Frequently Asked Questions
What do you look for in a candidate?
Our goal is to admit the most able and promising mix of students who will contribute to the Hamilton community in meaningful ways. Although the primary criteria for admission are academic achievement and intellectual potential, we also value leadership and commitment to extracurricular and community activities, which may also include sustained work experiences. In forming the class, the admission staff seeks students representing diverse geographic, economic and ethnic backgrounds whose perspectives will enrich the learning community. Lastly, Hamilton seeks to admit candidates who are a good fit with the programs and experience the College offers.
How do you assess who is a good fit with Hamilton?
First and foremost, we are going to look at your academic record and potential (rigor, transcript and test scores) to ensure you can be successful at Hamilton. To be honest, most of our candidates meet that threshold. From there, we are trying to figure out who would take advantage of the opportunities Hamilton offers and contribute to our community in meaningful ways. Much of this information is gleaned from interviews (optional, but encouraged), essays, recommendation letters, and assessing how you spend your time (activities, community service, family responsibilities, work experiences, etc.). A long list of activities is far less important than having a commitment to a few things about which you are deeply passionate. Demonstrating that in an application can be difficult, but we promise that every application that we receive will get fair consideration and thoughtful review from our admission team.
I’m working on my college application essay for Hamilton and am struggling a bit. Do you have any advice and/or examples of essays from the past that you like?
As a matter of fact, we do. Please visit this page where you’ll find “essays that worked” as well as college essay writing tips from our very own Director of Admission Lora Schilder. You might also bookmark Hamilton Writing Center’s Seven Deadly Sins of Writing; we promise it will come in handy for your essays and more!
Do you allow applicants to submit an online profile (such as ZeeMee) to showcase their background, talents, or creativity?
Absolutely. Students who use The Common Application will have an opportunity to submit a ZeeMee (or other) profile/url. And students who use The Coalition application are invited to submit one item from their locker (with an explanation about it) to help bring their application to life. This is relatively new technology, both for Hamilton and in general. Because we are still experimenting with how to incorporate this kind of supplementary information into our process, we would not want our applicants to feel pressured to create or submit online profiles just for their Hamilton application, nor would we want them to feel they would be at a disadvantage without it. Our goal in offering these options is to provide our applicants with one more way to submit materials that might help Hamilton’s admission team get to know them, beyond their test scores and transcripts, much like optional interviews or other personal interactions.
I have submitted my application but have not yet heard from Hamilton. Did you receive it?
Hamilton's Admission Office will begin processing applications in early November. Once your application is imported into our database, you will receive an email and letter acknowledging receipt of your application and providing you with a login name and password for our secure My Hamilton portal, where you can manage and monitor your personalized checklist of Hamilton application materials.
Please note that during the peak processing times and surrounding application deadlines (particularly the first half of January), we may have a backlog for application processing and it could take us up to two weeks to acknowledge your application or for materials to show up as received on your checklist. Thank you in advance for your patience.
I have submitted my application but some of my materials won’t be received by the deadline. Will this affect my application status at Hamilton?
We understand that many of your materials may not be received until after the application deadline. This is particularly true for teacher recommendations, tests scores, and certainly your mid-year grade report. As long as your application is submitted by our deadline, and the remainder of your materials follow as promptly as possible, your application status will not be negatively impacted.
Is there an advantage to applying Early Decision (ED) to Hamilton?
If Hamilton is clearly your top choice, we hope you will carefully and thoughtfully consider this option in consultation with your family and guidance counselor. Our ED program is designed for students who have done their research, know that Hamilton is their first choice, and have been thoughtful in considering their college options (academically, socially, financially, and otherwise). It allows admitted students to conclude their college search early in the senior year. In addition to the earlier timeline, some students might be interested in applying ED because they think they have a better chance of being admitted. While it is true that Hamilton’s admit rates are slightly higher for those who have committed ED, this is primarily because of the excellent quality of candidates and strong interest these students have indicated in Hamilton, given that fit is one of the many thing that matters in our evaluation process. Most successful ED applicants are not only an academic match but also fit the culture and community we are building on College Hill.
I have submitted my Regular Decision application, but have decided I’d like to change my application plan to Early Decision. Is that possible?
First of all, we're pleased to hear that Hamilton is your top choice as expressed by your interest in making an Early Decision commitment. Provided that the Early Decision deadline (or conversion date in the case of Early Decision Round II) has not passed, we would be happy to convert your application to Early Decision. Please fill out our Early Decision Agreement Form, collect the required signatures by the appropriate deadline, and submit directly to Hamilton College's Admission Office.
Does Hamilton require a Writing Supplement in addition to The Common Application or The Coalition Application Essay?
