Closing the Gender Gap: Universities Where Gender Plays a Part in Admissions

The following lists were originally published by the Washington Post as part of their “Grade Point” coverage. To look at statistics for more universities, please click here.


Universities with a Gender Gap Favoring Men:

University Admissions Rate Gender Gap
College of William and Mary 28% of women

42% of men

14 points
George Washington University 41% of women

48% of men

7 points
Brandeis University 33% of women

39% of men

6 points
Wake Forest University 32% of women

38% of men

6 points
Tufts University 15% of women

20% of men

5 points
Brown University 7% of women

11% of men

4 points
Vanderbilt University 11% of women

15% of men

4 points


Universities with a Gender Gap Favoring Women:

University Admissions Rate Gender Gap
Georgia Tech 41% of women

30% of men

11 points
American University 49% of women

41% of men

8 points
Lehigh University 39% of women

31% of men

8 points
U. of Wisconsin – Madison 61% of women

53% of men

8 points
Massachusetts Institute of

Technology (MIT)

13% of women

6% of men

7 points
U. of Texas at Austin 43% of women

36% of men

7 points
Carnegie Mellon University 28% of women

22% of men

6 points

Closing the Gender Gap: Can Gender Play a Part in Admissions?

Most people don’t think of their gender as playing a roll in a modernized admissions game defined by numbers and percentiles. However, as universities work to improve the diversity of their student bodies, gender, like ethnicity, has become a factor of consideration that can either hurt or benefit a student, depending on the institution. This is because schools seek a balanced population, roughly half male, half female. Of course, not all universities have an application pool that is half male, half female. Accordingly, to achieve a balanced population, admissions offices must accept a larger percentage of the applicants in the less prevalent gender pool to have an equal gender representation.

To cast an example, MIT has many more male applicants than female applicants. For the class of 2019, the acceptance rate for male applicants was 6%, while the acceptance rate for females was more than double that value at 13%. This is not to say that it’s not difficult or competitive to get into MIT as a female, considering that the females in that range are surely extraordinarily qualified, as qualified as any male candidate. However, the numbers do say that it is statistically more likely that MIT will accept a female candidate over a male candidate, given equal credentials. Thus, a competitive female candidate would stand a higher chance of admission compared to a competitive male candidate.

In the second half of this series, I will publish two separate posts, a post for universities and another for liberal arts colleges, sharing lists of top universities and colleges that have a significant gender gap in admissions (4% points or higher).

Chasing the Clean Sweep: Not All That Prospers is Ivy

Previously in this series, I have dedicated posts to exploring what makes each Ivy distinct in an attempt to provide an easy way for students to find their “right fit” school(s) within the League. However, most students are not Ivy bound, and even for those who are, some might find that they don’t quite fit any of the eight schools. Before the panic sets in, take comfort in knowing that there are more options for a top-tier education than what is contained in the “Gang of Eight.” Despite the hype, the Ivy League is ultimately a regional, Division I sports league. As such, colleges in the Northeast with Division II or III sports teams and universities outside of the Northeast cannot join the League’s rank, despite providing an equivalent level of academic rigor and general excellence.

Below is a list of the top 10 “Ivy Alternatives.”

  1. Amherst College (MA)
  2. Duke University (NC)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aka MIT (MA)
  4. Middlebury College (VT)
  5. Pomona College (CA)
  6. Stanford University (CA)
  7. Swarthmore College (PA)
  8. University of Chicago (IL)
  9. Wellesley College (MA)
  10. Williams College (MA)

*Schools are listed alphabetically and not numerically ranked, as they are mostly equivalent to each other.

Chasing the Clean Sweep: Harvard University

Harvard is one of the most well-known universities in the world, possessing name recognition only matched by Oxford or Cambridge; however, despite its fame, many know very little about the university itself or its students. Often lambasted for its professors’ overwhelming focus on research and graduate school teaching, Harvard is not the school for those who require individual attention or daily access to professors. For many students, the most rewarding form of instruction is the sophomore and junior tutorial, a small-group directed study in a student’s field of concentration that is required in most departments within the humanities and social sciences. However, the tutorial opportunity is an exception to the norm, as most courses outside of higher level seminars are taught by both professors and graduate students in larger lecture halls.

For students who are highly motivated and ambitious, the lack of classroom interaction with faculty is no hindrance, as they are able to benefit from participating in the ground breaking research that otherwise occupies their professors’ time. Furthermore, the widely acknowledged (and debated) grade inflation policy enables students to focus on growing academically without strictly focusing on academic performance and GPA. Being located in the most active academic and social hub in the US, students at Harvard have a front row seat to the wealth of opportunities and activities found in Boston and Cambridge, benefiting from the other 250,000 students and hundreds of internships that call the revolutionary city home. It might be easy to get lost in such a large school in a large area, but for those who are independent and self-motivated, Harvard provides opportunity, money, and resources unparalleled by any other school, within or outside of the Ivy League.

