How to Get Into William & Mary: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into William & Mary?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted William & Mary Students
- What is William & Mary Looking For?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into William & Mary
Founded in 1693 by the King and Queen of England, the College of William and Mary is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the country—only Harvard has been in existence longer. Today, more than three centuries later, William & Mary is known as one of the finest schools in the country, it’s grouped with a collection of prestigious, highly selective, and academically challenging public universities known as the “Public Ivies” and is one of CollegeVine’s top 15 public universities in the U.S.
How Hard Is It to Get Into William & Mary?
Getting into William & Mary is challenging and it’s only getting more so. The university received 17,475 applicants for its class of 2025—a record number, and the first time applications have exceeded 15,000. Of those 17,475 applicants, William & Mary accepted just 6,466, giving the school an overall acceptance rate of 37% (44% for in-state applicants and 31% for out-of-state applicants).
William & Mary offers early decision (ED) admissions and received 1,184 ED applications for its class of 2025. The university accepted 545 students through ED, a 46% early decision acceptance rate.
While William & Mary’s acceptance rate is low, your chances depend on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator uses factors like grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of admissions and offer insight into how to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted William & Mary Students
The average high school GPA of William & Mary’s class of 2025 is 4.28, and 86.29% of the class of 2025 graduated with a 4.0.
The middle 50% SAT/ACT scores of William and Mary’s class of 2025 are 1300-1490/30-34.
77% of William & Mary’s class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class. 95% graduated in the top quarter of their class.
What is William & Mary Looking For?
William & Mary prioritizes students who live in Virginia—64% of its class of 2025 hails from in-state. Students from Virginia also benefit from higher acceptance rates; the university’s 44% in-state acceptance rate for its class of 2025 is substantially higher than its 31% acceptance rate for out-of-state students.
William & Mary is also focused on fielding a diverse student body. About 30% of William & Mary undergraduates are students of color. Students come to the college from all over, with all 50 states and more than 50 foreign countries represented on campus.
How William & Mary Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, William & Mary considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Test scores
- Recommendation letters
- Extracurricular activities
- State residence
- Work experience
- Volunteer work
These are “considered”:
- First generation
- Geographic residence
- Racial/ethnic status
- Applicant interest
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into William & Mary
1. Achieve at least a 4.28 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
William & Mary considers GPA, class rank, and course rigor as “very important” to admissions.
The average high school GPA of William & Mary’s class of 2025 is 4.28, 86.29% of the class graduated with a 4.0, and their most “most competitive applicants have taken a rigorous course load including courses such as Calculus, Physics and 4 years of a single foreign language.”
For serious consideration at William & Mary, you’ll need to earn all, or mostly all, As in the highest level courses offered to you. It’s common for competitive applicants to have completed anywhere from five to 12 AP classes.
Highly selective schools like William & Mary use a tool known as the Academic Index to help facilitate admissions decisions. Academic Index is the representation of your entire academic performance by a single number. Busy admissions offices use that number to determine if you meet a college’s academic standards and how vigorously to consider your application.
If your GPA is below William & Mary’s standards and you’re early in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it’s harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is with higher test scores.
2. Aim for a 1490 SAT and 34 ACT
The middle 50% SAT/ACT range of William & Mary’s class of 2025 is 1300-1490/30-34. Any score within the middle 50% is good, but the higher into the range you score, the more competitive your application is. William & Mary considers test scores “very important” when making admissions decisions.
William & Mary superscores—that is, they will take the highest math and highest verbal/critical reading score from any SAT/ACT examination—and encourage students to maximize their test scores by sitting for the SAT/ACT two to three times. 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
In 2020, William & Mary announced a pilot program to make the college’s admission policy test-optional for three years. The university stresses that test-optional doesn’t mean test-blind and students who submit test scores will have them evaluated as part of their application. CollegeVine advises students who can take the SAT or ACT safely and who’ve scored at, or above, the 25th percentile (1300/30) to submit their scores. Applicants who include test scores with their application are accepted at higher rates than those who do not.
