Special Report

The Hardest College to Get Into in Every State

The average annual earnings of a worker with a bachelor’s degree is about $78,000, or $33,000 higher than the average salary of a worker with no more than a high school diploma, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

Some colleges and universities, of course , provide graduates with greater advantages than others — be it alumni connections, education quality, or reputation — all of which can translate into higher expected earnings. Many of these more prestigious schools are hard to get into. These institutions receive tens of thousands of applications a year, but only select a small fraction of applicants.

To determine the hardest colleges to get into by state, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education to rank colleges and universities based on an index comprising admission rates for the 2019-2020 school year and the median combined math and critical reading SAT scores for students admitted in fall 2018.

Many of the colleges on this list are private schools, which tend to be much more expensive than public schools. There are also, however, inexpensive schools across the country — many of which are public institutions — in which students can get a quality education and other advantages that could help set them up for long-term financial success. These are the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state.

While choosing a college is an important decision for prospective students, so is choosing a major. Students must consider their aptitudes, interests, and desired career field when deciding on a major. Some of these fields tend to be high paying — there are over a dozen majors where the average graduate earns over $90,000 per year. These are the college majors that pay off the most.

Click here to see the hardest college to get into in every state.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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