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2022 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

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It's no secret that there are some colleges out there that are more difficult to get into than others. These schools, often referred to as “the hardest to get into colleges,” usually have some of the most rigorous admissions processes and require a certain level of excellence from their applicants.

What Makes Certain Colleges More Difficult to Gain Entry?

The main factor that makes colleges hard to get into is their selective admissions process. These schools typically receive more applicants than they have spots available, which means that they have to be very selective in who they accept. Additionally, many hard-to-get-into colleges have high academic requirements for admission. This can mean higher minimum GPA or test scores for admission. Finally, the cost of attending these colleges is often significantly higher than other schools, meaning students who are accepted will have to commit to taking on substantial debt.

So, if you're interested in attending one of these hard-to-get-into colleges, what can you do to give yourself the best chance of admission? To start, focus on building a strong extracurricular profile. Colleges want to know that you’re passionate and engaged outside of the classroom and will be a contributing member of the college community. Additionally, dedicate some time to researching colleges and learning what they’re looking for in an applicant. This will help you determine which schools are the best fit for you and make sure that you’re applying to the right ones.

When submitting an application, be sure to tell a story that conveys who you are and why you want to attend the school. Showing the admissions committee who you are as an individual will help them understand why you would be a great fit for the college. Finally, get strong recommendations from your teachers, counselors, and other mentors. These letters of recommendation can help to bolster your application and demonstrate to the admissions committee why you're a competitive applicant.

What Is the hardest college to get into?

Hampshire College

If you're up for an extreme challenge, look no further than Hampshire College. Although it ranks at #154 on our best colleges overall ranking, it tops the list of hardest to get into colleges, accepting less than 2% of all applicants. Known as a small, private liberal arts college, it has just 1,233 students and offers approximately 70 different majors - particularly well known for its creative writing and computer software programs. Although exclusive, the price of admission is far from affordable, coming in at $50,030 per year - which is one of the more expensive colleges in all of America.

Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis Institute of Music takes the second slot on our list of hardest to get into colleges. It offers the best education for aspiring musicians and composers, with an acceptance rate of just 4%. This elite school has just 171 students, and offers many specialties like instrumental and vocal performance, composition, and theory. With a mission that focuses on performance and training, it's no wonder why it's so hard to get in.

Stanford University

Coming in third is Stanford University, with an acceptance rate of 4%, and ranks at #2 in our list of best colleges overall. Its student body is large and diverse, with over 20,000 students hailing from nearly every state and overseas. Despite the large size, Stanford offers small class sizes and provides its students with the best educational opportunities and world-class facilities. With a tuition price of $52,857 per year, it's one of the more expensive universities, but it's well worth the price of admission.

Harvard University

Harvard University is at number four with an acceptance rate of a mere 5%, making it one of the most prestigious colleges in the entire country. With 41,987 students, it is the largest university on our list, and offers its students a comprehensive curriculum. With its long and storied history, attending Harvard is an experience that you can't replicate anywhere else. Tied for third in our overall best colleges ranking, its tuition is also a pricey $47,730 per year.

Pacific Oaks College

Finally, rounding out the list of hardest to get into colleges is Pacific Oaks College. This small, private college located in Pasadena, CA has an acceptance rate of just 5%, and only 1,651 students. Its programs focus on providing its students with a humanistic and experience-based approach to learning. Tuition here is quite affordable at just $13,478 per year, making it a great choice for those who want an elite education at a discounted price.

Are Hard To Get Into Colleges Right For You?

Although it can be appealing to pursue colleges that are hard to get into, partly due to job opportunities but also due to the feeling of exclusivity, prospective students should take note that these generally come with a very expensive price tag.

So in conclusion, applying to colleges with challenging admission requires a great deal of hard work and dedication. By leveraging extracurriculars, researching schools, telling your story, and getting good recommendation letters, you can give yourself a better chance of being accepted. With the right amount of effort and determination, practically every college is accessible to any student, but we recommend using caution in your search to not overexert on a focus that may not return as much value in return for gaining admission.

