The Ivy League’s eight schools are among the most prestigious and selective universities in the United States and the world. As a result, Ivy schools have tens of thousands of candidates flooding their school websites with applications.
But what are the acceptance rates of Ivy League schools, and how have they changed over time?
We’ll look at Ivy League admissions in this analysis, from the number of applicants to the number of students who actually attend.
Given that the eight universities—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale—consistently rank among the best in the world, Ivy League acceptance rates are of great interest.
Hundreds of thousands of students with perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores apply each year hoping to be accepted into one or more of these prestigious schools.
The statistics on admissions are dismal. The record number of Ivy League applicants for the Class of 2023 was 311,948. Unfortunately, the acceptance percentage of 6.78 percent across all eight colleges was a record low at the time.
While acceptance rates for the Class of 2024 increased slightly at most Ivy League institutions because of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 breakout, getting into Ivy League colleges remained extremely difficult.
Now that the Class of 2025 admissions results is in, it’s clear that applications to Ivy League institutions increased dramatically in the most recent application round, with approximately 100,000 more students applying than the previous year. Acceptance rates for the Class of 2025 are, unsurprisingly, historically low.
Ivy League admissions data has sparked annual headlines in prominent media for years, reinforcing the Ivy League schools’ exclusivity and selectivity.
Rather than accepting failure before your child applies to the Ivy League, it’s critical to learn about the statistics at each school.
We’ll go over the most recent admissions figures and examine the important findings in the sections below. Then we’ll go over the tactics your child can use to improve their chances of getting into an Ivy League school in future application rounds.
What is Ivy League Admission Battle like from 2018-2021
Let’s see what admission has been lately with the different Ivy League schools.
Admissions to the Ivy League for the 2018-2020 academic year
Admission rates for the 2019/2020 admission cycle were marginally higher than for the 2018/2019 admission cycle, according to a new trend.
This disparity was minor, and it resulted from schools receiving thousands of fewer applications in 2019/2020 than in 2018/2019. This is encouraging news for those worried that the Ivy Leagues would continue to become more competitive each year.
Because the number of people applying to schools in 2018/2019 appeared to be abnormally high. It was only natural that this would be the most competitive year in the history of any Ivy League school. Because there were fewer high school students in 2019/2020, schools received fewer applications, making it easier to get into schools.
Since the difference is so minor, whether Harvard admits 4.7 percent of students or 5% of students in a given year will likely have no bearing on your chances.
So don’t go crazy estimating how many high school pupils will be in attendance the year you apply.
Looking at the raw numbers of applicants and admitted students, as well as the acceptance rates of Ivy League colleges throughout time, it’s clear that there’s not a lot of fluctuation in how many students Ivy League schools accept each year.
The growing volume of people applying is causing Ivy-caliber colleges to become increasingly selective. However, there is one additional piece of the puzzle to consider: each school’s yield, or the percentage of accepted students who enroll in college.
Admissions to Ivy League Universities: 2020-2022
The COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout society, including college admissions. Many kids who would have started college in the fall of 2020 choose to take a year off.
There were a variety of reasons for this, including a desire to be closer to home during a pandemic, a belief that remote learning was not a wise investment, and a desire to save money.
As a result, several universities, including the Ivy Leagues, had to sift through their waitlists in the spring of 2020, and admission rates increased marginally.
The greatest shift in college acceptance rates to date occurred during the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
Many institutions, particularly Ivy League and other top-tier schools, received a record number of applications. This wasn’t a little increase; these colleges were receiving tens of thousands of additional applications than they had ever received before.
Harvard, for example, received 40,248 applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. They received 57,786 in 2020-2021.
That’s a significant rise!
This pattern was consistent across all Ivy League institutions. There are a variety of explanations for this spike, including students who had postponed college applications and the elimination of SAT/ACT requirements at practically every institution, which may have persuaded candidates that they could have a chance at a school that would otherwise be out of reach.
However, while the number of applications increased, the number of students accepted at each school remained relatively constant. In reality, several institutions saw a little decrease because they were holding slots for kids who had postponed the previous year.
What effect did this have? Many top-tier institutions’ acceptance rates have dropped to historic lows.
