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Friday, January 20, 2017


This was a recent question in QUORA.  First of all, here is the popular knowledge:

Well, in a way, this was a trick question, because the person who responded to Quora said that Deep Springs College (DSC) was the most difficult.  Turns out he was wrong.  Most interesting place to study for two years, where no tuition is charged, and half go on to receive a doctorate at the top schools, but my calculations show that annually, only 200 or so apply for 14 slots, meaning an average acceptance of 7%.  Also in the century or so of existence, I don't recognize even one distinguished alumni.  They might begin to admit females next year.

In 2015 Alice Lloyd College (ALC) and Stanford tied at 5%.  ALC is a smallish Kentucky university which, like DSC above, requires that you work in some way, stressing leadership, responsibility and service. However, in 2016, ALC dropped to #6 at 7.1%.  #10 is the College of the Ozarks at 8.3%, right behind the Naval Academy, but ahead of Juilliard.  Ozarks is 1% black.
Further, Education Corner last year had the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia the lowest at 4.9%, with Stanford at 5.1% and Harvard at 6%.  Scanning further down the list, I see at #33 Mississippi Valley State University, a 91% black campus, at 16.2%, behind the University of California Berkeley 16%, but ahead of the US Air Force Academy 16.6%.  #40 is Rust College at 17.6%, #45 Williams College (Forbes has Williams at #2 to Stanford #1 as Best Universities) and #89 California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.

Internationally, Rajat, from India, put Stanford at 4.7% and Harvard at 5.1%, but the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) as low as 0.5%.  Another site had IIT at 2%, with Japan's eight national universities at 1%.  Ah, but Icy Wang, somehow linked to China, indicated that China's universities are the toughest to gain entrance.  He (she?) said that the Beijing (formerly known as Peking) University School of Management has an acceptance rate of 0.0003%.  For Tsinghua or Beijing University, the rate is somewhere between 0.04% to 1%.
For your interest, here are universities that have a 100% acceptance rate.  Another open enrollment list.  There are 4,726 colleges in the USA, although online options are escalating.  U.S. post high school enrollment actually has declined for five consecutive years and will continue this drop for the next two decades.   

I find some of the following surprising;
In China, only 20% of of high school graduates get enrolled in some form of  higher education.  By 2050, this percentage is projected to increase to 50.  

Apparently, then, the top universities in China are the most difficult to gain acceptance.  Next, the best Japanese universities, followed by India.  Stanford?  No comparison to Beijing (Peking) University, Tokyo University or most of the India Institutes of Technology (there are 23, and seven of them are rated #1-#7 in the country, although another list has the University of Delhi as #1).

Finally, what are top world universities?  There are various sources, but the Shanghai Ranking first appeared in 2003, and is generally considered to be the most followed:
  • #1    Harvard
  • #2    Stanford
  • #3    California at Berkeley
  • #4    Cambridge
  • #5    MIT
  • #6    Princeton
  • #7    Oxford
  • #8    CalTech
  • #9    Columbia
  • #10  Chicago
15 of the top 20 are from the USA.  Others of note:
  • #20  Tokyo University
  • #32  Kyoto University
  • #46  University of Paris
  • #58  Tsinghua University
  • #71  Peking University
  • #87  Moscow State University

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