What is the Hardest College to Get Into? Top 10 List

To increase their chances of being admitted into selective universities, many high school students aim for the greatest GPA and test scores. Even though getting good grades and test results will help you get into more colleges, they might not be sufficient in and of itself.

What is the Hardest College to Get Into?

The most prestigious universities in the nation admit relatively few applications and have very strict admissions requirements. What then makes it harder to get into some colleges than others?

The oldest universities in the country are also the most difficult to get into. These universities have amassed their renown throughout time by combining strong academic programs, substantial endowments, and illustrious teachers and alumni. These elements have a long history of success and innovation.

Many high school students strive for the highest GPA and SAT/ACT scores possible to gain admission to competitive universities. While strong grades and test scores can certainly help, they may not be enough to gain admission to every school.

The most selective schools in the country maintain extremely stringent admission standards and accept only a small number of applicants.

What is the Hardest College to Get Into?

Although most of the most difficult colleges to get into are Ivy League schools, admission rates to other highly selective universities, such as Stanford and MIT, are comparatively low.

They might not be Ivy League schools, but they still provide respectable degree programs and just as many opportunities for in-depth research.

See which American universities are the most competitive by using the table below. Unless specified otherwise, all information comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the class of 2026.

Top 10 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

SchoolLocationAcceptance Rate (Class of 2026)
Minerva UniversitySan Francisco, CA0.99%
HarvardCambridge, MA3.00%
CalTechPasadena, CA3.00%
ColumbiaNew York, NY3.99%
StanfordStanford, CA3.99%
MITCambridge, MA4.00%
BrownProvidence, RI4.99%
University of ChicagoChicago, IL4.99%
YaleNew Haven, CT5%
Dartmouth CollegeHanover, New Hampshire5.99%

1. Dartmouth College

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 28,336

Total Admitted: 1,700

Dartmouth has a 5.99% acceptance rate for the class of 2026, making it the tenth-hardest school to get into. Just 1,700 out of 28,336 applicants were accepted to Dartmouth.

Similar to other Ivy League universities, Dartmouth assesses applicants’ abilities holistically.

The academic level of the coursework completed, grade trends, and candidates’ high school GPA are all taken into consideration by admissions officers.

Candidates may include extra items, such as certificates and honors that highlight their achievements.

The admissions committee can better understand your goals and whether you’ll fit into this academic community by looking at the required writing supplement.

2. Yale University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 50,060

Total Admitted: 2,503

Yale University is one of the hardest colleges to get into, with a 5.00% acceptance rate for the class of 2026, up 8% from its 4.62% acceptance rate for the class of 2025.

The university differs slightly from other Ivies regarding the factors it considers during the admissions process.Yale looks for two main components: the ability to contribute to the school’s community and the ability to make the most of the school’s resources.

While Yale evaluates nonacademic factors as well, it remains a highly competitive institution. Admissions officers focus on identifying exceptional ability and academic promise through a combination of grades, test scores, and the rigor of classes taken.

3. University of Chicago

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 37,522

Total Admitted: 1,876

UChicago, one of the best research universities in the world, has a 4.99% acceptance rate for the class of 2026.

Just 1,876 out of 37,522 candidates were granted admission to the college. When it comes to admissions, the university considers some variables.

Essays, teacher evaluations, and transcripts from secondary schools are required of applicants. Applicants can identify themselves and lend a voice to their application by using a two-minute video profile.

Although test scores are not required at UChicago, they are accepted if you choose to submit them.

4. Brown University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 50,649

Total Admitted: 2,532

Brown had its biggest applicant pool to date this year, which led to an incredibly low 4.99% acceptance percentage.

The esteemed university looks at every application from a broad perspective and takes into account how applicants made use of their high school opportunities and resources.

Because Brown’s culture values involvement outside of the classroom, your extracurricular achievements will have a significant impact on your admissions decision.

Brown seeks candidates who will both enhance and add to the academic atmosphere of the school through essays and interviews.

5. MIT

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 33,767

Total Admitted: 1,351

MIT, one of the top technical schools, has an extremely low admission rate of 4.00% for the class of 2026. This is a 1% increase in applications accepted compared to the admissions cycle for 2020–21.

While test scores and grades are still significant, your general fit with the school is the main factor used to determine admission to MIT. MIT seeks applicants who would encourage their peers and have a cooperative mentality.

Furthermore, as the majority of MIT courses and labs are collaborative, applicants should be at ease working in groups. MIT gives preference to applicants who show a willingness to take chances and learn from mistakes.

6. Stanford University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 56,378

Total Admitted: 2,255

With a 3.99% admission rate for the class of 2025, Stanford falls just slightly behind Columbia with a .00005 difference!

The school welcomed 10,000 more applications in 2021 than it did in 2020, representing a 23% increase.

At Stanford, your academic record is the most important factor in determining admission.

The university also looks at components beyond numerical data, such as extracurricular activities and personal essays, which allow you to illustrate your unique background and experiences.

What is the Hardest College to Get Into?

7. Columbia University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 60,879

Total Admitted: 2,435

This year, Columbia has a 3.99% acceptance rate for the class of 2026, making it the fourth most difficult institution to get into. This rate is the same as that of the prior year.

In addition to considering each applicant’s academic accomplishments, Columbia considers the individual experiences and backgrounds of each applicant when making decisions on undergraduate admissions. The university considers your grades as well as the difficulty and diversity of the classes you have taken.

Columbia’s admissions committee looks at things other than grades, such as letters of recommendation and extracurricular involvement.

Your degree of engagement in and out of the classroom is a good measure of your potential to make a valuable contribution to the school.

8. California Institute of Technology

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 16,626

Total Admitted: 499

Caltech is a very selective school with a 3.00% admittance rate for the class of 2026, renowned for its science and engineering programs.

This rate reflects the admission of even fewer first-year applicants than the previous year when Caltech admitted 3.92% of applicants.

Caltech looks for students who share a love of STEM with a particular interest in math, chemistry, and physics. The school also prefers applicants with a collaborative, creative, and resilient spirit.

Additionally, Caltech strongly values applicants with non-STEM-related passions and hobbies.

9. Harvard University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 61,221

Total Admitted: 1,837

Being an Ivy League college, Harvard admitted just 3.00% of first-year applicants for the class of 2026. This rate applies to admission into Harvard College, the undergraduate school, and reflects an admittance of even fewer students than the previous year.

Harvard considers a student’s character as well as their academic potential when determining admissions decisions. The school works hard to carefully consider each application so that it can learn as much as possible about the academic interests, backgrounds, and extracurricular skills of each student.

To find exceptional kids, admissions officers mostly rely on extracurricular activities, college interviews, and recommendation letters.

10. Minerva University

Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 20,816

Total Admitted: 208

With a project-based curriculum, Minerva specializes in forming the next generation of leaders. San Francisco-based Minerva, which has a 0.99% admission rate for the class of 2026, is the hardest school to get into.

Compared to the Ivy League universities on this list, admission to the college is significantly more challenging.

Just 208 of the 20,816 first-year applicants for the class of 2026 were accepted by Minerva. Minerva evaluates candidates’ academic performance based on their most recent transcripts and their results from national or final exams.

Additionally, candidates must finish a series of timed online tasks that test their ability to think critically, logically, and creatively.

There is no need for prior preparation for the challenges, which also demonstrate the applicants’ linguistic proficiency. After being accepted, you have four years to study abroad in different nations.

Similar Posts