How to Get Into Colby College: Admissions Data & Strategies
Colby College may not be a household name in exactly the same way as other schools boasting single-digit acceptance rates (e.g. Harvard, Yale, etc.), but make no mistake—this small liberal arts school in Waterville, Maine is among the finest colleges in the country. Test-optional since the 1960s, Colby gives every single application a genuinely holistic review. However, all prospective applicants need to be acutely aware of extreme rise in selectivity at this institution over the past two decades as illustrated by these acceptance rate numbers:
- 2000: 34%
- 2010: 34%
- 2015: 23%
- 2021: 8%
- 2022: 7%
To give future Colby applicants a better sense of their admissions chances, this blog will touch on the following topics:
- Colby College’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
- Colby College’s Early Decision acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted applicants
- Colby Admissions trends for the Class of 2026
- Colby College’s system for rating applicants
- A look at the demographics of current Colby College undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend the Colby College (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Colby College
- How to assess whether applying to the Colby College is worth your time (the app is free!)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Colby College Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026
Colby received a record 16,891 applications for a place in the Class of 2026, an all-time high. Only 1,258 students were accepted which equates to an acceptance rate of just 7%. The previous year, the school saw 15,857 applicants and accepted 1,279, which works out to a slightly higher 8% rate.
Colby College Early Decision Acceptance Rate
With an ED I deadline on November 15 and an ED II deadline on January 1, Colby offers two opportunities for students to apply via binding Early Decision. The school has not released recent ED numbers, but looking at the Class of 2024 statistics, one can see that applying ED is a massive admissions advantage at Colby. For that cohort, the ED acceptance rate was 43% while the overall acceptance rate was 10% (including ED).
Colby College – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
Students admitted into the Class of 2026 (different from “enrolled”) held a median SAT of 1500 and a median ACT of 34; 90% are expected to graduate in the top 10% of their high school class.
For enrolled Class of 2025 members, the mid-50% SAT range was 1390-1530; the ACT range was 32-34. The most recent class rank (for enrolled students) came from the Class of 2024 which saw 73% percent of enrolled freshmen finish in the top 10% of their high school class and 89% were in the top quartile.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- Approximately 14% of students admitted into the Class of 2026 were international.
- 40% of accepted 2022-23 freshmen identify as people of color.
- Admitted Class of 2026 students hailed from all 50 states and 88 countries.
- Colby aims to enroll 560 first-year students for the 2022-23 academic year.
- The median SAT score for admitted applicants rose from 1500 to 1520 from the previous cycle.
- 42% of the Class of 2025 received financial aid with an average package of $59,000.
How Colby College Rates Applicants
In conducting their evaluation of each applicant, Colby College views four factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, GPA, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities. The five factors labeled as “important” are class rank, the Common App essay, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and race/ethnicity.
Straight from the Colby admissions office:
- “Admission is highly selective, and evaluation is based on a holistic, contextual assessment of the candidate’s application.”
- “To ensure a common educational base, a minimum of 16 academic preparatory units is strongly recommended, including four years of English, three of a single foreign language, three of college preparatory mathematics, two of history or social studies, two of laboratory science, and two years of other college preparatory electives. Most successful candidates for admission present at least 20 academic units.”
- “The College actively seeks applicants who exemplify academic excellence, have special qualities or talents to contribute to the Colby community, and represent diverse geographical, racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds.”
Colby College Demographics
Let’s look at the demographics of the Colby College undergraduate student body. Geographically, the following is known about current Colby students:
- Students come from 46 states plus the District of Columbia.
- Unsurprisingly, the New England region accounts for the greatest number of undergrads.
- Current international students hail from 72 countries around the world.
In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown is as follows:
- White: 61%
- Asian: 9%
- Hispanic: 8%
- African American: 11%
- Two or More Races: 6%
- International: 9%
- Unknown: 3%
A look at the gender split reveals that school enrolls a greater number of women than men on campus:
- Men: 47%
- Women: 53%
Colby College’s “Yield Rate”
Colby College’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 40%. This places them in the same ballpark as other top liberal arts schools which have the following yields: Williams College (46%), Pomona College (45%), and Swarthmore College (35%).
Tips for Applying to Colby College
If you plan on joining the almost 17,000 Colby College hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- If Colby College is your top choice, you’ll want to strongly consider applying ED.
- Colby will superscore all exams, including the ACT, and will accept and include the individual section retest results as part of the superscore.
- This school does not offer interviews to prospective applicants.
- With no interviews, your counselor and teacher recommendations will be key. Visit our blog for tips on requesting high school letters of recommendation.
- Colby College does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
- You’ll need to submit a Mid-Year Report in late February so remember to keep those grades up throughout your senior year of high school.
- Colby is a rare liberal arts school that does not offer any supplemental essays or short answer questions.
- Colby accepts either the Common App or Coalition App.
Should I Apply to Colby?
If you have near-perfect grades and impressive extracurricular achievements, you are a viable candidate for admission, if you chose not to report your test scores. We can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to apply to Colby early decision, as it gives you a sizable edge in the admissions process.
Whenever you are aiming for a school with a sub-10% acceptance rate, you need to also have a proper mix of “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).