Exploring Colby College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a building in colby college

Exploring Colby College

Established in 1813, Colby College is a private institution. It has a total enrollment of 2,261 undergraduates (fall 2021), a rural setting, and a campus size of 714 acres. A 4-1-4-based academic calendar is utilized. 24th among National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2022–2023 edition of Best Colleges is Colby College. Tuition and fees amount to $63,520.

Colby offers over fifty majors across over twenty academic departments. Biology, economics, English, history, global studies, government, and psychology are the most popular majors. Students can do an internship, independent study, or focused coursework during the four-week Colby special term.

There was a research project in Colby regarding the history of Jews in Maine, and there was even an internship at the Department of Justice. Colby has its own programs in Dijon, France, Salamanca, Spain, and St. Petersburg, Russia, where more than two-thirds of its students study abroad. Notable alumni include television personality Billy Bush and President Obama’s counselor, Pete Rouse.

Where is Colby College located?

The precise location of the institution is at 4000 Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville, ME 04901, USA.

front view of a building in Colby College

To further visualize, Colby College is located in the Maine city of Waterville. The campus of Colby College, which contains the 128-acre wildlife refuge Perkins Arboretum, is a State Wildlife Management Area. For environmental studies, the school also owns a nearby bog preserve and lakefront property.

On campus, there are roughly one hundred student-run clubs and organizations, ranging from the Colby Ballroom Dance Club to the Society Organized Against Racism. More than one-third of students are members of the Mules, Colby’s varsity intercollegiate sports teams. Club and intramural sports are also popular. The majority of Colby students reside in one of the 26 coed, mixed-class residence halls.

Why is Colby College popular?

Let’s explore what Colby College is renowned for. This educational institute is among the oldest private colleges in the United States, established in 1813. Colby is particularly proud of its undergraduate research programs. Each January, students undertake a “Jan Plan” which is a term to delve deeply into one particular subject or experience.

This can range from learning the art of fly fishing in California to studying and performing West African music. Although students are only required to complete three Jan Plans, many choose to complete a fourth term because the experience is so rewarding.

On campus, Colby’s 2,000 undergraduates praise the close relationships they are able to develop with professors, some of whom even invite students to home-cooked meals. Economics, natural resources conservation and research, and political science are the top fields of study.

With its on-campus arboretum and nature trails, the campus has an idyllic, New England feel. However, its location in central Maine is somewhat out of the way, with Portland, the closest major city, 90 minutes to the south. While the total cost of tuition, room, board, and activities is nearly $80,000 per year, grants and scholarships reduce the average annual cost to under $20,000; low-income students can expect to have nearly all of their costs covered.

How Can I Get Into Colby College?

Now, the important question is, “How can I get into Colby College?” Although Colby may not have the same level of recognition as other schools with very low acceptance rates such as Harvard or Yale, this small liberal arts college located in Waterville, Maine is still one of the best in the country. Colby has been test-optional for over 50 years and evaluates each application using a holistic approach.

If you intend to join the nearly 17,000 Colby College applicants for the next admissions cycle, you should consider the following information:

  1. If Colby College is your top choice, you should strongly consider submitting an ED application.
  2. Colby will superscore all exams, including the ACT, and will accept and include section retake results in the superscore.
  3. This institution does not conduct interviews with applicants.
  4. Without interviews, the importance of your counselor and teacher recommendations will be paramount. Visit our blog for advice on requesting high school recommendation letters.
  5. Colby College does not take “demonstrated interest” into account, so you will not be evaluated based on whether or not you visited the campus, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
  6. Keep your grades up throughout your senior year of high school, as you will be required to submit a Mid-Year Report in late February.
  7. Colby is an unusual liberal arts institution in that it does not require supplemental essays or short answer questions.
  8. Colby accepts the Common Application or Coalition Application.

How Does Colby College Rate Applicants?

Colby College considers the following four admissions criteria “very important” when evaluating each applicant: high school course load, GPA, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities. Class rank, the Common Application essay, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and race/ethnicity are the five “important” factors.

Directly from Colby’s admissions office:

  • “Admission is highly selective, and evaluation is based on a holistic, contextual assessment of the candidate’s application.”
  • “To ensure a common educational base, a minimum of 16 academic preparatory units is strongly recommended, including four years of English, three of a single foreign language, three of college preparatory mathematics, two of history or social studies, two of laboratory science, and two years of other college preparatory electives. Most successful candidates for admission present at least 20 academic units.”
  • “The College actively seeks applicants who exemplify academic excellence, have special qualities or talents to contribute to the Colby community, and represent diverse geographical, racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds.”

What is the Admissions Process at Colby College?

Colby received 16,891 applications for admission to the Class of 2026, a record number. The acceptance rate was only 7%, as there were only 1,258 students accepted. In the previous academic year, the school received 15,867 applications and admitted 1,279 students, for a slightly higher acceptance rate of 8%.

Students admitted to the Class of 2026 (distinct from “enrolled”) had median SAT scores of 1500 and median ACT scores of 34; 90% are anticipated to graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class.

Group people laughing together.

The SAT range for the middle 50% of Class of 2025 enrollees was 1390-1530, and the ACT range was 32-34. 73% of enrolled freshmen in the Class of 2024 finished in the top 10% of their high school class, while 89% were in the top quartile.

The yield rate at Colby College—the proportion of accepted students who choose to enroll, divided by the total number of admitted students—is 40%. This places them in the same ballpark as other prestigious liberal arts institutions, such as Williams College (46%), Pomona College (45%), and Swarthmore College (35%).

Consider getting a college admissions counselor. At AdmissionSight, we have more than a decade of experience, and we have a high success rate of 75%.

We are willing to support students who are driven and hard-working. Together, we can get you into any college you aspire to study at. Book a free consultation today.




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