 

 

Selective schools, like UC Davis, that receive huge numbers of applicants use a tool called Academic Index—a distillation of your academic performance into a single number—to ease the admissions process. If you fail to meet UC Davis’s Academic Index standard, you risk being seen as academically unqualified and not having your application given serious consideration.  

 

If your GPA is lower than a 3.7 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 strengthen your essays or extracurricular activity profile.

 

2. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”). 

 

If your academics are as equally strong as many other applicants, extracurriculars are where you have a chance to stand out and help admissions officers form a better idea of who you are and what you might bring to their campus. 

 

In addition, Pepperdine places especially high emphasis on extracurriculars because they give admissions officers a sense of how you will fit in and contribute to its service-oriented and close-knit campus. 

 

In general, any activity that you do regularly outside the classroom counts as an extracurricular, as long as you can demonstrate that the activity has contributed to your growth as an individual. However, not all extracurriculars are created equal. Extracurricular activities can generally be divided into four “tiers.” To increase your chances at Pepperdine, you should have one to two “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” extracurriculars. 

 

  • Tier 1 activities demonstrate exceptional talent, achievement, leadership, or merit. Activities and roles on the national level or which garner field-wide recognition count as Tier 1 activities. This may include winning a national award, qualifying for international competition and therefore gaining prestigious recognition, or starting a nonprofit that gains national traction. Having a Tier 1 activity marks you as a distinguished youth in the field of your activity, so having Tier 1 activities is rare. 

 

  • Tier 2 activities are more common than Tier 1, but still show high levels of achievement and potential. Holding school-wide leadership positions like student government president, winning regional competitions or awards, and local recognition as a student athlete or musician are all considered Tier 2. 

 

  • Tier 3 activities demonstrate sustained participation rather than exceptional achievement, and are frequently seen in applications, both across the board as well as in any given individual student’s application, as some students may have more than one Tier 3 activity. These activities can include holding minor positions in school clubs or being on a Varsity team.

 

  • Tier 4 activities are the most common and have the lowest entry bar; they demonstrate interest without particular dedication. However, they are still important to include, especially if you have higher tier activities, because they can help show the diversity of your interests. Tier 4 activities can include regular volunteering, general membership in clubs or organizations, or taking any kind of music or art lesson over several years. 

 

Having extracurricular activities on your application shows colleges that you have personal passions and that you can take your skills beyond the classroom. They will show Pepperdine how you have cultivated your practice of the Christian values. While Pepperdine will be happy to see any kind of interest you’ve taken, you’re going to be a much more competitive candidate if you have a few Tier 1 or 2 activities that show dedication and excellence rather than many scattered Tier 4 activities. 

 

3. Write engaging essays.

 

Given Pepperdine’s emphasis on student character and personal qualities, it isn’t surprising that Pepperdine highly values the essay. In addition to the Common Application essays, Pepperdine will require you to complete the Pepperdine writing supplement, as well as some short-answer responses. This is the ideal place to show your strengths, character, your authentic voice, as well as the role your faith plays in your life. For an idea of what kind of prompt to expect, take a look at our guide on last year’s Pepperdine essays

 

4. Make sure your application accurately reflects your relationship to your faith.

 

Although Pepperdine welcomes students from all faiths, it is first and foremost a Christian university, and is committed to providing students with higher education alongside Christian values and lifestyle. Pepperdine is known for integrating faith and learning, and students who benefit the most from the Pepperdine community will naturally also share its core Christian worldview. 

 

Make sure you accurately and genuinely depict your relationship to your faith, whether that be Christian or other. Show how it has informed you to be kind, justice-oriented, and humble, and curious, whether through your essays or extracurriculars. For more information on how Seaver College places learning and religious hand-in-hand, click here.  

 

How to Apply to Pepperdine

 

Deadlines

 

Now that you have a good idea of what applying to Pepperdine entails, here are some dates to keep in mind for the 2021–2022 cycle. 

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Action

November 1

Regular Decision

January 15

 

Application Requirements

 

Pepperdine accepts the Common Application. Students need to submit all parts of the Common Application, including: 

  • Official high school transcript
  • List and description of extracurriculars, employment, and summer activities
  • Personal essay
  • One letter of recommendation from a teacher in a core subject (math, science, English, history, foreign language, religion) or from a counselor 
  • Pepperdine Writing Supplement
  • Pepperdine Questions

 

Optional materials include: 

 

Learn more about Pepperdine

 

Thinking about applying to Pepperdine? Take a look at our other resources on Seaver College to help you with your process.  

 

 

Curious about your chances of acceptance to Pepperdine? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Calculate your chances for free!

 


Short Bio
Kimberly graduated from Smith College with a degree in English Literature. This year, she has been based in Beijing, China, where she works in the education field and rescues dogs in her free time. She will be starting her masters at Columbia University in the fall.

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