College Admission Acceptance Rate of Top Colleges

Acceptance rate of top colleges

Nowadays, getting into good colleges in US is very hard, along with that the acceptance rates of colleges are going down. Along with applying to universities, students also must focus on their academics and their extracurriculars. Students have immense pressure on them and applying to colleges should not be one of them. There are several factors involved when it comes to applying to colleges; having a counsellor reduces this stress. We will discuss the college admission data, how applications are processed and the application theme in general and what students need to do to get admissions in good colleges.

Admissions Data

Acceptance rates are at a record low in US colleges like the Ivy league, Stanford, MIT and many other institutions. Here is the percentage of students that were and will be accepted over the years at Ivy League,Stanford and MIT:
University Admissions - IVY League, Stanford, MIT
University Admissions - IVY League, Stanford, MIT

This is a graph of acceptance rates from Class of 2021 vs Class of 2022:

University Acceptance Rates - Class of 2021 vs Class of 2022
University Acceptance Rates - Class of 2021 vs Class of 2022

As you can see, the acceptance rates have gone down over the years and might continue to do so. At many top schools you have less than a 10% chance of getting in!

Thus, to have a better chance at getting into one of these top colleges you need a counsellor. A counsellor will help you through all the requirements for admissions that will help you get accepted in good colleges.

How applications are processed

Most schools use a process of “holistic review” in which individual officers assess every part of the application. There is no algorithm to determine who is accepted or rejected. Most schools read every single page from every single student. Thus, regardless of your SAT/ACT score, your application will be reviewed.

How it works
  1. You submit your application
  2. The admissions office adds it to their pile of applications
  3. The applications are separated (mostly according to the region)
  4. Each admissions officer receive sone region
  5. That officer goes through all the applications and selects a handful that they like
  6. All these applications are taken to the admissions committee where the final decision is taken

There is a person on the other side of the application, if you don’t impress them, they won’t advocate for you. Thus, if you don’t make an impression on the admissions officer who is assigned to your file, he/she will not take your application to the committee and as a result you will not be admitted.

In 2018, the UCLA admissions office read approximately 14,70,000 pages of applications. Most schools have one officer reading thousands of applications. Last year, in 2018, 1 admissions officer in Boston University was appointed to read applications from Connecticut. Boston University received over 60,000 applicants last year.

Thus, your application will be approximately 13 pages long, and it will be in a stack of applications as tall as a 20 - floor building. In general, you will be compared to all the applicants from your region, and that is your competition. Therefore, if you don’t stand out you will not be remembered by the admissions officer.

Student Goals

How do you stand out?

So, if there are so many applicants and all of them have great applications, how do you make yours stand out?

Since, the application is reviewed from a holistic point of view, we have a few factors that are combined on the chart below:

Factors in University Admission Decisions
Factors in University Admission Decisions

This chart displays all the factors needed for an impressive application. Everything around the chart shows where all these factors are found on the application.

Academic Excellence

The ‘hard’ academic factors that are considered in admissions decisions are
  • Strength of curriculum
  • Grades in All courses
  • Grades in College Placement Courses
  • Standardized Test scores (SAT/ACT)
  • Subject Test scores
  • SAT Subject Test Courses

All of these are combined and considered for academic factors. Although all your grades are important, but the strength of your curriculum is given higher considerable importance over your admissions test scores. Getting a high score will give you a chance of getting in but it does not guarantee admissions. Academic excellence goes far beyond grades and scores. It embodies educational growth and potential, intellectual curiosity and vitality. Therefore, all the other factors along with a good score will make your application impressive.

Academic excellence is crucial – above everything else, colleges are academic institutions. They want to see that you work. Part of the job for an admissions officer is to see if the applicant will fit in the college, if they will contribute in the classroom and if they will make a positive change in the college environment. These are a few things that they expect students to do
  • Take advantage of resources like writing centers, labs, seminars, study abroad opportunities, etc.
  • Have and express your opinions in the classrooms.
  • Contribute positively to the classroom and academic community.
What does a strong Academic background look like?
  • A student that has an average score of 90%
  • SAT score in the range of 1520 – 1600 or an ACT score in the range of 34 – 36
  • Took the most challenging AP classes at school
  • Works on a research project

All these factors together would contribute towards academic excellence.

Diversity and Focus

Diversity is something that sets you apart from the rest. It is anything special about you that brings a unique perspective in a classroom and in your dorm. Diversity is something that will help you stand out.

Some examples of diversity would be
  • Things that you cannot control – Race, ethnicity, religion, etc.
  • Unique academic interest ( any unique course that is offered in school that others are not participating in)
  • Unusual extracurricular activity – like starting your own non-profit organization
  • Uncommon achievements – publishing work of your own if you are a writer

As we have mentioned before, you should pick one or two activity/activities and excel in that.

What does Diversity and Focus combined look like on your application?
  • A unique academic interest
  • Conducting experiments at home and being curious in general
  • Working at a place that is related to your field
  • Start science programs or clubs and increase the members
  • Team leader for any project


Codification is a way to present information on your application about yourself in a constructive and clear manner.

For example, how would you show that you are good at Math?
  • Obtain strong math scores on SAT/ACT and transcript
  • Work as a math tutor
  • Conduct math research
  • Win math awards

These are good ways to show colleges that you excelled in this field and are interested in pursuing it further.

In conclusion, SHOW don’t TELL.

So how do you do this?

Codify experiences – Take something you really enjoy, your passion, interest or hobby and turning it into something tangible that admissions officers will understand and value.

Take an action on your interest, either by creating something unique or develop a skill that allows you to be compared to other applicants.

Personality and Character

Finally, don’t forget to be likeable!
  • Be someone who the admissions officers will like, or even your classmates and professors will like
  • Be someone who would be a pleasure to room with or have a class with
  • Be someone who cares about the world and community

All these combined together will create an impressive personality and will encourage admissions officers to choose you. It will give them confidence that you will fit in their university culture.

Some negative traits to avoid:

Therefore, it has gotten harder to get admissions in colleges but using all these resources makes it easier to form a good application that will give you a fair shot at getting admission.

Take advantage of counselling services and get on top of your application process!

Follow all these steps and start building your portfolio now.
  • Arrogant
  • Entitled
  • Privileged
  • Selfish
  • Dishonest
  • Inauthentic