Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Admission Criteria

Southwestern selects students who present the most competitive applications and who we consider most likely to be successful, contributing members of the Southwestern community and to graduate. To reach admission decisions, Southwestern evaluates all candidates in a comprehensive way using this criteria.

Academic Record

Academic Record is the most important element used in making admission decisions. A minimum, recommended college preparatory course sequence includes:

  • four years of English
  • four years of mathematics
  • three years of science
  • four years of social science and/or history
  • two years of the same foreign language
  • at least one year of an academic elective (18 academic units, minimum)

The number of courses identified as advanced, honors or accelerated is considered, along with overall preparation and performance.


Standardized test results are required by Southwestern to be considered for admission, without prescribed minimum levels.

  • The middle 50% of the Class of 2016 first-year students scored between 1130 and 1350 (recentered CR+M) on the SAT and between 23 and 28 on the ACT.
  • Southwestern will superscore the old SAT and the new SAT, but will not superscore between the two different exams. We do not superscore the ACT.
  • Southwestern uses the highest score submitted for the student in decision making and in this statistical profile.

The Essay

The Essay is required of a candidate who completes the Application for Admission and Merit Scholarships. The essay provides a sample of original written work and further insight into the candidate.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular Activities are reviewed to assess what a candidate has accomplished outside of the classroom, noting leadership positions held, breadth of experience and sustained interest in individual activities.


A Recommendation is required from your high school counselor. Teacher and parent recommendations are optional, although highly recommended.


A Personal Interview allows a candidate to discuss elements of his or her application file with a member of the admission staff. While not required for admission review, an official campus visit and interview are highly encouraged and may be considered as a factor in the overall evaluation process. Personal interviews for scholarship consideration must be conducted by February 1.

Admission Committee

When a candidate is clearly admissible or clearly inadmissible, decisions are made by the member of the admission staff who reviews an individual’s applicant’s file. When a candidate’s admissibility is not clear, the file goes before the Admission Committee. Typically, students who score under 1150 (CR+M) on the SAT I or under 24 on the ACT, or who rank outside of the top quarter of their graduating class may anticipate Admission Committee review of their file.

Admission Committee review usually means a delayed admission decision and requires that additional information be obtained from a candidate such as seventh-semester grades and/or a personal interview.