IMSA Admissions Process: The Evolution of the Application Process

Changes have happened in the IMSA application process | Source: Business & Learning Resources

IMSA is known for its rigorous admissions process. Every IMSA student has experienced the application process, which over the years has undergone numerous transformations. In an exclusive interview, Glenn Engelberg, Executive Director of Admissions at IMSA, sheds light on the journey from application to acceptance, and how the process has evolved over time.

Overview of Admissions

IMSA’s admissions process begins with an online application, due by the March 1st deadline. Applicants are required to submit student essays, details about their extracurricular activities and awards, school information, a parent statement, three teacher evaluations (from Science, English, and Math teachers), a counselor form, and transcripts spanning the past 2.5 years. Moreover, IMSA has reintroduced the mandate for SAT scores while also accommodating ACT scores. All of these items need to be submitted by our March 1st application deadline.

The key factors for evaluating applicants encompass grades, teacher evaluations, Review Committee Evaluation scores, STEM-related activities/awards, course selection, and the parent statement. Glenn Engelberg summarizes this holistic approach, saying, “Essentially, we look at the entire application file to gauge if a student is a good fit for IMSA, not just their SAT scores or GPA. Of course, the GPA and SAT scores are important, but we want to make sure that the character traits and behavioral traits of applicants are also a good fit for the IMSA community and those are reflected in the application file.” The aim is to assess not only academic achievements but also a student’s character and potential to thrive within the IMSA community.

Standardized Testing

Over the last few years, IMSA has made adjustments to its admissions process. The most significant transformation has revolved around the SAT testing requirement. The requirement was temporarily suspended becoming optional a couple of years ago, and it has now been brought back, reflecting the pre-COVID application cycles. Thus, new applicants must submit an SAT or an ACT score.

This was largely due to COVID. According to Glenn Engelberg, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated temporary alterations to the admissions process. Due to the challenges of test scheduling at that time, IMSA temporarily removed standardized test score requirements for a few application cycles.

Moreover, the Review Committee transitioned from in-person to virtual meetings due to the recognition of the virtual format’s increased efficiency. This shift has enabled the participation of volunteers from out of state who would otherwise face limitations. Consequently, IMSA plans to persist with virtual Review Committee meetings this year and likely in the foreseeable future.

Diversity and Inclusion in Admissions

Diversity and inclusion are paramount in shaping IMSA’s admissions process. Therefore, IMSA has made concerted efforts to view the application process through an equity lens in several ways. A couple of notable examples include making the application and enrollment documents available in other languages like Spanish, and ensuring that the online application employs gender-inclusive language, avoiding any form of discrimination based on sex, social gender, or gender identity, and refraining from perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes.

To further ensure fairness and equity, close collaboration with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) office guides their efforts. This collaboration addresses resource limitations and focuses on assessing applicants from underprivileged backgrounds fairly, as Engelberg emphasizes, “We try to fairly assess applicants that may be impacted by limited resources with class availability and/or STEM activities in their districts, so we take everything into consideration appropriately.” These dedicated efforts underscore IMSA’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable environment for all prospective students.

The Future of IMSA Admissions

Looking ahead, IMSA aims to streamline and simplify the admissions process to make it more accessible. Plans include simplifying the application form, enhancing the recommendation letter process, and creating more accessible forms for ESL (English as a Second Language) families and students. The end goal is to reduce barriers, making it easier for all students and families to apply to IMSA while upholding the institution’s high standards and commitment to excellence.

IMSA’s admissions process reflects its dedication to nurturing diverse talent, fostering innovation, and maintaining a rigorous academic environment. As Mr. Engelberg explains, “Ultimately, we want to minimize any barriers for students/families to apply to IMSA and this is something that we try to improve year to year.”


Special thanks to Glenn Engelberg for his interview describing the information above.

About the Author

William Guo
Will Guo is a Junior from 05. Section Editor for World News who primarily writes about news, sports, and music. Enjoys swimming, playing piano, and golfing. Interested in business and current events.

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