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What Are We Looking For?

High School Preparation

The strongest candidates for admission to Carleton have taken:

  • Four years of English
  • Three or more years of mathematics
  • Two or more years of science
  • Three or more years of social science

At a minimum, applicants should have:

  • Three or more years of English (with a stress on writing)
  • At least two years of algebra and a year of geometry
  • Two years of social science
  • One year of a laboratory science.

Most Carleton students go well beyond this minimum, and the admissions committee is usually attracted to candidates who take advantage of the opportunity to do honors or advanced placement work, when available. Normally, students also will be expected to take two or more years of a foreign or classical language unless it is not offered at their school.

The greater the number of courses in the subjects listed above, the more the applicant's qualifications for admission are strengthened. However, an applicant of unusual ability and interest whose secondary school program does not include all of these courses may be granted admission on the basis of his or her school record, the scores on standardized tests, and the recommendations of school officials.

Carleton recognizes achievement in the arts and encourages students to submit samples of their work for review by our faculty.  Applicants can share samples through the applicant status page, and will gain access to this page after submitting the application.

Standardized Tests

The admissions committee is best able to make sound judgments about candidates' academic abilities when the secondary school record is supplemented by the results of standardized examinations. Carleton requires each applicant to submit results of the SAT or the ACT prior to admission.

In addition, international students whose first language is not English must also submit results of either the TOEFL or IELTS.

Applicants may submit the results of their SAT subject tests.  These tests are not required. We have found these tests valuable aids in the assessment of the quality of student achievement in a wide variety of secondary school programs. It has been our experience that SAT subject test results usually enhance a candidate's credentials and only rarely constitute a negative factor.

Other Factors

In selecting each class, the admissions committee considers many qualities beyond academic promise. The committee asks questions such as: How active have you been in your school and community? Have you been involved in sports, student government, your religious community? Are you someone who will lead? Do you have a sense of humor?  Can you rise to a challenge?  Read on to learn more about these kinds of qualities.

Admission to Carleton is highly competitive, and the College cannot offer admission to all the qualified students who apply. Be assured that each application is reviewed and given careful consideration by at least two members of the admissions committee. 

Interviews and Visits

When possible, each applicant should have a personal interview with a member of the admissions office staff, an alumni admissions representative, or a designated representative of the College. Visitors to the admissions office should make an appointment well in advance of their intended visit.