Sometimes, the thing that gets you into your dream school is a bit of luck. But if you're wondering what your actual chances of getting accepted are, we've rounded up the data for you.

Our list below covers the college acceptance rates for 150 nonprofit four-year schools, both public and private. These rates may vary a bit each year, but they're generally a good guidepost for understanding your chances of getting into a specific school.

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Some schools earn a reputation for being easy to get into or extremely competitive. But the number of applicants can influence an acceptance rate, too. Two schools may accept the same number of students, but if one school receives a significantly higher number of applicants, its acceptance rate will be lower.

It's a good idea to have a few safety schools on your list (i.e., schools that you're very likely to get into) along with your dream schools. Knowing college acceptance rates can help you put together a solid list of schools to apply to.

What Colleges Have the Lowest and Highest Acceptance Rates?

Our list of 150 schools has acceptance rates from 4-99%. While there's a lot of middle ground on the list, here are some of the colleges with the lowest and highest acceptance rates.

10 Colleges With the Lowest Acceptance Rates

Most of the schools on the list for lowest acceptance rates will come as no surprise.

Many Ivy League colleges have acceptance rates of less than 10%. Keep in mind that these schools also typically welcome a large number of applications each year, which affects this rate.

The Harvard acceptance rate is just 4%. Similarly, Caltech, MIT, Princeton, and Stanford boast acceptance rates of 4%. This means only around 1 in 25 applicants will be admitted.

  1. California Institute of Technology: 4%
  2. Harvard University: 4%
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 4%
  4. Princeton University: 4%
  5. Stanford University: 4%
  6. Yale University: 5%
  7. Brown University: 6%
  8. Dartmouth College: 6%
  9. Duke University: 6%
  10. University of Chicago: 6%

10 Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates

The colleges with the highest acceptance rates accept a vast majority of applicants. We recommend identifying at least a few safety schools you'd be happy to attend if you don't get into your reach schools.

A whopping 99% of students who apply to Liberty University get accepted. Marshall University, the University of New Mexico, Kansas State University, and the University of Maine all have acceptance rates of over 95%.

  1. Liberty University: 99%
  2. Marshall University: 98%
  3. University of New Mexico: 97%
  4. Kansas State University: 96%
  5. University of Maine: 96%
  6. North Dakota State University: 95%
  7. University of Memphis: 95%
  8. University of Utah: 95%
  9. East Carolina University: 94%
  10. University of Kentucky: 94%

College Acceptance Rates for 150 Popular U.S. Schools

College acceptance rates can vary significantly. Try to apply to a mix of schools with different levels of competitiveness. The following table lists the fall 2021 college acceptance rates for 150 popular U.S. schools.

Source: NCES

How Can You Raise Your Chances of Getting Accepted?

If you're planning to apply to colleges with low acceptance rates, we recommend being proactive about the competitiveness of your application.

Here are some ways you can increase your chances of getting accepted:

  • Write a Compelling Essay: At some schools, the personal statement is the most important part of your college application. The essay gives you the opportunity to explain who you are beyond the data in your application and how you'll thrive at the school.
  • Get a High SAT/ACT Score: Many colleges require SAT or ACT scores for admission. When preparing for these exams, use high-quality practice materials and focus on your biggest weaknesses. Remember that you can retake your chosen test at any point to try to raise your score.
  • Earn Good Grades in Tough Classes: A rigorous course schedule and high GPA are mere starting points for some of the most competitive schools. Challenging yourself and excelling academically can go a long way toward securing an acceptance.
  • Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation: Including letters of recommendation that speak to your character, achievements, and how you're exceptional can help you stand apart from other applicants.
  • Apply Early and Interview if Possible: Applying early action or early decision, as well as undergoing any college or alumni interviews, can emphasize your commitment to the school and your determination to attend.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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