The Ivy Scholars guide to Washington University in St. Louis‘s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Located in the greater St. Louis area, only parts of Washington University in St. Louis are actually located in St. Louis proper, with much of its main campus outside the city’s borders. With a strong academic program, and an impressive athletics program to complement it, WashU, or WUSTL, is one of the country’s top colleges, and frequently tops lists of the best housing and prettiest campuses in the country.
US News Rankings:
Average Applicant Pool: 25,400
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 3,600
Average Number Enrolled: 1,700
Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App
SAT Scores: 25th% – 1480, 75th% – 1550
ACT Scores : 25th% – 33, 75th% – 35
*Test mandatory. Writing sections optional.
WashU does consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies:
One letter from a counselor and one letter from a teacher are all that is required.
The most important aspects of an application are: class rank, essay, recommendations, academic record, GPA, test scores, talent, volunteering, character, and extracurricular participation.
Aspects of an application which are considered are: legacy status, first generation status, race/ethnicity, interview, and demonstrated interest.
While WashU does consider whether or not an athlete has been recruited, they do not offer any leeway on academics to recruited athletes.
The school is need aware. There is a limited amount of need-based financial aid available, and they will only admit a number of students needing financial aid that they will be able to reward it to. There is additional merit aid available, but that is administered separately.
What is WashU Looking For?
While the admissions process is the same for all admitted students, choice of division does affect admissions chances. Admissions officers want to see a high school background which matches a student’s proposed field of study. Thus engineering students should have a solid math and science background, while students interested in Arts & Sciences should be more well-rounded academically. Students interested in business should have a solid grounding in math.
The school began a new BS in environmental engineering, and will be looking for students interested in the program. This also fits in with one of their strategic, campus-wide goals, to focus more on sustainability and related research.
Their other strategic priorities are to increase diversity on campus, to engage more in public health, and to increase their entrepreneurship focus. Students with a focus in these areas will fit better with the school’s vision of itself, and receive more consideration.
The school’s holistic admissions process looks for three things: academic preparation, fit for the school’s community, and what you will contribute to campus. Fit for community is demonstrated through extracurriculars and essays in particular, while what you will bring to campus is especially concerned with a student’s extracurricular activities and academics.
The best way to increase your chances of admission is to apply Early Decision. More than half of students are admitted in the two ED rounds, from a much smaller pool of candidates. While the same academic requirements exist in the ED rounds, the school offers a much higher proportion of qualified candidates admission in these rounds. ED II offers less of a benefit than ED I, and you should use it if you aren’t ready to submit in the first round, or if your first choice school rejects you ED I and WashU is your second choice.
Course rigor is determined based on high school offerings, WashU wants to see that you have taken the most rigorous classes available to you. A high GPA in unchallenging classes will not be very beneficial.
WashU will place a large number of students on the waitlist, but does not admit many off of it in most years. If you are placed on the waitlist, don’t count on being admitted, and seek a place at another school.
The school does consider demonstrated interest, and while the best way to do this is applying ED, you can use this guide to learn additional steps you can take to demonstrate interest in a school.
As WashU allows for students to take a second major from another division without transferring divisions (with advisor permission), students should always apply for the division they are best positioned for, and then take a second major in another division if that is what they decide they want to focus their studies on.
Because the school is need aware, if you will require financial aid to attend, consider making another school your first choice. Many schools which are in the same academic tier as WashU are need blind, and commit to meeting all demonstrated need.
Courses of Study:
AP Credit Policies:
Computer Science Options:
Additional Specialty Programs:
Programs for High Schoolers:
Motto: Strength through truth
Mission and Values:
WashU Housing System:
Freshmen and Sophomores live in an area of campus referred to as the “South 40” as it comprises 40 acres and is on the South end of campus. These are a traditional co-ed, residential housing system, remarkable for their high number of amenities. Wsh U is consistently ranked as one of the top schools for on-campus housing. Upperclassmen can live in “The Village” located on the North end of campus, or in several apartment buildings owned by the university. Some students live in Greek houses as well.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
Students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before any aid decisions are made. The deadline for this to be completed depends on the application track students are pursuing. Students are awarded need-based aid based on their parents income level, with gifts paying for some or all of tuition costs.
WashU offers many merit based scholarships through their Signature Scholars Program. These awards are distributed regardless of need, and comprise full or half scholarships. Further scholarship opportunities are available, offered through academic division or other university programs. The school also accepts outside scholarship funds.