Each year, Harvey Mudd College enrolls approximately 185 new students. Because the Office of Admission receives many more applications than the number of spaces available, admission to HMC is highly selective. The Admission Committee has the difficult task of selecting the students who will most benefit from and contribute to the intellectual, social and residential life of the college. While admission is competitive, the committee dedicates considerable energy to familiarizing itself with each applicant; therefore, no able student of sound character, who has strong interest in mathematics and science, should be discouraged from applying.
About each candidate, the committee asks itself, “What kind of opportunities have been available and what has been done with those opportunities?” Of particular concern are the quantity and quality of courses taken, the grades earned, and the recommendations received in support of the applicant. Taking a full program of demanding academic work every semester, especially in mathematics and laboratory science, is very important. The Admission Committee also notes the grading pattern, relative strengths and weaknesses, and overall academic preparation.
Past academic performance is one of the strongest predictors of academic success in college and thus most of the college’s entrants have stood in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. They have always earned top grades in mathematics and science. Nearly all have high scores on the SAT or ACT tests.
Having said all this, it is individual men and women who enter Harvey Mudd College, not grades or class ranks or test scores. Looking beyond the objective criteria, the committee assesses the student’s application in a holistic manner to identify qualities that show potential motivation, perspective, creativity, energy, originality, character and ability to work in teams. Extensive participation and/or leadership in school or community activities, an unusual accomplishment in a scientific area, a special talent or exceptional drive may influence a decision favorably. The college also seeks a diverse student population and encourages applications from candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering, science and mathematics.
Because of the focus on individual strengths, there is no disadvantage for multiple candidates from the same high school. Those who have an unusual academic background (alternative programs, home-schooling, graduating early, etc.) are given equal consideration, but should consult the Office of Admission counselors to learn how to present their experiences completely and clearly.