21 Things That Are Harder Than Getting into Harvard
Think the Ivy League is hard? Try scoring a job at the new Walmart.
It’s not like gaining entrance to the vaunted Ivy League has gotten any easier these days—in fact, the opposite is true. Harvard’s acceptance rate has experienced steady drops over the past four years, most recently reporting a 4.59 percent acceptance rate for the class of 2022. According to the Harvard Crimson, that’s the university’s lowest acceptance rate on record. Yet, as slim of a chance as you have of getting into the exalted university, there are quite a few internships, recognitions, professions, and ridiculous events that, believe it or not, are even far less likely to happen to you—and we decided to round up a few.
Some of these, like scoring a gig at Google, might be obvious, but we guarantee that you haven’t even thought to consider the tiny fraction of possibility for others, like operating a particularly well-regarded fried chicken franchise. So, if you’ve done any of these things or had any of these circumstances befall you, we believe congratulations are in order! You could obviously get into Harvard—statistically speaking, at least. And for more ridiculously low acceptance rates, don’t miss This Dating App Is Harder to Get into Than Harvard.
Interning at the New York Times
Oh, you know, it’s just an internship at one of the most respected newspapers in the world. A recruiter for the Times told the Poynter Institute (an elite journalism authority) that the newspaper has an acceptance rate of 0.5 percent for its internships—making it 10 times easier to get into Harvard than to intern at the Times. And for more shocking trivia, check out these 50 Random Facts That Will Simply Astonish You.
Landing a Job at the New Walmart
Everyone wants to save money and live better, it seems. Economics21 reported that when Washington D.C.’s first two Walmart locations had their grand opening in 2013, a staggering twenty-three thousand people had applied for just 800 job openings at the two stores, giving Walmart an acceptance rate all the Ivy League would be envious of: less than 3.5 percent.
Becoming a Delta Flight Attendant
With a harrowing application process involving video interviews, Q&A sessions, and in-person meetings, Delta takes the standard of selection for flight attendants to new heights. In 2016, the airline reported only accepting 1 percent of over 150,000 hopeful applicants into its rigorous eight-week training program.
Knowing Someone with the Same Birthday as You
Hear us out on this one. The logic posted on MathForum.org goes a little something like this: since there are 365 days in a year, the probability of knowing someone with your same birthday can be easily figured by simply dividing 1 by 365, which comes out to a probability of 0.27 percent.
Operating a Chick-fil-A Franchise
The right to cook up and distribute golden waffle fries, not to mention “the original chicken sandwich,” isn’t dished out very easily. A member of the Chick-fil-A PR team told the Washington Post that the company only opens between 100 and 115 new locations each year, yet they often receive as many as 40,000 applications from people squawking to “Eat Mor Chikin.”
Becoming a Master Sommelier
Since the Court of Master Sommeliers’ establishment in 1977, only 229 candidates (hailing from countries all around the world), have been granted their Master Sommelier Diplomas, after passing a series of stringent tests including a verbal theory thest, a blind wine tasting, and a restaurant service examination. And regardless of how refined your palate is, you should know that This Is the Age When We All Fall Madly in Love with Wine.
Picking a Perfect NCAA Bracket
Even the NCAA can’t really decide what the probability is of penciling in the correct teams for every stage of the Division I men’s college basketball tournament—some estimate that the likelihood is 1 in 128 billion, while others postulate that it’s some really outrageous number like 1 in 9.2 quintillion. The point is, it’s much more realistic to set your sights on Harvard than becoming the master of March Madness.
Getting Pregnant at Age 45
After consultations with Dr. Alan Copperman, who serves as co-director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City (translation: he knows his stuff), Parents reported that the likelihood of a woman getting pregnant at age 45 or older is just 3 or 4 percent.
Admission at this Elementary School
Step aside, Harvard—these kindergarteners just might be more impressive than you. Buist Academy, a South Carolina magnet school for students from kindergarten to eighth grade, has all interested applicants enter a lottery. If they’re lucky enough to be chosen in the lottery, the prospective students must then complete an academic test, which all boils down to the school holding a mind-blowing acceptance rate of only 2.7 percent for its fall 2018 class.
