A complete and actionable admissions file includes:
- A completed application for admission
- Official high school transcript if applicant is a current high school student or has fewer than 24 college credits.
- Official SAT or ACT (optional for international applicants) scores if applicant is a current high school student or has fewer than 24 college credits.
- Official college transcripts from every institution the applicant has attended
International applicants must also submit:
- Official TOEFL or similar test score of English proficiency
- Official bank statement
- Letter of financial support
- Photo copy of passport page that includes applicant’s picture
Buena Vista University practices a holistic review of each applicant’s credentials. This means that a variety of factors are considered when making an admissions decision. Among them, but not necessarily an exhaustive list, are:
- The kind of curriculum chosen—emphasis is placed on college preparatory classes that might be labeled as college prep, honors, AP, etc. Four years of progressively challenging courses in English, social science, science and mathematics is recommended but not required. Other academic courses related to the applicant’s academic career can also be positively viewed, such as foreign language(s), computer science and technology, fine arts.
- Achievement within the chosen curriculum—Students should choose classes in which they will be challenged, can demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and earn acceptable grades. A “B” in a very challenging course is appreciably better than an “A” in an unchallenging course. Those students earning 3.0 cumulative grade point averages are given preference in admission; however, this is not a minimum requirement. Good grades also lead to higher class rankings (if your school ranks), which is another consideration. Ranking in the top half of your class provide preference in admission; however, this is not a minimum requirement. The average GPA of students enrolled in 2011 was 3.35 and the average class rank was the top 30%. The range for GPA was 2.2-4.0+. Transfer students must, from the total of all college experiences, achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher for admission.
- Standardized (SAT or ACT) test scores—This is always used in combination with the other factors listed within this section and never used as the sole source for an admissions decision. A low standardized test score will not negate strong classroom performance; however; a high standardized test score doesn’t necessarily negate weak classroom performance. Preference is given to those who score 20 or above on the ACT; however, this is not a minimum requirement. The average ACT of students enrolled in 2011 was 22.3. The range was 16-33. There is a correlation between the ACT score, especially the math section, and success in the college classroom for science students. Preference is given to those applicants who have a 25 or higher, both in math and the cumulative total.
- Demonstration of strong motivation—A student’s motivation to succeed is critical to their academic achievement and their ability to make the most of their entire college experience. In addition to academic motivation described above, students may provide other examples of motivation such as: summer and/or part-time employment, participation in high school activities, community service, involvement in their chosen faith organizations, leadership position attained, honors received due to any activity, etc. A campus visit, during which time is spent talking with an admissions counselor, is a great way to provide context to an applicant’s motivation that may not be as apparent on a transcript or through a test score.
- Emotional intelligence—While difficult to measure, emotional intelligence is the ability to acknowledge one’s own emotions and their impact on others, as well as the ability to understand the emotions of others in order to shape one’s actions and interactions to achieve mutually beneficial goals. This is often exhibited in small group interactions, on teams and in classrooms. Applicants may express these skills during a campus interview with an admissions counselor, during a discussion with a professor during a campus visit and/or through an essay that describes a situation when the applicant demonstrated high emotional intelligence potential.