Why Top Colleges Have Again Lowered Acceptance Rates

The nation’s elite colleges just became even more elite.

Harvard, Stanford and Princeton – some of the nation’s hardest colleges to get into – boasted lower acceptance rates for the 2011 school year compared to 2010, according to an article in the Washington Post.

These schools had record-breaking number of applicants for 2011 but only admitted the same number of students, creating a much lower acceptance rate.

Most colleges have experienced a significant increase in the number of applications. Most colleges have even had record-breaking numbers in the past few years.

This phenomenon is consistent across most colleges as the Internet and other resources have made it easier for students to apply to many colleges at the same time. Most colleges have reduced their acceptance rates because they know students are applying to several other schools and are therefore less likely to enroll if admitted.

Colleges spend a lot of money and resources trying to recruit accepted students. So lowering the acceptance rate when more students apply is a quick and easy way to cut costs.

However, most colleges like to keep their acceptance rate as low as possible. This becomes part of a college’s marketing. Colleges believe that a low acceptance rate is part of their allure and helps attract students, especially already-admitted students.

Ivy League Colleges and other elite schools all compete with each other to boast lower acceptance rates. A college can then lobby to their admitted students, telling them that they are “part of a very few number of students admitted, part of an elite group of incoming freshmen.” This tactic can be very appealing and effective for elite schools’ recruiting programs.

This tactic becomes much easier when colleges’ applications rise dramatically, which is why many schools encourage more students to apply.

Students can expect this trend to continue, making colleges even more competitive, especially the nation’s most popular and elite colleges that garner a lot of interest and applications.

Some highlights of admissions facts for the 2011 application year:

  • Harvard dropped its admission rate for the 2011 school year to 6.2% from 6.9% in 2010. Overall, it admitted 2,158 students from a record applicant pool of 34,950.
  • Princeton also decreased its acceptance rate to 8.4% from 8.8% last year. It admitted 2,282 students from a record 27,189 applicants.
  • Stanford slightly decreased its admission rate to 7.1% from 7.2% last year. It admitted 2,427 students from a pool of 34,348, which is an increase from last year.