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64 Great Colleges That Don't Require Essays to Apply

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 2, 2018 12:00:00 PM

College Essays, College Info

 

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

The answer is yes, there are! This guide will give you 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 64 colleges with no essay requirement that you can apply to.

 

Why Do Some Colleges Not Require an Essay?

In general, college essays help schools 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 also give admissions officers a better idea of how you’ll fit within the school's community. Finally, essays are helpful because they provide schools with concrete evidence of your writing ability.

However, there are many colleges that don’t require essays for admissions. What are some reasons why? Let's take a look at the three biggest ones:

 

#1: Limited Resources

It takes a lot of admissions officers' time and energy to read and evaluate college essays.

At smaller schools with fewer resources, and even at larger schools that enroll tens of thousands of students, the resource costs associated with reading each essay for every single student might 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 (usually things such as engineering and nursing) or for scholarships, for which the additional information might 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 a type of selection index, which tabulates some combination of GPA, test scores, and/or class rank. 

If students meet the minimum index score cutoff, they will be admitted. In this case, the school might simply feel that additional information from an essay isn't necessary for making a decision regarding whether a student will be successful or not.

Selection indices are also often different for in-state and out-of-state students, with the latter being subject to more stringent academic criteria.

In addition, the selection index is sometimes used for scholarships, with students with higher index scores being awarded more money.

Schools with selection indices do often require or recommend college essays for borderline candidates so that students can provide additional information on why they'd 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, they'll attract a wider variety of applicants.

By presenting their application process as a simple alternative to more intensive processes that require letters of recommendation, essays, and so on, they can attract students who are on the fence about applying to college at all.

They could 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

According to data compiled by the US Department of Education, there are 4,583 degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in the US as of 2016. This figure includes both two-year institutions (about 1,600) and four-year institutions (about 3,000).

The truth, though, is that a huge number of these schools don’t require essays for admission.

If you want to know whether a particular school requires an essay for admission, Google "[School Name] freshman admission requirements" or "[School Name] admissions essay." This should pull up pages from the school's official website, with links to guidelines on admission essays.

If, however, you’re looking more generally for schools that don’t require essays, you can check out our comprehensive list of 64 schools below or try one of the following starting places:

 

Public Universities in Your State

A huge number of public universities don’t require essays for admissions.

Even if the major public schools in your state (such as the University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign or UCLA) require essays for admission, you might find that the smaller campuses and smaller or more specialized state schools (such as Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State University, etc.) might not require essays. So be sure to check those out!

You can actually get a pretty robust list of schools in your state by simply Googling "[State Name] colleges." Do this and a list of colleges will appear across the top of your screen. Thanks, Google!

 

Schools With Automatic Admissions Criteria

A school that has criteria for automatic admission (e.g., if you live in-state and have a particular class rank, GPA, and/or test score profile) might not require applicants who meet the automatic criteria to submit essays with their applications.

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 an essay, regardless of whether they meet the automatic admissions criteria. Although you could probably write just a straightforward paragraph in the essay section and still get admitted (since you meet the criteria), you’d likely be hurting your scholarship potential, not to mention jeopardizing your chances of being let into your desired major.

 

Small Private Liberal Arts Institutions

Another group of schools that might not require essays are smaller, private liberal arts institutions. These types of schools often serve a fairly niche market and might simply not get 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 a community college, you might very 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: 64 Colleges That Don’t Require Essays

The following chart contains 64 colleges with no essay requirement, organized by state. I’ve also included information on application requirements and the US News ranking for each school (though, of course, there are limitations to these 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 Requirement

Notes on Admission Criteria

US News Ranking

 Alabama

University of Alabama

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #129

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 - #81

University of Alaska Fairbanks

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #215

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 - #106

Arizona State University

None

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

National Universities - #115

Arkansas

Arkansas State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

Regional Universities South - #95

University of Arkansas

None

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

National Universities - #152

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 (though UC Boulder does require an essay)

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #205

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 - Tier 2

Florida

University of Central Florida

Strongly encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #165

University of South Florida

None

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

National Universities - #124

Georgia

Georgia State University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #187

Hawaii

University of Hawaii Manoa

None

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

National Universities - #157

Idaho

University of Idaho

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #165

Illinois

Illinois State University

Optional personal statement

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #171

Indiana

Indiana Wesleyan University

None

Meet GPA and test score cutoffs

Regional Universities Midwest - #32

University of Southern Indiana

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Universities Midwest - Tier 2

University of Indianapolis

Writing samples are encouraged but not required

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

Regional Universities Midwest - #38

Iowa

Iowa State University

None

Primarily through the Regent Admission Index

National Universities - #119

University of Iowa

None

Different requirements for different schools in the university

National Universities - #89

Kansas

Kansas State University

None

Students must meet GPA/test requirements and complete Precollege Curriculum

National Universities - #147

University of Kansas

Short answers only for those who don't meet Assured Admission criteria

Meet Assured Admission criteria through GPA/test score requirements

National Universities - #129

Kentucky

Kentucky State University

None

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Colleges South - #30

Louisiana

Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge

None

Primarily determined by GPA and test scores

National Universities - #140

University of Louisiana - Lafayette

None

Guaranteed admission for in-state applicants who meet criteria; primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - Tier 2

