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.
Ivy League and Other Elite Institutions
|Institution||Applicants 2018||Admit 2018||Admit % 2018||Applicants 2017||Admit 2017||Admit % 2017|
|UNC – Chapel Hill||43,384||4,205||10||–||–||–|
|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|
|U of Virginia||37,222||9,850||26||–||–||–|
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.