Another View of the University Admission Rate New Lows

Apr 5, 2019 · 3 min read

Spring is here, and it is a scary time of the year — if you are a high schooler or an undergraduate student. Day after day you hear, or view a social media announcement, of your friends getting offers from big-name universities, signing internship contracts, or professors or new instructors joining departments.

Yep, it is the race, and everyone is moving on in the race. The statistic is not looking pretty, with the selective schools becoming even more selective, as application numbers rising to record high. Read on — we’ll tell a different story.

Let’s start with a sampled flavour of the landslide trends of Regular Admission Rates:

Liberal Arts

  • Boston College: 14% (down from 27% in 2018)
  • Harvey Mudd College: 13.4% (down from 15% in 2018)
  • Barnard College: 11.3% (down from 13.7% in 2018)
  • Amhrest College: 11% (down 12.8% in 2018)
  • Haverford College: 16.1% (down from 20% from 2018)

Private Universities

  • Harvard University: 4.5% (down from 4.59%, 5 years streak)
  • University of Pennsylvania: 7.44% (down from 8.39%, 3 years streak)
  • Cornell University: 10.6% (up from 10.3%, breaking 4 years streak)
  • Brown University: 6.6% (down from 7.2%, 3 years streak)
  • Duke University: 5.7% (down from 7.3%)
  • University of Chicago: 5.9% (down from 7.2%)

Public Universities (2018 statistics)

  • University of California Los Angeles: 16%
  • University of California Berkeley: 15.1%
  • University of Virginia: 26.4%

Just about any person apart from recruiting department, or university presidents would think that these are quite dismal numbers.

True, statistically speaking, an admission rate of x tells you that if you are a random person applying to the university/college, you have x% of chance to get there. Therefore if the rates go down, there is a lower chance for any random person to get in if person had applied.

But what do these numbers reflect?

Admission Rate = Number of offers made / Number of applicantions

There are only two pieces to this metric. If the number of offers made go down, the rate drops. If the number of applications go up, the rate plummets, too. Just like the Price/Earnings ratio in the stock market, admission rate is not an effective indicator of true value. In this case, it reflects excess demand by the masses for an entry to the institution, relative to the number of seats it can supply. Demand is driven by cross-market applicant number growth, well-established brand names, effective recruitment strategies, rankings……None of which is very telling of the actual value of the school.

There is nothing magical or prestigious about these numbers when you break it down. We laid these numbers out not to discourage, but to try to supply a different view of these scary rates. There is A LOT more to those numbers, and there are A LOT of other universities offering quality education, and there is A LOT going on in the admission process. You are worth, and you are, A LOT more.

This does not mean that you should not work hard — if you don’t, one day you’d wish you did. But hard work comes in many forms: if you belong, apply and you’ll belong. If you do not want to play the game, well, it is time to innovate, and define your own metrics.

Onwards youngsters!

**Past admission rate data from U.S. News, current rates from respective university sites.


Zept - for prospective international students and the…


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Economics junkie learning how to write. Thawing in Edmonton, Canada



Zept - for prospective international students and the schools they wish to attend

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