If you are using The Common Application listing Hamilton as one of the Colleges to which you intend to apply will add our Hamilton specific questions, including a short-answer essay, to your personalized Common Application portal. If you are applying through The Coalition Application, starting a Hamilton application will give you access to our customized application questions.
For those who would like a preview of our short-answer question, we have listed it here as well:
While the primary criteria for admission are academic achievement, intellectual promise, and community engagement, Hamilton also seeks to admit candidates who are a good fit with the programs and experiences offered by the College. Please take this opportunity (in 100 - 250 words) to tell us about your interest in Hamilton and, in particular, why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief.
Does Hamilton require standardized exams?
While Hamilton does require standardized testing, we believe that our applicants are best served by being provided with a variety of ways to meet our requirement. Please visit our testing requirements page to see what exams will satisfy our requirement and to learn more about why and how testing will be used, along with many other factors, in the holistic review of your application.
How do I submit supplemental application materials for fine and performing arts?
Candidates wishing to submit supplemental materials for the fine and performing arts will be directed to Hamilton's SlideRoom web portal when completing the Hamilton specific supplemental questions on The Common Application or The Coalition Application. Hamilton will absorb the fee for all Slide Room submissions. For more information, including instructions for submitting a creative writing supplement, please visit our Supplemental Applications Materials page.
Does Hamilton offer application fee waivers?
Yes. As a school with generous financial aid that promises to meet 100% demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, Hamilton wants to ensure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any students who wish to apply for admission. Please refer to our application fee waiver page for more information.
Does Hamilton have an Honors Program?
Each year a cohort of entering first-year students is invited to join the Bristol and Schambach Scholars Program. Hamilton recognizes the accomplishments of a select group of distinguished students through this program. Typically, recipients will be in the top five percent of their high school class with equally outstanding standardized testing and intellectual curiosity. The committee also looks for demonstrated leadership, community involvement, and academic passion. There is no separate application process to be considered for the program, students need only apply to Hamilton.
How and when will I be notified of my decision?
Hamilton's policy is to release all admission decisions online. Follow up packages will be mailed to accepted students only.
In the letter and/or email acknowledging your application, you will be sent a login name and password for our secure My Hamilton portal where you will manage your personalized application checklist and receive your admission decision. Our decision notification dates, also communicated in the letter and in your My Hamilton account, are based on your specific application plan (Early Decision Round I, Early Decision Round II or Regular Decision). Any changes to decision notification dates will be communicated via email to the address you provided in your application, so please check it regularly throughout the application process.
If I’m having problems saving my essay or submitting my application through The Common Application or The Coalition Application, what should I do?
Please visit The Common Application Support Center or The Coalition Application Help Desk to answer common questions, search for known issues and fixes, daily updates and/or to submit a ticket for support. Both application teams work hard to be as communicative and responsive as possible in such instances and they (and we) thank you in advance for your patience.
If you have an ongoing issue that is prohibiting you from submitting your application on time, please contact the Hamilton Admission Office so we can consider granting you an extension to our application deadline.
I am a school official and I’m having difficulty submitting my school forms through Naviance, The Common Application, or The Coalition Application systems. Can you help?
Please work with The Common Application, The Coalition Application, or Naviance directly to resolve your issues. But if all else fails, you can email or mail your supporting materials to Hamilton's Admission Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hamilton College, Office of Admission, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323.
I’ve been admitted and intend to enroll at Hamilton, but am interested in requesting permission to take a gap year. What are the deadlines and conditions for requesting a deferral of my enrollment?
We are generally supportive of gap-year requests and feel strongly that students should be encouraged to explore opportunities that are important to them before pursuing their Hamilton career. However, this option is not intended for students to further their admission options one year later. We are willing to hold a spot for a student in a subsequent year/class, but reserve this opportunity only for those who truly intend to enroll at Hamilton.
To apply for a deferral, you first need to be enrolled at Hamilton by having submitted your enrollment deposit by May 1. Once enrolled (or concurrent with submitting your deposit), you need to contact Director of Admission Lora Schilder with your reasons for requesting a gap-year and your proposed plans for the year.
The deadline for deferral requests is June 1.
Once approved, the conditions of your deferral are that you:
- may not enroll in a degree program at another institution during the interim. (It’s okay to take college classes on a part-time basis, but the Admission Committee will, of course, review your grades in any college courses and revisit your candidacy based on your performance.)
- will send us (by January 1st of your gap year) a personal essay describing your gap-year experiences to date.
- will submit (by January 1st of your gap year) an additional $500 deposit to hold your place in the following year’s class.
What are Hamilton’s policies and resources for undocumented students, as well as those impacted by executive orders regarding immigration?
Hamilton has created an Immigration Resources webpage that should answer questions, but please contact us directly if you have additional concerns that are not addressed on this page.