13 of the Hardest Colleges to Get in To

If you like a challenge, then college acceptance is it.

A normal university accepts applicants at a rate of 70%. That means if your ACT, SAT, and grades are within their range, then you will probably be accepted. Of course, that isn’t all of the details. It also matters what major you are studying, your extracurriculars, an essay is involved in the application process. Around the early 2000s, colleges started getting pickier and increasing their averages. Having most of your students in the top 10% of their graduating class is a substantial statement when you are in college. 

Also, saying you have low dropout rates and student grade averages that are above 90% is also great marketing for the college, which is why many colleges began getting pickier on who they were accepting. However, there have always been those super selective universities that had acceptance rates under 5%. Many of those universities are considered Ivy League and have always been a big deal to be accepted into. Suppose you look at a school like The Ohio State University with undergraduate numbers of 67,957 students. These colleges that are difficult to get into have undergraduate numbers on the lower end of 4-6,000 students.

  1. Columbia in New York City, New York (Private Ivy League)

The number one lowest acceptance rate for college goes to Columbia. The highest scores someone can achieve on an ACT and SAT include 36 on the ACT and 1600 on the SAT. Columbia’s middle 50% average at 1530 for the SAT, and the ACT is 34-35. They also have a percentage acceptance rate of 3.9%. That means they turn away 96.1% of applicants. So if you get into the hardest school to get into in America and you get to go to school and live in New York City, shout it from the rooftops and enjoy a top-level private Ivy League education.

  1. Stanford University in Stanford, CA 

Stanford has always been considered a more difficult school to get into and a reputable school to graduate from. It is not considered Ivy League, but that is because when it was created in 1930, the schools in the Ivy League were on the east coast. Those schools had established programs and competitive sports that competed against each other. Stanford wasn’t even close on the map for travel, nor was it considered a top school to go to. Located in Palo Alto, California, it is in the heart of the famed Silicon Valley. 

It is known for its technology and science innovations, and it is a school students in the tech world want to go to. Unfortunately, applicants have to have top scores because their acceptance rate is 3.9%. Their average ACT is 32-35, and their SAT is 1470-1570. There is more wiggle room there for great grades, volunteering, and extracurriculars, but in the end, you better be amazing if you want to go to one of the best schools on the west coast.

  1. Harvard University in Cambridge, MA (private Ivy League non-profit)

Harvard is the oldest university in the United States and is extremely prestigious. It has been ranked the number one university in numerous rankings. Their undergraduate numbers are 7500 students, and their acceptance rate is 4%. Harvard is famous for its undergraduate and graduate programs, which are strong in economics, computer science, political science, and applied mathematics. They had 5,222 people in their undergraduate program in 2020.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA (private land-grant research university)

Telling someone I got into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) really opens people’s eyes. MIT is known for its Computer science, Mechanical engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Aerospace, aeronautical, and astronautical/space engineering programs. It is incredible to get into a college with an acceptance rate of 4.1% and only 4,361 people in their undergraduate program.  

  1. California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA (private research university)

CAl Tech boy has 938 students in their undergraduate program. They are comparative with their acceptance scores to MIT and are extremely selective.

  1. Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey (private Ivy League) 

Princeton University has sent many alumni to the Olympics and has very good athletics. They also have top educational ratings. They have the largest endowment per student with an endowment of $37.7 billion. Princeton keeps its enrollment low with a 4.4% acceptance rate.

  1. Yale University in New Haven, CT (private Ivy League research university)

Yale has a graduation rate of 98% and has 4,700 undergraduate students. Their acceptance rate is 4.6%. Yale is known for its economics and political science majors, but they are also known for their music and drama programs.

  1. Brown University in Providence, RI (private Ivy League research university)

Brown was one of the nine colonial colleges that was a college before the American Revolution. It was founded in 1764. Brown has an undergraduate student enrollment of 6,800 but an acceptance rate of 5.5%.  They accept students in the SAT range of 1480-1560 and Act at 33-35.

  1. Duke University in Durham, NC (private research university)

Located in the beautiful town of Durham, NC, Duke University has 6,500 students in the undergraduate programs. Duke is expensive to attend and has an acceptance rate of 5.8%. For Duke, you have to have GPAs in the 4.13 range and be outstanding in your class.

  1. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Penn (private Ivy League research university)

The University of Pennsylvania is also one of the nine colonial colleges. They are famous for the Wharton School of Business changing the way business education and practices are done. They have a larger enrollment of 10,774 students in their undergraduate program. Their acceptance rate is 5.9%.

  1. Dartmouth in Hanover, NH (Ivy League)

Dartmouth is located along the Connecticut River and has an undergraduate number of 4,100. Their acceptance rate is 6.2% which is an increase from what it once was. They like to have a range of undergraduate students evaluated on their test scores, letters of recommendation, and academic achievements.

  1. United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland

The United States Naval Academy has some of the highest-paid graduates in the country according to starting salary, and it is a highly selective academy.

  1. University of Chicago in Chicago, IL (private research)

The University of Chicago does not require an ACT or SAT to be accepted. It is always in the top-ranked universities. It also has a higher number of undergraduates at 18,000. It’s famous for being an affordable and excellent education.