It’s every student’s dream to gain admission into a prestigious college, but let’s be candid, the supply of open seats often doesn’t meet the ambiguous demand from applicants; some schools have a high acceptance rate, and gaining admission to the schools can be very challenging. While some colleges and universities will accept almost anyone who applies, these schools on this list pride themselves on being very selective and you have to meet and surpass all criteria to even be considered.
Below you will find our list of the top 100 colleges with the lowest acceptance rates
|School Name||Location||Acceptance Rate|
|Curtis Institute of Music||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||4.2%|
|Stanford University||Stanford, California||4.8%|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, Massachusetts||5.4%|
|Juilliard School||New York City, New York||6.2%|
|Yale University||New Haven, Connecticut||6.3%|
|Princeton University||Princeton, New Jersey||6.5%|
|Columbia University||New York City, New York||6.8%|
|Alice Lloyd College||Pippa Passes, Kentucky||7.1%|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, Illinois||7.9%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||Cambridge, Massachusetts||7.9%|
|California Institute of Technology||Pasadena, California||8.1%|
|United States Naval Academy||Annapolis, Maryland||9%|
|Swarthmore College||Swarthmore, Pennsylvania||9%|
|Brown University||Providence, Rhode Island||9.3%|
|Pomona College||Claremont, California||9.4%|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||9.4%|
|Claremont McKenna College||Claremont, California||9.4%|
|United States Military Academy||West Point, New York||10%|
|Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering||Needham, Massachusetts||10.2%|
|Dartmouth College||Hanover, New Hampshire||10.6%|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, Illinois||10.7%|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, Tennessee||10.7%|
|Duke University||Durham, North Carolina||10.8%|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, Maryland||11.8%|
|Colby College||Waterville, Maine||12.1%|
|Tulane University||New Orleans, Los Angeles||13%|
|Harvey Mudd College||Claremont, California||12.9%|
|Pitzer College||Claremont, California||13.7%|
|Amherst College||Amherst, Massachusetts||13.7%|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, New York||14.1%|
|College of the Ozarks||Point Lookout, Missouri||14.2%|
|Bowdoin College||Brunswick, Maine||14.8%|
|Cooper Union||New York City, New York||15.1%|
|Rice University||Houston, Texas||15.1%|
|University of California-Berkeley||Berkeley, California||16%|
|Mississippi Valley State University||Itta Bena, Mississippi||16.2%|
|The United States Air Force Academy||USAF, Colorado||16.6%|
|Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis, Missouri||17.1%|
|Middlebury College||Middlebury, Vermont||17.3%|
|Tufts University||Medford, Massachusetts||17.3%|
|Georgetown University||Washington, DC||17.4%|
|Rust College||Holly Springs, Mississippi||17.6%|
|Colorado College||Colorado Springs, Colorado||18%|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, California||18%|
|The United States Coast Guard Academy||New London, Connecticut||18.1%|
|University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)||Los Angeles, California||18.5%|
|Williams College||Williamstown, Massachusetts||19.4%|
|Washington and Lee University||Lexington, Virginia||19.6%|
|Liberty University||Lynchburg, Virginia||20.3%|
|Florida Memorial University||Miami, Florida||20.5%|
|New York University||New York City, New York||21%|
|University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, Indiana||21.5%|
|Davidson College||Davidson, North Carolina||21.7%|
|Missouri Valley College||Marshall, Missouri||22.2%|
|United States Merchant Marine Academy||Kings Point, New York||22.4%|
|Carleton College||Northfield, Minnesota||22.8%|
|Vassar College||Poughkeepsie, New York||23.5%|
|Barnard College||New York, New York||23.7%|
|Wesleyan University||Middletown, Connecticut||23.9%|
|Fort Valley State University||Fort Valley, Georgia||24.2%|
|Art Academy of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||24.3%|
|Robert Morris University||Chicago, Illinois||24.4%|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||24.6%|
|Haverford College||Haverford, Pennsylvania||24.7%|
|Kenyon College||Gambier, Ohio||25.1%|
|Bates CollegeJackson State University||Lewiston, MaineJackson, Mississippi||25.4%|
|Colgate University||Hamilton, New York||26.1%|
|Warner University||Lake Wales, Florida||26.2%|
|Babson College||Wellesley, Massachusetts||26.4%|
|Hamilton College||Clinton, New York||26.4%|
|Emory University||Atlanta, Georgia||26.8%|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, Ohio||27%|
|Lincoln University||Lincoln University, Pennsylvania||27.1%|
|Edward Waters College||Jacksonville, Florida||27.3%|
|Scripps College||Claremont, California||27.4%|
|California Institute of Arts||Valencia, California||27.7%|
|CUNY–Baruch College||New York City, New York||28%|
|Grinnell College||Grinnell, Iowa||28%|
|College of New Rochelle||New Rochelle, New York||28.5%|
|University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, North Carolina||28.5%|
|CUNY–Lehman College||Bronx, New York||29%|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, Virginia||29%|
|Hampton University||Hampton, Virginia||29.1%|
|Lafayette College||Easton, Pennsylvania||29.8%|
|Chicago State University||Chicago, Illinois||30%|
|Calumet College of St. Joseph||Whiting, Indiana||30.3%|
|Wellesley College||Wellesley, Massachusetts||30.5%|
|Bucknell University||Lewisburg, Pennsylvania||30.7%|
|California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo, California||30.9%|
|Hope International University||Fullerton, California||31%|
|Wilson College||Chambersburg, Pennsylvania||31.4%|
|Southwestern Adventist University||Keene, Texas||31.5%|
|University of Richmond||University of Richmond, Virginia||31.9%|
|Northeastern University||Boston, Massachusetts||32%|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, Michigan||32.3%|
|Ohio Valley University||Vienna, West Virginia||32.5%|
|Oberlin College||Oberlin, Ohio||32.7%|
|College of William and Mary||Williamsburg, Virginia||33%|
|Trinity College||Hartford, Connecticut||33%|
|Webb Institute||Glen Cove, New York||33%|
What to Consider When Researching College’s Acceptance Rates
Acceptance rates only provide a single data about a school. Applicants should consider other factors such as the school’s average GPA, the SAT/ ACT scores, how many students apply to the school, the enrollment rate, and other data to fully understand the acceptance rate.
