The Hardest College to Get Into in the US
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The Hardest College to Get Into in the US

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The most difficult college to get into in the country, the California Institute of Technology, accepts less than one student for every 11 applicants. Caltech doesn’t actually have the lowest acceptance rate in the country — Stanford University admits just 5 percent of applicants — but when you factor in the quality of the student body based on Sat and ACT test scores, as college ranking site Niche.com did, CalTech rises to the top. Enrolled students at the school typically have SAT scores between 1500 and 1600, based on data from 2014 through 2016.

In fact, five of the 25 most selective schools in the U.S. are located in California, according to academic review site Niche.com. Another five are in Massachusetts, while New York and Illinois are home to two each.

The most difficult college to get into in the country, the California Institute of Technology, accepts less than one student for every 11 applicants. Caltech doesn’t actually have the lowest acceptance rate in the country — Stanford University admits just 5 percent of applicants — but when you factor in the quality of the student body based on Sat and ACT test scores, as college ranking site Niche.com did, CalTech rises to the top. Enrolled students at the school typically have SAT scores between 1500 and 1600, based on data from 2014 through 2016.

In fact, five of the 25 most selective schools in the U.S. are located in California, according to academic review site Niche.com. Another five are in Massachusetts, while New York and Illinois are home to two each.

Related: The Hardest College to Get Into in Each State

But sorting schools by state shows that some of the hardest schools to get into aren’t that selective. For instance, in Alabama, the choosiest school is the University of Alabama, with an acceptance rate of 51.1 percent and a student body with SAT scores mostly between 990 and 1250, reachable for many high school students. For context, the mean SAT score for college-bound test takers in 2016 was 1083.

Some colleges with low acceptance rates offer alternative admission programs to help students eventually enroll. For instance, the University of Notre Dame — the most selective in Indiana — has a so-called Gateway program that allows pre-approved freshmen at Holy Cross College guaranteed transfer to the university for their sophomore year.

Middlebury College in Vermont, the choosiest in that state, offers about 85 students each year spring admission instead of the usual fall admission. Students are chosen from the same applicant pool as those who start in September.

Other universities offer conditional admissions, stipulating that students must make high enough grades in special, required summer or fall classes.

Related: The Most Expensive College in America

Niche.com used acceptance rates and composite SAT and ACT scores for the 25th percentile and 75th percentile of students to create its ranking. Acceptance rates were weighted at 60 percent while the SAT/ACT scores combined for the remaining 40 percent of the ranking.

Colleges and universities in Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming were excluded because Niche.com could not get enough data to rank them.

Click here to see the most selective college in each state.

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