Every year, it seems it’s harder to get in to the top colleges in the United States. Perfect grades and SATs were barely enough a decade ago to get admission into the Ivy League and now competition is even more fierce.
But just how hard is it to get into a top college today and how does that compare to the past? If you got into a top school a decade ago, would you have a chance today? Are some schools even more difficult to get into than others?
The Senior Staff at BusinessStudent.com conducted a study to analyze admissions rates from top schools from 2006 and compare them to twelve years later in 2018. We restricted our analysis to just the top schools in the United States a decade ago (the top 51 according to US News back then) to see how their admissions rates changed.
Yes, it’s much harder to get into a top school today than it was in 2006 and admissions rates have plummeted across the board. The school that’s had the sharpest drop in acceptance rates is the University of Chicago, followed by Northwestern and Duke. Of the 51 schools we looked at, 48 schools were more difficult to get into, but two actually had higher admissions rates.
A common refrain among alumni from a top school after seeing current admissions rates is “Wow, I don’t think I could get in if I applied today.”
The data confirms that this is likely true.
Shockingly! Among the top schools we looked at, the average admissions rate was 35.9% in 2006. By 2018, the admissions rate had plummeted to 22.6% (a drop of 37%).
Not only that, but the more competitive the school, the harder it is to get into.
The chart below shows the schools ranking in 2006 (grouped by 10s) and their past versus current admissions rates.
A top ten school in 2006 had a 16% admissions rate. Today, that rate is just 6.4%, a decline of almost 60%. Each tranche of school is harder to get into, but “hypercompetition” is increasing the fastest at the most elite universities.
So, which schools are seeing their acceptance rates fall the most over the last twelve years?