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The many selective U.S. Colleges maintain exceptionally rigorous join standards.Seven the the 10 most competitive colleges space Ivy league schools.The 10 colleges with the shortest admission rates admit less than 7% of applicants.Test-optional policies during COVID-19 have actually led to unprecedented application numbers.Many high college students strive because that the highest possible GPA and also SAT/ACT scores possible to offer themselves the best shot at obtaining into compete colleges. While strong grades and also test scores can definitely increase her chances, lock still might not be enough to obtain admission into every college.

The country"s most selective colleges maintain extremely rigorous join standards and accept very couple of applicants. Therefore what makes certain colleges more challenging to acquire an accept letter from?

The hardest colleges to obtain into are amongst the earliest in the U.S. Over time, these institutions have accumulated their reputations through a mix of academic excellence, big endowments, and notable alumni and faculty members. These factors add to a long history of innovation and success.


Top 10 Hardest Colleges to acquire Into

While Ivy organization schools consist of the majority of the hardest colleges to acquire into, other highly selective schools, choose Stanford and also MIT, have actually comparably low admission rates. They might not belong to the Ivy League, however they offer similarly extensive research study opportunities and reputable degree programs.

Refer come the table listed below to view which colleges space the many competitive in the U.S. All data is from 2021 (for the class of 2025) uneven otherwise noted.

Note that since many schools have actually temporarily unable to do test-optional in an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer are reporting center 50% SAT/ACT scores. This change in policy has actually led to a rise in applications at plenty of selective institutions, leading to unprecedented application numbers and some the the lowest acceptance rates in U.S. History.


SchoolLocationAcceptance RateSAT middle 50%ACT center 50%
1. Columbia UniversityNew York City, NY3.9%1510-156034-35
2. Stanford UniversityStanford, CA3.9%1470-157032-35
3. Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ4.0%1450-1600*32-36*
4. Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA4.0%1470-1570*33-35*
5. Massachusetts institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA4.1%1510-158034-36
6. Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT4.6%1450-1560*33-35*
7. Brown UniversityProvidence, RI5.5%1480-156033-35
8. Battle each other UniversityDurham, NC5.8%1500-1570*34-35*
9. College of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA5.9%1490-156035-36
10. Dartmouth CollegeHanover, NH6.2%1440-1560*32-35*

*Indicates 2020 data


1. Columbia University

Total variety of Applicants: 60,551Total Admitted: 2,358Gender Balance: 48% Female, 50% Male, 2% Nonbinary/OtherSelf-Identify together Students of Color: 44%

This year, Columbia ranks as the most daunting school to acquire into through a 3.9% accept rate. This price is down substantially from 2020 following a 51% spike in first-year applications.

Columbia take away a holistic strategy to the undergraduate admissions process, assessing each student"s unique experiences and background, and also their scholastic achievements. To advice a student"s academic record, the college looks in ~ the rigor and range of classes taken and the qualities earned in those courses.

Beyond academics, Columbia"s admissions committee considers determinants such together extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation. A student"s level of authorized both inside and outside the classroom is a strong indicator that their ability to positively add to the school.

2. Stanford University

Total number of Applicants: 55,471Total Admitted: 2,190Gender Balance: 51% Female, 49% MaleSelf-Identify as Students the Color: Unavailable

With a 3.9% admission price for 2021, Stanford drops just contempt behind Columbia. The college welcomed 10,000 an ext applications this year 보다 it did in 2020, representing a 23% increase.

Stanford says that a student"s academic record is the most crucial factor in determining admission, however it likewise looks at components past numerical data. With a holistic admissions process, the university gives weight to extracurricular tasks and personal essays, both that which permit students to show their individual backgrounds and experiences.

These components also give admissions officers a far better sense of exactly how a student might uniquely contribute to the school.

3. Princeton University

Total variety of Applicants: 37,601Total Admitted: 1,498Gender Balance: 52% Female, 48% MaleSelf-Identify together Students the Color: 68%

Down from its ahead admission rate of 5.6% in 2020, Princeton is even more competitive to obtain into now with a 4.0% accept rate. The Ivy intends to determine students that will positively contribute and also bring a distinct perspective to its community. Fairly than trying to find a specific collection of academic criteria, Princeton prefers applicants that have challenged themselves with rigorous honors and AP courses.

In addition to a rich academic record, Princeton looks for students with solid extracurricular success and a deep pundit curiosity. This is mainly assessed through a combination of an individual essays, brief answers, and also interviews.

4. Harvard University

Total variety of Applicants: 57,786Total Admitted: 2,320Gender Balance: UnavailableSelf-Identify together Students that Color: 56%

With an admission rate of 4.0%, Harvard ranks together the fourth most complicated school to gain into. This price reflects admission into Harvard"s undergraduate school, Harvard College. Some colleges at Harvard are even an ext competitive, such together Harvard medical School.

During its undergraduate admissions process, Harvard intends to assess every student together a whole person, considering their an individual character and their academic potential. The school renders a concerted effort to provide each application careful attention in bespeak to totally understand a student"s scholastic interests, personal background, and also extracurricular talents.

