Success Rate of Popular Experiences vs. Acceptance Rate of Ivy League Universities

12 Minute Read

Getting accepted into an Ivy League university can be a life-changing achievement, as it provides top-tier education and opens the doors to a wide range of career opportunities. But how does the acceptance rate compare to the likelihood of having other sought-after experiences?

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to meet the Ivy League’s high standards and secure a place. Successful applicants often have outstanding grades, strong test scores, impressive extracurriculars, convincing recommendations and a well-written essay, among other elements.

Due to the competitiveness, getting accepted into an Ivy League is admirable in itself before you even get the qualification. Many students even want the spot more because of its rarity — the average Ivy League acceptance rate is 5%.

However, considering the difficulty of securing a place, do you have a better chance of getting into an Ivy League university than attending the most coveted music performance of the year, or are you more likely to become a reality TV star?

In this blog post, we’ll explore how the acceptance rates of Ivy League universities compare to the possibility of getting in-demand tickets to world-class sporting and music events, competing on popular reality TV shows, and breaking into the TikTok influencer circle. 


What are the acceptance rates of Ivy League universities?

Before we explore the most sought-after events and experiences outside of education, what are the latest acceptance rates for Ivy League schools? All eight universities receive varying numbers of applicants and have different resources available, but they all accept less than 10% of applicants.

The full list of Ivy League acceptance rates are:

Ivy League acceptance rate-3

Data sources: Appendix [1] to [8]

Cornell has the most applicants but it also has the highest acceptance rate. Whereas, Dartmouth College had the fewest applicants for the Class of 2028 and accepted 5.3% of the applicants — a record low after receiving 10% more applicants than the year prior.

However, Harvard University holds the lowest acceptance rate overall, with only 3.6% of the 54,008 applicants making it into the prestigious institution. The ROI of Harvard is also the highest of all Ivy League universities[9] when comparing attendance fees to predicted earnings, which could contribute to the competitive acceptance rate.

So, how do these figures compare to the number of people having sought-after experiences and attending high-demand events?


The success rate of popular events and experiences

Each year, people across the world compete for the chance to witness the greatest musicians perform and athletes compete, to gain a social media audience or win a cash prize. But what are the chances of achieving some of the most enviable tickets and experiences?

Below, we’ve ranked eight of the most in-demand experiences by their success rate.

Success rate of getting into Ivy League vs. popular events

1) Wimbledon tickets — 14.16% success rate

The Wimbledon Championships is quintessentially British, with its good-mannered etiquette guidelines, Royal family appearances and delightful servings of strawberries and cream. It’s the oldest tennis tournament in the world, first held in 1877[10], and occurs annually for a fortnight in Wimbledon, the south-west London district.

Although Hollywood A-listers such as Ariana Grande, Daniel Craig, and Emma Watson often attend, the event isn’t just for the rich and famous. Anyone can apply for a ticket through the Wimbledon Championships Public Ballot — a lottery which randomly allocates seats to a select few. While the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) doesn’t disclose the number of applicants, it’s estimated that one in 10 obtain tickets through these means[11].

Another option for tennis enthusiasts is to join the Wimbledon Queue, where 1,500 tickets for the three main courts[12] are reserved for each day of play at the Championships. However, the physical queue is extremely competitive, with 12,000 fans queuing on one day last year[13]. It’s even advised to join early the day before and camp overnight to secure tickets.

Combining both ticket options, there is a 14.16% success rate for fans wanting to spectate at the three main Wimbledon courts — double the chance of Cornell applicants.

2) Glastonbury Festival tickets — 8% success rate

Originating in 1970, when admissions cost only £1 and came with free milk[14], Glastonbury holds a rich history. Throughout its run, various music legends have performed at the festival, including David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Adele, Beyonce, and, more recently, Elton John. Over the years, Glastonbury has become known as a career-defining moment for those gracing the Pyramid Stage.

However, the festival is also a hub for showcasing rising talent, and with a range of genres and types of art, there is something for everyone, even politics. In 2017, the then Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, even took the stage and famously delivered a speech about his hopes for the future[15].