Maryland

Bowie State University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

Regional Universities North - Tier 2

Massachusetts

Bridgewater State University

Encouraged but not required

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

Regional Universities North - #117

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 - #205

Minnesota

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

None

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

National Universities - #76

Mississippi

University of Mississippi

None

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

National Universities - #152

Mississippi 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 - #177

Missouri

University of Missouri

None

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

National Universities - #129

Missouri State University

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

Meet selection index criteria and have completed prerequisite coursework

Regional Universities Midwest - #111

Montana

University of Montana

None

Meet primary requirements and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #201

Nebraska

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Required only for scholarship consideration

Assured admission if you meet performance requirements and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #129

Nevada

University of Nevada Reno

None

Meet GPA or test score requirement and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #201

New Jersey

Kean University

Recommended but not required

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

Regional Universities North - #139

New Mexico

University of New Mexico

None

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

National Universities - #187

New York

Siena College

Optional writing sample

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

National Liberal Arts Colleges - #135

CUNY-Baruch College

Recommended 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 - #25

North Carolina

West Carolina University

Recommended but not required

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

Regional Universities South - #34

North Dakota

University of North Dakota

None

Meet GPA and test score requirements and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #205

Ohio

Ohio University

Optional

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

National Universities - #171

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 - #157

Oregon

Southern Oregon University

Optional writing sample

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

Regional Universities West - #88

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 and honors, or for those who don't meet minimum academic requirements

Regional Universities West - #63

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

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #70

South Carolina

Clemson University

Optional

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #66

University of South Carolina

Only required for Honors College application

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #106

South Dakota

University of South Dakota

None

Meet GPA, test score, or class rank cutoff and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #226

Tennessee

Tennessee State University

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - Tier 2

Utah

University of Utah

Only required for Honors College application

Primarily determined by GPA, test scores, transcripts

National Universities - #119

Utah State University

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #205

Washington

Washington State University

None

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

National Universities - #140

West Virginia

West Virginia University

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #205

Wyoming

University of Wyoming

None

Meet GPA/test score cutoffs and have completed prerequisite coursework

National Universities - #183

Canada

McGill University

Essay only required for some programs and scholarships

Primarily determined by test scores and transcripts

Global Universities - #49

 

 

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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 reading this article, you’re clearly worried about writing application essays for one reason or another. Maybe you’re concerned about having enough time to finish everything. Or maybe you think your writing is terrible.

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

 

You Want to Apply to the Most Selective Schools

If you're hoping to apply to the most selective schools, you'll 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 UChicago, MIT, Stanford, or an Ivy League-level school, you'll have to write an essay.

 

You Want a Scholarship

Even if you do apply to a school that doesn’t require an essay, you might 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 your grades one year due to a family illness—you definitely want to write about it in an essay. This will help you compensate for any perceived deficits in your academic record and also prevent you from being penalized in the admissions process for the vagaries of life.

 

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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, definitely write an essay. You want to show off your best qualities to admissions officers, after all! If your primary concern is time, use 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 required essays have just 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 about 450 words, including sub-headings. That’s not so bad!

 

You Can Get Help

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

 

You Can Reuse an Essay for All Your Schools

For schools that use the Common App, Coalition App, or Universal College App, you can generally use one essay for all your colleges. Some schools might require additional supplemental essays, though, so be sure to look that up in advance to avoid being blindsided later.

 

So Should I Write an Essay?

If it happens that all the schools you want to apply to don’t require essays, then great! But overall, I'd say don’t let the fact that a school has one (or even two) essays stop you from applying if you're genuinely interested in going there.

If you find writing essays stressful or if you're time-limited, there’s nothing wrong with using some strategies to limit the number of polished essays you need to produce (such as 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 resourcesit takes a lot of time and effort to read an essay by each applicant
  • They might have certain GPA and/or test score admissions criteria and feel as though the information provided by an essay isn’t necessary
  • To make it more appealing to students by having an easier application process

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

  • Public schools in your state, especially smaller ones in case the bigger ones do require essays
  • Schools with automatic admissions criteria—if you qualify for admission, you might not need to write an essay
  • Smaller liberal arts institutions
  • Community colleges

When it comes down to it, though, should you apply to colleges with no essay requirement? Here are some reasons you might want to write a college essay, even if you're apprehensive:

  • The most selective colleges usually do require essays
  • Scholarship applications for particular schools often require essays
  • If you have special circumstances to explain, plan on writing an essay
  • Strong writers should 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 (and encouraged) to get help with brainstorming ideas and revising drafts
  • If you use an application system that can send applications to multiple schools, such as the Common App, Coalition App, or Universal College App, you might be able to write just one essay for all the schools you're applying to

Don't forget to also check out our list of 64 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 comprehensive guide to writing a college essay and our guide to writing the "why this college" essay. Be sure to avoid these 10 college essay mistakes, too.

 

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:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

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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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