As 2018's seniors gear up for their last summer before college, it's all aboard the train of insecurity for next year's seniors. Watching Legally Blonde may inspire teens to get into Harvard University, but squeezing in considering that low acceptance rate is a tough reality. The US has some of the best colleges in the world. These universities are churning out some of the smartest people we've ever seen, not to mention some of the greatest academic and medical discoveries. In 1799, Benjamin Waterhouse introduced the smallpox vaccine to the United States, straight out of Harvard. As schools like MIT and CalTech nourish the kinds of talent that built your smartphone, the drive to get accepted to the top colleges in greater than ever.
Getting accepted to these schools is becoming increasingly difficult, though. With more applicants than ever for a limited set of places, kids are having to give their all before they're 18 years old, and it's becoming harder by the year. At the other end of the spectrum, colleges with a 99.9% acceptance rate are offering the "yes" answer with the click of a button. Whether someone clicked on this to see the toughest schools or the easiest ones (or both), they're going to get them. Here are the 25 toughest (and easiest) colleges to get into in the US.
Harvard University didn't get its prestigious reputation out of anywhere. With a 5.4% acceptance rate in 2016, nearly 95% of applicants are rejected. Of the 39,506 applicants for the class of 2021, only 2,037 were admitted. SAT scores are typically between 1430 and 1600.
With only 5.4% of candidates admitted, Harvard University is the toughest college to get into in America.
Harvard also doesn't come cheap, although financial aid is available. The total 2018-2019 cost of attending without financial aid is $46,340. That's just tuition.
The Eastern Oregon University has been welcoming students since 1929. With just 3% of applicants denied admission, 97 out of 100 candidates receive that exciting admissions letter. Its location in the Blue Mountains range between Portland, Or and Boise, ID also makes this school incredibly beautiful. At 99 years old, Leo Plass made world history as the school's oldest graduate in 2011. Leo dropped out less than one semester from graduation in 1932 during the Great Depression. He even lived to be 104.
Yes, that's Emma Watson (and yes, she graduated from Brown University). This Ivy League school definitely maintains high standards, and with an acceptance rate of 9%, most applicants don't make it. The school occupies a beautiful campus in Providence, RI, although students are here for the academics, not the scenery. Emma Watson graduated with a degree in English Literature, although she isn't the only famous Brown face. Modern Family's Julie Bowen and The Big C's Laura Linney also attended this university.
You won't need to study too hard to be accepted to Colorado's Adams State College. With a 99.9% acceptance rate, the university's doors are pretty much open to everyone. With far fewer applicants than Harvard University, only 14% of applicants even apply with SAT scores. The average range for these is 930-1130. The university's students typically received B grades in high school. In-state tuition fees are $9,153 versus $20,169 for out-of-state students. The school has received some criticism for its online and correspondence programs, and in 2016, the school was placed on probation, according to Chronicle.
No wonder she's jumping for joy. An Instagram shot of you celebrating your acceptance into Yale University is possible, but with a 6.3% acceptance rate, the chances aren't exactly high. The New Haven, CT university is one of the most prestigious schools in the world, and it knows what to look for. "Academic ability" is listed top of "What Yale looks for" on the university website. Given that the acceptance rate has been 6.26% and 6.27% in recent years, they're clearly just as selective as ever.
Each year, Lewis Clark State College admits over 3,500 students. Chances are, morale is high in this Idaho school since 97% of its applicants are admitted. Of those who were admitted in 2016, 51% enrolled. Despite it being easy to get in, US News reported that the school "continues to be ranked highly" among universities in Regional Colleges West. The school offers more than 83 degrees and is well-known for its education, nursing, criminal justice, and technical programs. Fun fact: women outnumber men by five to three in the student body.
When it comes to tech, you can't get much more prestigious than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Cambridge, MA university accepts 8% of candidates, and 1/3 of all students are enrolled in the same electrical engineering course.
Sheldon Cooper may be a CalTech graduate, but he would have had a harder time getting admitted to Howard Wolowitz's alma mater – MIT.
