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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Getting into Top Colleges is Crazy Hard

The Hill: At the most prestigious public institutions, admission rates hover in the 10- to 20-percent range, a tier of selectivity once reserved for the Ivy League. University of California flagships in Los Angeles and Berkeley admitted 9 and 11 percent of applicants, respectively, to the 2022 fall class. UCLA fielded 149,813 applications, enough students to populate Jackson, Miss.

At the universities of North Carolina and Virginia, admission rates narrowed to 17 and 19 percent, respectively, for the new freshman class. Flagship campuses in Georgia, Illinois and Wisconsin all admitted less than half of their applicants this year. A decade ago, all three reported admit rates more than 60 percent.

Today’s middle-aged parents attended college in an era when only a few dozen elite universities, nearly all private, could boast truly daunting admission rates. Harvard, Princeton and Yale, the cream of the crop of the Ivy League, admitted roughly 15 to 20 percent of applicants in the late 1980s. This fall, Harvard’s admission rate reached an infinitesimal low of 3.19 percent.

Vegas-style odds are not the norm in higher education. The average collegiate admission rate stands at roughly 70 percent, according to U.S. News & World Report, publisher of the best-known college rankings.

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