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Hampshire College photo

Hampshire College

#1 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Hampshire College is a very small private liberal arts college located in Amherst, MA ranked 154th in the nation. It has a total of 1,233 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 1.97% of applicants. Hampshire College offers 67 different majors and is best known for its Web Design, Computer Software and Media Applications, and Creative Writing programs (nationally ranked 5th, 17th, and 24th respectively). With an annual tuition of $50,030 per year, Hampshire College is extremely pricey. 66.79% of students graduate starting the next phase of their lives, working. Open graduating, alumni go on to generate more or less $34,500 per year, which is 17% less than the national median.

Amherst, MA

www.hampshire.edu

A

Rating

2%

Acceptance

1,233

Students

#154

Ranking

$50,030

Tuition

Curtis Institute of Music photo

Curtis Institute of Music

#2 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Curtis Institute of Music is a very small private art school located in Philadelphia, PA with a student to faculty ratio of 2 to 1. It has a total of 130 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting slightly less than one in twenty applicants. Curtis Institute of Music offers 10 different majors.

Philadelphia, PA

www.curtis.edu

D-

Rating

4%

Acceptance

171

Students

-

Ranking

-

Tuition

Stanford University photo

Stanford University

#3 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Stanford University is a large private university located in Stanford, CA ranked 2nd in the nation. It has a total of 8,290 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 4.34% of applicants. Stanford University offers 227 different majors and is best known for its Human Biology, Industrial Management, and Earth Sciences programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $52,857 per year, Stanford University is exceptionally pricey. 89.2% of students graduate moving on to the next phase of their lives, employment. After college, alumni go on to make roughly $94,000 per year, which is 126% above the national median.

Stanford, CA

www.stanford.edu/

A+

Rating

4%

Acceptance

20,993

Students

#2

Ranking

$52,857

Tuition

Harvard University photo

Harvard University

#4 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Harvard University is a very large private university located in Cambridge, MA ranked 3rd in America. It has a total of 14,467 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 4.64% of applicants. Harvard University offers 375 different majors and is best known for its History, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $47,730 per year, Harvard University is very high-priced. 77.7% of students graduate starting the next phase of their lives, employment. After finishing college, alumni go on to make more or less $89,700 per year, which is 116% above the national median.

Cambridge, MA

www.harvard.edu

A+

Rating

5%

Acceptance

41,987

Students

#3

Ranking

$47,730

Tuition

Pacific Oaks College photo

Pacific Oaks College

#5 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Pacific Oaks College is a small private institution located in Pasadena, CA ranked 47th in California. It has a total of 743 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 5.11% acceptance rate. Pacific Oaks College offers 9 different majors and is best known for its Human Development and Family Studies and Early Childhood Education and Teaching programs, which are respectively ranked 1st and 13th in the United States. With an annual tuition of $13,478 per year, Pacific Oaks College is pretty affordable. 60.38% of students graduate beginning the next stage of their lives, employment. After college, alumni go on to make about $42,800 per year, which is 3% greater than the national median.

Pasadena, CA

www.pacificoaks.edu

B

Rating

5%

Acceptance

1,651

Students

#450

Ranking

$13,478

Tuition

Columbia University in the City of New York photo

Columbia University in the City of New York

#6 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Columbia University in the City of New York is a very large private university located in New York, NY ranked 9th in the United States. It has a total of 8,628 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 5.45% acceptance rate. Columbia University in the City of New York offers 467 different majors and is best known for its Sustainability Studies, Art History, and Slavic, Baltic and Albanian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $58,920 per year, Columbia University in the City of New York is exceptionally high-priced. 78.72% of students graduate beginning the next stage of their lives, working. After college, alumni go on to bring home around $83,300 per year, which is 101% greater than the national median.

