Stanford, Harvard, others say acceptance rates falling

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, a Stanford University student walks in front of Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif. Congressional inaction could end up costing college students an extra $5,000 on their new loans. The rate for subsidized Stafford loans is set to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, just as millions of new college students start signing up for fall courses. The difference between the two rates adds up to $6 billion. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
A Stanford University student walks in front of Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

If you’re applying to any of the United States’s top colleges or universities, it might be a good time to downgrade your expectations. Because apparently schools are falling into a deep love affair with the rejection letter.

In fact, the odds of getting grim news from a school like Harvard or Stanford are becoming impressively high, The New York Times reported.

Stanford turned away 95 percent of their applicants this year, with Harvard and Yale rejecting closer to 94 perfect. Other top schools like MIT, Columbia, Princeton, and the University of Chicago weren’t much better.

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The report says the low acceptance rates are stemming from a combination of more “high-achieving applicants” (including foreign students looking to attend American schools) and a streamlined application process that features more online applications and more universally accepted forms like the Common Application.

From the Times:

For most of the past six decades, overall enrollment boomed, while the number of seats at elite colleges and universities grew much more slowly, making them steadily more selective. Enrollment peaked in 2011, and it has dropped a bit each year since then, prompting speculation that entry to competitive colleges would become marginally easier. Instead, counselors and admissions officers say, the pool of high-achieving applicants continues to grow, fed partly by a rising number from overseas.

At the same time, students send more applications than they once did, abetted by the electronic forms that have become nearly universal and uniform applications that can make adding one more college to the list just a matter of a click. Seven years ago, 315 colleges and universities accepted the most widely used form, the Common Application; this year, 517 did.

Acceptance rates are so low that even administrators are surprised. Richard H. Shaw, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Stanford, told the Times he was “sort of in shock” about how low the numbers have gotten, and that he has no idea when they will stop declining.

Unless you’re an unusually big fan of the word “no,” you should probably aim lower. And hey, don’t be upset about it. Getting into Ivy League schools is hard, and not everyone can be Kwasi Enin.