College Admissions: Are State Schools Becoming More Competitive?

We’ve all heard about the tough competition for spots at the nation’s top private universities. Harvard’s overall admissions rate for the class of 2023 hit a record low 4.5% (The Harvard Crimson). These statistics aren’t particularly surprising; Harvard’s admissions rate has been trending downward since 2001 (Business Insider)

Obviously, the admissions rates at Ivy League schools are not representative of those at most American universities. However, they are indicative of a larger overall trend. It’s becoming more difficult for all students to get into their top schools, both public and private, and colleges’ expectations for high school seniors are rising, particularly due to the influx of well-qualified international applicants seeking an American degree (Business Insider).  

More recently, this trend has become particularly noticeable at flagship state universities such as UCLA, the University of Michigan, UVA, and our own UNC Chapel Hill, where the in-state admissions rate moved below 50% for the first time ever in 2016 and has been declining since (The Daily Tar Heel)

Here are the stats on how UNC and NC State have changed in the last 5 years: 

Average SAT Composite (2014)Average SAT Composite (2019)Admissions Rate (2014)Admissions Rate (2019)
NC State1180-13201250-139049%46%

(National Center for Education Statistics)

What do all these numbers mean for your student? “In addition to the sheer number of applicants applying, the expectations for candidates have increased” says college admissions counselor Angela Dunham (Business Insider). The rise in applications at these “Public Ivies” has raised the bar for SAT scores at many universities and forced admissions committees to more closely examine the rigor of applicants’ high school course loads, including their performance in AP or IB courses (International College Counselors). Students are expected to have a portfolio of solid high school coursework in addition to strong extracurricular involvement and good SAT or ACT scores. 

At Ivy Reads, we help students develop the analytical reading and writing skills they need to succeed both on standardized tests and in higher level courses, whether the topic is history, literature, government, or mathematics. Call us at  919-435-7323 for additional information about our Language Arts tutoring programs.