The majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. admit most of the students who apply each year. There are many institutions, however, that are highly selective, admitting only a small share of those who apply.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed admissions data across thousands of four-year, degree-granting institutions from the National Center for Education Statistics to determine each state’s most selective college. Our index was based on admission rates as well as SAT scores of admitted students to measure the difficulty of being accepted to those universities and colleges.
In many states, the hardest colleges to get into receive tens of thousands of applications and accept only a fraction of them. These include institutions like Harvard, which admitted less than 1 in 20 of the applicants for the 2018-2019 school year. Such colleges are able to rely on their reputation and prestige to attract students and be highly selective. Schools like these also tend to charge more in tuition and board. This is the most expensive colleges in every state.
In other states, there are far fewer colleges and universities, and in some of these states, admission rates for even the most selective school exceed 50%. In these schools, the test scores for admitted students also tend to be lower. Still, in all but a handful of schools on this list, the median SAT score of admitted students exceeds the national average score of 1060.
The most highly selective institutions by state appear to deserve their high number of applicants, at least based on the income potential of their graduates. The median earnings for students at the schools on this list exceeds that of the vast majority of schools in nearly every case. Over a dozen have median earnings 10 years after matriculation in excess of $70,000. In the majority of colleges and universities, that figure is less than $33,000. These are the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state.
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