Shimer student Leo Mollica takes his place at a campus Open House event
Thinking about attending a small, alternative liberal arts college? There’s nothing like it! Studying the liberal arts can enrich your own critical and creative thinking skills, expose you to some of the greatest literature ever written, and immerse you in a community of engaging, like-minded peers.
Part of this community’s appeal is its small size—at Shimer, we cap our acceptance at about 150 students. How can you better your chances of claiming one of these spots? How can you best showcase your own skills, personality, and experience when crafting your admissions documents?
Here are our top three tips for making the cut!
1. Think Outside the SAT Box: Grades Aren’t Everything to Liberal Arts Studies Schools
At Shimer, we don’t base our acceptances on your test scores. None of our programs involve entrance exams or minimum GPAs for acceptance. You don’t even have to submit SAT or ACT scores at any point throughout our application process.
As we outline on our admissions page: “We know that smarts can’t all be measured the same way. Braniacs of all stripes are welcome to apply: those with a 5.0, and those without.”
That’s not to say that you’re unwelcome to include grades and scores in your applications if you are particularly proud of them, or feel that they speak to your motivations and qualifications. You may even use them to earn certain merit-based scholarship aid later on. But when you’re focused on getting in, it’s wise not to center your admissions applications around your standardized academic testing success. You’re worth so much more to us than your test scores!
2. Tell Your Own Story: Play Up the Parts of You that Make You Unique
Small, alternative liberal arts colleges like Shimer are made up of closely-knit, diverse student bodies. To discover if applicants like you would be a strong fit, we encourage them to tell us more about their life stories. We even ask you to participate in an application interview, where you can tell us who you are in person and in your own words.
Take this opportunity to speak honestly about what inspires and motivates you—from a great poem to a Tumblr page to a local reading series.
Students come as they are to a Shimer Open House
“I love comic books, murder mysteries, and anything to do with magic or the paranormal,” explains Shimer student Heather Donnelly when asked to describe herself.
Going beyond clichéd college application answers and offering real personal insights can help admissions officers get to know you on a deeper level. And because liberal arts studies are all about creative thinking, these professionals are especially excited to encounter applicants who describe themselves and their interests in unique and creative ways.
What punctuation mark best describes your personality? What should aliens read? Which writer would you want to save in a zombie apocalypse? Flex your creative muscles for an application that truly stands out in a positive way.
3. Show Us You Have an Active Interest in Liberal Arts Studies
If you’re serious about becoming a liberal arts college student, you’re likely passionate about liberal arts fields of study, like history, sociology, and literature. Prove it to us throughout the application process!
Shimer alumni Leo Mollica (pictured at the top of this blog) showcased his love of great books by using this Hobbit quote to shed some light on his personality: “He loved maps, as I have told you before; and he also liked runes and letters and cunning handwriting, though when he wrote himself it was a bit thin and spidery.” In his words, this passage “describes me to a weird tee.”
An active passion for related liberal arts college courses like social and political philosophy, critical pedagogy, and politics are similarly helpful to mention. For example, Shimer student Renae showcased her passion for political activism by telling us about her volunteer experience with the Benton House Community Center and habit of attending social justice-oriented presentations and workshops.
Shimer students Bryan and Dorian eat lunch with their peers at a campus Open House
By shifting the focus from test scores to your own personality, uniqueness, and genuine interest in the liberal arts, you can become an excellent candidate for enrollment at colleges like Shimer.
Are you ready to apply to an alternative liberal arts college?
Visit Shimer to get started!