Each year, Harvey Mudd College enrolls approximately 185 new students. Admission to HMC is highly selective, and 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 bases its decision on a holistic review of each application; therefore, no able student who has strong interest in mathematics and science, should be discouraged from applying.
When reviewing each candidate, the committee seeks to determine how the student has taken advantage of resources available. Of particular concern are the rigor of the student’s academic course load, 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, English, and laboratory science, is very important. The Admission Committee also notes trends in grades, 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. The Admission Committee is especially impressed by students who have earned top grades in mathematics and science, but who also excel in the humanities, social sciences and the arts. Harvey Mudd College students also tend to have high scores on the SAT or ACT tests.
It is individual students 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 or leadership within one’s school or community activities; an unusual accomplishment in a scientific area; a special talent; a notable amount of resilience; any of these qualities 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, and should consult the Office of Admission counselors to learn how to present their experiences completely and clearly.