Universities, Colleges Where Students Are Eager to Enroll

Josh Moody

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%.

[Read: How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?]

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.

[Read: What You Need to Know About College Tuition Costs.]

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

School (state) Students accepted Students who enrolled in fall 2018 Yield
Harvard University (MA) 2,024 1,653 82%
Stanford University (CA) 2,071 1,697 82%
Brigham Young University--Provo (UT) 7,224 5,739 79%
University of Chicago 2,345 1,805 77%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1,464 1,114 76%
Gallaudet University (DC) 283 201 71%
Yale University (CT) 2,241 1,573 70%
Princeton University (NJ) 1,940 1,339 69%
University of Pennsylvania 3,740 2,518 67%
Harding University (AR) 1,309 857 65%
Columbia University (NY) 2,260 1,423 63%
Brown University (RI) 2,718 1,652 61%
Dartmouth College (NH) 1,925 1,169 61%
Kennesaw State University (GA) 7,779 4,784 61%
Mississippi College 851 523 61%
Cornell University (NY) 5,448 3,295 60%
Yeshiva University (NY) 909 538 59%
University of Notre Dame (IN) 3,608 2,070 57%
Georgia Southern University 7,797 4,347 56%
Northwestern University (IL) 3,422 1,931 56%
Duke University (NC) 3,189 1,745 55%
University of California--Davis 31,564 16,389 52%
University of Louisiana--Lafayette 5,301 2,733 52%
University of Texas--Rio Grande Valley 9,069 4,565 50%

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%
Purchase College--SUNY 1,453 896 62%
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.