Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn….all Ivy Leagues, and all prestigious, but all are behind Stanford University for the top spot in the lowest acceptance rate for all applicants. Stanford admitted just over 2100 students this year, 5.07 percent of their applicant pool. So what is it about Stanford that is such a big draw for applicants, and allows them to be so selective? Sure, the chill Nor-Cal vibe makes for a great place to go to school, but it also boasts an active Greek life and has exciting university athletics. Oh yeah-its faculty also are highly qualified and highly respected in their fields. Have you ever had a class taught by a Nobel Prize winner? No? Then go to Stanford.
Of course, Harvard was guaranteed to be somewhere near the top of this list. After all, its Harvard. Legendary for its rigorous academics, high impossible acceptance rates, its legacy, its prestige…let’s face it: if someone says they attend Harvard (or have) it’s hard not to be impressed. Harvard admitted 5.9% of applicants, just over 2000 students, for the class of 2018. The levels of diversity for this class reached record highs, with about 50% being a minority. The financial program at Harvard is legendary as well; it can cost the same or less for 90% of American families to send their child to Harvard as a public school.
Meryl Streep, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush…the list of powerful and influential Yale alumni goes on. The class of 2018 is comprised of just 6.26% of applicants. Located in New Haven, CT, Yale has an idyllic Northeastern setting. There’s plenty to do at Yale (besides studying, of course). Yale has many highly regarded clubs, both secret (Skulls & Bones) and non-secret (the amazing Yale Whiffenpoofs a capella group, anyone?).
New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! Or so the song goes. New York City is home to, among many other things, Columbia University, which accepted 6.94% of applicants for 2018 and comes in at #4 on our list. Students admitted represent all 50 states and also 80 different countries. Columbia’s campus is a perfect idyll of escape from the hustle and bustle of New York’s streets. Students don’t just like Columbia, they love it-the retention rate (rate of students who return after their first year) is 99 percent.
As the school’s applicant pool grows (up 94 percent in the past 10 years), Princeton’s acceptance rate shrinks. At least, it did this year, as Princeton reported a record-low 7.29 percent. In addition to its stellar reputation and academics, Princeton Financial Aid also offers grants to prospective students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. The average grant size expected for this year’s class? $40,000. Princeton also offers a what it calls the “Bridge Year Program”, which allows incoming freshman student to spend a year (tuition-free) in China, India, Peru, Senegal or Brazil taking part in community service.
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology aka M.I.T.
With an admission rate of 7.7%, M.I.T. is the sixth most selective university this year. M.I.T. focuses on technological and scientific research. A few excerpts from the school’s mission statement: The essence of MIT is our appetite for problems-especially those big, intractable, complicated problems whose solutions make a permanent difference. A diverse, supportive campus environment with an incredible range of student groups and athletic and fitness opportunities-ensures that it's not all about the work. And in MIT's intensely creative atmosphere, the arts flourish in all their forms. No wonder why it draws the best of the best.
7. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago had a record-low year of acceptance, allowing just 8.4% of applicants to come to the prestigious University. That number is down from around 25% just five years ago. The University boasts several available scholarships for students to aid them in being able to graduate debt-free. With education costs rising across the country, that makes for a strong incentive. Living in such close proximity to a major metropolitan area is a strong factor for many students. Chicago aims to attract students who are driven and have passion for learning and the mind, and with such low acceptance rates, it can have its pick of top applicants.
Offering acceptance to just 8.6% of applicants, Brown University is three spots below the last Ivy League on this list. But don’t discredit it just yet-that’s only 2619 spots out of over 30,000, and this class is the most diverse in the history of the University. 46% identify as African American, Latino, Native American, or Asian American. All 50 states are represented but so are 88 countries from around the world. 95% of applicants are in the top 10% of their high school class. The standards at Brown are high, and that’s why it draws worldwide attention and represents the Ivy League well.
University Duke admitted just 9% of its regular decision pool. As with many other schools on this list, Duke’s applicant pool reached a record high for this year. Duke also is committed to making sure nothing deters accepted students from attending, meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial aid of all students through a need-blind acceptance policy for all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Duke boasts incredible academics, but also a flourishing student life-where else could you have the chance to cheer on one the most consistent basketball teams in the NCAA and receive a top-notch education?
10. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania admitted 9.9% of student to the class of 2018. The drop to sub-10% was a record low for the school. Additionally, the applicant pool grew by 14% and the average SAT score for the admitted class increased as well. The self identified minorities increased as well, to 45% of the admitted class. Only 13% of the admitted class are legacies-students who come from a family with an alumnus of the school. It’s a tough world out there for applicants, but UPenn is extremely distinguished, and with schools like The Wharton School of Business, it can afford to be.