We repeat this line over and over again at this time of year. It’s a line by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Nobody keeps more extensive data on Ivy League admission statistics than we do at Ivy Coach but we’re also the first to tell our students and parents to read these statistics always with six or seven healthy grains of salt. But let’s be more specific. A parent recently asserted to us, “Stanford was more competitive to get into than Harvard this year. Stanford had a 4.7% admission rate, whereas Harvard had a 5.2% admission rate.”
This assertion, based strictly on an admission rate, just doesn’t hold water for us. Just because tons of students applied — that doesn’t mean an applicant pool is more competitive. More ‘C’ students applying doesn’t make it more difficult to get into Stanford. Not that lots of ‘C’ students applied to Stanford this year. We’re using an extreme example so you see how the more applicants a school receives and the lower the admission rate a school boasts doesn’t — in itself — mean the school is more difficult than in years past to get into. In fact, in spite of Stanford’s 4.7% admission rate and Harvard’s 5.2% admission rate, we would argue that Harvard was more difficult than Stanford to get into this year. And not the other way around.
As our regular readers know, at Ivy Coach, we have more students earn admission to Stanford each year than any other university, which we understand is ironic since we’re Ivy Coach and Stanford is not an Ivy League school. But we help students earn admission to all highly selective colleges. Including the Ivy League colleges. Including Stanford University.
So, sure, peruse those admission statistics. You bet it’s hard to get into Stanford. And Harvard. Is it more difficult to get into Stanford or Harvard than three years ago? Not necessarily. Was it more difficult to get into Stanford this year than Harvard because the university boasted a lower admission rate? Not necessarily. And we have a feeling Mark Twain would agree with us.
Have a question on admission statistics? Post it below and we’ll be sure to jump in.