The 25 Hardest Colleges to Get Into In America

An aerial view of John Kennedy Street in the Harvard University area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
An aerial view of John Kennedy Street in the Harvard University area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Roman Babakin/iStock via Getty Images

The website Niche uses statistics and reviews to calculate the best of everything, from neighborhoods across America to the country's best places to work. Though the 2019 school year has only recently begun, the review site is already looking ahead to next year. Using data they received from the U.S. Department of Education and reports submitted by Niche users, Niche crunched the numbers to come up with a list of the hardest colleges to get accepted to in the U.S.

With an acceptance rate of just 5 percent and an SAT range of 1460 to 1590, it’s no surprise that Harvard University claimed the top spot on the list. On the opposite cost, second-placer Stanford University is nearly just as picky, with a 5 percent acceptance rate and an SAT range of 1390 to 1540.

Though Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute may be lesser known than MIT, Yale, or Princeton, with an acceptance rate of just 2 percent, the San Francisco-based school (which is part of the Claremont University Consortium) has the most competitive acceptance rate in the top 25—though they only have 500 undergrads. Even the 25th college on the list, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, only accepts 15 percent of those who apply.

Niche's full list of schools is rather long (you can view it here), but these at the 25 hardest colleges to get into in America.

  1. Harvard University

  1. Stanford University

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  1. California Institute of Technology

  1. Yale University

  1. Princeton University

  1. University of Chicago

  1. Columbia University

  1. Brown University

  1. University of Pennsylvania

  1. Northwestern University

  1. Vanderbilt University

  1. Duke University

  1. Pomona College

  1. Dartmouth College

  1. Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute

  1. Johns Hopkins University

  1. Swarthmore College

  1. Rice University

  1. Cornell University

  1. Washington University in St. Louis

  1. Harvey Mudd College

  1. Claremont McKenna College

  1. Amherst College

  1. Williams College

10 Simple Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Learn how to make the most of your grocery haul.
Learn how to make the most of your grocery haul.
GANNAMARTYSHEVA/iStock via Getty Images

With the novel coronavirus majorly disrupting the food service industry, billions of dollars’ worth of food is going to waste as farmers face an overwhelming surplus of perishable items like dairy and fresh vegetables, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Thanks to a scrambled supply chain, nearly half of the food grown in the United States that was previously destined for school cafeterias, restaurants, theme parks, cruise ships, and stadiums is going to waste, with farmers being forced to dump fresh milk and plow vegetables back into the dirt. To better preserve your own supplies—and save some serious cash—check out these 10 ways to reduce food waste at home.

1. Store your food properly.

Correctly storing your food will help it stay fresh longer. If your bread typically molds or goes stale before you have the chance to finish the loaf, keep half of it in the bread box and freeze the other half for later. Store potatoes and tomatoes at room temperature. Don’t stash your eggs in the refrigerator door compartment—this will rattle them around, and may lead to a yolky mess. You can find more helpful food storing tips here.

2. Get well-acquainted with your freezer.

Freezer packed with food
Stuffing your freezer means you can also pass time with a quality game of freezer Tetris.
mliu92, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Leftovers, especially meals like soups or stews, are excellent for freezing. But you can freeze individual ingredients, too. Freeze wilted spinach to add to future soups. Frozen berries work well in smoothies, and frozen overripe bananas are perfect for banana bread. Keeping a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer is a great way to ensure you’ll always have the ingredients for vegetable stock on hand (more on that later). However, there are some foods you should never freeze, and there are certain things you shouldn’t do when defrosting.

3. Learn the best way to freeze different kinds of fruit.

Ripe, fairly unblemished fruit is best for freezing. First, wash the fruit and sort through it for any pieces that are bruised or rotten. Some fruits, like blackberries, raspberries, and plums [PDF], will freeze better with the help of a sugar solution, though cranberries, blueberries, and currants typically do fine on their own. Arrange more delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries in a single layer on a baking sheet (you can also coat them with sugar or a sugar syrup), and then once they’re frozen, put them in a container or a plastic freezer bag. Fruits that tend to brown, like peaches, apple, apricots, and nectarines, can be treated with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which you can purchase in powder form in health food stores and some grocery stores.

4. Follow the “first in, first out” rule.

Much like shelves are stocked in grocery stores, use the “first in, first out” method when stocking your refrigerator. After washing your produce and wiping down all other items, put the newer ingredients in the back of the fridge and move the older items to the front so they’ll get used first. A fridge cam can even help you keep track of what’s about to go bad or expire.

5. Keep your fridge uncluttered.

Woman standing in front of opened fridge pinching her nose
Maintaining an orderly fridge will help you spot spoiling food before it starts to stink.
millann/iStock via Getty Images

Having to rummage around for an item or not being able to see that bottle of cocktail sauce tucked behind the box o’ wine means more food may go bad before it’s used up. Periodically, take a look at the long-term residents of your fridge, like salad dressings and sauces, to see if they’re still good. If possible, keep them all in one spot to make keeping track of them easier. Also, use square containers for leftovers rather than round ones, as the square shape allows for more storage space. Taking stock of everything you have in both the fridge and the pantry before shopping will also help cut down on clutter and double-buying.

6. Understand expiration dates.

Studies have shown that we throw away more than half of the food we keep in our refrigerators. Misunderstanding food labels is one reason behind the waste. “Sell by” is the date used to inform retailers when an item should be sold or removed from inventory. “Best by” is a suggested date that shoppers should use their products by. Neither means the item is unsafe to eat after that particular date. Even “expires by” isn’t set in stone.

