How to Get Into Davidson College: Admissions Data & Strategies
Davidson College is a highly-ranked, North Carolina-based liberal arts college. It is one of the very best such institutions in the Southern United States; many comparable highly-selective liberal arts schools are situated in the Northeast (Colby, Haverford, Colgate, Wesleyan, Vassar, etc.). Unlike many of its peer institutions, the number of applications as well as the acceptance rate at Davidson have remained fairly steady over the last decade. Still, getting is a daunting endeavor—the average SAT is right around 1400 and the vast majority of students earned straight A’s in high school (with maybe an occasional A- mixed in).
In order to help you prepare for the challenges ahead on the path to becoming a Wildcat, this article aims to offer:
1) An understanding of how competitive the Davidson admissions process is.
2) More data on which to accurately assess your chances of admission.
3) Advice for how to get your application to Davidson College to stand out, even against a sea of other qualified applicants.
To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:
- Davidson College’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
- Davidson College’s Early Decision acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, GPA, and class rank of accepted Davidson College applicants
- Admissions trends
- Davidson College’s system for rating applicants
- A look at the demographics of current Davidson College undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend Davidson College (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Davidson College
- How to assess whether applying to the Davidson College is even worth the $50 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Davidson College Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025
Davidson has yet to publicly report their Class of 2025 admissions data, but early reports indicate that the acceptance rate was 17% which would be lowest admit rate it school history. For the Class of 2024, 5,615 individuals applied and 1,142 were accepted which equates to a 20% acceptance rate. This number was slightly friendlier than the previous cycle’s 18% mark.
Davidson College Early Decision Acceptance Rate
The most recent Davidson College ED acceptance rate data is from the Class of 2024, which saw 656 students apply via binding Early Decision and 294 gain acceptance. This 45% acceptance rate is far higher than those who applied in the regular round. The final 2020-21 freshman class was comprised of 55% students who applied ED. This school offers two rounds of Early Decision–one in November and one in January.
Davidson College Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA, and Class Rank
For Class of 2024 members, the mid-50% SAT EBRW range for enrolled freshmen was 640-720; the math range was 650-740. The composite range on the SAT was 1310-1460. Almost half of those enrolled in the Class of 2024 possessed an SAT score above a 1400. The ACT range was 30-33 and 76% possessed a composite score of 30 or above. It is important to point out that in March of 2020, Davidson began a three-year pilot program as a test-optional school.
On the grade front, the average unweighted GPA was 3.82 and 35% of entering 2020-21 freshman earned a perfect 4.0. Seventy-six percent of this cohort placed in the top decile of their high school class and 95% finished at least in the top quartile.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Davidson was test-optional during the 2020-21 admissions cycle and will remain so for the following two cycles (at least), as part of a 3-year pilot program.
- According to the school, legacy students are accepted at twice the rate of non-legacy students. This edge is generally only granted in the early decision round.
- New students came from 39 states and territories and 25 countries.
- The yield rate in 2024 was down a few points from the previous admissions cycle.
- One decade ago, the acceptance rate at Davidson was 29%.
How Davidson College Rates Applicants
Davidson College categorizes four factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, volunteer work, recommendations, and character/personal qualities. Items that are “important” as part of the admissions process are: application essays, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability. Interestingly, in an unusual move, GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores are all relegated to “considered” status.
For a slightly different look at Davidson’s institutional priorities, we go right their own admissions office. This is a school that considers “a broad range of achievement, recognizing that excellence comes in many forms.” In order of importance, Davidson emphasizes the following in reviewing applications:
- Rigor – The difficulty of high school course selections
- Success – Grades received in an applicant’s particular course of study
- Writing ability and personal impact – An evaluation of essays and recommendations
- Involvement, leadership, and service – The depth and breadth of extracurricular pursuits
- Testing – Student may choose to submit scores on the SAT and/or ACT. Davidson does not consider the writing portion of either test. Students may self-report or submit official scores for the application review process. All enrolling students must submit official scores. Read more about our testing policy.
Since Davidson wants to see achievement and leadership outside of the classroom as well, it’s important to grasp what highly-competitive colleges are looking for when evaluating extracurricular activities. In short, they are looking for commitment and achievement in 2-3 core areas. For more, check out our blog entitled: How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
Davidson College Demographics
Let’s look at the demographics of Davidson College undergraduate student body.
The regional representation among the Class of 2024 is as follows:
- Mid-Atlantic: 17%
- West: 13%
- Midwest: 7%
- Northeast 16%
- South: 37%
- International: 10%
The greatest percentage of international students come from the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown of the Class of 2024 is as follows:
- White: 63%
- Asian: 7%
- Hispanic: 7%
- African American: 6%
- Two or More Races: 7%
- International: 9%
A look at the gender split reveals that university enrolls a roughly even number of men and women.
- Men: 51%
- Women: 49%
Members of the Class of 2024 attended the following types of high schools:
- Public: 51%
- Independent: 39%
- Non-Traditional or International: 10%
Davidson College’s “Yield Rate”
Davidson College’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 47%. For comparison, other top liberal arts schools have the following yields: Wesleyan University (36%), Haverford College (45%), and Vassar (33%).
Tips for Applying to Davidson College
If you plan on joining the 6,000+ Davidson College hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- If Davidson is your top choice, you’ll want to strongly consider applying ED I by November 15 or ED II by January 4. The Regular Decision deadline falls on January 11.
- This school does not use interviews as part of their evaluation process, however, applicants are encouraged to Ask a Wildcat or reach out to a regional admission counselor with questions.
- Davidson utilizes a Peer Recommendation that is to be completed by a classmate or close friend. This uncommon addition to the application can help paint a more complete portrait of a prospective candidate.
- Davidson College does not state whether you will or will not be judged on your level of “demonstrated interest”. We suggest making the effort to follow them on social media, sign up for a virtual info session, visit campus (if possible), contact an admissions officer, etc.
- Prospective Wildcats can apply through the Common Application or Coalition Application or through a paper-based or online Davidson Application.
- 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.
- Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the three supplemental writing prompts offered by Davidson College. In the 2020-21 cycle, they were as follows:
1) Why Davidson? (250-300 Suggested Word Limit)
2) List the books you have read in the past year for school or leisure. Place an asterisk by those books required for classes you have taken.
3) Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200 Word Limit)
College Transitions’ Davidson College Essay Tips
Spend plenty of time researching and writing the “Why Davidson” essay. For more on penning a winning “Why This College” essay, revisit our previous blog on the subject. For the second entry, feel free to share books that you read that you found fascinating even if you don’t consider them “impressive” academically in the traditional sense. You want to use this space to give the reader a sense of your true passions and personality.
Should I Apply to Davidson?
Just about everyone admitted to Davidson finished near the top of their high school class and 90% possessed at least a 3.5 cumulative unweighted GPA in a rigorous curriculum. If you check those boxes then you may be a competitive applicant at Davidson and, if the school is a good fit for you, submitting an application will certainly be worth your time and $50. However, most students applying to a school of Davidson’s caliber also need to also have a proper mix or “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).