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65 Great Colleges That Don't Require Essays to Apply

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Feb 4, 2017 12:00:00 PM

College Info, College Essays

 

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If the thought of writing a college essay fills you with terror, you may be wondering: are there colleges that don’t require essays?

The answer is: yes, there are! Read this guide for an overview of colleges that don’t require admissions essays, how to find these schools, and whether you should apply to one or not. We’ll wrap up with a list of 65 colleges with no essay requirement that you could apply to!

 

Why Do Some Colleges Not Require an Essay?

In general, college essays help a school get a sense of you as a person beyond your academic record, GPA, and test scores. They give you a chance to clearly articulate your goals and can give admissions officers a better idea of how you’ll “fit” with the school, as well as giving concrete, instrumental evidence of your writing ability.

However, there are many colleges that don’t require essays for admissions. What are some reasons why? Here are three major ones:

 

1. Limited Resources

It takes a lot of admissions officer time and energy to read and evaluate college essays. In smaller schools with less resources, and also in larger schools that enroll tens of thousands of students, the resource costs of reading every an essay for every single student may outweigh the benefits of getting additional information on applicants beyond GPAs, test scores, and transcripts.

Schools sometimes balance these concerns by requiring essays only for the most competitive programs (things like Engineering and Nursing) or for scholarships, where the additional information may be more instrumental in making decisions.

 

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They need to use those limited resources for coffee. 

 

2. Specific Admissions Cutoffs/Criteria

Many colleges—particularly public schools—admit students based on some kind of selection index, which tabulates some combination of GPA, test scores, and/or class rank. If students meet the minimum index score cutoff, they are admitted. In this case, the school may simply feel that additional information from an essay is not necessary to make a decision on whether a student will be successful.

Selection indices are also often different for in-state and out-of-state students, with out-of-state students being subject to more stringent academic criteria. The selection index is also sometimes used for scholarships, with students with higher index scores being awarded more money.

However, schools with selection indexes often do require or recommend essays for borderline candidates so that they can provide additional information on why they would be a good fit at the school in spite of not meeting the stated academic criteria.

 

3. Make Admissions Process Easy and Appealing

Some colleges hope that by making the admissions process easy, and requiring only a transcript, test scores, and basic demographic information, that they will attract a wider variety of applicants. By presenting their application process as an easy alternative to more intensive processes that require recommendations, essays, and so on, they can attract students who are on the fence about applying to college at all. They can even potentially motivate highly qualified applicants to use them as one of their safety or match schools because the students won’t need to write additional essays or do extra work to apply.

 

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Some applications seem like you just have to click to apply!

 

How to Find Colleges That Don't Require Essays

Per data from the US Department of Education, there are about 4700 degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in the US as of 2013. That figure includes 2-year institutions (1700) and 4-year institutions (about 3000). The truth is that a huge number of these institutions don’t actually require essays for admission.

If you want to know if a particular school requires essays for admissions, google “[name of school] freshman admissions requirements” or “[name of school] admissions essay.” This should pull up the guidelines on admissions essays. But if you’re looking more generally for schools that don’t require essays, check our list of 65 schools below or try one of these starting places:

 

Public Universities in Your State

A huge number of public universities actually don’t require essays for admissions. Even if the major public schools in your state (like, say, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or UCLA) require essays for admission, you may find that the smaller campuses and smaller or more specialized state schools (i.e. Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State University, etc) may not require essays. So check those out! You can actually get a pretty robust list of schools in your state if you google “[state name] colleges.” Then a list of colleges will appear across the top of your screen. Thanks, Google!

 

Schools with Automatic Admissions Criteria

A school with criteria for automatic admissions (i.e if you live in-state and have a particular class rank/GPA/test score profile) may not require applicants who meet the automatic criteria to submit essays.

