What we look for in applicants
Our students are selected from applicants throughout the United States and around the world for the qualities of talent and intellect they can contribute to our community.
Academic achievement, reflecting a student engaged with both ideas and learning, is important to the admission decision. We also value the student with interests that reflect a curiosity and commitment as well as sympathy and excitement for the spirit of intellectual pursuits. Well-developed special interests, talents, and skills of all kinds can be a significant part of an admission application.
In addition, we are committed to attracting people who represent a wide range of intellectual perspectives as well as diverse economic, racial, religious, and geographic backgrounds.
All admission credentials, from the traditional secondary school record and standardized testing to letters of reference that cite intellectual and creative promise, are important. Personal character and qualities that both reflect and determine the productive use of a student’s talent are also important to the admission decision.
High school academic preparation
While other considerations are important, the academic record stands at the heart of any admission decision. An academic record is evaluated strictly in terms of course selection and achievement — that is, what a student did with what was available in the school attended.
The number and difficulty of courses chosen each year are an important measure of academic motivation and achievement. While each student’s record is evaluated individually, the strongest applicants will have completed five major academic courses per year whenever possible. The senior year program is most important as the final preparation for college-level work. It should include at least four to five courses, including honors or advanced-level courses such as AP and IB courses. Colgate encourages students to pursue cumulative subjects, such as foreign languages and mathematics, through senior year.
The typical distribution of courses across disciplines for most accepted students is four years of English (especially composition and literature); four years of mathematics; at least three years of natural and physical sciences, with a lab; at least three years of social sciences (particularly advanced courses in history); and at least three years of a foreign language. Colgate encourages elective coursework in the arts and strongly advises students to pursue honors and advanced-level courses in major areas of interest.