Popular Schools Among International Applicants (and their acceptance rates)

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

In the past 10 years, almost every college in the U.S. has been receiving more and more applications. some have doubled, or even tripled the number since the end of last century. While many schools are adjusting their enrollment and also accepting more students, increasing popularity means the applicant pool is more competitive than ever. In 2017, UCLA became the first school to reach 100,000 applications in a single application season. We will look at the acceptance rate of some popular schools among high schoolers.

Most Competitive (less than 10%)
Stanford University (4.7%)
Harvard (5.2%)
Juilliard School (6%)
Yale (6.3%)
Columbia (7%)
MIT (7.2%)
Princeton (7.3%)
Cal Tech (8%)
Duke (8.3%)
Northwestern (8.4%)
University of Pennsylvania (8.4%)
Brown (8.6%)
University of Chicago (8.7%)
United States Military Academy/West Point (9.5%)
Johns Hopkins (9.9%)


Highly Competitive (10% to 25%)
Williams College (12.2%)
Georgetown University (14.5%)
Tufts (14.6%)
Barnard College (14.8%)
Cornell University (15%)
UC Berkeley (15.1%)
Washington University in St. Louis (16%)
Notre Dame (17.6%)
UCLA (18%)
University of Southern California (18%)
Emory (18.5%)
NYU (19%, record low!)
Wellesley College (19%)
Carnegie Mellon (22%)
University of Michigan (23.5%)


Competitive (25% to 50%)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (21.9%)
Boston University (22%, record low!)
Boston College (27%)
Northeastern (27%)
American University (31%)
Georgia Tech (32%)
UCSB (33%)
Brandeis University (34%)
UCSD (34.1%)
University of Texas, Austin (36%)
UC Irvine (37%)
UC Davis (44%)
University of Washington (46%)
Ohio State (49%)
Penn State (50%)

Lower than ever
First thing to note is that every school on this list has a lower acceptance rate than it had 5 years ago, showing that today, with online applications such as CommonApp and Coalition, students are more encouraged to apply to schools they otherwise wouldn’t apply. Increasing popularity from non-U.S. countries is also a key component of the lowered acceptance rates, as almost every school also sees an increased international student population. However, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s easier to get into U.S. colleges as an international applicant. UC Berkeley, for instance, has a 8.7% international student acceptance rate, significantly lower than its 17% for in-state applicants and 15% for out-of-state applicants. Private schools also have a similar trend.

What can I do as an international applicant?
One main reason is that most colleges have quotas when it comes to admitting international applicants, and since the spots are limited while demand increases, the acceptance rate drops. It’s also more difficult for admissions officers to contextualize high school grades from thousands of schools overseas; that being said, standardized tests and extracurricular activities may have a greater weight. Therefore, do yourself a favor start early on test prep, and keep track of your experience, awards/honors, and activities!

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

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