For several decades, Ivy League schools have been ranked high by numerous university rankings. All of the eight universities are placed in the top 17 in the US News and World Report National University rankings, with four Ivies enjoying the top three positions (Columbia and Yale share 3rd position). The rankings issued by Wall Street Journal places all eight universities within the top 15 in the country.
The spectacular educational standards and healthy environment have produced several Nobel laureates, the presidents of various countries, distinguished scientists, diplomats and celebrities in various fields.
However, getting into Ivy League universities is tough - the acceptance rate of applications is less than 10%, with the top four schools having an acceptance rate of around 5%. You need extraordinary academic record and stellar test scores but there’s always something extra needed to grab your seat at the most admired universities. Following the admission trends from the previous year can be a great asset for claiming a substantial edge on the competition.
The Decreased Acceptance Rates in Class of 2023: Competition Getting Tougher
The prestige associated with the Ivy League makes it incredibly tough to get into the esteemed universities. The number of applications received in 2023 broke all the previous records for all the Ivy League schools, and the acceptance rate remained the lowest for the previous year when compared against last few year records.
The graph below shows the acceptance rate across all Ivies for the period 2015-19 (Class of 2019 to 2023). Clearly, the acceptance rate decreased sharply during the calendar years 2018 and 2019. A lot of factors could affect this rate. An increased access to information primarily leads to the increased SAT and ACT scores, making the competition tougher and eventually resulting in a lower acceptance rate.
Early Applications Have Significantly Higher Acceptance Rate Than Regular Applications for All Ivy League Universities
According to National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the Ivy Leagues’ early decision (ED) applications increase by 4% annually on average and Early Action (EA) applications increase by 9%. The below table shows the acceptance rate for the regular applications and EA/ED applications for the Class of 2023.
Apart from finding the dedicated and passionate students, early admission applications are emphasized due to the percentage of students who actually enroll. That number has been decreasing for all of the schools, which is one of the criteria for the rankings. Hence, universities have shown tendency to like the students who show strong commitment to their institutions, and early applications give the institutions more confidence of the students’ commitment.
For the students aspiring to apply to the Ivy League universities ought to consider the significantly higher figures of class occupancy by early applicants for the Class of 2023.
The Lowest Acceptance Rate Record
Six of the eight Ivy leagues set the record low admission rates for the Class of 2023, while the increase in acceptance rate was reported at Cornell University and Dartmouth University. Harvard University remained the university with the lowest acceptance rate at 4.5 %. University of Pennsylvania also hit its lowest acceptance rate to date with 7.4 % for the Class of 2023. Penn was the sixth most selective school in the Ivy League this year. Dartmouth College and Cornell had the acceptance rate of 7.9% and 10.6%, respectively, being the schools with the highest acceptance rates among Ivy League universities.
International Students Admission Trend
International students make a large portion of the extraordinary students entering the Ivy League universities. For instance, Columbia inducted 16% of international students coming from 74 different countries, which represents the highest composition of international students in the Class of 2023. Penn enrolled 14% of international students coming from 100 countries outside the U.S.
Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth have roughly the 12% of student body coming from outside the US, while Cornell’s newest class comprises of 8% international students.
Cultural Diversity is an Important Factor for Accepting Applications
Promoting ethnicity and culture mix is the new trend and the Ivy League seems to be following it seriously. Students from mixed ethnicity are encouraged at Ivy League schools. Class of 2023 seemed to be the year for celebrating cultural diversity at the Ivy League as the year marked the highest percentage of Ivy League student body to be identified as students of color.
56% of Princeton’s latest class identifies as students of color, making it the most diverse Ivy League School with the highest percentage of students of color. Cornell also welcomed its most diverse class ever with 55% of its admitted students identifying as students of color. Harvard, Penn and Dartmouth also identified more than 50% of their students as students of color. Brown remained to be only Ivy to admit less than half of its class as students of color with 49%.
First Generation Students Making it Up to the Ivy League
The Ivy League universities accepted significant portions of first-generation college students for Class of 2023. Penn's newest class had around 15% students who were identified as the first in their families to attend college. 18% of Princeton’s incoming class were identified as first-generation students, the most in any of the Ivy League schools. Cornell had the lowest percent of first-generation students making up about 10.4 % of overall class. Harvard along with other Ivies also hosted a significant number of students who had their first experience at graduating from universities.
Legacies in the Ivy League Increase The Acceptance Odds
13% of the total students admitted to University of Pennsylvania in 2023 are legacies. Dartmouth showed 9% of students as legacy students, while Princeton hosted 11% of students who were their alumni’s kids.
Higher Grades and Subjects Relevancy
An applicant’s grades are still the most important factor that colleges consider during the evaluation process. With increased information access and more and more schools making tests optional, criteria for acceptance value GPA even more. But students taking advanced courses are preferred over students with good grades only. Colleges want to see their students doing well in relevant subjects as well. So, the students gearing for their Ivy League admissions should take as many advanced courses as possible to the extent that they can maintain the good grades.
SAT and ACT Scores Went Up for the Class of 2023
The below presents SAT scores for all the Ivy League schools.
SAT Total score = 1600
ACT Total score = 36
The tables above show the SAT and ACT scores of mid 50% students of 2023 who made it into the different Ivy League schools. A student with the SAT score of 1580 or an ACT score of 35 places the student in the top 25% for most Ivy League schools, whereas a student with the SAT score of 1450 or ACT of 31 puts the student at the boundary of the bottom 25%. The above figures show that the standards met by successful Ivy League applicants were very high. In fact, the 25 percentile scores for most Ivy League schools come in the 95 percentile nationwide.
The Side Door to the Ivy Leagues: Extracurricular Activities
While exceptional academic record is considered a prerequisite for entering into Ivy League universities, they also accept students who can compete at NCAA or Ivy League Championships. There is a pool of applicants every year who are good at football, basketball, or performing arts. These talented students get admitted to the universities as per quota.
According to the report submitted by Harvard University, all students applying to Harvard are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6 according to their various qualifications, and athletes who scored a 4 showed an acceptance rate of about 70%, while the acceptance rate for non-athletes with the same academic score represented 0.076% - nearly 1,000 times lower.