What Does It Take to Get into University of Rochester?

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30% of Applicants to the University of Rochester Are Admitted. What Does It Take?


In the scenic city of Rochester, you will find this mid-sized university with world renowned programs such as the Eastman School of Music. Because the University of Rochester has such strong programs, only 30% of students who apply are admitted.


If you think the University of Rochester might be the right choice for you, keep reading for tips on how to make your application stand out. Every year, CollegeVine helps hundreds of applicants perfect their applications. In fact, 75% of students who work with CollegeVine get into one of their top choice schools.


Want to learn what University of Rochester will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Rochester needs to know.

Applying to the University of Rochester: A Quick Review


You may apply through the Common App, the Coalition App, or the University of Rochester’s online portal. For most applicants, we recommend using the Common App. You can read more about this online portal in our Guide to the Common App.


You can apply Early Decision by November 1 or Regular Decision by January 5. If you would like to be considered for scholarships, submit a Regular Decision application by December 1. To learn more about whether or not you should apply early, read our post, Early Decision vs. Early Action vs. Restrictive Early Action.


To apply, be sure to send in all of the following:


  • Basic demographic information via the Common App, Coalition App, or the online portal
  • Transcripts
  • Test scores for all SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP, and/or IB exams
  • At least one letter of recommendation
  • Guidance counselor letter of recommendation
  • School Report
  • Mid-year Report
  • $50 application fee or fee waiver


It is optional but recommended that you also do the following:



International applicants must submit additional information on their English proficiency and financial situation.


Homeschool students have additional requirements that can be found on the admissions website.


Applicants to Eastman School of Music should NOT follow these steps and instead participate in a different application process.


How Difficult Is It to Get into the University of Rochester?


The University of Rochester is fairly selective, with an undergraduate admissions rate of 30%. Of 20,224 applications last year, only around 6,000 were accepted.


30% may sound like an intimidating number, yet it is important to remember that the strength of your profile has a lot of influence over whether your chances of being accepted are higher or lower than that. Once you have the grades to gain admission, a well-crafted application is the make-or-break difference.

So, How Does One Get into the University of Rochester?


You can break a University of Rochester application into four parts—Academic History, Interests & Activities, Character, and Contribution to Community. Successful applications will have something great to show for each category.


Academic History. To be competitive at the University of Rochester, academic excellence must be one of your priorities. Last year, the average unweighted GPA of admitted students was 3.8. Admitted students typically score in the 97th percentile for the ACT and SAT. Since the University of Rochester has a flexible testing policy, you do not need the perfect ACT/SAT score. It helps to take hard classes, earn high grades, and receive strong standardized scores in at least one of their accepted categories (e.g., ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP, IB).


Interests & Activities. The admissions committee is looking for visionaries and leaders, so pursue activities that demonstrate your strengths in these areas. As a rule of thumb, activities with greater scope are more impressive, so look for opportunities at the regional, state, and national level. If you are pursuing an unconventional activity, demonstrate depth of understanding to make your interest appeal to the admissions committee.


Character. The University of Rochester looks for students of integrity. The admissions committee reads letters of recommendation and writing samples to determine your values and maturity. When you connect with your recommender(s), discuss how you have grown so they can speak to your character in the recommendation.


Contribution to Community. The strongest applicants don’t just build their resumes—they make their communities stronger. If you are an underclassman, look for ways to give back to those around you. Are there any projects that need doing which no one has taken up? These are great places to start! If you are an upperclassman, use your list of activities and your writing sample to highlight what you have done for your community.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Create a compelling admissions theme. Admissions officers typically spend nine minutes reviewing each college application. It is important to make yours stand out and stick in their minds. Try to find a unifying theme that ties your classes, activities, and career interests together. Then, use your writing sample and letters of recommendation to drive that point home.


Take advantage of The Hive. The University of Rochester has created its own social media style platform where applicants can share biographical details with current students and the admissions committee. You can create your own account on The Hive. Registering is a great way to demonstrate interest in the University of Rochester.


Submit the optional application materials. Even though the writing sample, alumni interview, and family/community recommendation are optional, having them in your file significantly improves your chances of being admitted. Once you have your admissions theme in mind, brainstorm ways to incorporate that main idea of your application into these optional materials.


What If You Get Rejected?


Even great students are turned away from schools like the University of Rochester. If you find yourself holding a rejection letter, do not be discouraged. There are many other great institutions who will welcome you with open arms.


In particular, consider applying to strong schools in the area, such as Lehigh University, Pennsylvania State University, Syracuse University, and Ithaca College.


The University of Rochester does not accept admissions appeals due to their long list of qualified applicants on the waitlist. We do not recommend petitioning your decision. Some students transfer into the University of Rochester, but the transfer admissions rate is extremely low and requires a lot of extra work. However, students who maintain a strong academic and extracurricular profile will always have a shot.


You can reapply after taking a gap year, but this path is riskier than simply committing to another school and requesting to take a gap year there. 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.


For help adjusting to a different dream, read our post, Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


If you’d like more personalized advice on your admissions profile, CollegeVine offers Elite Universities Application Assistance, where you’ll be paired with a successful mentor at a top school who helps you along every step of the application process.


For more resources on the University of Rochester and similar schools, visit these other CollegeVine posts:


What Does It Take to Get into Lehigh University?

What Does It Take to Get into Syracuse University?

How to Research Colleges and Choose the Best Fit for You

Why Are Students Getting Rejected from Every College?


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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.