Since many students who use to Harvard are extremely qualified, admissions policemans rely greatly on letter of recommendation, interviews, and also extracurriculars to recognize outstanding students.

5. Massachusetts institute of Technology

Total number of Applicants: 33,240Total Admitted: 1,365Gender Balance: 47% Female, 50% Male, 2% OtherSelf-Identify as Students that Color: 63%

The top technical college in the nation, MIT"s undergraduate price of join was just 4.1% in 2021 ~ a chuck 66% increase in applications end the vault year.

An applicant"s overall fit with the institution is the primary criterion for admission to MIT, though grades and also test scores are likewise important. MIT intends to recognize students that possess a participating spirit and also who will certainly lift up their peers.

In addition, those using to MIT should feel comfortable functioning in team settings; many courses and also labs are designed come be collaborative in nature. As the institution has cultivated a neighborhood of curious, thrust individuals, MIT"s admissions committee prioritizes college student who display screen a willingness to take it risks and accept failure.

6. Yale University

Total variety of Applicants: 46,905Total Admitted: 2,169Gender Balance: 55% Female, 45% MaleSelf-Identify as Students of Color: 51%

Down significantly from the previous rate of join of 6.6% in 2020, Yale ranks as one of the six hardest colleges to acquire into v a 4.6% accept rate.

Yale differs slightly from various other Ivies regarding the determinants it considers during the admissions process. The university looks for two main materials to aid inform its decision: a student"s ability to add to the school"s ar and a student"s capability to make the most of the school"s resources. This are generally identified through the applicant"s an individual essays and letters of recommendation.

While Yale evaluates nonacademic components as well, it continues to be a very competitive scholastic institution. Admissions officers emphasis on identifying exceptional capability and scholastic promise v a combination of grades, test scores, and the rigor of classes taken.

7. Brown University

Total number of Applicants: 46,568Total Admitted: 2,569Gender Balance: UnavailableSelf-Identify as Students the Color: Unavailable

In 2021, Brown invited its largest pool of applicants to date, result in very low 5.5% accept rate.

The prestigious university reviews each application holistically and considers how students made use of their resources and also opportunities in high school. Involvement outside the class is an essential to Brown"s culture, therefore a student"s extracurricular achievements remain critical factor in the decision-making process.

Through a mix of essays and also interviews, Brown looks because that applicants who will advantage from and contribute to the school"s academic culture.

8. Battle each other University

Total variety of Applicants: 49,555Total Admitted: 2,855Gender Balance: UnavailableSelf-Identify as Students of Color: Unavailable

Duke reported rise in 10,000 undergraduate applications because that 2021 contrasted to 2020, top to an unmatched acceptance rate of 5.8%. In addition, 44% the applicants made decision not to send SAT/ACT scores.

As a leading research university, battle each other evaluates students based on their potential to contribute academically and also make use of the resources. The college considers six factors, which can be categorized right into three groups: academics, extracurricular activities, and an individual interests.

Admissions officers recognize academically exceptional students through reviewing letters of recommendation, grades, check scores, and the rigor the coursework. Extracurricular tasks also help Duke discover students with distinct backgrounds and diverse perspectives. To assess students" personal interests and also overall fit, to represent must closely read with multiple required essays.

9. University of Pennsylvania

Total variety of Applicants: 56,332Total Admitted: 3,304Gender Balance: 54% Female, 46% MaleSelf-Identify together Students that Color: 56%

Penn"s undergraduate join rate fell from 8.6% in 2020 to simply 5.9% in 2021. This price reflects admission right into Penn"s 4 undergraduate schools: the university of Arts and Sciences, pen Engineering, the college of Nursing, and the Wharton School.

The college prioritizes scholastic excellence. The most competitive applicants have earned high grades and undertaken rigorous coursework. This load toward scholastic achievement is made apparent by Penn"s fall 2020 incoming class statistics, in i m sorry 97% the admitted students were in the top 10% of your high institution class.

Penn also looks for students with distinctive backgrounds and also talents and who will positively add to the community. These personal characteristics are generally determined by analyzing an applicant"s extracurriculars, interviews, and two Penn-specific an individual essays.

10. Dartmouth College

Total variety of Applicants: 28,357Total Admitted: 1,749Gender Balance: UnavailableSelf-Identify as Students that Color: 48%

In a record-breaking applications cycle, Dartmouth boasted a vain admission rate of 6.2% because that 2021. The adjust represented a 33% increase in applications end 2020 and also resulted in one of the most diverse classes in the school"s history.

Dartmouth looks for "strong-minded, multitalented" applicants to sign up with its community. The prestigious school wants students that will proactively support one another and also take benefit of the school"s multidisciplinary resources and also premier study opportunities.

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Applicants are evaluated top top their unique backgrounds and also talents in enhancement to their scholastic achievements, letters of recommendation, check scores, and also Dartmouth writing supplement.