Athena Consulting
Athena Consulting

Significant Drop in US Universities' Acceptance Rate for Class of 2022:
Do I still have a chance?
- June 2018 -

The dust has cleared and the results are in. For the majority of national US universities, the admission rate for the class of 2022 was, yet, another record-breaking low figure, which confirms a declining acceptance rate over the years. Using results from the Ivy League Schools and top-ranked universities based on the latest “US News and World Report 2018 Best College” and other official websites, Harvard University (ranked 2nd) received 42,749 applications in 2018 and accepted 1,962 resulting in a 4.59% acceptance rate as compare to 5.2% last year. Cornell University (ranked 14th) is the only Ivy school that has its acceptance rate in double digit with this year standing at 10.3% (vs. 14% from last year). With the exception of 3 universities, other top 20 ranked schools all have single digit acceptance rates. These are Princeton University (ranked 1st) 5.5%, Stanford University (ranked 5th tied with Columbia and MIT) 4.3%, Brown (ranked 14th) 7.2%, Columbia (ranked 5th) 5.5%, University of Chicago (ranked 3rd) 7.2%, and MIT (ranked 5th) 7.2%.

Universities usually provide the percentage figure of foreign student as compared to the whole student body. For example, all 8 Ivy League universities have their international student representation ranging between 9% - 12%. For other schools, the ratio of international students is typically less than 15%. For example California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has 9% foreign student ratio; UCLA 6%, Tufts 10%, and Wellesley 12%.

However, what most universities do not share is the specific number of foreign students applied and accepted for each year. This is rather a much more important statistic if you are a non-US student and plan to study in the US. Unfortunately, one can be certain that the figure is much lower than the general average and that of the US citizens. For example, in 2017, MIT’s general and US citizen acceptance rates were 7.2% and 8.4% respectively, compared to only 2.9% for foreign students.

Not everyone will end up at Ivy League universities, and many would be satisfied just to get into top 50 nationally ranked universities like New York University (or NYU), ranked 30th which happens to be a very popular choice among Thai students. Not only does NYU have great educational programs in almost every field and discipline, its renowned location in the most vibrant city in the world is very appealing for many hopeful students. Last year, the acceptance rate for NYU was 32% which, more or less, means that in general, 1 out of 3 who applies get accepted. For this year, NYU acceptance rate drastically dropped to 19%, or 1 in 5. The rise in international applicants and also from those of “first generation” students (American students whose parents did not attend college) is the main reason pushing the acceptance rate lower. Here are some examples of admission rate comparison between year 2017-2018 at other colleges: Boston University 29% vs 22%, Georgetown University 17% vs 14.5% and Williams College 18% vs 12.1%.

For many Thai parents, the latest information may be disheartening but they should be aware it’s not all doom and gloom. If they are serious about giving their children the best opportunities to get into top colleges, they should prepare them early. Don’t wait until they are in Grade 12/ Year 13 as it would be too late. In fact preparation for high school students can start as early as Grade 9/Year 10 if they get the right guidance but not later than Grade 11/Year 12 as there is little time left to prepare for all the standard tests i.e. ACT/SAT.

The big question is “Do you still have a chance”? We have to accept the fact that it is more competitive getting accepted to top Universities today than a decade ago. However, with proper strategic plan (starting as early as grade 9/year 10), hard work and passion, Thai students are getting into these prestigious institutions more than ever. For Cornell University this year, 10 Thai students were accepted to the class of 2022 with 6 deciding to enroll. (Out of these, 2 attended well-known international schools in Thailand, 3 came from different prestigious prep schools in the US and the final candidate from a UK public school). At Stanford, there were no Thai students for the class of 2021, but 5 will enroll as a freshman in this coming fall. As for MIT, total number of Thai undergraduate students in 2018 is 21 (4th highest national after Americans, Chinese and Canadians) as compared to 8 in 2008. So, we will simply say YES! There are chances. But have to ask yourself how “badly” do you want it, how much are you willing to work for it, how well informed are you about the competitive admission process, and how well is your preparation.

To assist the parents and students in understanding the whole application process, we are pleased to let you know that Athena Consulting is now offering a free 45 minutes "one-on-one" consultation session for a limited number of families. If you are interested, please RSVP at

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