New York, NY

www.columbia.edu

A+

Rating

5%

Acceptance

33,301

Students

#9

Ranking

$58,920

Tuition

Princeton University photo

Princeton University

#7 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Princeton University is a mid-sized private university located in Princeton, NJ ranked 5th in the nation. It has a total of 5,535 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 5.78% of applicants. Princeton University offers 125 different majors and is best known for its Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Biology, and Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $51,870 per year, Princeton University is extremely costly. 88.56% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, entering the labor force. After finishing college, alumni go on to earn more or less $74,700 per year, which is 80% greater than the national median.

Princeton, NJ

www.princeton.edu

A+

Rating

6%

Acceptance

8,720

Students

#5

Ranking

$51,870

Tuition

Blue Hills Regional Technical School photo

Blue Hills Regional Technical School

#8 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Blue Hills Regional Technical School is a very small public university located in Canton, MA with a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1. It has a total of 56 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting nearly 1/20th of applicants. Blue Hills Regional Technical School offers 1 different majors. 64.28% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, working. Open graduating, alumni go on to take in around $63,300 per year, which is 52% greater than the national median.

Canton, MA

www.bluehills.org/postgraduate-practical-nursing-program/

D-

Rating

6%

Acceptance

56

Students

-

Ranking

-

Tuition

Dallas Nursing Institute photo

Dallas Nursing Institute

#9 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Dallas Nursing Institute is a very small private university located in Richardson, TX with a student to faculty ratio of 8 to 1. It has a total of 330 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 5.99% of applicants. Dallas Nursing Institute offers 3 different majors. 51.77% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, working. After college, alumni go on to take home more or less $27,100 per year, which is 35% less than the national median.

Richardson, TX

www.dni.edu

F

Rating

6%

Acceptance

330

Students

-

Ranking

-

Tuition

Yale University photo

Yale University

#10 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Yale University is a large private university located in New Haven, CT ranked 4th in the United States. It has a total of 6,748 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 6.08% of applicants. Yale University offers 297 different majors and is best known for its American Studies, Religious Studies, and History programs (nationally ranked 1st, 1st, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $55,500 per year, Yale University is very pricey. 89.63% of students graduate beginning the next stage of their lives, working. After graduation, alumni go on to generate about $83,200 per year, which is 100% greater than the national median.

New Haven, CT

https://www.yale.edu

A+

Rating

6%

Acceptance

14,389

Students

#4

Ranking

$55,500

Tuition

University of Chicago photo

University of Chicago

#11 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

University of Chicago is a large private university located in Chicago, IL ranked 10th in the nation. It has a total of 7,674 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 6.17% of applicants. University of Chicago offers 218 different majors and is best known for its Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Economics, and Counseling Psychology programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $57,642 per year, University of Chicago is exceptionally expensive. 79.52% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, entering the labor force. After finishing college, alumni go on to earn more or less $68,100 per year, which is 64% over the national median.

Chicago, IL

WWW.UCHICAGO.EDU

A+

Rating

6%

Acceptance

19,659

Students

#10

Ranking

$57,642

Tuition

California Institute of Technology photo

California Institute of Technology

#12 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

California Institute of Technology is a small private university located in Pasadena, CA ranked 19th in the United States. It has a total of 989 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting slightly north of 1 in 20 applicants. California Institute of Technology offers 93 different majors and is best known for its Computational Mathematics, Astrophysics, and Physics programs (nationally ranked 1st, 1st, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $52,506 per year, California Institute of Technology is very expensive. After college, alumni go on to take home near $85,900 per year, which is 107% over the national median.

Pasadena, CA

www.caltech.edu

A+

Rating

6%

Acceptance

2,334

Students

#19

Ranking

$52,506

Tuition

Massachusetts Institute of Technology photo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

#13 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a large private university located in Cambridge, MA ranked 1st in the US. It has a total of 4,698 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 6.7% of applicants. Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers 114 different majors and is best known for its Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $53,450 per year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is extremely expensive. 90% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, working. After finishing college, alumni go on to generate near $104,700 per year, which is 152% greater than the national median.

