Interesting Admission Statistics from One Top Private School

University of Chicago admission statistics from the Harvard-Westlake School are considerably different than from its competitors. 27 out of 87 applicants were admitted in the past three years compared to 5 out of 87 from Stanford, 7 out of 98 from Harvard, 11 out of 61 from Yale and 3 out of 46 from Princeton. UChicago has a much higher admission rate the others and has more applicants than Yale or Princeton. Seems to buttress the point the University is going after prep school kids more vigorously than in the past and also cutting them some slack on admissions. Not strictly comparable since many UChicago applicants are binding early decision so they could not apply to other schools and recruited athletes and legacies are excluded from the sample.

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Note this data is from 2018-2020, and doesn’t include Class of 2021. It’s unfortunate that we can’t see annual or longer term data, to understand more context.

Could it be that U Chicago is looking more for stellar academic achievement, rather than the “holistic” approach, where the applicant needs to have, in addition to excellent academic achievement, some extraordinary outside-of-school achievement?

I wonder what percentage of prep school kids apply ED vs non-binding.

@parentologist Not sure I agree since UChicago accepted a higher percentage of applicants with GPA’s of 3.6-3.8 (17 out of 36) than 3.8 to 4 (8 out of 37)

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Maybe they are yield protecting and aren’t as confident they can get the 3.8-4.0s.

ETA: This is just missing so much context…notably test scores, admission round, URM status, and income level.


Maybe it has to do with lower GPA applicants might be more likely to apply binding early decision

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I have never seen data to support that, do you have anything that shows that? As Harvard Westlake’s packet says…ED doesn’t make a weak applicant strong.

Only anecdotal based on reported acceptance rates by admission rounds by UChicago admissions office and the purported encouragement by private school college counseling offices of early application.

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It’s great to see a HS provide this level of detail. Among the high GPA students at Harvard-Westlake (3.8+ UW GPA), the most applied to colleges were as follows. The order is a little different than I expected. For example, I would have expected more Stanford applicants than Brown. However, nothing is too shocking. The more surprising result that is more relevant to Chicago occurs at lower GPA ranges (see below).

Most Applied to Among High GPA (3.8+) Harvard Westlake non-ALDC Hooked Kids

1 . UC Berkeley – 80 applied, 49 accepted (admit rate = 61%)
2. UCLA – 73 applied, 41 accepted (admit rate = 56%)
3. Brown (tie) – 58 applied, 12 accepted (admit rate = 21%)
3. Harvard (tie) – 58 applied, 5 accepted (admit rate = 9%)
5. Penn – 54 applied, 8 accepted (admit rate = 15%)
6. Stanford – 51 applied, 4 accepted (admit rate = 8%)
7. UCSD – 48 applied,33 accepted (admit rate = 69%)
8. Northwestern – 47 applied, 8 accepted (admit rate = 17%)
9. Columbia – 45 applied, 11 accepted (admit rate = 24%)
10. USC (tie) – 42 applied, 27 accepted (admit rate = 64%)
10 Yale (tie) – 42 applied, 10 accepted (admit rate = 24%)
12. WUSTL – 41 applied, 19 accepted (admit rate = 46%)
13. Michigan – 40 applied, 29 accepted (admit rate =73%)
14. UCSB (tie) – 37 applied , 34 accepted (admit rate = 92%)
14. Chicago (tie)-- 37 applied, 8 accepted (admit rate = 22%)

As listed below, Chicago had a 47% admit rate among 3.6-3.8 GPA, which was higher than Chicago’s admit rate for 3.8+ GPA kids and far higher than other Ivy Plus type colleges. Chicago is also getting more applicants in this GPA range than Ivy Plus type colleges, but not as much as USC and WUSTL. Maybe this relates to Harvard Westlake encouraging 3.6-3.8 GPA kids to apply ED to Chicago, while 3.8+ GPA kids are more likely to apply EA/RD? It could also be a small sample size anomaly.

Admit Rate Among Middle 3.6-3.8 GPA Harvard Westlake non-ALDC Hooked Kids

Chicago – 17/36 = 47%
USC – 11/39 = 28%
WUSTL – 12/49 = 24%
UC Berkeley – 15/68 = 22%
Cornell – 7/34 = 21%
UCLA – 11/57 = 19%
Emory – 5/33 = 15%
Penn – 4/35 = 11%
Brown – 3/30 = 10%
Northwestern – 3/30 = 10%
Harvard – 2/29 = 7%
Yale – 1/16 = 6%
Stanford – 1/18 = 6%
Columbia – 1/24 = 4%
Duke – 0/21 = 0%

It’s also interesting to note the result for Duke Duke had an overall acceptance rate of only 3% for high 3.8+ GPA kids and 0% for all other GPAs. There was a large sample size of 69 kids, and 68 of them were rejected – a much higher rejection rate than Stanford, Harvard, and all other colleges with a large sample size. I’d want to see more detail about the applicants before drawing conclusions, but the admit rate for Duke makes me wonder if Duke has something against Harvard-Westlake.