LinkedIn, Boeing, BuzzFeed, and Zipcar were all founded by MIT alumni. Buzz Aldrin actually turned down an MIT scholarship, although he later earned a doctorate in astronautics from the school.
Calling all Idaho kids. If you're a parent who desperately wants their kid to go to college (or are a senior who really doesn't think there's a college seat for them that says "welcome"), there is a happy medium. It's called Brigham Young University.
With a 100% acceptance rate and no SAT or ACT requirements, it's harder to get rejected by this school than it is to be accepted.
This private, four-year university does require some faith – it is operated by the Church, but provided you want to go, you're always welcome here.
Sheldon Cooper would be so proud. With an 8% acceptance rate and some of the brightest minds in the world, The California Institute of Technology is one tough school to get into. It might be sunny here, but it's all work, no play to get admitted. Photocopying was invented at CalTech, although the university does have fun. According to the school's website, rumor has it that the largest In-N-Out burger was made for Caltech students. The school also featured in Legally Blonde and Mission: Impossible.
The University of Wyoming won't guarantee acceptance, but with an admission rate of 95%, the chances are good. Unlike a lot of the easier schools to get into, this one isn't tiny. The University of Wyoming is home to more than 13,500 students from all 50 states and 87 countries. It's also filled with some pretty smart kids – the average high school GPA for entering freshmen is 3.46. The school is big on athletics. Not surprising, then, that many of the students choose to be cheerleaders.
Princeton University is just one of those names – it'll be on the tip of your tongue alongside Harvard and Yale. Princeton earmarks its "difficult to get into" status with an acceptance rate of 7%. High SAT scores are a must, as is a high tolerance to massive workloads.
Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, attended Princeton.
That said, the school has also delivered some Hollywood celebs. David Duchovny and Brooke Shields also graduated from Princeton.
Admission rates at Kansas State University might be 94%, but this school is ranking highly when it comes to sports. The school ranked fourth in ESPN's Men's College Basketball rankings for 2017. Kids here might not need to be competitive to get admitted, but they're definitely showing an edge on the court. Willie the Wildcat is the school's mascot, and you can see for yourself how seriously the students take their sports. The school is also ranked in the top 115 universities with the highest research activity.
Sunny California it may be, but Stanford University isn't easy-going when it comes to getting admitted. Admission rates were at 4.6% in 2016. In 2018, The Mercury News reported that acceptance rates had fallen to a record low. It now sits at 4.3% for the class of 2022. "We continue to be awed and humbled by the interest Stanford receives from outstanding young people around the world," were the words from Richard H. Shaw, the dean of admissions. Amazingly, while Reese Witherspoon played a Harvard student in Legally Blonde, she actually attended Stanford.
Schools with super-low acceptance rates aren't likely to admit twins. At Virginia State University, the admission rate is 94%, so these two were able to make their mom proud from the same campus. Alongside an extensive range of courses, Virginia State University has a very active Greek life, a marching band, professionally-coached cheerleading, and an impressive alumni portfolio of human rights activists. A significant proportion of famous alumnae went onto have prestigious NFL careers. If you're into basketball, consider this school.
Columbia University in the city of New York is the toughest NYC school to get into. With a 7% acceptance rate, the admissions process is extremely selective, and the alumni list is one of the most impressive in the world.
Katie Holmes, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, and Jake Gyllenhaal all attended Columbia.
The school has many famous faces to its name. Others include Alicia Keys, Emmy Rossum, and Ashley Tisdale. The billionaire Warren Buffet also graduated from Columbia.
Kids are whipping up a storm over at The Culinary Institute of America, where 94% of aspiring chefs are admitted. Bakers, cooks, and pastry courses here attract foodie students, and this university even has a Singapore campus. The school's alumni list is also pretty impressive. Famous chefs, Jerome Bocuse and the late Anthony Bourdain were both alumni, as is PBS' Cooking Under Fire judge, William Todd English. The CIA also has approximately 49,000 graduates in the industry – many come from The Culinary Institute of America.