However, don’t assume that just because you meet automatic admissions criteria that you won’t need to write an essay. At UT Austin, for example, all students must submit essays, whether they meet the automatic admissions criteria or not. Of course, you could probably write a straightforward paragraph in the essay section and you would likely still be admitted since you meet the criteria. But you’d be hurting your scholarship chances, not to mention jeopardizing your chances of being let into your desired major.

 

Small Private Liberal Arts Institutions

Another group of schools that may not require essays are smaller, private liberal arts institutions. These types of schools often serve a fairly niche market and may simply not receive a high enough application volume to need essays to differentiate applicants.


Community Colleges

Local community colleges do not require essays for enrollment, since most allow anyone to enroll. Some even have automatic transfer agreements with local four-year universities. However, if you want to transfer to a particular four-year university after you finish at the community college, you may well have to write an essay—so you could just be putting off the inevitable!

 

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You can find a lot of no-essay colleges for your basket!

 

Complete List: 65 Colleges That Don’t Require Essays

Following are 65 colleges with no essay requirement, listed by state. I’ve also listed some information on application requirements and the US News Ranking of each of the schools. (Although, of course, there are limitations to the US News Rankings.) 

Note that these are far from the only no-essay college applications! Just some of the most notable. Follow our guidelines above for finding additional essay-free colleges!

 

State

School

Essay Status

Notes on Admission Criteria

US news rankings

Alabama

University of Alabama

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #103

Alabama State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

Regional Universities South - Tier 2

Alaska

University of Alaska Anchorage

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Universities West - #73

University of Alaska Fairbanks

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #202

Arizona

Northern Arizona University

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

National Universities - Tier 2

University of Arizona

Optional for "comprehensive review" admission

Assured admission for in-state applicants who meet criteria; comprehensive review process for all other applicants

National Universities - #124

Arizona State

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

National Universities - #129

Arkansas

Arkansas State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

Regional Universities South - #59

University of Arkansas

Only required for Honors College application

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #135

California

California State University

None

Primarily by eligibility index; some majors/campuses have more stringent requirements

Ranking depends on campus

Colorado

University of Colorado - Denver

None (UC-Boulder DOES require an essay)

Primarily by eligibility index

National Universities - #197

Connecticut

University of Bridgeport

Only required for dental hygiene students. Otherwise, encouraged but not required.

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Universities North - Tier 2

Delaware

Delaware State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Universities North - #128

Florida

University of Central Florida

Not required, by strongly encouraged.

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #176

University of South Florida

None

"Each applicant is considered individually, taking into account grades, rigor of curriculum and standardized test scores."

National Universities - #159

Georgia

Georgia State University

Only required for Holistic Review applicants

Merit review applicants are evaluated primarily by GPA, test scoes, transcripts; Holistic review includes more comprehensive criteria

National Universities - Tier 2

Hawaii

University of Hawaii Manoa

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

National Universities - #169

Idaho

University of Idaho

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #171

Illinois

Illinois State University

Optional "academic personal statement"

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #151

Indiana

Indiana Wesleyan University

None

Meet GPA and test score cutoffs

Regional Universities Midwest - #27

University of Southern Indiana

None

Transcripts, GPA and class rank, test scores, extracurriculars, counselor recommendation

Regional Universities Midwest - Tier 2

University of Indianapolis

Encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

Regional Universities Midwest - #31

Iowa

Iowa State University

None

Primarily through the Regent admission index

National Universities - #111

University of Iowa

None

Different requirements for different schools within the university

National Universities - #82

Kansas

Kansas State

None

Students must meet GPA/test requirements and complete precollege curriclulum

National Universities - #135

University of Kansas

Short answers only for students who don't meet assured admission criteria

Meet assured admission criteria through GPA/test score requirements

National Universities - #118

Kentucky

Kentucky State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

Regional Universities South - #16

Louisiana

Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

National Universities - #135

University of Louisiana - Lafayette

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - Tier 2

Maryland

Bowie State University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, and counselor recommendation

Regional Universities North - Tier 2

Massachusetts

Bridgewater State University

Encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

Regional Universities North - #118

Michigan

Eastern Michigan University

None

Admissions index based on test scores and GPA

National Universities - Tier 2

Western Michigan University

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #194

Minnesota

University of Minnesota

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

National Universities - #71

Mississippi

University of MIssissippi

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #135

Mississipi State University

None

Assured admission for students who have completed prerequisite coursework and meet a combination of GPA/class rank/test score criteria

National Universities - #176

Missouri

University of Missouri

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

National Universities - #111

Missouri State

Essay required only if you don't meet the selection index criteria.

