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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

InstitutionApplicants 2018Admit 2018Admit % 2018Applicants 2017Admit 2017Admit % 2017
Amherst9,7221,224137,7161,13915
Barnard7,8971,088147,0711,13116
Boston College31,0008,4002728,5009,20032
Boston University64,47314,1842260,81515,20425
Bowdoin9,081935107,2519728
Carnegie Mellon24,351
Colby12,3131,60113
Colorado College158,2151,21215
Columbia40,2032,214637,3892,1856
Cornell51,3285,2881047,0385,88913
Dartmouth22,0331,925920,0342,09210
Davidson5,7001,06619
Duke37,3023,097834,4003,1749
Emory27,9825,10318
Emory (Oxford)16,2304,14426
Georgetown22,8973,2371521,4593,21915
Georgia Tech35,6007,8322231,4845,17222
Hamilton6,2385,6781,34024
Harvard42,7491,962539,5062,0565
Harvey Mudd4,10159414
Haverford4,682877194,42485919
Johns Hopkins29,1282,8941026,5783,13312
Middlebury9,2301,696188,9101,75320
MIT21,7081,464720,2471,4387
NYU75,03715,7221967,232
UNC – Chapel Hill43,3844,20510
Notre Dame20,3703,58618
Northeastern62,00011,78019
Northwestern40,4253,392837,2553,3719
Pomona10,24570779,0467418
Princeton35,3701,941531,0561,8906
Stanford47,4502,040444,0732,0505
Swarthmore10,74998099,38396010
Tufts21,5023,1391521,1013,12815
UC – Berkeley89,294
UC – Los Angeles113,409
UC – San Diego97,670
UC – Santa Barbara92,017
U of Pennsylvania44,4823,371840,4133,6999
USC64,2568,2581356,0008,98016
U of Virginia37,2229,85026
Vanderbilt30,1462,199727,8412,3829
Vassar8,3121,99624
Washington USTL31,3004,6951530,4004,86416
Wellesley6,6701,267195,7001,19721
Wesleyan12,78812,5431,93215
Williams9,5591,163128,5931,25315
Yale35,3062,229632,9002,2726

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.

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