Pomona is interesting, too. Despite being nearby, only 19 applied. None got in. I would expect more students to apply to the Claremonts overall - looks like those applying to LACs prefer the East Coast, especially Wesleyan.

Wesleyan AOs and Harvard-Westlake GCs have a long standing relationship. For more details on that read the book ‘The Gatekeepers’, from around 2001.


Or maybe traditionally students from this HS don’t end up going to Duke. Colleges do care about yield.


Admission round is likely a very important factor. Applying U Chicago ED means the student gives up the ability to apply restricted early action, and of course, EDI elsewhere.

Again, there are likely so many other factors involved here, ones we have no information about…including relative rigor between the groups (maybe some of the 4.0s have less overall rigor than some of the 3.7s, to take one possible example), current and historical matriculation rates (we are only seeing acceptances), URM status, AO relationships with H-L GCs, family ability to pay, and more.

For another layer of texture, here is the H-W school profile. It covers weighted gpa, ap classes and scores, and actual matriculation. Only for a subset of the three years, but you can get a vague sense of how much gpas go up with weighting and how many students are taking advanced courses.

Interesting that they are going to stop weighting gpa going forward.

Yes, I had looked at their profile earlier (you didn’t link to it in your post… I don’t have time to do analysis now, but the matriculation stats on the profile are for 5 years (2016-2020), and include legacies and athletes, so we can’t compare these data sets.

w/r/t the GPA question, this is only anecdotal but I’m continually surprised every year by the number of uw 4.0’s rejected or deferred ED1 at UChicago, while those with lower GPA’s are admitted. And typically, those nosebleed GPA’s are accompanied by nosebleed test scores so it’s not a matter of having a low ACT/SAT (UChicago’s policy change to TO follows years of practice so it’s not like test scores were really really important and then suddenly they weren’t). Anyway, no fly on the wall there, but not sure there’s a lack of confidence about “getting” high GPA candidates in the ED rounds. What I have heard, again anecdotally, is that admits from the top prep schools tend to be RD admits. That means that UChicago isn’t a first choice for them and it’s possible that their GPA’s kept them out of Yale. UChicago might have admitted them because they know that 3.7’s from H-L tend to graduate on time, get into med and law school, etc. The dean of admissions is also the “dean of outcomes” (ie career advancement) so he has those numbers at his fingertips.

5 Year Matriculation:

  1. NYU–92

  2. USC–71

  3. WashUStL–60

  4. Chicago–53

  5. Michigan–52

  6. Harvard–45

  7. Cornell–40

  8. UPenn–39

  9. UCal-Berkeley–39

  10. Stanford–35

  11. Brown–32

  12. Colgate–31

  13. Georgetown–29

  14. Columbia–29

  15. Northwestern–26

  16. Tulane–26

  17. Yale–23

  18. Emory–22

  19. Kenyon–22

  20. Duke–21

  21. Amherst College–20

  22. Princeton–19

  23. Johns Hopkins–18

  24. Wisconsin–18

  25. UCLA–17

  26. Tufts–17

  27. Vanderbilt–16

  28. Barnard–16

  29. SMU–14

  30. Boston College–14

  31. Boston University–14

  32. Williams College–13

  33. Wesleyan–13

  34. Carnegie Mellon (CMU)–12

  35. Univ. of Texas at Austin–11

  36. Colorado at Boulder–10

  37. MIT–9

  38. UC-Santa Barbara–9

  39. Indiana–9

  40. Univ. St. Andrews–8

  41. Virginia–8

  42. Claremont McKenna (CMC)–8

  43. Scripps–7

  44. George Washington University (GWU)–7

  45. Univ. of Miami–7

  46. Oxford at Emory–7

  47. Syracuse–6

  48. Notre Dame–6

  49. Bates College–6

  50. Loyola (LMU)–6

  51. Rice–5

  52. Univ. of Washington–5

  53. UC-San Diego–5

  54. Wellesley–5

  55. Middlebury–5

  56. Carleton College–5

  57. Univ. of Richmond–5

  58. Occidental College–5

  59. CalTech–4

  60. Bard College–4

  61. American Univ. Paris–4

  62. Case Western Reserve–4

  63. Colby College–4

  64. Chapman–4

  65. Swarthmore–4

  66. Lewis & Clark–4

  67. Oregon–4

  68. Univ. of Edinburgh–4

  69. Santa Clara–4

  70. Santa Monica–4

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And for more context, there are about 285 or so students per class at H-L, so over a 5 year period ~1,425 grads.

Woops-sorry about that.

I figured you would say we can’t compare data sets😜. Not trying to. But they nonetheless provide more information together than apart.

And with some reasonable assumptions- like the additional couple of years aren’t wild outliers - a picture emerges. Admittedly I haven’t analyzed it in any detail, either.