What We Look For in Our Applicants

Willamette University seeks students who will have a positive impact on campus because they are bright, intellectually curious and well-prepared for a challenging academic program.  We seek engaged students who will contribute to our rich campus experience through their athletic, musical, artistic and leadership abilities.  Finally, we seek students who will both benefit from - and contribute to - the rich fabric of our community, and who will leave campus prepared to succeed in their professional, personal and civic lives. So what does that mean for you?

Above all, it means that we focus a great deal of attention on your academic record. We expect that you have challenged yourself by taking some of the most advanced courses available in your high school and that you have successfully met the challenge.   Your transcript should reflect a rigorous academic program through all four years and go beyond simply meeting graduation requirements.  First-year students should complete four years each of English and college-preparatory mathematics, and three years of history/social studies, foreign language and laboratory science. Art, music and theatre classes are also desirable. Transfer students should demonstrate competence in the same areas throughout their prior college experience.  Straight A grades are not required for admission, but our faculty have high expectations, and consistently strong performance demonstrates that you take academic achievement seriously.  If there are peaks and valleys in your academic performance you should take the opportunity to let the Admission Committee know what was happening.  And in general, an improving grade trend will be more compelling than one going the other direction.  

Your scores on the SAT and/or ACT will also play a part in our consideration.  Although the single best predictor of college success is the courses you have completed and the grades you earned, there are dramatic differences between high school curricula and grading scales across the country.  Standardized test scores provide a context for us to assess your performance relative to other applicants for admission. 

Your counselor and teacher recommendations are very helpful and we are deeply grateful for the people who write on your behalf.  They need not be lengthy, but they should be written by someone who will do more than just restate your co-curricular resume or your transcript.  The Admission Committee is looking for endorsement that you are ready for a rigorous and engaging academic experience.

We are also interested in how you spend your time outside the classroom.  Your contributions to your school and community including athletics, student clubs and organizations, leadership roles, community service, religious activities and part-time employment are important aspects of your application.  Even though it is likely that your primary focus is academic success, we sincerely value the many ways that students contribute to the world around them.  Because ours is a residential campus, we rely on the talents, enthusiasms and involvements of each entering class of students to keep the community vibrant and interesting. 

One of the best ways to help us better understand you as a potential Willamette student is to visit campus and interview with a member of the Admission Committee.  An interview gives us the opportunity to get to know you as more than a particular set of admission stats, and gives you the opportunity to experience Willamette first-hand to see if it is a good fit for you.  We look forward to getting to know you through the application process.  And we are happy to respond to any questions you have along the way.