College acceptance rates in top-rated schools plummet between 2006 and 2018

College acceptance rates among the nation’s most prestigious schools have declined 37 percent over the past 12 years, according to a new study by BusinessStudent.com. 

At the top of the ranking is the University of Chicago, which saw its acceptance rate plunge 81.1 percent. Other top universities with tanking acceptance rates include Northwestern (down 73.8 percent), Duke (72.2 percent), Georgia Tech (68.1 percent) and Johns Hopkins (67 percent).  

Among the top schools in the study, the average college acceptance rate was 35.9 percent in 2006, compared to the current 22.6 percent. Average acceptance rates across all 50 states are down by 37 percent between 2006 and 2018.  

BusinessStudent.com attributed the drop to a higher demand for admissions into top-rated, U.S. schools.  More international and national applicants are seeking admission into schools like Harvard, the analysis found. 

Those seeking an expensive, high-quality education view Harvard as a worthy investment, compared to less prestigious colleges that share the same price tag, the study's authors said. This demand makes it increasingly difficult for students to get accepted into top universities.   

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U.S. Colleges with Highest Decrease in Acceptance Rate

RankSchool2006 Acceptance Rate2018 Acceptance Rate% Decrease
1University of Chicago38%7.2%81.1%
2Northwestern University32%8.4%73.8%
3Duke University23%6.4%72.2%
4Georgia Tech69%22%68.1%
5Johns Hopkins30%9.9%67%
6Tulane University48%17%64.6%
7Stanford University11%4.3%60.9%
8Rice University27%11%59.3%
9University of California Berkeley34%15.1%55.6%
10Vanderbilt University24%10.9%54.6%
11University of Pennsylvania18%8.4%53.4%
12California Institute of Technology17%8.1%52.4%
13University of California Irvine60%28.8%52%
14Michigan University47%23.5%50%
15Harvard University9%4.6%49%
16Massachusetts Institute of Technology13%6.7%48.5%
17University of Southern California25%13%48%
18Case Western University67%35%47.8%
19New York University36%19%47.2%
20Tufts University27%14.6%45.9%

Source: BusinessStudent.com

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