How to Get Into William & Mary: Admissions Data and Strategies

April 4, 2022

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is a mid-sized public school of 6,500 undergraduates. Founded in 1693, W&M is the second oldest institution in the United States and, today, is regularly ranked as one of the top 10 public universities in the country. A highly selective college, the average standardized test scores for enrolled applicants are in the 95th percentile and many possess not a single blemish on their entire high school transcript. Given the school’s high academic standards, all future applicants should be aware of:

  • William & Mary’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
  • W&M’s early decision acceptance rate
  • SAT and ACT scores, GPA, and class rank of enrolled students
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2025
  • William & Mary’s system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of William & Mary undergraduates
  • W&M’s yield rate
  • Tips for applying to William and Mary
  • W&M essay
  • How to assess whether applying to William & Mary is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to the College of William & Mary may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

William & Mary Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025

The overall acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 was 37%; there were 17,475 total applicants of which 6,386 were offered acceptance; this was lower than the previous year’s clip of 42%. William & Mary gives an edge to Virginia residents in the admissions process. For the Class of 2025, the in-state acceptance rate was 44% compared to just 37% for out-of-staters.

William & Mary Admissions – SAT and ACT Scores, GPA, and Class Rank

Enrolled freshman in the Class of 2025 possessed an average weighted GPA of 4.3. The mid-50% SAT range for this cohort was 1360-1520 and the ACT range was 31-34. For class rank, the Class of 2025 saw an impressive 82% of its members hailing from the top decile of their high school class.

W&M’s Early Decision Acceptance Rate

The College of William and Mary is one of the rare public institutions that offers a binding early decision option. It is definitely an admissions advantage to apply ED to this school as the early decision admit rate was 49% for the Class of 2025. The previous year, the ED acceptance rate was 51%, ten points higher than the regular round acceptance rate.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • W&M was test-optional for the past two admissions cycles; 39% of the Class of 2025 applied without submitting ACT or SAT results.
  • The Class of 2025 applicant pool was 23% higher than in the previous cycle.
  • 11% of last year’s freshmen were first-generation college students.
  • 197 members of the 2021-22 freshman cohort were Pell Grant recipients, a record for the school.
  • International students made up just 4% of the Class of 2025.

How William & Mary Rates Applicants

William & Mary appears to gunning for some type of “Most Holistic Admissions” award as they presently consider 12 factors as “very important” to their candidate evaluation process. These dozen factors are: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores (despite being test-optional), essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability (see some samples in the Demographics section below), character/personal qualities, state residency, volunteer work, and work experience.

Straight from the William & Mary admissions office:

  • “Each application is read at least twice, including once by your regional dean. At the end of this process, our goal is to bring together a class of dynamic, diverse and academically engaged students.”
  • “Our admission review process is based on a comprehensive, holistic approach that considers multiple factors in making decisions.”

William & Mary Demographics

Now, let’s take a look at the demographics for the Class of 2025.

Geographically, the Class of 2025 is from:

  • Virginia: 64%
  • Non-Virginia Residents: 36%

Competition is harshest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you come from a less populated state like South Dakota, Wyoming, or Idaho, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances. The states other than Virginia with the greatest representation in the Class of 2025 are:

  1. Maryland: 66
  2. New Jersey: 65
  3. Pennsylvania: 58
  4. New York: 58
  5. Massachusetts: 48
  6. California: 36
  7. Connecticut: 26
  8. North Carolina: 24
  9. Florida: 21
  10. Illinois: 20

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown for the Class of 2025 is as follows:

  • White: 60%
  • Asian: 12%
  • Hispanic: 9%
  • African American: 6%
  • Two or more: 6%
  • International: 4%

The countries sending the greatest number of students into the W&M undergraduate body are:

  1. China
  2. Canada
  3. South Korea
  4. El Salvador
  5. United Kingdom

The breakdown by gender is as follows:

  • Male: 42%
  • Female: 45%

With fewer men entering the university, male applicants certainly have a significant edge over female applicants. Male Class of 2025 applicants enjoyed a 42% acceptance rate compared to 33% for their female counterparts.’

Members of the Class of 2025 had a wide array of special talents and distinctions including, for example:

  • a children’s book illustrator
  • a member of the Rhythmic Gymnastics U.S. Junior National Team
  • a nationally-ranked squash player
  • a chess player who earned the FIDE Master title at age 10
  • a student who has had multiple short films screened at the Virginia Film Festival,
  • a top-10 ranked fencer in Virginia
  • a reporter with Sports Illustrated Kids.

William & Mary’s Yield Rate

W&M’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 26%. For comparison, other notable public schools sport the following yield rates: UVA (40%), UNC Chapel Hill (43%), and Virginia Tech (33%).

Tips for Applying to the College of William & Mary

If you plan on joining the 18,000+ W&M hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • William & Mary offers two Early Decision rounds. The ED I deadline is November 1 and the ED II deadline is January 3.
  • William & Mary does offer interviews on a limited basis to current high students. The interview is with a current W&M senior.
  • The school does consider “demonstrated interest” so you may be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit (in non-pandemic times), contacted an admissions officer,  attended a virtual session, or engaged with the school on social media.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay which has a limit of 500 words. The prompt is as follows:

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude.

For advice how on how to approach this essay, visit our blog: William & Mary Essay Prompts and Tips.

Should I Apply to W&M?

With a median SAT around 1400 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.9, the College of William & Mary clearly has a high bar for prospective applicants. At the same time, a pilot test-optional policy, a genuinely holistic review process, and a preference for in-state applicants offers alternative routes to acceptance. Still, when applying to a highly-selective school like W&M, students need to develop a balanced college list consisting of multiple “safety” and “target” schools to go along with their “reach”/dream schools.