Located half an hour north from Chicago, Northwestern University is renowned for its academic caliber and producing notable alumni like actor and political activist, Charlton Heston and comedian television host, Stephen Colbert. Who wouldn’t want to go here? So if you’re considering applying, keep reading to learn more about the Northwestern acceptance rate and how to use admissions statistics to increase your chances of getting in.

What is the Northwestern Acceptance Rate?

In its last application cycle, the Northwestern acceptance rate hit a record low of 10.6%. The dean of undergraduate admissions has even admitted that the academic quality of Northwestern’s applicants made it incredibly difficult to narrow down the pool of applicants to an acceptable number. And considering they received close to 35,100 applications, this was no small task on the admission team’s part. The Class of 2020 included students who:

  •    competed in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials
  •    starred in multiple Hollywood films
  •    created a startup that uses biking to charge electronics
  •    worked in a microbiology lab to isolate soil bacteria

If you think that’s impressive, take a look at the academic performances they brought with them. The Class of 2020 averaged:

  •    33 on the ACT
  •    1500 on the new SAT
  •    4.07 GPA

Now things are looking really competitive, right? But before you think about scratching this school from your list, stick with me for a few minutes while we talk about what you can do to increase your chances of getting into Northwestern.

So You Want to Go to Northwestern

Whether you’ve been working with your college consultant or by researching colleges on your own, you’ve made a great choice in Northwestern. Now I’m going to give you three ways you can increase your application’s visibility during the review process and up your chances of being accepted into this amazing school.

Get Good Grades

Pretty obvious, right? You can start by going over your academic strengths and weaknesses with your college consultant and connecting with a tutor to help you get your GPA to a more competitive place. You know how 4.07 is the average? Aim for that. To do so, you’ll need AP and IB classes on your high school transcript. Most high schools offer a boost to your GPA, which will help you get over that 4.00 mark. Show how excited and prepared you are for college by taking classes in English, a foreign language, mathematics, science, and social studies all four years of your high school career.

Rock Your Standardized Tests

Use the average scores I gave you earlier as a guide for what kind of test score you need to be aiming for. You will need to work with a tutor who earned a top score on the standardized test you’re taking in order to get your scores to a competitive level. Make sure you’re doing quality test prep outside of your tutoring sessions. It’s equally important that you develop good study habits and a schedule that you stick to while you prepare for the SAT or ACT.

Show What Gets You Excited

Ultra-competitive schools like Northwestern are not looking for cookie cutter, well-rounded students. They’re seeking innovators and students who are changing the world. While the high school education system pushes for well-rounded students, Northwestern want you to break the mold. Take a look at some of the amazing things the students from the Class of 2020 accomplished. Look for ways that make you stand out that way and be sure all of your application materials support this narrative.

Other Schools to Consider

If you’re interested in applying to other schools like Northwestern, I recommend taking a look at these schools below and talking them over with your college consultant to see if they would be a good fit for you or not. Some of these schools have a lower percentage than the Northwestern acceptance rate. Others are higher. I’ve compiled the schools on this list based on academic rigor and standardized test scores. Be sure to check them out if you’re struggling to identify other schools that you might like to go to.

School Name Location ACT Average SAT Average (1600)
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 32 1430
Brown University Providence, RI 32 1490
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 32 1470
Columbia University New York, NY 33 1520
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 32 1480
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 32 1510
Duke University Durham, NC 34 1540
Emory University Atlanta, GA 30 1430
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 34 1520
New York University New York, NY 30 1410
Northeastern University Boston, MA 31 1440
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 33 1540
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 29 1420
Rice University Houston, TX 33 1510
Stanford University Stanford, CA 33 1520
Tufts University Medford, MA 31 1490
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA 30 1440
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 33 1520
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 30 1430
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 32 1500
Yale University New Haven, CT 33 1540

Coming in at 10.6%, the Northwestern acceptance rate makes it an incredibly competitive school. With its impressive alumni, student body, and academic intensity, it’s a fantastic school to go to if you prefer a Midwestern feel over what you find on either coast. Be sure to earn fantastic grades, find your niche, and work with tutors and your college consultant to ensure you submit a solid application.

Have any additional questions about Northwestern? Want to suggest a school for us to profile next? Let us know in the comments section below.