Ivy League Acceptance Rates and How You Can Still Get In

Just how hard is it to get into the Ivy League?

Very hard. But impossible? Not at all.

With acceptance rates at top colleges and universities falling to record or lows, high school students face increasing pressure when it comes to applying to the Ivy League

Let’s look at the Ivy League acceptance statistics for the Class of 2023. As the below chart indicates, an unprecedented 311,948 students submitted applications to the eight Ivy League colleges and universities in the hope of being admitted. Of them, a mere 6.78% were admitted.

Ivy League Colleges

Overall Accept. Rate

Regular Decision Accept. Rate

Regular Decision Apps Accepted

Regular Decision Apps Received

Early Decision / Action Accept. Rate

% of Class Filled by Early Apps

Early Decision / Action Apps Rcvd

Early Decision / Action Apps Accepted

Expected Number of Students to Enroll

Total Apps Received

Total Apps Accepted

Brown 6.6% 5.2% 1,782 34,444 18.2% 46.2% 4,230 769 1,665 38,674 2,551
Columbia 5.1% 4.3% 1,540 36,108 14.6% 46.8% 4,461 650 1,390 42,569 2,190
Cornell 10.6% 8.8% 3,788 42,959 22.6% 43.9% 6,159 1,395 3,175 49,118 5,183
Dartmouth 7.9% 6.1% 1,302 21,176 23.2% 49.9% 2,474 574 1,150 23,650 1,876
Harvard 4.5% 2.8% 1,015 36,372 13.4% n/a* 6,958 935 1,665 43,330 1,950
Penn 7.4% 5.5% 2,066 37,850 18.0% 53.0% 7,110 1,279 2,413 44,960 3,345
Princeton 5.8% 4.2% 1,152 27,469 13.9% n/a* 5,335 743 1,296 32,804 1,895
Yale 5.9% 4.5% 1,384 30,827 13.2% n/a* 6,016 794 1,782 36,843 2,178

On the surface, those numbers might seem disheartening. But you can still beat the odds if you start early and follow the three essential steps below.

1.  Start building a compelling extra-curricular list in ninth grade

There are only two ways that you can show Ivy League college admissions officers how you are different than all the other applicants who have perfect or near perfect GPAs and SAT/ACT scores: your extra-curricular profile and the Common App essay.

When strategizing your extra-curricular profile remember that Ivy League colleges and universities no longer want well-rounded. Instead, they are looking for specialists.

When Ivy League admissions officers review your extra-curricular profile, they are looking for evidence of three cardinal qualities: leadership, independent thinking, and initiative. So find a way not just to participate but to make something happen.

2. Start working on your Common Application essay in junior year

The Common App essay can make or break your chances of admission to the Ivy League and other top-tier colleges. Because it takes time to write an essay that shows not how you are excellent, but how you are outstanding, start working on your Common App essay during the second half of your junior year.

In your Common App essay make sure that you show evidence of intellectual curiosity (essential for those of you applying to the Ivy League and other top-tier colleges) and make sure that your essay is animated, vivacious, and shows a high degree of writerly sophistication.

3.  Apply Early Decision or Early Action

As the above chart indicates, applying Early Action or Early Decision maximizes your chances of acceptance. Look at Harvard for example. Of those who 23,650 students who applied, 13.44% of Early Action applicants were admitted, while only 2.79% of Regular Decision applicants were admitted.

Why do Ivy League schools prefer Early Decision and Early Action applicants? Because applying early demonstrates applicants’ strong interest and helps colleges protect their yield rates. This elevated Early Decision and Early Action acceptance rate is also true for other comparably elite colleges and universities such a Stanford and MIT.

While Ivy League admissions stats are sobering, if you work hard to achieve perfect or near-perfect SAT/ACT scores, secure a perfect GPA, build an outstanding extra-curricular profile, and write an exceptional essay, you can still get into the Ivy League.


Want help maximizing your chances of getting into the Ivy League? Call me!

Dr. Osborn works with students from all over the world to help them reach their independent, college, and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, Dr. Osborn creates an individualized plan for each student based on the student’s strengths, passions, and career aspirations. Her holistic approach helps students perform well in school and secure admission to top colleges.  

About The Author

Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.