Cambridge, MA

web.mit.edu/

A+

Rating

7%

Acceptance

12,321

Students

#1

Ranking

$53,450

Tuition

The Juilliard School photo

The Juilliard School

#14 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

The Juilliard School is a very small private art school located in New York, NY ranked 152nd in America. It has a total of 614 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 6.88% of applicants. The Juilliard School offers 55 different majors and is best known for its Stringed Instruments, Dance, and Keyboard Instruments programs, which are all nationally ranked 2nd. With an annual tuition of $47,370 per year, The Juilliard School is extremely pricey. After finishing college, alumni go on to earn about $32,800 per year, which is 21% under the national median.

New York, NY

www.juilliard.edu/

A

Rating

7%

Acceptance

971

Students

#152

Ranking

$47,370

Tuition

Brown University photo

Brown University

#15 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Brown University is a large private university located in Providence, RI ranked 12th in the US. It has a total of 7,428 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 7.07% of applicants. Brown University offers 265 different majors and is best known for its Entrepreneurship, African Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $57,112 per year, Brown University is very high-priced. 87.69% of students graduate moving on to the next phase of their lives, joining the labor force. Open graduating, alumni go on to earn about $67,500 per year, which is 63% greater than the national median.

Providence, RI

www.brown.edu

A+

Rating

7%

Acceptance

10,760

Students

#12

Ranking

$57,112

Tuition

Pomona College photo

Pomona College

#16 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Pomona College is a small private liberal arts college located in Claremont, CA ranked 20th in the United States. It has a total of 1,680 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 7.4% acceptance rate. Pomona College offers 52 different majors and is best known for its Molecular Biology, Public Policy Analysis, and Environmental Science programs (nationally ranked 3rd, 7th, and 8th respectively). With an annual tuition of $54,380 per year, Pomona College is very high-priced. 89.39% of students graduate moving on to the next stage of their lives, employment. After finishing their studies, alumni go on to earn roughly $58,100 per year, which is 40% above the national median.

Claremont, CA

www.pomona.edu

A+

Rating

7%

Acceptance

1,680

Students

#20

Ranking

$54,380

Tuition

Duke University photo

Duke University

#17 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Duke University is a large private university located in Durham, NC ranked 6th in America. It has a total of 7,338 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 7.6% acceptance rate. Duke University offers 242 different majors and is best known for its Public Policy Analysis, Computer Engineering, and Education programs (nationally ranked 1st, 2nd, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $55,880 per year, Duke University is very expensive. 94.41% of students graduate starting the next chapter of their lives, working. After graduation, alumni go on to earn close to $84,400 per year, which is 103% above the national median.

Durham, NC

WWW.DUKE.EDU

A+

Rating

8%

Acceptance

18,159

Students

#6

Ranking

$55,880

Tuition

University of Pennsylvania photo

University of Pennsylvania

#18 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

University of Pennsylvania is a very large private university located in Philadelphia, PA ranked 8th in the US. It has a total of 14,000 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 7.66% acceptance rate. University of Pennsylvania offers 355 different majors and is best known for its Finance, Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods, and Philosophy programs, which are all nationally ranked 1st. With an annual tuition of $51,156 per year, University of Pennsylvania is exceptionally pricey. 81.13% of students graduate ready to the next chapter of their lives, entering the labor force. Open graduating, alumni go on to earn more or less $85,900 per year, which is 107% greater than the national median.

Philadelphia, PA

www.upenn.edu

A+

Rating

8%

Acceptance

29,813

Students

#8

Ranking

$51,156

Tuition

Dartmouth College photo

Dartmouth College

#19 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Dartmouth College is a mid-sized private university located in Hanover, NH ranked 14th in the US. It has a total of 4,797 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 7.93% acceptance rate. Dartmouth College offers 113 different majors and is best known for its Engineering Science, Latin American Studies, and Native American Studies programs (nationally ranked 1st, 1st, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $55,605 per year, Dartmouth College is extremely expensive. 90.38% of students graduate moving on to the next phase of their lives, entering the workforce. After finishing their studies, alumni go on to take home more or less $75,500 per year, which is 82% greater than the national median.

