After Harvard University, the College of William & Mary is the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Unlike many other old universities in the U.S., however, William & Mary is a public institution owned and operated by the state of Virginia. Undergraduate admission to the college is highly competitive, and the criteria for admission are similar to many other first-tier schools.

Application Logistics

Applying to the College of William & Mary is easy, thanks to the Common Application. The college only requires the Common App with the attached William & Mary supplemental form, plus a $70 fee and test score report. To fully complete the Common App, students should be sure to also finish the Secondary School Report with a high school transcript and the Midyear Report.

Value of Test Scores

The College of William & Mary takes a critical approach when it uses students' SAT and ACT scores. Its website says that the college values what you did in four years of high school more than four hours in a testing room. Nonetheless, the SAT or ACT is required for admission, and your score will be considered within the context of your overall achievements. The middle 50 percent of enrolled applicants scored between 1,250 and 1,460 on the combined SAT math and critical reading sections, so William & Mary hopefuls should be prepared to perform at a similar level.

Academic Requirements

Because William & Mary considers your academic achievements holistically, there are certain items they hope to see you complete. First, the school does not use GPA, but instead uses your high school class rank as an admission criterion. More than 80 percent of admitted students were in the top 10 percent of their classes. In terms of courses, W&M likes applicants to have four years of math, science and a foreign language. Their math experience should culminate with calculus. In addition, students should take the most challenging courses their school offers, including as many advanced-placement classes as they can handle.

Extracurriculars and Diversity

The W&M admissions office uses a student's personal statement, in addition to an optional interview, to assess a student's potential to contribute to campus life. A student's personal essay, therefore, should demonstrate what they've contributed to their school in the past and how they can contribute to William & Mary in the future. This is especially important, because some merit-based scholarships, like the 1693 Scholars Scholarship, are offered based on diversity and proven ability to overcome adversity. Demonstrating an ability to break through barriers is therefore also important to a student's application.