Know Acceptance Rates of World's Top Colleges

Know college admission acceptance rates

Nowadays, getting into good colleges in the 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 in applying to colleges; having a counselor reduces this stress. We will discuss the college admission data, how applications are processed, the application theme in general, and what students need to do to get admissions to 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 :

Percent Acceptance at Ivy League, Stanford, MIT

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

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 counselor. A counselor will help you through all the requirements for admissions that will help you get accepted into 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 :

  • You submit your application
  • The admissions office adds it to their pile of applications
  • The applications are separated (primarily according to the region); each admissions officer receives one region
  • That officer goes through all the applications and selects a handful that they like
  • 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, and if you don’t impress them, they won’t advocate for you. Thus, if you don’t make an impression on the admissions officer 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, which 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 significant 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 – 

Holistic Point of view for acceptance

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 II Courses

All of these are combined and considered for academic factors. Although all your grades are essential, the strength of your curriculum is given higher considerable importance over your admissions test scores. Getting a high score will provide you with 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 educational 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, contribute to the classroom, and 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 solid 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 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 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 them. (application persona)

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 number of members
  • Team leader for any project


Codification is a way to present information on your application about yourself constructively and transparently. 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 doesn’t TELL.

So how do you do this?

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

Take 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 likable!

  • 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 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 :

  • Arrogant
  • Entitled
  • Privileged
  • Selfish
  • Dishonest
  • Inauthentic

Therefore, it has gotten harder to get admissions in colleges but using all these resources makes it easier to form an excellent application to give you a fair shot at gaining access. 

Take advantage of counseling services and get on top of your application process! Follow all these steps and start building your portfolio now!