Hanover, NH

www.dartmouth.edu

A+

Rating

8%

Acceptance

7,081

Students

#14

Ranking

$55,605

Tuition

United States Naval Academy photo

United States Naval Academy

#20 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Annapolis, MD

www.usna.edu

A

Rating

8%

Acceptance

4,512

Students

#150

Ranking

-

Tuition

Rice University photo

Rice University

#21 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Rice University is a mid-sized private university located in Houston, TX ranked 22nd in the US. It has a total of 4,145 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 8.72% acceptance rate. Rice University offers 150 different majors and is best known for its Biochemistry, Fitness Administration, and Cognitive Science programs (nationally ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively). With an annual tuition of $48,330 per year, Rice University is exceptionally pricey. 85.71% of students graduate ready to the next phase of their lives, working. Open graduating, alumni go on to make near $65,400 per year, which is 57% over the national median.

Houston, TX

www.rice.edu

A+

Rating

9%

Acceptance

7,542

Students

#22

Ranking

$48,330

Tuition

Swarthmore College photo

Swarthmore College

#22 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Swarthmore College is a small private liberal arts college located in Swarthmore, PA ranked 27th in the United States. It has a total of 1,660 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting around one out of ten applicants. Swarthmore College offers 89 different majors and is best known for its Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, Classical and Ancient Studies, and Mathematics programs (nationally ranked 5th, 7th, and 8th respectively). With an annual tuition of $54,256 per year, Swarthmore College is exceptionally expensive. 88.55% of students graduate starting the next stage of their lives, working. After college, alumni go on to bring in close to $56,700 per year, which is 37% over the national median.

Swarthmore, PA

www.swarthmore.edu

A+

Rating

9%

Acceptance

1,660

Students

#27

Ranking

$54,256

Tuition

Northwestern University photo

Northwestern University

#23 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Northwestern University is a very large private university located in Evanston, IL ranked 18th in the US. It has a total of 9,906 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, accepting 9.05% of applicants. Northwestern University offers 406 different majors and is best known for its Manufacturing Engineering, Journalism, and Drama programs (nationally ranked 1st, 2nd, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $56,232 per year, Northwestern University is exceptionally expensive. 76.5% of students graduate moving on to the next stage of their lives, employment. After finishing their studies, alumni go on to generate roughly $69,000 per year, which is 66% above the national median.

Evanston, IL

www.northwestern.edu

A+

Rating

9%

Acceptance

25,614

Students

#18

Ranking

$56,232

Tuition

Bowdoin College photo

Bowdoin College

#24 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Bowdoin College is a small private liberal arts college located in Brunswick, ME ranked 34th in the US. It has a total of 1,969 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 9.05% acceptance rate. Bowdoin College offers 44 different majors and is best known for its African Studies, Asian Studies, and French Studies programs (nationally ranked 3rd, 4th, and 4th respectively). With an annual tuition of $55,822 per year, Bowdoin College is very expensive. 91.8% of students graduate beginning the next phase of their lives, employment. After finishing college, alumni go on to take home more or less $65,500 per year, which is 58% above the national median.

Brunswick, ME

https://www.bowdoin.edu/

A+

Rating

9%

Acceptance

1,969

Students

#34

Ranking

$55,822

Tuition

Vanderbilt University photo

Vanderbilt University

#25 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Vanderbilt University is a large private university located in Nashville, TN ranked 17th in America. It has a total of 6,974 full-time undergraduate students and is highly competitive, with a 9.12% acceptance rate. Vanderbilt University offers 245 different majors and is best known for its Teacher Education and Professional Development, Secondary Education and Teaching, and Social Sciences programs (nationally ranked 1st, 1st, and 2nd respectively). With an annual tuition of $50,800 per year, Vanderbilt University is exceptionally high-priced. 86.73% of students graduate moving on to the next chapter of their lives, working. Open graduating, alumni go on to make approximately $69,000 per year, which is 66% greater than the national median.

Nashville, TN

www.vanderbilt.edu

A+

Rating

9%

Acceptance

13,634

Students

#17

Ranking

$50,800

Tuition