2018 College Admission Rates

Is getting into college becoming harder?


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The results from the 2017-18 admissions cycle are still rolling in, but the data available thus far sends one very clear message: Acceptance rates at highly-selective colleges are dwindling. Let’s examine this.

Ivy League Results

The numbers at Ivy League schools were already so miniscule that this year’s decreases can only be expressed with decimals. Princeton University fell from 6.1 percent to 5.5 percent; the University of Pennsylvania admitted just 8.4 percent in 2018 versus 9.1 percent in 2017, and Harvard University said yes to only 4.6 percent of applicants after welcoming 5.2 percent in 2017. After a slight bump in 2017 due to increasing the number of students on campus, Yale University’s arrow turned downward once again with a 6.3 percent acceptance rate. Brown and Columbia universities’ rates shrunk as well — from 8.3 percent to 7.2 percent, and 5.8 percent to 5.5 percent, respectively.

Dartmouth University shed a double-digit acceptance rate in 2017, falling to 8.7 percent. Cornell University stayed in double digits, but only by a hair. The university welcomed 10.3 percent of applicants in 2018, compared to 12.5 percent in 2017.

Other Elite Institutions

More dramatic drops took place at other prestigious, non-Ivy League schools. For example, New York University’s acceptance rate plummeted from 28 percent to 19 percent in a single year. Villanova University’s admission rate went down by 7 percent, Boston College’s dropped by 5 percent, the University of Southern California's fell 3 points to just 13 percent and Stanford University maintained its “lowest acceptance rate” status at 4.3 percent. MIT went down a touch to 6.7 percent. Overall, these numbers send a clear indication that the cutthroat competition to get into the nation’s top colleges and universities continues to trend upward.

State Universities

The aforementioned Ivy League and other elite colleges have all experienced steadily climbing application numbers in recent years. It’s important to understand, however, that this trend can also be seen at state universities across the country.

The University of California system was inundated with applicants in 2018, resulting in many being rejected from what they (and their counselors) firmly believed were safety schools. The University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles have long been recognized as highly-selective schools, but this year three other University of California campuses — San Diego, Irvine and Santa Barbara — were deluged with six figures’ worth of applications. Applications to the University of California at Riverside spiked more than 12 percent. In response, students interested in attending the University of California system will have to recalibrate their expectations, acknowledging that the entire network of schools is now on a whole new plane of selectivity.

Back in 2006, the University of Washington received roughly 16,000 applications; in 2018 it received 46,000. The number of applications to the University of Florida, the University of Connecticut, the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina campuses all soared as well. In fact, the UNC system, with its many branch campuses, experienced a similar phenomenon to what occurred in California’s state system. An influx of applications caused many students to be rejected from branch campuses that they considered, based on the 2017 cycle, to be safety schools.

Is Getting Into College Actually Getting Harder?

Just because a particular school’s application numbers go up and admission rate goes down doesn’t necessarily mean that it is becoming more difficult to get into that institution. After all, some of the shrinking admission percentages are attributable to the ongoing upward trend of teens applying to more schools. It’s essential to look in-depth at the academic profile of admitted students at a given university to see if a diminishing rate of admission is truly indicative of swelling competition.

For example, applications at Bates College rose a staggering 45 percent between 2017 and 2018. Yet, the profile of admitted students (based on SAT/ACT scores, GPA and other stats) did not change significantly. On the other hand, NYU received a record 75,000 applications in 2018 and also became more selective. The average SAT for a member of the class of 2022 was 1440; the average SAT for the class of 2018 was 1340.

For more school-specific data of this nature — plus a wealth of other information — visit collegetransitions.com.


Dave Bergman, Ed.D., is a co-founder of College Transitions, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. He is also co-author of “The Enlightened College Applicant: A New Approach to the Search and Admissions Process.” Learn more at collegetransitions.com.

 

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About this Blog

College Transitions

Expert advice for finding the right fit


About This Blog

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Learn more at collegetransitions.com

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May 2019

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $4-$12

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Drive
Spencer, NC  28159
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Sponsor: North Carolina Transportation Museum
Telephone: 704-636-2889
Contact Name: Ian J. Kuhn

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Ages 6-14 swim, walk and run to benefit Just Tryan It, an organization dedicated to supporting families facing pediatric cancer. Proceeds benefit families at UNC and...

Cost: $55

Where:
Chapel Hill Country Club
103 Lancaster Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Sponsor: Just TRYAN It
Contact Name: Sheryl Blackwell
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Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville St.
, NC  27601
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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Cost: See website for fees

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N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: Free with advance registration

Where:
Hilton Raleigh
3415 Wake Forest Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Girls World Expo
Contact Name: Valerie Moore
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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Chapel Hill
140 W. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
2200 Laura Duncan Rd.
Apex, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Town of Apex
Telephone: 919-249-3507
Contact Name: Allie Prelaske
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Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


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Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Ages 11 and older with disabilities make New Orleans creole. Register online. Choose course #120057.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Making a kite is the perfect fun spring project! Learn about the forces that make kites fly and listen to the story of Benjamin Franklin and his kite (did he really draw electricity from lightning...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
Carrboro, NC  27510


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Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Discover the joy of cooking with storybook characters. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online. Choose course #120084.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

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Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Help monitor and keep bluebird and wood duck boxes clean throughout our park, create or place additional habitat boxes and assist with other natural resource tasks. Come prepared to learn and work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Bring your curiosity and creativity and explore a variety of art media. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy karaoke. Take a dish to share. Register online. Choose course #121043.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy Raleigh’s premier Japanese animation and culture convention. Concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise, unique artwork and more highlight the event. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Edison Johnson Community Center
500 W. Murray Ave.
Durham, NC
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Website »

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Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Each Fourth Friday of the month join us for a night of art, film, food and fun. This is free and open to the public.​

Cost: Free

Where:
SummerStage
800 Taylor St
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Hi-Wire Brewing and abc11

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Enjoy Raleigh’s premier Japanese animation and culture convention. Concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise, unique artwork and more highlight the event. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the spring season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Dogs, face painting, animal tattoos, a bounce house, dog contests and canine demonstrations, handmade bandannas, photo booths and local vendors highlight this annual festival to benefit the...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
Duke University East Campus
Durham, NC


Website »

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One Saturday of the month join us for our family fun series. This is free and open to the public. Here is what you can expect: 10am-12pm: Come to the plaza for family-friendly activities for...

Cost: Free

Where:
SummerStage
800 Taylor St
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Hi-Wire Brewing, abc11, and Offline

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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-2117
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

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Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
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