Meet selection index criteria; prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #71

Montana

University of Montana

None

Meet primary requirements; prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #214

Nebraska

University of Nebraska

Required only for scholarship consideration.

Assured admission if you meet performance requirements; prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #111

Nevada

University of Nevada Reno

None

Meet GPA or test score requirement; prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #197

New Hampshire

Daniel Webster College

None

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

Regional Universities North - Tier 2

New Jersey

Kean University

Encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by test scores, transcripts, and any supplementary documentation submitted

Regional Universities North - Tier 2

New Mexico

University of New Mexico

None

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

National Universities - #176

New York

Siena College

Optional

Primarily determined by transcripts; test scores are optional for most programs, as is the essay.

National Liberal Arts Colleges - #122

CUNY-Baruch

Encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by test scores, transcripts, and any supplementary documentation submitted

Regional Universities North - #20

CUNY-Hunter College

Optional

Primarily determined by test scores, transcripts, and any supplementary documentation submitted

Regional Universities North - #42

North Carolina

West Carolina Universitiy

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

Regional Universities South - #37

North Dakota

University of North Dakota

Short-answer questions only

Meet GPA and test score requirements; prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #202

Ohio

Ohio University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank

National Universities - #146

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University

Essay required only if you need comprehensive application review

Assured admission by combination of GPA/class rank/test scores; otherwise comprehensive application review

National Universities - #152

Oregon

Southern Oregon University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts; students who feel they may not meet academic requirements can submit supporting documentation.

Regional Universities West - 76

Western Oregon University

Required only for students who don't meet minimum academic requirements

Admission primarily via GPA (3.0+) and recommendation. Test optional except for students applying for scholarships, honors, or who don't meet minimum academic requirements.

Regional Universities West - 67

Eastern Oregon University

Required only for petitioning students

Automatic admission for students who meet basic coursework/test requirements and have a GPA of 2.75

Regional Universities West - Tier 2

Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

Optional short-answer questions only

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #68

South Carolina

Clemson University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts, class rank; test scores less important than academic record

National Universities - #66

University of South Carolina

Only required for Honors College application

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #107

South Dakota

University of South Dakota

None

Meet GPA, test score, or class rank cutoff; prerequisite high school coursework

National Universities - #202

Tennessee

Tennessee State University

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs, prerequisite high school coursework

National Universities - Tier 2

Utah

University of Utah

Only required for Honors College application

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #111

Utah State University

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs, prerequisite high school coursework

National Universities - #220

Washington

Washington State University

None

Meet College Academic Distribution Requirements; assured admission for top 10% of class or 3.5+ GPA

National Universities - #143

West Virginia

West Virginia University

None; sent essays will not be read.

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs, prerequisite high school coursework

National Universities - #183

Wyoming

University of Wyoming

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs, prerequisite high school coursework

National Universities - #171

Canada

McGill

Essay only required for some programs and for scholarships

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

Global Universities - #53

 

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Is this all the paper you've got? No problem for no-essay college applications!

 

Should You Apply to a College That Doesn’t Require an Essay?

If you’re looking at this article, you’re clearly worried about writing application essays for some reason or another. Maybe you’re worried about having enough time to finish everything. Maybe you feel like your writing is terrible!

But here are some reasons to write college essays in spite of your misgivings: 

 

You Want to Apply to the Most Selective Schools

If you are hoping to apply to the most selective schools, I hate to break it to you, but you will almost certainly have to write at least one essay. The most highly-ranked no-essay school that I could find was Clemson—a great school, but if you’re going for a UChicago, MIT, Stanford, or Ivy League-type school, you have to write an essay.