A 5% acceptance rate from Stanford may seem intimidating, but applicants should consider the total number of applicants and what that 5% acceptance really means. So, if for instance, Stanford admits 5% of applicants, but the school receives 100,000 applications, that just means that 5,000 students will be accepted. In contrast, if you apply to a school with a 50% acceptance rate, but that school only receives 10,000 applicants, the school will admit 5,000.
So, even though the acceptance rates differ greatly, the number of applicants is the same. Applicants should keep data in perspective when comparing schools, rankings, and data points.
Most universities often accept more students than they can take. This is due to the fact that not all students who are accepted will enroll. Assessing the percentage of students who enroll against students accepted provides additional information. If the school has a 50% acceptance rate, but 80% of students enroll (40% of the total applicants), then you may have a different perspective on the college, knowing that most accepted students wish to attend.
Benefits of Low College Acceptance Rates
The colleges with the lowest acceptance rates also naturally feature prestige and name recognition. This explains why several Ivy League schools appear on our list of colleges with the lowest acceptance rates.
1. Career Opportunities
Attending a selective school can translate into networking and career opportunities after graduation. Thanks to prestigious alumni networks, many of these schools help professionals advance their careers long after graduation. Many of these schools also focus on academic research, investing in state-of-the-art technologies, and carrying out cutting-edge experiments. Students interested in research careers benefit from attending these schools.
2. Salary Benefits
Attending a selective school can also bring salary benefits. Graduates from Ivy League schools report higher earnings than other graduates. Ten years after gaining admission, an Ivy League grad receives double the salary of grads from other colleges.
Applying to Colleges with Low Acceptance Rates
All colleges have different standards. Juilliard, for example, requires different qualifications than Stanford or Harvard, and applicants to the performing arts school must pass an audition to gain admission.
In a competitive applicant pool, how can you make your application stand out?
1. Strong GPA
Schools with the lowest acceptance rates look for a strong academic record. Students can boost their GPA by taking AP classes. Transcripts should show the admissions committee that applicants can handle college-level work. Dodging hard classes can backfire. Taking practice tests or an SAT or ACT prep course can help students perform better on their standardized test scores.
2. Be more than academic
In addition to academics, schools look for well-versed applicants who bring something unique to the student body. Highlighting volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, and work experience can help applicants stand out.
3. Write a great essay
College essays also play a key role in admissions. Applicants should devote several weeks to writing and reviewing their essays. Ask for feedback from teachers or mentors to improve the essays, and make sure to personalize the essay for each school.
4. Have a solid recommendation letter
Recommendation letters can actually make or break an application. Students should pick teachers or mentors who know them well. Contact letter writers at least one month before the application deadline. Rather than just asking for a recommendation letter, provide as much information as possible. Students should offer a list of their academic achievements, extracurriculars, or papers they wrote for the class.
5. Review as much as you can
Before submitting any application, students should review the entire application as much as they can. Sloppy errors draw the wrong kind of attention during the admissions process. You don’t want to lose out on admission because of spelling errors.
FAQ on College with Lowest Acceptance Rates
u003cstrongu003eIs Brown University prestigious?u003c/strongu003e
Yes. The school is.
u003cstrongu003eWhat is the hardest university in the world and why?u003c/strongu003e
Stanford. They have limited slots and a lot of applications, so the slot is given to the best of the best.
u003cstrongu003eHow can I get accepted into top universities in the US?u003c/strongu003e
Have great grades. Do some extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and have great recommendation letters and essays.
u003cstrongu003eHow hard is it to get into a top U.S. university?u003c/strongu003e
Quite hard. You have to understand that thousands of top-notch students are also applying to the school, so you have to have the WOW factor to get accepted.