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Colleges With The Lowest Acceptance Rates

Year after year, lists ranking schools come out and everyone dithers to pick apart the ranking criteria. That said, knowing the process of how different lists rank schools is important – you might agree or disagree with the ranking methods and find your own way to prioritize schools. But one list that is historically sound and purely numbers-based is this: the top 20 schools with lowest acceptance rates.

Every year a new list comes out of colleges with the lowest acceptance rates. But overall, the list contains the usual suspects. Here is a list of the top twenty colleges with the lowest acceptance rates historically. (Note: The acceptance rates are the average rates of these institutions, not the rates from this year, which have declined, overall.)

  1. Harvard – 7 %
  2. Yale – 8 %
  3. Stanford – 8%
  4. U.S. Naval Academy – 10 %
  5. Columbia – 10%
  6. Princeton – 10 %
  7. M.I.T. – 11%
  8. Brown – 11%
  9. Dartmouth – 11 %
  10. U.S. Military Academy – 15%
  11. California Institute of Technology – 15%
  12. Amherst College – 16%
  13. Pomona – 16%
  14. Claremont McKenna – 16%
  15. U.S. Air Force Academy – 17%
  16. Swarthmore – 17 %
  17. U Penn – 18 %
  18. Duke – 19%
  19. Washington and Lee University – 19%
  20. Cornell – 19%

What do you see from this list? It’s short – only 20 schools – and might not have colleges you would expect to see, like Bowdoin, Wellesley, Middlebury, Berkeley, Rice, or the universities of Michigan and Virginia. In the past few years, other institutions have been breaking through the top 20 schools. Consider that when you rank schools in your own head or read other lists.

What else can you observe? Besides military academies, these are all private colleges. If we were to separate the list into public and private universities, there would be other names up there – Wisconsin, UCLA, and the College of William and Mary, for example. Those are great institutions, too.

When the official admission rates come out for the class entering college in fall 2011, we’ll take another look at this list. Next week, we’ll also be looking at early decision rates.

This post is titled, “Colleges With The Lowest Acceptance Rates.” It was written by Marta Casey, a writer on Top Test Prep’s team.

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