Wondering if you should submit your scores? You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
3. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
William & Mary considers extracurricular activities—along with the talent they demonstrate—“very important” to admissions decisions. If your profile features a highly developed interest known as a “spike” and one or two impressive supporting extracurricular activities, you’ll have a leg up on other candidates.
Nearly every applicant to William & Mary has an astounding academic record and extracurricular activities are a place to separate yourself from the competition. Not all extracurriculars are equal, however, and some carry more weight than others. The “four tiers of extracurriculars” is a good guide for understanding how colleges value your activities outside of the classroom:
- Tier 1 is reserved for the activities that demonstrate exceptional achievement or leadership and are exceedingly rare. For example, winning a prestigious national award or receiving national recognition in a field like athletics or music.
- Tier 2 is where activities like winning a regional award or earning state-level recognition in athletics or music land. These activities demonstrate great accomplishments and leadership but lack the distinction and rarity of Tier 1 activities.
- Tier 3 activities highlight your interests outside of the classroom but lack the influence of those in the higher tiers. These include holding a minor leadership role in a well-known club or captaining a varsity sport.
- Tier 4 extracurriculars are the most common and least impactful on admissions. They include taking part in a club, playing in the band or orchestra, and playing a sport. Typically, this tier isn’t the most influential, but keep in mind that William & Mary considers work experience and volunteer work (both activities commonly found in this tier) “very important” to admissions decisions.
4. Write engaging essays
In addition to extracurricular activities, essays are another avenue to separate yourself from a field full of academic all-stars. William & Mary has only one essay and it’s optional (with the exception of applicants to the St. Andrews Joint Degree Program). If you’re committed to getting accepted at William & Mary, you’ll want to seize this opportunity, write a compelling essay, and set yourself apart.
At its essence, the William & Mary supplemental essay asks, “What makes you unique? Inspire us, impress us, or make us laugh.” A strong essay is written in your unique voice, highlights why you belong at a particular school, and how you’ll benefit them once on campus—or, more generally, demonstrates your character (which William & Mary considers “very important) and why you belong at the college. For William & Mary-specific essay advice, check out our article, “How to Write the College of William & Mary Essay 2021-2022.”
5. Letters of Recommendation
William & Mary considers letters of recommendation “very important” to the admissions process and requires a counselor letter of recommendation and will accept an optional teacher recommendation. Although submitting a teacher letter of recommendation is optional at William & Mary, including one in your application is a sound strategy if you’re serious about getting in.
A good guideline for who to ask for your recommendation is a teacher who instructed you during your junior or senior year in a core academic class and can speak to academic aptitude and classroom performance. Before you ask for a letter of recommendation, familiarize yourself with the nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers to ensure you end up with a compelling one.
6. Apply Early Action/Early Decision.
William & Mary has two early decision (ED) admissions processes: ED I and ED II. Both processes are binding and by applying through them, you’re committed to attending William & Mary if accepted.
Applying early decision can boost your odds of getting accepted at William & Mary—the overall acceptance rate at the college is 37% and the early decision acceptance rate is 46%. It’s important to note that (ED) isn’t for everyone. Because of its binding nature, it’s best reserved for applicants whose clear first choice is William & Mary. Also, since applying ED doesn’t allow you to compare financial aid packages from other schools, it’s best suited to students who can afford to attend the institution, no matter what their financial aid package ends up being.
How to Apply to William & Mary
Early Decision I
Early Decision II
William & Mary accepts the Common Application. Other requirements include:
- Secondary school report
- Counselor letter of recommendation
- High school transcript
- Mid-year report
Other optional materials include:
- Teacher letter of recommendation
- Supplemental essay
- Art supplement
- On-campus interview
Learn more about William & Mary University
Interested in learning more about William & Mary? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is William & Mary Known For?
- How I Got Into William & Mary
- William & Mary Dorms: What They’re Like from a Current Student
- What Does It Cost to Attend the College of William and Mary?
- Top 15 Public Universities in the U.S.
Want to know your chances at William & Mary? Calculate your chances for free right now.