To name a few examples, Harvard’s acceptance rate dropped from 5.0 percent to 4.0 percent between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, Yale’s from 6.5 percent to 4.6 percent, and Columbia’s from 6.3 percent to 3.9 percent.
Ivy League acceptance rates dropped from 7.3 percent to 5.7 percent on average. These are much larger variations than the ordinary 0.2 percent or so that we observe year to year.
Unfortunately, this meant that getting into an Ivy League or similar top-tier institution in 2020-2021 was the most difficult year to date.
Ivy League Acceptance Rates: Class of 2025
(Note: This table will be updated as new data are released. Princeton canceled early action for the Class of 2025.)
|Overall Acceptance Rates||Early Action/Early Decision Acceptance Rates||Regular Decision Acceptance Rates|
|Accepted||Applied||Acceptance Rate||Accepted||Applied||Acceptance Rate||Accepted||Applied||Acceptance Rate|
*Early decision schools | ^Single-choice early action schools
Who Finally Gets In? Ivy League and Other Top Universities Admissions
The good news is that elite colleges are still on the lookout for the things they’ve traditionally been interested in. They value high academic achievement. Students that take initiative, volunteer in their communities, perform well on the SAT or ACT, and are enthusiastic about learning are valued.
The Ivy League admissions process is like what it has always been in several ways. The bad news is that it’s all too easy to become lost in the avalanche of applications.
Even if you are exactly what they are looking for, you should know how colleges have altered the college admissions process in order to make sense of the thousands of applications they receive.
To begin, you’re surely aware that some very gifted high school athletes have a different path to elite colleges than others.
Coaches at colleges and universities have some say in the college admissions process (known as “recruiting”), therefore some student-athletes are admitted based on a coach’s recommendation, even if their profile as a regular applicant might not have gotten them noticed.
Top institutions do have minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score requirements for recruited athletes, although they are typically lower than what kids in the main pool require.
Recruited athletes are also more likely to commit to a school throughout the summer, making them early applicants to consider when looking at the early numbers.
Second, you may have heard of the Dean’s Interest List, an element of Harvard’s admissions process that was uncovered during the current litigation against them. And has now been revealed to be a feature of college admissions at other elite schools as well.
These top-secret lists refer to applicants who have been flagged as “of interest to the institution” for one reason or another by the Admissions Office.
Athletes, legacies, children of significant contributors, or those with a link to the university’s faculty or administration are among the candidates.
The acceptance rate for students who are able to get a seat on these coveted lists is much greater than for early or regular decision applicants.
Finally, there is a misconception that elite institutions admit a big proportion of students from minority racial backgrounds and lower socioeconomic status “instead of” kids with higher grades and test scores.
While it is true that most selective schools treat applications from disadvantaged high school students holistically—as they do all applications.
In order to understand how sociological barriers may have influenced students’ academic profiles, the overall data show universities like Yale and Harvard continue to admit a disproportionate number of white students from affluent backgrounds, compared to the national demographic average.
What Will Happen Next?
You might wonder what kind of test scores you need to get into these prestigious universities now that you’ve looked at the acceptance rates. Here are the excellent results for Ivy League colleges, as well as MIT, Stanford, and UChicago.
You already know how these colleges compare in terms of admittance and yield, but what about other factors like student happiness and graduation rates? In this post, you’ll learn about our current Ivy League rankings and what they imply.
If you’re a student-athlete, your road to top-tier institutions can look a little different from what we’ve outlined here. This post will teach you more about Ivy League athletic recruiting.
Looking for a step-by-step plan to being one of the ten percent of students accepted to Ivy League Plus schools? PrepScholar co-founder Allen Cheng discusses his college application and offers advice on how to get into Harvard and other Ivy League colleges.
Instead, why not apply to a smaller liberal arts college? We’ve written about the best liberal arts colleges in the US, as well as how to figure out what you want to study in college (hint: if you’re uncertain, a liberal arts school would be a smart choice).
5 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting into an Ivy League School
So far, we’ve looked at the hard data on Ivy League acceptance rates and yields across time, evaluated patterns, and highlighted why these admissions measures are important to schools.