Due to the cultural impact of Glastonbury and its reputation for being one of the world’s best and biggest music festivals, tickets are notoriously hard to obtain. Each year, publications issue thorough guides on how to successfully buy tickets, such as using multiple devices and hitting refresh only at the ‘right’ time. Yet, with 2.5 million people trying for just over 200,000 tickets[16], many fans are always disappointed.

While the success rate is low, at 8%, it’s still higher than the acceptance rate of the Ivy League universities. So, if you don’t get into your college of choice, maybe you could lift your spirits at a festival.

3) UEFA EURO tickets — 7.19% success rate

Football is the most popular sport in the UK[17], and for many, it’s more than a hobby — it’s a lifestyle. Communities around the country are dedicated to various beloved teams, with fans attending local games and wearing their team’s merchandise. When the major tournaments occur, the entire country is in celebration mode.

Taking place from June to July 2024 is the 17th tournament of The UEFA European Football Championship — the biggest international trophy in Europe. Known colloquially as the Euros or the European Championship, the competition originated in 1960[18] and runs every four years, in the even-numbered year between the Fifa World Cups.

Attending a major football tournament is on the bucket list of many fans, but getting tickets isn’t easy. For the UEFA Euro 2024, fans of participating teams requested more than 30 million tickets despite only 2.16 million available[19].

With just over a 7% success rate, getting tickets to the Euros is more likely than applicants getting into most Ivy League schools, except for Cornell. Sadly, many football fans still have to settle for watching the matches on a screen.

4) Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour tickets — 2% success rate

There’s no denying the world domination of Taylor Swift. While the country-turned-pop singer has been successful for almost 20 years, The Eras Tour took her success to grand new heights. After a five-year break from touring and numerous album releases, this show was always destined to go down in history.

Following the pre-sale of the US tickets, which crashed the Ticketmaster site, the ticket distributor cancelled the general sale due to "extraordinarily high demands". Apparently, Swift would have to perform a stadium show every night for two and a half years to meet demand[20].

It wasn’t just the US leg of the tour that was historically popular, as it also broke Australian records, with more than 4 million fans down under trying to buy tickets[21]. And for the UK tour, 2.9 million fans[22] were predicted to attempt buying tickets — far exceeding the number of applicants to all the Ivy League universities combined!

Due to the overwhelming demand, Swifties had to undergo several steps in the ticketing process only for many to still miss out. According to research[23], the success rate of gaining tickets to The Eras tour is 2% — lower than the acceptance rates of all Ivy League universities. 

5) Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony tickets — 1.53% success rate

The Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece over 2,700 years ago[24], held in honour of the king of the gods, Zeus. The event, which was then part of a religious festival, was named after its site on Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods. There were no medals; instead, winners received a wreath of leaves and the glory of their city.

The first modern Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens[25] and have since become one of the biggest and most popular sporting events in the world. Every four years, top athletes from over 200 countries compete in more than 400 different sporting events[26] across the Summer and Winter Olympics for bronze, silver, and gold medals. Winning Olympic medals is a huge achievement, not only for the athlete but also for the country they represent.

Due to the importance, history, and prestige of the Olympics, attending is considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The opening ceremony is often cited as the most memorable aspect, which launches the Summer Games with a ritual that includes raising the Olympic flag and lighting the Olympic flame.

Our research found fans had a 45% chance of getting a ticket to the Paris Olympics 2024, with 8 million tickets[27] available to the general public overall. However, the opening ceremony is arguably the most coveted part of the sporting event. With only 100,000 tickets on sale[28] for this momentous celebration available to those who previously registered (2.5 million[29] in the first round and 4 million[30] in the second), the success rate is just 1.5%.

6) Getting on The Traitors — 0.007%

So far, the UK version of The Traitors has only run for two series, but it’s already become one of the most talked-about TV shows. With shocking moments like one contestant attending her own fake funeral, a secret relationship reveal, and many traitorous betrayals, The Traitors is excellent TV.