 

You Want a Scholarship

Even if you do apply to a school that doesn’t require an essay, you may still have to write an essay if you want to apply for the most competitive scholarships.

 

You Have Special Circumstances to Explain

If you have any kind of special circumstance to explain—say, a dip in grades one year due to a family illness—you definitely want to write an essay. This will help you compensate for any perceived deficits in your academic record and prevent you from being penalized for the vagaries of life in the admissions process.

 

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There's value in telling your story to the admissions committee.

 

You’re a Good Writer

I’m thinking that most strong writers are going to actively want to write college essays, but just in case: if writing is one of your strengths, write an essay. You want to show off your best qualities to admissions officers! If your primary concern is time, do something like the Common Application so you don’t have to write a new essay for every school.

 

The Essay Prompt is Short

Some college essays are barely essays at all. Some have a 250-word limit, and 500 words is pretty standard. For reference, the first section of this article—”Why Do Some Colleges Not Require Essays” is 431 words long, including sub-headings. That’s not so bad!

 

You Can Get Help

While it’s important that your college essays are your own work, you’re allowed to get help! Colleges expect you to put your best foot forward, so if that means discussing ideas with friends, parents, and teachers, and having someone else look over your drafts and make suggestions, that’s completely fine! You don’t have to go it completely alone.

 

You Can Re-use an Essay for All Your Schools

For schools that use the Common, Coalition, or Universal college applications, you can generally use one essay that you write for that application for all your colleges. Some may also require additional supplemental essays, though, so be sure to look that up in advance so you aren’t blindsided later.

 

So Should I Write an Essay?

If it happens that all of the schools you want to apply to don’t require essays, great! But overall, I would say don’t let the fact that a school has one (or even two) short essays stop you from applying if you are genuinely interested! Keep in mind that if you find writing essays stressful or you are time-limited, there’s nothing wrong with using strategies to limit the number of polished essays you need to produce (like using the Common App) and applying to a mix of essay and no-essay schools.

 

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Sometimes the pen really is mightier than the sword.

 

Key Takeaways: Colleges That Don’t Require Essays

There are actually tons of colleges that don’t require essays. Here are some common reasons why a college might not require an essay:

  • Limited resources - it takes a lot of time and effort to read an essay by each applicant!
  • They may have particular GPA/test score admissions criteria and feel like the information provided by an essay isn’t necessary.
  • To make it more appealing for students to apply by having an easier application process.

 

How can you find college applications without essays? Here are some places to start:

  • Public schools in your state—especially the smaller ones, if the bigger ones do require essays.
  • Schools with automatic admissions criteria—sometimes if you qualify, you won’t need to write an essay.
  • Smaller liberal arts institutions
  • Community colleges

 

Should you apply to colleges with no essay requirement? Here are reasons you might want to write an essay even if you're apprehensive:

  • The most selective colleges usually do require essays.
  • Scholarship applications for particular schools also often require essays.
  • If you have special circumstances to explain, plan on writing an essay.
  • Strong writers should also write essays to put their best foot forward!
  • Word limits are often very short—think 250-500 words. That’s just a few paragraphs!
  • You’re allowed to get help with brainstorming ideas and revising drafts! Colleges expect it.
  • If you use an application that can be sent to multiple schools, like the Common, Coalition, or Universal college apps, you may be able to just write one essay for all of your schools!

Also check out our list of 65 colleges that don't require essays!

 

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No essay, no tears!

 

What's Next?

Need more help looking for colleges? See our step-by-step guide to college research. Also check out how to decide where to go to college and the difference between a college and a university!

Decided to write an essay after all and need some help? Check out our step-by-step guide to writing a college essay and our guide to writing the "why this college" essay. And avoid these 10 college essay mistakes!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Ellen McCammon
About the Author

Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.



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