This conversation happens all the time among people working in the college admissions arena,the media fuels the conversation endlessly, and it almost always comes down to a debate between Harvard and Stanford. Most people could have already guessed that, but why are they both so hard to get into? Both of these extraordinary schools are famous for having the lowest admissions rates, which means that many highly qualified students are too scared to apply. If everyone who was interested applied, the admissions rates would be even lower!
We have gotten kids into Harvard, but we’ve never gotten kids into Stanford. For many other reasons including this fact, I believe that Stanford is the hardest college to get into in the United States.
Acceptance into Harvard is still a massive achievement, but it’s easier than Stanford because there does seem to be some logic to their process. You can look at the applications and pinpoint what they’re looking for, what kids should do when they apply, and if the student has proven themselves they stand a decent shot. Stanford is just all over the place and there is no logic to the process. Everything feels so messed up and it’s even worse for minority applications.
If people know that Stanford is the hardest college to get into - and that it has one of the most illogical admissions processes - why are so many students still subjecting themselves to it? Much of this is down to the reputation. Parents and students alike want to lay claim to a Stanford pedigree leverage badge of honor for life. It’s a great achievement, and it also sets graduates up for a successful career in a very tangible way. We tell kids all the time, there are certain schools that will use all of their power to ensure you don’t mess up their reputation. Stanford is one of them. The school will do all it can to make sure all students graduate on time and end up with excellent jobs. You rarely hear someone struggling financially or being unable to get a job after graduating from Stanford. This is also helped by Silicon Valley. The close proximity to the tech hub of the US means that many students go straight from college into a massive tech enterprise on fantastic salaries.
So, it's clear why students are drawn to this college, and that also goes a long way to explaining why it is the hardest to get into. Stanford has a huge reputation to protect - as does Harvard - which is why it only accepts students it feels are the best. Combine this with the haphazard application process, and that is why so many kids try and fail to get into Stanford University. But, with the right help and guidance – and a ton of hard work -- there’s no reason you can’t be one of the few that gets accepted. Are Stanford and Harvard appropriate schools for you to target in your college selection process? Click here to take the freeBridge to College Survey!