Admit This

Top-10 Toughest Colleges to Get Into

I'm taking bets on when the first American college will go below a 5% overall acceptance rate. Any takers? After that milestone, I'll be taking wagers on when the first college will hit 1%. Finally, the betting pool will take on the momentous first decimal-point acceptance rate school. Won't some future group of first-year admits be proud to say, "Hey, [school name here] got 150,000 applications this year and only 1,300 of us got in. That's a 0.9% overall acceptance rate!"

And you thought inflation was bad. Well, the sub-5% and sub-1% acceptance rate days are still out there a ways but it sure ain't easy today at the top schools. This month, or in April, go ahead and brag—if you are accepted at one of Kiplinger.com’s 10 hardest schools to get into, based on admissions rate and yield. A low admit rate indicates that the school is highly competitive and a high yield means that most admitted students find the school desirable enough to attend.


Student’s who attend these schools are not only among other outstanding students but are also likely to be viewed favorably by prospective employers, potentially delivering a return on your investment for years.

So what top value private colleges made the list for best bragging rights? Here's a sampling:

1. Harvard University: Admit Rate: 7%; Yield: 75%. How hard is Harvard University to get into? Consider this: 93% of applicants don’t get in. This Ivy League institution attracts top applicants from around the world, and if the letter -- or e-mail -- from admissions says yes, they usually come.

3. Yale University: Admit Rate: 8%; Yield: NA. Yale University doesn’t release the percentage of accepted students who enroll, but with a world-renowned reputation and one of the lowest admission rates in the nation, this university offers bragging rights in spades. If your kid gets accepted, you’ll be mentioning it around the neighborhood.

5. Princeton University: Admit Rate: 9%; Yield: 57%. An Ivy League school with a long list of illustrious alums, from James Madison to Charles Rosen, Princeton University continues to attract future leaders to its stately campus. Princeton’s generous financial-aid policy makes the school affordable for all students who qualify.

7. Columbia University: Admit Rate: 10%; Yield: 57%. Here’s one way to live in New York City on mom and dad’s dime: Enroll at Columbia University. This Ivy League school, in the Morningside Heights neighborhood, not only draws top students but also keeps them: 99% of freshmen return for their sophomore year.

9. Dartmouth College: Admit Rate: 12%; Yield: 52%. Sure, the weather could be more inviting, but Dartmouth College’s glorious setting -- on the Connecticut River at the foot of the White Mountains -- and Ivy League credentials attract plenty of high-achieving students to this campus. Dartmouth is the only member of the Ivy League that calls itself a college, thanks to its focus on undergraduates.

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For the rest of the list, see Kiplinger's article. Study it and then place your bets in the sub-5% sweepstakes.

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.