Harvard, Yale, and Princeton tend to be the most famous when it comes to being prestigious, but plenty of other schools are topping the "toughest" category. Ranking higher than some Ivy League universities is Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. The acceptance rate here is 11%. The school has 21 current and former members of Congress as its alumnae, not to mention the CEO of Nasdaq. This university has delivered NASA astronauts, Nobel prize winners, Supreme Court lawyers, and some of Tennessee's former governors.
Missoula, Montana is where you want to be headed for 92/100 chances of being admitted. This public research university ranks 17th in the nation and fifth among public universities producing Rhodes Scholars, so don't think that kids here aren't smart.
The University of Montana was voted "most scenic campus" by Rolling Stone.
The school's athletic team is named after nearby mountains. The Montana Grizzlies have somewhat of a rivalry with Montana State University, but these people know how to keep it real.
You're looking at one smart kid. The University of Chicago may have a reputation for attracting off-beat students, but the school draws a firm line when it comes to admissions. Only 8% of the 31,484 applicants were admitted in 2017. Attendance also doesn't come cheap. In 2016, undergraduate tuition and fees came to $50,997, although the school has a solid financial aid system. Famous alumni include Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, plus Misha Collins from the CW show, Supernatural.
There are some definite perks to attending The University of Kentucky. The undisputed home of fried chicken, Kentucky is more than up there on the good food front. With a 91% acceptance rate, studying with a bucket won't be hard. The University of Kentucky is the largest college or university in the state, with 30,720 students in 2015.
The founder of Outback Status attended The University of Kentucky.
The school also seems to deliver some very good-looking alumnae. Miss Kentucky 2013, 2014, and 2015 all attended the university.
Accepting only 9% of applicants, The University of Pennsylvania is another prestigious school that doesn't kid around when it comes to admissions. The private, Ivy League university has produced many Fortune 500 CEOs. It is also home to the first school of medicine in North America and the first college business school. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and Paypal attended UPenn. John Legend and the talkshow host Maury Povich also studied here.
High school seniors often have to make the decision of whether to stay in their home state or travel for college. In Utah, though, worrying about staying on home territory is less of an issue at Utah State University, where the acceptance rate is 94%. With 18,000 students living on or near campus, it's also Utah's largest public residential campus. The school has a long-standing ice cream tradition, with the famous Aggie ice cream store on campus. There's a lot of brains here, though. The 2013 Nobel prize for economics went to a USU alumnus.
Don't let the easy-going Southern location fool you. Duke University is an Ivy League school that only accepts 11% of hopeful candidates. For a highly prestigious academic institution though, there's also a huge focus on sports. With 976 career wins, Duke's basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski is the most "win-worthy" basketball coach in history.
In 2012, Duke University scientists created the first "invisibility cloak."
Yup. In 2012, Duke scientists created an invisibility cloak that can perfectly hide centimeter-scale objects. There's something you didn't know.
89% of applicants are admitted to Illinois State University. The school has an impressive academic and sports portfolio, although its website also gives you some neat facts. The top girls' names at Illinois State University are: Jessica, Emily, Sarah, Samantha, and Ashley. For guys, it's: Michael, Matthew, Ryan, Nicholas, and Daniel. The youngest student registered was 16 years old, while the oldest was 81. The school welcomes Illinois natives, nationwide students, plus international students from India, Brazil, China, and 62 other countries.
Lots of library studying is what Dartmouth College students have to do before they're even admitted. The university only accepts 11% of applicants. Did you know that Dr. Seuss (real name: Theodor Geisel) was a member of the 1925 class of Dartmouth? The New Hampshire school also has some fun traditions, like running around a bonfire as a homecoming tradition. You need to be brave to go here, though. In winter, hundreds of students plunge into icy pond waters as part of the annual Polar Bear Swim.
If you recognized a lot of names on here, we're not surprised. If you got a little inspiration to get you (or someone you know) into college, hit share on Facebook. If any of your Facebook friends are massively nostalgic or proud of their school, they might also want to see this.