Application Review Philosophy: First-Year Applicants
We're incredibly proud of all of our Barnard students. Each one of them is passionate, curious, driven, empathetic, and brilliant. But how exactly do we find young women with these traits who will be a good fit for our community? At Barnard, we read each and every part of each and every application in order to review each student contextually and holistically. Read on to see what we mean by this and glean some tips about how to prepare your best application possible for Barnard.
Contextual and Holistic Application Review
We're going to be asking ourselves a lot of questions as we read your application. Are you academically prepared for Barnard's rigorous classes? What sort of interests do you have that you will bring to the Barnard community? How will you impact your classmates and positively contribute to the living and learning community of our school? To answer these questions, we carefully consider every part of your application: school records, recommendations, writing, and test scores, in addition to talents, abilities, interests, and personal history. The admissions committee is seeking students of proven academic strength who exhibit intellectual voracity and strong potential for further scholarly growth.
While admission is highly selective, it is also holistic; no one criterion or score determines acceptance. We consider each applicant in terms of their personal qualities, intellectual capacity, and the rigor of the curriculum they have pursued, as well as their potential for achieving at Barnard. We review each applicant in the context of their school, community, and individual story, meaning that we will never compare applicants to each other. We want to see how you have pushed yourself and succeeded with the resources and opportunities that have been available to you.
Your application to Barnard is first reviewed by your regional admissions representative. Part of their job is to learn about schools and trends within their territories, making them most qualified to conduct the initial evaluation. They will conduct a thorough evaluation of your application, taking into account all of its components. After their evaluation, your application will be passed to a second reader who will conduct another full evaluation. After these two evaluations, your application will go to a committee for a final decision. All committees are chaired by a senior admissions staff member.
Preparing Yourself Academically
To be well-prepared for Barnard, it is important to think about the academic community you are hoping to join. Barnard's general education requirements cover a wide range of subjects: literature, the social sciences, language and the arts, lab sciences, and quantitative areas. For this reason, you should acquire a strong foundation in high school, taking courses from the core academic subjects: math, science, English, history, and foreign language. Do your best to take the most rigorous classes available to you in which you can do your best work. If an area is a relative weakness, continue taking that subject while pursuing advanced coursework in areas of relative strength. Remember, we hope to see how you might contribute to our intellectual community, and your choices tell us what kind of a student you will be.
Preparing Your College Essay
In addition to the Barnard-specific Writing Supplement questions you'll answer for us, you'll also write a personal essay that will be sent to every college to which you apply. An effective essay should explore a specific idea about your personal or intellectual life, rather than present a chronological rundown of your life so far. This is your opportunity to share something meaningful about yourself that goes beyond a list of activities and academic achievements. Instead, we recommend focusing on a topic that shows who you are or something important to you. It’s not necessary to come up with an original topic; many of our successful applicants write about their families, service projects, sports, or music. It is important for you to reflect on your choice of topic and explain its importance, impact, or influence. We should walk away from your essay having learned something about you, your values, how you see the world, or what you consider important to you. Remember that you’re limited to 650 words, so be clear and concise. Your grammar and spelling should also be free of errors.