The Real Admission Rate 

When it comes to the official admission rate, students and parents assume that the official admission rate reflects the admission rate for most applicants. With over 300,000 applicants for just 25,000 seats, we began to wonder why there was a large discrepancy between the number of applicants and admitted students. When analyzing publicly available data, it is easy to recognize that the official admission rate significantly differs from The Real Admission Rate.

After analyzing this data, we came to the realization that institutional priority drives admission decisions much more than any other factor. For example, while some assume that race plays the most significant role in the decision-making process, the number one indicator of admission is household income. Close to 80% of students in Ivy League Schools come from households making over $120,000. This may not necessarily mean that highly selective schools are purposefully selecting students that reflect over 2.5x the national household median income. However, the disparate outcome is clear. In addition, our analysis shows that preference for legacies and athletes is the second most powerful determinant for admission.

When we adjusted the official (public) admission rate for legacies and athletes, every school's official admission rate dropped by 22% and the admission rate on average for top schools decreased by 30%. For example, Stanford's 5.1% admission rate in 2015 is actually 3.7% when we exclude legacy admits and athletes.

Our methodology is straightforward. We simply used publicly available data to estimate the percentage of athletes and students in each incoming class, and reduce the official admission rate by that percent.

Students who do not come from households earning more than $120,000, who not legacies, or will not play as a competitive athlete at top-tier schools should at The Real Admission Rate as a better indicator of their chances for admission. While holistic review is still still the method used to assess best-fit students, the correlation we see clearly indicates that institutional preference for some groups drives admission decisions. 

We have developed a list of excellent alternatives to encourage students to be aware that there are excellent options available to them. Did you know that some schools on this list outrank schools in the Ivy League for various categories? 

View our Answers page for response to commonly asked admission questions. Tips on approaching the financial aid process can be found here as well.

Ivy Ready Team