Best tech colleges are harder than ever to get in

Early admission statistics point to another challenging year for high school seniors

Results from the early application rounds at the nation's best technical colleges indicate that it will be another excruciatingly difficult year for high school seniors to get accepted into top-notch undergraduate computer science and engineering programs.

Leading tech colleges reported a sharp rise in early applications, prompting them to be more selective in choosing prospective freshmen for the Class of 2017. Many colleges are reporting lower acceptance rates for their binding early decision and non-binding early action admissions programs than in previous years.

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Students who submitted early college applications — typically due by Nov. 1 — learned whether they were accepted, deferred to the regular admissions pool, or denied admissions by Dec. 20. Budding techies who were deferred by these colleges will have an anxious wait until late March, when regular admission decisions are announced.

Here's a roundup of statistics from leading U.S. tech colleges that offer early admission programs:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

--Applied: 6,541 students

--Accepted: 650 students

--Acceptance Rate: 10%

MIT offers a non-restrictive, non-binding early action admissions program, meaning that prospective students can apply to other colleges via early action and don't have to attend MIT if admitted. MIT's early applications are up 9% over 2011.

2. Stanford University

--Applied: 6,103 students

--Accepted: 725 students

--Acceptance Rate: 12%

Stanford offers a single choice, early action admission program, which means students can only apply early to Stanford but they don't have to attend if admitted. This is the largest early action applicant pool in Stanford history. Additionally, Stanford deferred action on 572 applications, which will be reconsidered in the regular admissions decision round.

3. California Institute of Technology

--Applied: 1,713

--Accepted: 250

--Acceptance Rate: 15%

Caltech offers a non-binding early action admissions program, meaning that students don't have to attend Caltech if accepted. Caltech's total applicant pool is nearing 6,000 this year, which is 8% larger than last year. Caltech's early applications represent a 17% increase over last year's record-breaking early applicant pool.

4. Harvard

--Applied: 4,856

--Accepted: 895

--Acceptance Rate: 18%

Harvard offers a single choice, early action admissions program, which is non-binding for students who are accepted. Harvard's early applications are up 14% from last year.

5. Princeton University

--Applied: 3,810

--Accepted: 697

--Acceptance Rate: 18%

Princeton offers a single choice, early action admissions program. Princeton's early applications are up 10% from last year.

6. Columbia University

--Applied: 4,273

--Accepted: 631

--Acceptance Rate: 14%

Columbia offers a binding early decision admissions program, meaning that early applicants commit to attending Columbia. Columbia's early decision applications rose 1% this year. Columbia deferred 554 applications to the regular admissions pool.

7. Carnegie-Mellon University

--Applied: 1,064

--Accepted: 246

--Acceptance Rate: 23%

Carnegie Mellon has two rounds of binding early decision admissions: the first group was notified Dec. 15 and the second group will be notified on Jan. 15. Carnegie Mellon's early applications are up 12% from last year, when the comparable acceptance rate was 34%.

8. Georgia Institute of Technology

--Applied: 9,000

--Accepted: 4,950

--Acceptance Rate: 55%

Georgia Tech has a non-binding early action admissions program. The number of early applications received by Georgia Tech is up 6% from last year. Georgia Tech deferred 21% of applicants to the regular admissions decision round.

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