7. Use food scraps to make stock.

Using vegetable scraps like stalks, tops, and peels to make a tasty broth is simple. Sauté them in some butter or oil, then add water and let them simmer for a few hours. Simmer beef bones and chicken carcasses along with the veggies (add water and herbs) to make a delectable homemade broth.

8. Plan your meals in advance.

Knowing what you want to eat for just a few dinners or lunches per week can help you figure out which ingredients you can use across meals and help cut down on spontaneous buying. The Kitchn recommends planning on a Friday, shopping on a Saturday, and then using an hour on Sunday for meal prep.

9. Shop strategically.

Grocery shopping list written with pen on paper from a notebook
For now, it's best to write your shopping list on paper you can later dispose of.
Santeri Viinamäki, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Typically, more frequent trips to the grocery store are preferable to buying in bulk when it comes to cutting down on waste, but in these current circumstances, less frequent trips are your safest bet. Therefore, a list is essential—just make sure you're jotting your notes on paper and not touching your phone while shopping. And if there’s any way to order online for delivery or pick-up, keeping an open online shopping cart is the best way to organize and maintain a visual list.

10. Donate items you know you won’t use to your local food bank.

If you have more food on hand than you need, consider donating to a local shelter or food bank. Call ahead and arrange curbside drop off.

6 Products That Can Help Improve Your Home's Air Quality

Guardian Technologies/Homasy/Amazon
Guardian Technologies/Homasy/Amazon

Chances are you’ve spent a lot more time than usual inside lately. And if you’ve noticed that the air in your home has started to feel a little mustier thanks to your constant presence, you might need to do a bit more than just crack a window. From air purifiers designed to filter out germs to all-natural surface cleaners that help you avoid harsh chemicals, we’ve compiled some essential products that will help improve your indoor air quality.

1. Vacuums with HEPA filters


Shark/Homasy/Amazon

Carpets and rugs are bound to absorb pollutants like dust and dirt that can keep the air in your home a little less than fresh and agitate your allergies. Research suggests that a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter helps reduce surface contamination, and for the best results, the universal rule of thumb is to run a vacuum over the floors at least once a week. We recommend this upright vacuum from Shark ($170), which includes a lift-away feature so you can clean harder-to-reach locations. If you need a duster to complement your Shark, go with the Swiffer ($13); it's a simple design that can easily get around corners and fit under furniture, where colonies of dust tend to hang out.

If you're looking for a more hands-off approach to cleaning, Homasy's line of robot vacuums can be programmed to clean your floors right from a remote. The 1500PA ($166) model has a 4.4-star Amazon rating, features four cleaning modes (auto, wall, small-room, and suction cleaning), and sports a HEPA filter.

2. air purifiers

Guardian Technologies air purifier.
Guardian Technologies/Amazon

According to Good Housekeeping, you should look for an air purifier that’s verified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and uses the aforementioned HEPA-certified filters, which can catch about 99.97 percent of the smallest particles that cause allergies and other issues (be wary of brands selling "near-HEPA" products, though). For the best results, just make sure to replace the filter every three months.

This air purifier from Guardian Technologies ($97) has a built-in UV light that helps kill germs and a true HEPA filter that works to reduce odors. The company also offers a smart model ($148) that can be scheduled to go on and off through an app and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

3. humidifiers

A humidifier from Honeywell.
Honeywell/Amazon

Being stuck at home as the temperatures rise inevitably means your air conditioner will soon be working overtime. To combat the dry air that accompanies AC units, think about picking up a humidifier to add some much-needed moisture to your home. The Honeywell HCM-350 Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier ($64) comes with plenty of acclaim and is the perfect size for the bedroom or living room. It runs quietly, only needs a gallon of water, and can help bring some life to your home's stagnant, dry air. If you're not looking to make as big of an investment, there are personal humidifiers ($20) that can simply be dropped into a cup of water.

4. An air-quality monitor

Awair air-quality monitor on Amazon.
Awair/Amazon

Keep on top of your indoor air quality by purchasing a monitor that tracks humidity, temperature, and the presence of particulate matter. This monitor from Awair ($69) plugs into an outlet and sends you real-time updates through a connected app. You can even plug another device into it—like a humidifier—and the monitor will automatically turn it on if air quality dips at all.

5. All-natural cleaning products

Puracy all-natural cleaners.
Puracy/Amazon

Many cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which drastically impact indoor air quality and may produce negative health effects. Switch to all-natural cleaning products to avoid potentially toxic byproducts, especially when dealing with rooms that have poor ventilation. We recommend this plant-based, all-purpose spray from Puracy ($12), along with the company's line of carpet shampoo ($15) or the full-on cleaning set ($40) of all their major products.

6. Replacement air filters

Filtrete air filters on Amazon.
Filtrete/Amazon

Your home’s air filters will be most effective provided they’re cleaned or replaced on a regular schedule. Depending on where you live, how often you use your HVAC system, and the type of filter you use, you should aim to replace your filters every two to three months, according to The Spruce. However, you can change them every month to six weeks if you have issues like allergies and asthma.

This air filter from Filtrete ($32) contains an activated carbon layer designed to trap odors and particulate matter and is built to last for three months. The benefits of charcoal as an odor eater don't have to come at a high cost, either. You can grab some tiny air-purifying charcoal bags ($20) to throw into a car or shoe closet to help filter those unpleasant smells that you're probably tired of dealing with.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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