Discussion-Based Application

St. John’s is known for our revolutionary interdisciplinary curriculum with two key elements: great books and classroom discussion. We think our application process should be equally radical.

There are two main ways to apply to St. John’s: our traditional written application (using the Common Application, the St. John’s Application, or the Coalition Application)* or our new Discussion-Based Application.

Our Discussion-Based Application breaks norms. Instead of a long, written application with forms and essays and recommendations, you will be assessed for admission on the basis of two interviews and participation in a St. John’s seminar. Instead of waiting months for a decision, you will be notified by the college within two weeks of completing the application requirements. The Discussion-Based Application is the right fit for students who excel at expressing themselves in sustained, serious conversation—just like we do in a St. John’s classroom.

The Discussion Based Application for Fall 2024 is now closed. Please contact admissions(at)sjc.edu to discuss application options for this fall.

Discussion-Based Application Checklist

  • Complete the short application form, attaching your unofficial high school transcript and a graded essay that you have already written for school.
  • Select your campus: Annapolis or Santa Fe. Though you will apply to a specific campus, accepted students may change campuses before enrolling if there is space available.
  • Select your deadline: Early Decision or Early Action. You must apply before January 15.
  • Register for an interview with an admissions counselor, an interview with a faculty member, and participate in an online seminar designed for future students. While we encourage you to visit campus for your interviews, you may do so online. Your interviews and seminar must be complete before January 15.
  • If applying for need-based financial aid, submit your FAFSA or CSS Profile at the time of application. All applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships.

Components of the Discussion-Based Application

Deadlines and Timeline

You may apply to St. John’s using the Discussion-Based Application starting on August 1, and you can expect an admission decision within two weeks of completing all application requirements. As a result, if you apply early, you may receive your admission decision long before most typical college deadlines. Keep in mind that we cannot accept incomplete Discussion-Based Applications after January 15.

Is the Discussion-Based Application Right for Me?

We think a college application should exemplify the college to which you are applying, so our traditional written application and the Discussion-Based Application each reflect key elements of the St. John’s experience: the emphasis we place on deep thinking, writing, and in-person discussion with faculty and peers. Some students feel more comfortable with time to reflect and write, while others may feel they can express themselves better in conversation. The Discussion-Based Application is a great opportunity for the latter kind of student.

Another advantage of the Discussion-Based Application: the timeline. You can submit as early as August and, if admitted, never have to apply to another college, or write a college application essay. The college admissions process can feel stressful, and the Discussion-Based Application may help reduce that stress.

The Discussion-Based Application allows you to get to know St. John’s at the same time we get to know you. The immersive experience of meeting admissions counselors and faculty through the Discussion-Based Application can be an enriching experience.

But the Discussion-Based Application isn’t for everyone! The application format is different (not easier), and some students may feel shy about the interview or pride themselves on their writing. You should select the application where you can shine best; we have no preference for students based on the application they choose to use. In some cases, the Admissions Committee may decide that it needs more information about the student and will request a short piece of writing or recommendations.

*The written application option reflects the emphasis we place on reading and writing at St. John’s. You complete the Common Application, the St. John’s Application, or the Coalition Application, attach letters of recommendation and your transcript, and write an essay (with a word minimum instead of a word maximum) about a book you consider great. Our application deadlines are November 1 for Early Decision 1, November 15 for Early Action, January 15 for Early Decision 2, or January 15 for Regular Decision, and after February 15 we begin Rolling Admission.