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2018 Admissions Rates at Top-Tier Institutions

The competitiveness of admissions at elite schools has intensified over the last decade. According to a study done by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the percentage of applicants accepted has declined by 6% during this period. Admission rates, an imperfect measure of the quality of institutions, has become a proxy for academic excellence as perceived by most high school students and their parents when they compare top-tier schools. In this respect, admission rates are important to the reputation and ongoing success of an institution.

With its admissions rate primarily a reflection of its prestige, the fact that a school attracts thousands of applicants who know that only a very small percentage of them will be accepted is an indication of the power of its “brand”. This is not only true for Ivy League and Ivy peer schools like MIT, Stanford, and Chicago, but for other top-tier schools as well.

Villanova, for example, has long been a selective school but not among the most elite institutions in the country. However, two years ago the school won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. The following year, the number of applications the school received surged 22% from the previous year. Since the size of the incoming class was unchanged, the school’s admissions rate dropped to from 43% to 35% in one year. Last month, Villanova won the tournament again, so another increase in applications can be anticipated in 2019. As a matter of fact, both the University of Maryland – Baltimore Campus, which made history by being the only 16th seed in tournament history to defeat a #1 seed, and Loyola of Chicago, which made it to the semifinals as an 11th seed, may see steep rises in the number of applicants simply for having upset higher ranked competitors in a basketball tournament.

Since the quality of a basketball team has nothing to do with academics, we can easily see by the Villanova example that admissions rate only tells a small part of the complex profile of a school. And it tells nothing about how well a school may fit your needs and goals as an individual.

Table A, below, shows the Class of 2022 results for those elite institutions that have reported at least some of their admissions data as of the writing of this post.

Table A: Admissions Results for 2018 and 2017
Ivy League and Other Elite Institutions

Institution Applicants 2018 Admit 2018 Admit % 2018 Applicants 2017 Admit 2017 Admit % 2017
Amherst 9,722 1,224 13 7,716 1,139 15
Barnard 7,897 1,088 14 7,071 1,131 16
Boston College 31,000 8,400 27 28,500 9,200 32
Boston University 64,473 14,184 22 60,815 15,204 25
Bowdoin 9,081 935 10 7,251 972 8
Carnegie Mellon 24,351
Colby 12,313 1,601 13
Colorado College 15 8,215 1,212 15
Columbia 40,203 2,214 6 37,389 2,185 6
Cornell 51,328 5,288 10 47,038 5,889 13
Dartmouth 22,033 1,925 9 20,034 2,092 10
Davidson 5,700 1,066 19
Duke 37,302 3,097 8 34,400 3,174 9
Emory 27,982 5,103 18
Emory (Oxford) 16,230 4,144 26
Georgetown 22,897 3,237 15 21,459 3,219 15
Georgia Tech 35,600 7,832 22 31,484 5,172 22
Hamilton 6,238 5,678 1,340 24
Harvard 42,749 1,962 5 39,506 2,056 5
Harvey Mudd 4,101 594 14
Haverford 4,682 877 19 4,424 859 19
Johns Hopkins 29,128 2,894 10 26,578 3,133 12
Middlebury 9,230 1,696 18 8,910 1,753 20
MIT 21,708 1,464 7 20,247 1,438 7
NYU 75,037 15,722 19 67,232
UNC – Chapel Hill 43,384 4,205 10
Notre Dame 20,370 3,586 18
Northeastern 62,000 11,780 19
Northwestern 40,425 3,392 8 37,255 3,371 9
Pomona 10,245 707 7 9,046 741 8
Princeton 35,370 1,941 5 31,056 1,890 6
Stanford 47,450 2,040 4 44,073 2,050 5
Swarthmore 10,749 980 9 9,383 960 10
Tufts 21,502 3,139 15 21,101 3,128 15
UC – Berkeley 89,294
UC – Los Angeles 113,409
UC – San Diego 97,670
UC – Santa Barbara 92,017
U of Pennsylvania 44,482 3,371 8 40,413 3,699 9
USC 64,256 8,258 13 56,000 8,980 16
U of Virginia 37,222 9,850 26
Vanderbilt 30,146 2,199 7 27,841 2,382 9
Vassar 8,312 1,996 24
Washington USTL 31,300 4,695 15 30,400 4,864 16
Wellesley 6,670 1,267 19 5,700 1,197 21
Wesleyan 12,788 12,543 1,932 15
Williams 9,559 1,163 12 8,593 1,253 15
Yale 35,306 2,229 6 32,900 2,272 6

As noted above, it’s unwise to rely heavily on comparative admissions rates in selecting schools to which to apply. It’s only a single facet of a comprehensive portrait of a school. Your IvySelect college admissions consultant will work with you to develop a balanced list of 12 or 13 institutions that fit your unique set of needs, preferences, talents, and objectives. This list may include several of the most exclusive schools in the country, but, if so, they will not have been targeted solely for their prestigious brand. They’ll be chosen for the extent to which they satisfy your personal requirements.