Ivy League schools are the most selective.
There are eight schools in the Ivy League: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale. All private schools in the Northeast, they came together in 1954 as a sports league, with the term “ivy” referring to the ivy growing on their campuses.
These days they’re known as some of the most selective colleges in the United States, with several admissions coaching businesses pitching themselves as capable of winning paying customers these coveted spots. The least choosy among the Ivies, Cornell, took 14 percent of applicants for the Class of 2020; the most choosy, Harvard, took just 5.4 percent.
But these aren’t the most selective schools around. Stanford University often takes less than 5 percent, the smallest share of applicants, and it isn’t in the Ivy League. MIT, Caltech and the University of Chicago, all with acceptance rates of about 8 percent for the Class of 2020, are more selective than some of the Ivies, too. Plus, many schools may take a higher proportion of applicants but are equally picky about their credentials: A liberal arts school like St. John’s would look dubiously at a savant engineer from a technical high school who hadn’t taken humanities classes in his final years.