Nov 8, 2013

25 Colleges with the Lowest Acceptance Rates

There’s something perverse about a system that equates excellence with rejection. Yet in the backwards world of college admissions, schools proudly point to how few students they were able to accept in any given year as a badge of honor.

For admissions offices, it’s all about the numbers.  More applications translate into more rejections.  More rejections mean increased selectivity.  And with selectivity comes prestige.

It’s this line of thinking that led colleges like Washington and Lee University, the US Naval Academy or the University of Iowa to include incomplete applications in applicant counts reported to the federal government and others.  

By reporting more applicants, these schools generate lower admit rates and appear more selective in the highly competitive market for applicants.  And it's not against any published rules.

During admissions season, the New York Times keeps a running tally, and US News and World Report (USNWR) uses admit rates as metrics in determining the “best” colleges.

But the reality is a little more complicated. Some of the most “exclusive” colleges in terms of selectivity are there because they offer a specific kind of experience or have a corner on the education market. Others have low admission rates because tuition is free or extremely low.

So those who think the nation’s lowest admission rates are only found within the Ivy League will be surprised to find that the Curtis Institute of Music (6.8%) and the Julliard School (7.3%) are right at the top along with Harvard, Stanford, and Yale for the lowest admit rates in the country.

Locally, the Naval Academy (7.5%) once again topped the list, with Georgetown University (17%), Washington & Lee (19.5%), and Johns Hopkins (17.7%) all coming in under 20 percent.  Liberty University (22.8%), the University of Virginia (29.6%), the Corcoran College of Art & Design (30.4%), the University of Richmond (30.3%), and the College of William and Mary (32.2) also made it onto the top 100 list.

Thanks to the number crunchers at USNWR, here is the most recent list of colleges with the nation’s lowest acceptance rates (the rest of the list may be found on the USNWR website):

Harvard University:  6.1%
Stanford University:  6.6%
Curtis Institute of Music:  6.8%
US Naval Academy:  6.8%
Cooper Union:  7%
Yale University:  7.1%
Julliard School:  7.3%
Columbia University:  7.4%
Princeton University:  7.9%
MIT:  9%
US Military Academy:   9%
College of the Ozarks:  9.5%
Brown University:  9.6%
Dartmouth College:  9.8%
US Air Force Academy:  9.9%
Alice Lloyd College:  10.2%
Cal Tech:  11.8%
US Merchant Marine Academy:  12.4%
University of Pennsylvania:  12.6%
Amherst College:  13%
Pomona College:  13%
University of Chicago:  13.2%
Duke University:  13.4%
Claremont McKenna College:  13.6%
Swarthmore College:  14.2%

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