Yale University

2019 Admission Rates at Top-Tier Institutions

Colleges and universities have been releasing results for their regular decision admissions round since mid-March, and it’s clearly been another in a series of increasingly competitive years for applicants at most top-tier institutions. Admission rates are at historic lows at some of the country’s most highly selective.

Admission rates are an imperfect measure of the quality of an institution, but they have become a proxy for academic excellence as perceived by many families when it comes time to compare schools. One reason is that admission rates have an oversized impact on the calculations used to rank schools in such periodicals as U.S. News & World Reports, Money, and Forbes. Therefore, over time, admission rates have become a driver of demand for an education at elite institutions.

The fact that a school attracts many applicants who know that only a small percentage will be accepted is an indication of the power of a school’s brand. Its admissions rate is the prime generator of prestige when comparisons to peer institutions are made. This is not only true for Ivy League schools and “near-Ivies” like MIT, Stanford, and Chicago, but for all top-tier private and public colleges and universities.

Table A, below, shows the Class of 2023 results for those elite institutions that have reported at least some of their admissions data as of the writing of this post. The University of California will not report 2019 admissions information for its branches until June 1.

Table A: Admissions Results for 2019 and 2018

Ivy League and Other Elite Institutions

InstitutionApplicants

2019

Admit

2019

Admits

% 2019

Applicants

2018

Admits

2018

Admit

% 2018

Amherst10,5671,144119,7221,22413
Barnard9,3191,051117,8971,08814
Boston College35,3009,5002731,0008,40027
Boston University62,21011,2601864,47314,18422
Bowdoin9,33283199,08193510
Brown38,3642,551735,4382,5677
Carnegie Mellon24,351
Chicago35,0002,0656
Colby13,5341,2951012,3131,60113
Colorado College8,5521,2831415
Columbia42,5692,190540,2032,2146
Cornell49,1185,1831151,3285,28810
Dartmouth23,6501,868822,0331,9259
Duke41,6132,983737,3023,0978
Emory30,0174,5121527,9825,10318
Emory (Oxford)17,5003,4322016,2304,14426
Georgetown22,7883,2021422,8973,23715
Georgia Tech36,9367,0001935,6007,83222
Hamilton8,3381,334166,238
Harvard43,3301,950542,7491,9625
Harvey Mudd4,045544134,10159414
Haverford4,938801164,68287719
Johns Hopkins32,2312,950929,1282,89410
Middlebury9,7501,547169,2301,69618
MIT21,3121,410721,7081,4647
NYU76,91912,3071675,03715,72219
UNC – Chapel Hill44,78443,3844,20510
Notre Dame22,2003,4101520,3703,58618
Northeastern62,00011.1601862,00011,78019
Northwestern40,5793,612940,4253,3928
Pomona72610,2457077
Princeton32,8041,895635,3701,9415
Stanford2,05747,4502,0404
Swarthmore11,400995910,7499809
Tufts22,7663,3241521,5023,13915
UC – Berkeley87,35389,29413,48330
UC – Davis78,06377,72732,17941
UC – Irvine95,55694,86627,34429
UC – Los Angeles111,266113,40916,02014
UC – San Diego99,11297,89929,57730
UC – Santa Barbara93,42392,01729,78232
U of Pennsylvania44,9603,345744,4823,3718
USC66,0007,2501164,2568,25813
Virginia40,8699,7252437,2229,85026
Vanderbilt32,9672,088630,1462,1997
Vassar8,9612,098238,3121,99624
Washington USTL25,4003,5561431,3004,69515
Wellesley6,4881,298206,6701,26719
Wesleyan13,3582,1141612,788
Williams9,7151,206129,5591,16312
William & Mary14,6705,00034
Yale36,8432,176635,3062,2296

The school with the largest point decline in admission rate from 2018 to 2019 was at Emory (Oxford), which fell from 26% in 2018 to 20% this year. Institutions with noteworthy declines in percentage drops include Boston University with an 18% drop, Colby with 23%, Haverford with 16%, NYU with 16%, Notre Dame with 17%, and USC with an 18% decline.

Not so long ago, there were no schools with an admissions rate below 10%. However, in recent years, the “10% or Less Club” has grown every year. This year’s club set a record at 17 members. It incudes Bowdoin at 9%, Brown 7%, Chicago 6%, Columbia 5%, Dartmouth 8%, Duke 7%, Harvard 5%, Johns Hopkins 9%, MIT 7%, Northwestern 9%, Princeton 6%, Swarthmore 9%, UPenn 7%, Vanderbilt 6%, and Yale 6%. Neither Stanford nor Pomona reported an admission rate for 2019 but the former disclosed that it admitted 2,057 applicants and the latter reported 726, about the same as last year in both cases, so we can assume that their rates were 5% and 7%, respectively. There were also a few near misses reporting a rate of 11%, including Amherst, Barnard, Cornell, and USC. Many of the schools named above set all-time school records for low admissions in 2019.

As we’ve noted, you shouldn’t rely too 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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