Solomon Study - College Acceptance Rates at Top 30 Universities of Public and Private School Students

July 31, 2020

We at Solomon Admissions Consulting regularly analyze various issues and data in the college admissions space. In this study, we looked at our public and private school student clients with comparable unweighted GPAs, course rigor and standardized test scores, and how they did in regard to college admissions at the nation's top 30 universities.

For the study, we selected 160 students, with 80 students who applied in Fall 2018 and 80 students who applied in Fall 2019. All 160 students had applied to at least one of the top 30 nationally ranked universities in Fall 2018 and Fall 2019. The 30 universities we counted were the following:

Princeton University

Harvard University

Columbia University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Yale University

Stanford University

University of Chicago

University of Pennsylvania

Northwestern University

Duke University

Johns Hopkins University

California Institute of Technology

Dartmouth College

Brown University

University of Notre Dame

Vanderbilt University

Cornell University

Rice University

Wash University

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Emory University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Southern California

Georgetown University

Carnegie Mellon University

University of Michigan

Wake Forest University

University of Virginia

Georgia Tech University

New York University (NYU)

The results are presented below:

Public v Private School Student Acceptance Rates

The results showed that overall public school students did better over the 2018 and 2019 application seasons than private school students.

Public school students who applied in Fall 2018 saw an admit rate of 52.5% at the nation's top 30 universities, while private school students had an admit rate of 57.5%. In Fall of 2019, however, public school students did much better and had an admit rate of 72.5% versus private school students who achieved an admit rate of 62.5%. When combining the 2018 and 2019 data, we determined that public school students achieved an acceptance rate of 62.5% over the last two years, while private school students achieved an acceptance rate of 60.0%.

We believe the main reasons for this lack of a significant difference between the college acceptance rates of public and private school students are the following:

  1. Colleges, especially the highly selective, view applicants both within the context of their high school environment and the overall applicant pool.
  2. Colleges will know where the student is ranked in the school even if the school does not do class rankings based on the information they receive from the college counselors at the various schools.
  3. There is a higher density of top students who apply to all the top schools from private schools than from public schools, and this leads to an oversaturation of applicants from that school and hence worse results.

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