Most Selective Colleges United States

The Most Selective Colleges in the United States for all times

Many students seek admission to a prestigious college or university, but the number of vacancies often does not meet the needs of applicants. Getting admitted to schools on this list can be particularly difficult. This makes them one of the most selective colleges in the US.

If you insist on studying at one of these most selective colleges in the US, you will have to prepare for a tough time at the entry point as there is a very good chance that you will not be taken. Therefore, your chances of being denied admission are far higher than your chances of getting admission.

It is for this very reason that you need to pay serious attention to this letter as it can be your guide in choosing one of these schools.

Most selective colleges in the United States are ranked from lowest to highest based on the percentage of acceptance rates. These schools accept a lower percentage of applicants than any other.

In this article, you’ll learn about the most selective colleges in the United States, why they accept so few applicants, and some advice on what to do if you really want to attend one of these schools.

What are the selective universities?

These universities have the lowest acceptance rates in the United States. You’re the hardest to get hold of, period. And every year they become more selective. But at least you still have a better chance of getting to Harvard than being struck by lightning.

The list doesn’t include colleges that are essentially free (although many have a service request). The list does not include schools with performance- or portfolio-based admissions process.

Selectivity alone does not explain how difficult it is to get to school. Some schools not on this list have students with higher average GPAs and test scores than some schools on the list.

It is tempting to judge the quality of a school by its admission rate. While this is a reasonable way of evaluating schools in most cases, there are some special circumstances that can result in extremely low acceptance rates at less academically demanding universities.

How do I know a Selective College?

Selective colleges are schools that accept only a small percentage of applicants. There are several reasons why certain universities have such low acceptance rates.

Some schools are extremely selective in that they are looking for a specific specialized applicant and very few students meet the requirements.

This category would include a school like Juilliard, which is only interested in receiving students who demonstrate virtuosity in music. Students must speak to faculty members as one of their application requirements.

This group also includes military schools like West Point, where candidates pass physical fitness assessments and must be nominated by their representatives in Congress or the Senate to be considered for admission.

Other universities are extremely selective because they seek out students with excellent overall qualifications and can only afford to pick the best performers from the huge pool of applicants they attract.

These schools are an interface between popularity and very high standards. This includes Ivy League schools and schools like Stanford and MIT.

These schools are also known internationally and therefore attract a large number of applicants. In 2018-19, Harvard only offered 1,950 students out of a total of 43,330 applicants!

In order to maintain their reputation, these schools can only select the most outstanding students for each class. It usually takes more than excellent grades and test scores to get started. You need these qualifications in addition to other unique academic and extracurricular achievements.

The Most Selective Colleges

The most selective colleges in the United States are categorized in two types; Non-specialized Selective Schools and specialized Selective Schools.

Non-Specialized Selective Schools

First, we’re going to list some schools that have low admission rates because they are extremely popular and can only pick the strongest applicants. These schools are listed in descending order, starting with the most selective school.

Note that even if your SAT / ACT scores and GPA are technically at the level of the averages at these schools, you cannot expect to be accepted.

Any school with an acceptance rate of less than 15% is an unreachable school for even the best students, and any school with an acceptance rate of less than 30% is still very selective.

Stanford University, Stanford, California

Stanford shows that selectivity is not limited to elite schools on the east coast. In 2015, the school accepted a lower percentage of students than Harvard and, with the latest data, links the prestigious Ivy League school.

Acceptance Rate: 4%

Enrolment: 17,184 (7,034 undergraduates)

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

All of the Ivy League schools are very selective, but not only is Harvard the most selective of the Ivies, but it is also usually the most selective university in the United States. As both US and international filings increase, the acceptance rate has steadily declined over the years.

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Enrolment: 29,908 (9,915 undergraduates)

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Four of the five most selective universities in the country are Ivy League schools, and Yale is reluctant to beat Stanford and Harvard. Like most of the schools on this list, the adoption rate has steadily declined in the 21st century.

Over 25% of applicants get a perfect score on the SAT math or SAT critical reading exams.

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Enrolment: 12,458 (5,472 students)

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton and Yale are giving Harvard fierce competition for the most selective of the Ivy League schools. You need the full package to get to Princeton: “A” grades on challenging courses, impressive extracurricular activities, good letters of recommendation, and high SAT or ACT scores. Even with this proof of eligibility, approval is not a guarantee.

