As students apply to their dream schools, acceptance is almost too good to pass up.
That's reflected at a number of highly competitive colleges where the majority of admitted students enrolled in fall 2018. Yield, which refers to the percentage of accepted students who enroll, was at 80% or higher at a few of the nation's top schools, according to U.S. News data.
Harvard University in Massachusetts and Stanford University in California both boasted a yield of 82%, the highest among National Universities, a category of schools that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well master's and doctoral degrees.
U.S. News data shows that Harvard accepted only 5% of applicants in fall 2018, making it one of the most selective colleges in the country, compared with a national average acceptance rate of 67% among all ranked schools that participated in the U.S. News Best Colleges survey. Only Stanford had a lower acceptance rate at 4%.
The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado had the highest yield among National Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts. At 98%, the Air Force Academy tops all ranked National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges that submitted data to U.S. News.
Like other top colleges, the Air Force Academy had a low acceptance rate: 11%.
Three liberal arts colleges with high yield figures -- the Air Force Academy, the United States Naval Academy in Maryland and Berea College in Kentucky -- provide a tuition-free education, easing the financial burden on students and their families as the cost of school continues to rise across the nation.
Acceptance rates vary at institutions that have yield rates of 50% or higher. Per U.S. News data, among all ranked colleges and universities, only 18 had an acceptance rate below 10%, including many of the schools that appear below.
Others on this list are less selective, such as Principia College in Illinois, which accepted 92% of applicants, and the University of Texas--Rio Grande Valley, which reported an 81% acceptance rate.
The colleges and universities listed in the tables below reported a minimum yield of 50% for fall 2018. The rate can be affected by students' early decision or early action options, since some of those programs bind students to attend if accepted. This data reflects first-time, first-year, degree-seeking students only.
National Universities Where Most Accepted Students Enroll
National Liberal Arts Colleges Where Most Accepted Students Enroll
|School (state)||Students accepted||Students who enrolled in fall 2018||Yield|
|United States Air Force Academy (CO)||1,182||1,163||98%|
|United States Naval Academy (MD)||1,374||1,194||87%|
|Thomas Aquinas College (CA)||164||121||74%|
|Berea College (KY)||602||438||73%|
|Principia College (IL)||137||100||73%|
|Soka University of America (CA)||180||111||62%|
|Claremont McKenna College (CA)||584||325||56%|
|Barnard College (NY)||1,099||605||55%|
|Bowdoin College (ME)||932||510||55%|
|Pomona College (CA)||780||412||53%|
|Virginia Military Institute||907||475||52%|
The acceptance and yield data above are correct as of Jan. 16, 2020. For additional admissions data, complete rankings and much more, access the U.S. News College Compass.