It’s not surprising that many are jumping at the chance to compete in this popular series and test their skills in detecting or becoming a conniving traitor. A staggering 300,000 people[31] applied to appear on series three of The Traitors — three times the number of Love Island applicants and around ten times more than Dartmouth College applicants.

Of course, the hopeful contestants aren’t just attracted to the chance of being on TV — the opportunity to win up to £120,000 ($152,494) has many wondering if they have what it takes. Depending on who survives until the end, the money is shared among the faithful contestants or stolen by any remaining traitors, with the latest winner, Harry Clark, bagging £95,000 ($120,725)[32] as the last traitor standing.

As only 22 get to play each series, the chances of being chosen are slim, at just 0.007%. The likelihood of becoming a traitor is even lower, with the first series having four traitors and the second series having six traitors.

7) Being a Love Island contestant — 0.006%

In 2018, it was reported that more people applied to appear on Love Island than to study at Oxford and Cambridge Universities combined. That year, 85,000 people tried getting on the reality TV show, while 36,000 applied to study at Oxbridge[33]. The dating series now receives over 100,000 applications[34] each year — almost double the number of Harvard applicants!

The winning Love Island couple receives a cash prize of £50,000 ($63,539) for them to split or one of them to steal. However, that isn’t the only draw for hopeful contestants. While the series was set up for singletons to find love, and some have gone on to do just that, most former contestants have used the show’s platform to kickstart a lucrative career. Social media brand deals, selling books, modelling contracts, launching their own companies, and TV appearances are just some ways former Islanders have made their fortune.

Arguably the most successful Islander, Molly Mae Hague reportedly has a net worth of £6 million[35] ($7.6 million)! While there’s no guarantee that each contestant will gain celebrity status from their time in the villa, the possibility of life-changing money is tempting enough for many.

Unfortunately, most who make it onto the show are scouted on social media or put forward by their agents — it’s believed only around six contestants[34] in a series apply organically. At less than 1%, the success rate of getting onto Love Island is lower than the acceptance rate of all Ivy League universities.

8) Gaining 1M followers on TikTok — 0.004% Success Rate

While TikTok first launched in 2016, it became the world’s most downloaded app[36] six years later — there are now reportedly over 900 million users worldwide[37]. The short video platform quickly became known for dance challenges, lip sync trends, and launching careers.

TikTok has helped musicians, authors, actors, and more rise to fame, but it’s also birthed a new genre of influencers — the TikTok stars. Users can earn money through their TikTok content in several ways, such as sponsored posts, running ads, affiliate marketing, and being paid per view.

However, a large audience is often required to earn a living from TikTok. In 2020, influencer Charli D'Amelio became the first to hit 100 million followers[38] — she apparently earns nearly £80,000 ($100,000) per post[39]. While not many reach this number, achieving over a million followers is seemingly the turning point.

Food creator Poppy O’Toole saw her followers surge from 200,000 to one million in lockdown[40], which helped her land a book deal. Another TikToker, Vi Luong, revealed having just over one million followers earned her around £7,000 ($10,000) for every sponsored post[41].

In a previous report, 57% of Gen Zers said they would like to become an influencer if given the chance, and 53% believed it was a reputable career choice[42]. However, with many people across the globe aiming for this number of followers, the chance of getting into this bracket is, unfortunately, very slim, at just 0.004%. So, while becoming a TikToker might seem more tempting than studying for a degree, the success rate is far lower.

Our findings suggest Ivy League applicants have a better chance of securing a place than becoming a successful reality TV or TikTok star, attending the Olympics opening ceremony or getting Taylor Swift tickets.

Of course, the requirements for securing these experiences differ vastly from what Ivy League universities expect. However, there are some skill crossovers. While reality TV and social media stars need to charm producers and then the viewers, Ivy League applicants must impress in interviews and personal essays. Yet, securing in-demand tickets comes down to speed and luck alone!

While many of these experiences are short-term and even one-night-only events, Ivy League universities provide more long-term and impactful benefits. The opportunities from this first-rate education can help you cultivate a successful, fulfilling and high-paying career.

Many factors contribute to a successful Ivy League application, but students can seek advice from our expert advising team to maximise their chances of attending their dream university.



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