Moving from the abstract to the tangible, we’ll give you five pointers on how to improve your chances of being accepted into one of the best national colleges we described earlier in this post.
Tip 1: In your application, demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Your college application should ideally tell a tale about the type of student you have been (and suggest what kind of student you will be).
Highly elite national colleges care more about demonstrating your enthusiasm for one subject than your ability to be well-rounded, as PrepScholar co-founder Allen Cheng says in his piece on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League.
Ivy League schools strive for diversity among students rather than diversity within each student. In practice, this implies that instead of demonstrating to elite institutions that you can do anything and everything well enough, demonstrate to them you can do a few things really well and are passionate about them.
Tip 2: Aim for high test scores and outstanding performance. GPA in high school
Universities that receive many applicants employ standardized test scores (primarily SAT/ACT) and GPA as filters to determine which applications are worth reading?
When most applicants submit their applications in early January and expect to hear back by mid-to-late March, going through tens of thousands of applications is simply not feasible.
Between the day applications are due and when students are notified, even Caltech, with its 8,200 applicants, would have to sort through nearly 110 applications per day.
It’s understandable that schools use test scores and GPAs as filters, given the existence of non-workdays and the fact that admissions officers “need sleep because they’re not undead.”
Yes, it’s painful to feel like your worth is reduced to a few numbers. However, this does mean that there are a few unambiguous markers of success that you can strive towards.
Highly selective schools are almost as concerned with the classes you take as they are with your grades.
This does not imply that you must take every tough course offered at your institution; rather, you should select the most rigorous classes that fit your application’s narrative.
For example, if you’re applying to colleges with the narrative that you’re a math nerd who spends her free time working on p vs np problems, schools will be suspicious if you’re taking your school’s easiest math and physics courses, even if you’re taking advanced English or History classes.
M, a high-school acquaintance of mine who took challenging courses in all disciplines throughout high school, including AP Calculus BC in junior year, is a real-life example of this.
When M reached her senior year, she could take AP Statistics (her only other math class) or Film and Media Studies, a non-honors level English class that entailed film analysis.
M took a non-honors English subject instead of a math class senior year since she was so passionate about cinema (she’d formed a film club at our school).
Granted, she was still taking AP Spanish, AP Bio, AP Macroeconomics, and AP English Lit, so she was still pursuing advanced coursework in the areas that she was interested in (and ended up taking the equivalent of two English classes); however, M did not take a math class her senior year…and was still accepted early decision to UPenn.
Tip #4: In your extracurricular activities, aim for quality rather than quantity
You should devote your academic rigor to the topics that most interest you, and you should devote your extracurricular time to the activities that best complement your interests.
When it comes to extracurricular activities such as music, athletics, and community service, you should prioritize quality over quantity and dedication overbreadth. Even if you don’t wind up pursuing your high school interests in college, demonstrating your ability to focus and dedicate yourself to greatness in a certain area will benefit your college application.
Consider the two pupils in the following scenario. Candidate A took part in your school’s Math Olympiad for one year and in the math club for another. Even if the kid has previously excelled in her math classes, colleges are unlikely to find this particularly inspirational.
Consider Candidate B, who served as the captain of her high school fencing team for two years (after two years on the team). Even if this kid does not fence in college, she is a stronger contender than candidate A since she was ready to put in the time and effort to continue with the same activity for four years (and took on a leadership role as captain for two of those years).
Tip 5: Double-check that all aspects of your application are up to par.
While test scores, GPA, course rigor, and extracurricular are typically the most important factors in Ivy League or other top-tier national university applications, you can still improve your chances by writing outstanding letters of recommendation, personal statements, and application supplements or portfolios.
A strong letter of recommendation from a teacher who has seen you progress as a student, a well-written personal statement that reveals something not revealed elsewhere in your application, or an impressive portfolio of work (whether oil paintings or web apps) give schools more data to consider when deciding whether to accept you.
The challenge for you, at the end of the day, is: how do you stand out in this crowd?
We’re here to assist you.
Learn more about how we can help you beat the odds and get into the school of your dreams by visiting our other pages.
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