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Enrolment: 8,181 (5,400 students)

Columbia University, New York, New York

Colombia’s selectivity has grown faster than many other ivy, and it is not uncommon for the school to be associated with Princeton. The urban location on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is a huge draw for many students (for students who don’t love the city, be sure to check out Dartmouth and Cornell).

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Enrolment: 29,372 (8,124 students)

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Cambridge, Massachusetts

MIT is # 1 in the world in some rankings, so it should come as no surprise that it is extremely selective. Among the technology-oriented schools, only MIT and Caltech made this list. Applicants must be particularly strong in math and science, but all parts of the application must be shiny.

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Enrolment: 11,376 (4,524 students)

Caltech (California Institute of Technology), Pasadena, California

Caltech is three thousand miles from MIT and is equally selective and prestigious. With fewer than a thousand students and an amazing 3 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, Caltech can deliver a transformative educational experience.

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Enrolment: 2,240 (979 students)

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Highly selective universities are by no means limited to the east and west coasts. The University of Chicago’s single-digit acceptance rate makes it the most selective university in the Midwest. It’s not an Ivy League school, but the admission standards are comparable. Successful applicants have to shine on all fronts.

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Enrolment: 15,775 (6,001 students)

Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Like all Ivies, Brown has become more selective in recent years, and successful applicants require strong academic records and real extracurricular achievement.

The school campus is adjacent to one of the most selective art schools in the country: the Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD).

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Enrolment: 9,781 (6,926 students)

Pomona College, Claremont, California

Pomona College is the most selective liberal arts college on this list. The school has begun replacing Williams and Amherst in some national rankings of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, and its membership in the Claremont Colleges consortium offers students numerous benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Enrolment: 1,563 (all students)

Specialized Selective Schools

Now we’re going to introduce the schools that are extremely selective because they have specific programs and look for specific types of applicants.

In highly selective music schools, test results and grades are far less relevant to a student’s likelihood of acceptance. These schools see musical talent much more than academic achievement.

Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia

This school seeks only the best music students and admission is based “on artistic promises only”. The Curtis Institute also offers a full scholarship to all students.

Together, these factors result in an adoption rate that is below that of the most competitive universities on the first list.

Acceptance Rate: 3%

The Juilliard School, New York

Like the Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard is only looking for a very specific and very talented group of students. Students are required to audition for faculty members as part of the application process, and the standards of performance are exceptionally high.

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, Kentucky

Alice Lloyd is a liberal art boarding school. Despite the low adoption rate, academics with less impressive average test scores aren’t particularly competitive here.

As a compromise for lower educational standards, most students have very little debt.

Acceptance Rate: 8%

U.S. Naval Academy

To attend the US Naval Academy, students must apply to a US Representative, Senator, or Vice President and receive a nomination.

Students must also pass physical fitness and a medical exam. The academic standard is very high so there is only a small group of students who can meet all the required requirements.

Acceptance Rate: 9%

U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

West Point has such a low acceptance rate because students need to pass other patterns in addition to other test scores and grades.

Applicants are required to complete a physical fitness assessment, do as many pushups as possible in two minutes (that would be about 0.5 for me), run a mile as fast as possible, and do some other agility and strength tests.

You must also apply to a congresswoman, senator, or vice president. Only students whose nominations are approved will receive a place at West Point.

Acceptance Rate: 10%

What to do if you are aiming for the most selective colleges?

If you are hoping to attend any of these select schools, this is great! There is no magic formula for acceptance, but you don’t have to rely on luck if you play your cards right.

To have a solid chance of acceptance at any of the non-specialized selective colleges, you need to take the most difficult classes throughout high school and get very good grades.

As you can see from the average GPAs for admission to these schools, most students are expected to have an Assen dominated high school diploma.

SAT / ACT test results are also very important; Your score should be at least the average of the admitted students.

Even in non-specialized schools (but especially in specialized schools), excelling in an academic or extracurricular area is important if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Since you are competing with so many applicants, and most of them have as good academic qualifications as you, you need to find a way to demonstrate your worth as a member of the college community that goes beyond grades and test scores.

The most selective schools value passion, drive and lateral thinking. If you can develop a specialization that shows that you have these qualities, your chances of being accepted are very high.


If you want to attend a highly selective school, you must have a very good academic record in high school. The rankings of the most selective colleges in the United States can have a profound impact on how people rate the quality of certain schools. So, prepare well before applying to study at one of these colleges.


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