The Hardest Colleges to Get Into

There are nearly 15 million Americans attending college full time. These students are working towards a degree that they hope could help them land a job in their chosen field and boost their earning potential.

Not all bachelor’s degrees are equally valuable, though. Some college degrees are more highly regarded, based on the institution that granted it. Rightly or wrongly, certain colleges and universities are believed to provide a higher quality of education. These institutions often have low admission rates and can admit students with the highest levels of academic success.

To identify the hardest colleges to get into, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index using data from the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education to measure the relative exclusivity of four-year, private and public degree-granting colleges and universities. We indexed both acceptance rates and SAT test scores of admitted students as of fall 2019 to measure the difficulty of being accepted.

Many of the hardest colleges to get into are Ivy League Schools or well-known technical colleges. Selective and prestigious colleges with a history of producing successful alumni do have an advantage over other schools in that new graduates have access to an extensive alumni network that can help them navigate the job market.

Though average earnings of school graduates vary widely between the highest and lowest rated colleges, it is likely more important what type of degree someone earned than where they earned it. Many careers that require college degrees pay relatively low wages, while other degree fields have median incomes of over $100,000. These are the college majors that pay off the most.

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