Acceptance rates at elite colleges hit a record low as students face cancelled college entrance exams and online learning difficulties

Harvard Law school
A view of a gate to Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University on July 8, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • The coronavirus pandemic has made it harder for students to land a coveted spot at an Ivy League.

  • Canceled college entrance exams and remote learning contribute to the "record low" admission rates.

  • Ivy Leagues are under pressure to have more diversity after the Varsity Blues scandal.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it harder for students who wish to land one of the coveted spots at an Ivy League university.

Acceptance rates at elite schools have hit a "record low" as the Class of 2025 faces hurdles brought on by the pandemic including canceled college entrance exams and remote learning difficulties.

Harvard accepted 3.4% of applicants to the Class of 2025. Over 57,000 applications were received but only 1,968 were accepted, according to The Harvard Crimson, the university's newspaper.

Despite a surge in applications, it is the lowest admissions rate in the college's history.

Columbia received over 60,000 applications for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle - a 51 percent increase from last year, according to Columbia Spectator, the university's undergraduate newspaper. 2,218 students were granted admission, a record low of 3.6%.

The increase in Ivy League applications can be linked to the test-optional decision for 2020-2021 applicants due to the coronavirus pandemic causing mass cancellations of standardized tests including the SAT and ACT.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the ACT entrance exam and The College Board, which runs the SAT, announced in March that their standardized tests would be postponed until at least June to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We know students and educators are worried about how the coronavirus may disrupt the college admissions process, and we want to do all we can to help alleviate that anxiety during this very demanding time," College Board CEO David Coleman told Insider.

Here are the admission rates to the Ivy League colleges for the class of 2025:

Cornell did not disclose the number of applicants but said it admitted 5,863 students to the Class of 2025. According to admissions information released by the university, 44,965 students applied to Cornell in 2020. Only 6,337 were admitted.

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