Chasing the Clean Sweep: Dartmouth College

Dartmouth is the only Ivy to call itself a college, and this distinction in title encompasses the differences between Dartmouth and its fellow League members. Dartmouth is the smallest school in the League with 4,000 undergrads and 1,600 graduate students. This is a stark contrast to the other Ivies, which enroll anywhere from 3,000 to 19,000 graduate students in addition to the standard 5,000+ undergrads. Utilizing its small size, Dartmouth students not only enjoy small, discussion-based courses from freshman year onward, but also have the opportunity to develop close relationships with professors and advisors. While larger Ivies might have 25% or more of their courses clocking in at 50+ students, over 60% of Dartmouth’s courses have fewer than 20 students, and only 9% of courses have 50+ students. For students who require smaller classes and frequent access to professors, Dartmouth provides a reprieve from the lecture halls common at its larger peer institutions.

Separating Dartmouth’s academics from the pack isn’t their liberal arts focus, which more closely resembles Columbia than Brown, but rather its academic calendar, referred to as the “D Plan.” The D Plan is divides the academic year into four 10-week terms, including a 10-week summer block, with the intention of providing students unparalleled flexibility. Freshman and seniors must attend at least three terms on campus, and every sophomore must attend the 10-week summer term. Otherwise, students may choose which 10-week terms to attend, allowing them to take time-off for internships, research, or travel without any penalty. Like Cornell, Dartmouth is also more isolated than its counterparts, but in turn students enjoy a rich landscape and myriad of outdoor activities.

Chasing the Clean Sweep: Cornell University

Having introduced two opposing views of the liberal arts, Columbia’s strict curriculum and Brown’s open curriculum, we pivot to Cornell, a league of its own within the Ivies. Cornell is sometimes referred to as a public-private university hybrid, being both an Ivy League institution with rigorous academics and a large land-grant institution with a more pre-professional focus. Applying to Cornell requires choosing a specific college, such as the renowned School for Hotel Administration, and most of the courses students take are within their chosen major/college. This is not to say Cornell is a pre-professional school, but rather, a place where students have the opportunity to apply a pre-professional focus to their liberal arts education. Cornell’s pre-professional outlook allows students the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the select discipline(s) of their choice, and explore other disciplines in a less in-depth manner as they desire.

Also unique to Cornell is its location and size, being the largest Ivy in terms of both undergraduate population and campus acreage. Cornell is also the Ivy located farthest from an urban center, secluded in Upstate New York but in turn also surrounded by natural beauty. Students happily take advantage of their school’s location and large campus by utilizing more than 3,000 acres of woodlands, natural trails, streams, and gorges as spaces for physical exertion and contemplation. Cornell is not for those who desire an urban setting or the intimacy of a smaller school, yet it is ideal for those who want an Ivy League education with professional programs typically exclusive to public universities surrounded by an idyllic wilderness.

Chasing the Clean Sweep: Columbia University

For the cosmopolitan who wants a traditional liberal arts curriculum without the “bubble” of a small liberal arts college, there is Columbia University, situated just a few street blocks north of Central Park in New York City. Students at Columbia enjoy complete integration with the city, often citing that their location, being the biggest city in the US, allows them to have “a campus identity” while “living in the real world.” Students longing for a smaller, more isolated campus would feel lost in the sea of 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 1.6 million Manhattan residents; however, students at Columbia are very extroverted. Students traditionally energized by the possibility of new experiences and by meeting new people will find endless opportunities to enjoy and explore Columbia’s and New York’s diversity.

While some Ivies have evolved to embrace a curriculum that prioritizes a pre-professional educational philosophy over the liberal arts, Columbia has retained its liberal arts focus and its “Core Curriculum.” While each student is free to determine what courses they take to fulfill the Core requirements, the Core can occupy up to a third of a student’s first two years. For those who want to be challenged by taking classes across all disciplines and those who want a wider academic focus, the Core is a great mechanism for encouraging exploration and course variety. However, for those who desire a specialized education, only taking courses in engineering and STEM fields for example, Columbia’s distribution requirements might seem cumbersome.

Blueprint Workshop

Blueprint for College Planning Workshop 

Lane Music in Franklin Square, 9648 Kingston Pike

Tuesday, April 15th from 7-8:30 pm

A message from Laurie Brandow:

Does your son or daughter have a dream college? Or are they even thinking about college? What’s the plan? Where do you start?

Let’s start with our workshop!

Along with my colleague Jesse Hedrick from Testing Solutions, we are holding the second annual “Blueprint for College Planning and Admission” workshop. We’ll give you the resources that you are looking for…

From Your-Personal-Statement-is-NOT-an-English-Essay, to Crafting the College List,  our topics and information will get you ready for it all. Learn about Demonstrated Interest and resources for Unraveling the Mysteries of Merit and Financial Aid.  Find out whether the ACT or the SAT might be a better fit for your student.

This year each of my 20 students received multiple acceptances from what we call ’right-fit’ colleges. My mantra: Organization and timeliness minimizes stress and maximizes smart decision making. In other words: Procrastinate Later!

Come by Lane Music at 9648 Kingston Pike in Franklin Square Tuesday April 15th from 7-8:30 pm to get the inside scoop.

SPACE IS LIMITED! So RSVP now by emailing either Jesse at or Laurie at

The cost is $25 per family. We will be giving away door prizes of a Regal Cinema gift basket courtesy of Collegiate Blueprint Consulting as well as a tutoring package courtesy of Testing Solutions.