College can be a stressful period for any student.

Even the act of applying to certain institutions can cause anxiety, with the most elite universities having the stiffest competition for places and lowest acceptance rates.

Bill Staib, CEO of College Raptor, the higher education comparison site responsible for this research, suggests there is a clear correlation between acceptance rates and academic reputation.

“It’s not surprising that colleges which are the hardest to get into are often the most well-known and have the highest rankings,” he told Newsweek.

“These highly selective schools also typically help students graduate on time and meet each family’s full financial need.”

Data used in this analysis is self-reported by colleges to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The acceptance rate is determined by the number of full-time undergraduate students admitted to the institution divided by the number that applied.

Considerations for this data applied to four-year public and private not-for-profit institutions that enroll a minimum of 100 new students annually, offer a bachelor’s degree or higher, and do not meet the Carnegie classification for an associate’s or specialty school.

Certain standards for student outcomes were also considered, including a minimum of 50 percent for both first-year retention rate and six-year graduation rate.

Below, Newsweek counts down the colleges with the lowest acceptance rates in America.

colleges with lowest acceptance rates
The most elite of universities have the stiffest competition for places and consequently the lowest acceptance rates
Ridofranz/Getty Images

25. Vanderbilt University

11.9%

Vanderbilt University includes four undergraduate schools and six graduate schools situated on a stunning 330-acre campus situated in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee.

The most popular majors at this prestigious college include economics, social science research methods and liberal arts and humanities.

24. Amherst College

11.9%

Amherst is a highly rated private college located in the Springfield area, Massachusetts.

Popular majors at this institution which graduates a reported 95 percent of students include mathematics, economics, and research and experimental psychology.

23. Tulane University of Louisiana

11.3%

Tulane is a highly rated, mid-sized private university located in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Finance, business and marketing are ranked among the most popular majors at this university with a highly competitive admission rate.

22. Cornell University

11%

Cornell is a highly rated, large-sized private college based in Ithaca, New York.

Popular majors at this university founded in 1865 range from biology, computer science, and hospitality and tourism management.

Cornell University
Cornell University in Ithica, New York on October 9, 1981
Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs/Getty Images

21. Rice University

10.9%

Established in 1912, Rice sits in the heart of Houston on a 300-acre, tree-lined college campus.

Information science, economics and mechanical engineering count among the most popular majors at this highly rated institution of higher education.

20. Johns Hopkins University

10.9%

Found in 1876, JHU is a prestigious private research college based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Popular majors at this university, which countless numerous exceptional people among its alumni, include public health, neuroscience and neurobiology, and cellular biology.

19. Colby College

9.9%

Established in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges serving only undergraduates.

Economics, environmental science, and political science and government are among the most popular courses taken at this private liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine.

18. Northwestern University

9.5%

Northwestern is an elite private university located in Evanston, in the Chicago area.

Favored courses taken at this college, that reportedly graduating 94 percent of students, include economics, psychology and journalism.

Northwestern University

17. Swarthmore College

9.2%

Swarthmore is an elite small-sized private college located in the Philadelphia area.

Popular majors at this institution, which reportedly graduates 94 percent of students, include economics, mathematics and information science.

16. United States Military Academy

9%

West Point is a highly rated, small-sized military academy based in Highlands, New York.

Popular majors at this institution, which reportedly graduates 85 percent of graduates, include engineering, mechanical engineering and business.

15. University of Pennsylvania

8.9%

Founded in 1740, Pennsylvania is an elite Ivy League college with an extremely competitive acceptance rate.

Popular majors at this university range from finance, management sciences and information systems, to philosophy.

University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, on October 27, 1981
Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs/Getty Images

=11.Dartmouth College

8.9%

Dartmouth is an elite private East Coast Ivy League college based in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Popular majors at this institution, where 96 percent reportedly graduate, include economics, political science and government, and engineering science.

=11. Bowdoin College

8.9%

Situated in a coastal Maine town, Bowdoin has produced notable alumni, such as Netflix founder Reed Hastings and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.

Particularly popular majors chosen at this elite university include political science and government, economics and mathematics.

=11. United States Naval Academy

8.9%

United States Naval Academy

Naval Academy is an elite, small-sized public college located in Maryland.

Popular majors at this institution which reportedly graduates 9 percent of its students include engineering, economics, and political science and government.

=11. Pomona College

8.9%

Established in 1887, Pomona College in Claremont, California, is widely considered one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges.

The most popular majors undertaken by Pomona students range from economics, mathematics, to computer science.

10. Duke University

7.9%

Duke is a private research college that relocated to its current Durham, North Carolina, base in 1892.

Some of the most popular majors at this college include computer science, economics and public policy analysis.

9. Brown University

7.9%

Brown University
Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island on October 17, 1981
Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Brown is the elite private Ivy League research college founded in 1764 and based in Providence, Rhode Island.

The most popular majors to take at this mid-sized educational institution include computer science, biology and economics.

8. University of Chicago

7.4%

The University of Chicago, a private college established by John D. Rockefeller, has helped shape higher education for more than a century.

The most popular majors chosen at this U.S. college include economics, mathematics and public policy analysis.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

7.2%

Established in 1861, MIT is one of the most prestigious educational establishments in the world.

Notable alumni at this prestigious technical college include former U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Richard Feynman, who worked on the Manhattan Project, and Katharine McCormick, who helped develop the first contraceptive pill.

6. Columbia University

6.9%

Columbia is a private Ivy League research college known as New York’s oldest institution of higher education.

Economics, computer science and political science and government number among the most popular majors at this mid-sized university.

5. Yale University

6.9%

Yale is a highly rated private Ivy League liberal arts college based in New Haven, Connecticut.

Popular majors undertaken at this prestigious university founded in 1701 include economics, political science, and government and history.

Columbia University

4. California Institute of Technology

6.9%

CalTech is an elite private college located in Pasadena, California, in the Los Angeles Area.

Admissions are extremely competitive at this small yet prestigious institution, which specializes in computer science, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.

3. Princeton University

5.9%

Established in 1746, Princeton is an elite, mid-sized private college based in New Jersey.

The most popular majors at this elite educational institution include computer science, economics and public policy analysis.

Princeton University

2. Stanford University

5.4%

Stanford is a prestigious private research university in California, situated on one of America’s largest campuses.

Popular majors at this West Coast college with a highly competitive admissions rate range from computer science and engineering, to biology.

1. Harvard University

4.9%

Harvard University
A view of the campus of Harvard University on July 08, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institution has an average acceptance rate of just 4.9 percent
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Established in 1636 and named after its benefactor, Puritan clergyman John Harvard, this is the oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. and ranked among the world’s most prestigious.

Among the private Ivy League research’s most famous former students are former President John F. Kennedy, ex-CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer and diplomat Henry Kissinger.

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