A Job at This Tech Start-Up
Funnily enough, Andela, a tech start-up focusing on training new software engineers, is led by a Harvard Business School grad. Seni Sulyman returned to Lagos, Nigeria, where Andela is based, in order to serve as Andela’s president of global operations and bolster Nigeria’s competency on the technology front. It seems like the company is thriving—so many Nigerians are clamoring to complete Andela’s training program that it has an incredibly low acceptance rate of 0.7 percent.
Becoming an Astronaut
Sure, we all say we want to travel into space when we’re kids, but the reality that you’ll be selected for the next mission to the moon is incredibly slim: the acceptance rate for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class was between 0.04 and 0.08 percent. And to learn what it takes to land this gig, don’t miss the 27 Insane Things Astronauts Have to Do.
Getting into Hamburger University
There’s no time for burger-flipping or Happy Meals at McDonald’s competitive leadership training program, better known as Hamburger University. At several international locations, employees aspiring to one day join the ranks of the Golden Arches’ top management officials are taken through a week-long intensive program—but the Hamburger University in Shanghai is easily the most selective of the campuses, only accepting 1 percent of applicants.
Landing a Job at Google
In case you weren’t sure, it is incredibly difficult to be selected to work for everyone’s favorite search engine. Inc reports that Google receives a phenomenal 2 million applications each year. That gives the search engine tycoon such a low acceptance rate that it’s approximately 10 times more likely for you to get into Harvard than be hired by Google. And to find out which state was responsible for the creation of Google (and to learn the questionable name its creators coined for the search engine’s first prototype), check out The Most Groundbreaking Invention from Every U.S. State.
Becoming a Member of the Secret Service
As you might expect, landing a job among the security entourage for the President of the United States is no small feat. According to Bloomberg, in 2012, less than 1 percent of applicants were admitted to join the ranks of the president’s protection detail.
Becoming an Analyst for Goldman Sachs
Fortune reported in 2016 that this investment giant can afford to be stingy with who it hires: of 313,000 job applicants in 2015, only about 3 percent of those applicants received job offers—and that number included summer interns.
Getting into (Some) Med Schools
No, not all medical schools are quite as selective as Harvard’s undergraduate admissions process, but the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine certainly is just as selective and then some. The Minnesota-based med school earned the reputation of being the most selective for the 2017-2018 application season, only accepting 2.1 percent of applicants.
Becoming a Professional Football Player
According to the NCAA, the likelihood that a college football player will go on to join the ranks of the National Football League and become a major professional football player is only a tiny 1.6 percent.
Finding Yourself in an Airplane Crash
Ever heard that it’s safer to travel by plane than by car? It’s also safer to assume that you’ll gain admission to Harvard than ever be aboard an airplane plunging nose-first toward the earth. The Economist reported in 2015 that the odds of finding yourself in a plane crash are around 1 in 5.4 million. So the next time you’re experiencing a particularly bad bout of mid-flight turbulence, hopefully you’ll find that statistic a bit reassuring.
Being Bitten by a Shark
The good news: the coast is relatively clear. National Geographic found that the U.S. averages out to just 19 shark attacks each year. With a population of approximately 328 million, that means there’s an infinitesimally small probability that the average American will experience a shark attack each year. (It’s a little different for those on the Floridian coast, of course.) And for more on the intensity of the sea, don’t miss 30 Reasons Why the Ocean Is Scarier Than Space.
Being Struck by Lightning
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, your odds of being struck by lightning this year are only 1 in 1,171,000. So at least there’s that. And to find out which state is always itching to watch a summertime lightning storm, don’t miss The Weirdest Summer Tradition in Every State.
Being Individually Audited by the IRS
Breathe easy. According to Kiplinger.com, over 99 percent of individual income tax returns go unaudited—making your chances of being audited only 1 in 143. That said: we do not advocate fudging your reports—like we learned in elementary school, honesty is always the best policy. And for more concrete tips on the best practices when filing your tax returns, check out the 5 Best Ways to Avoid Getting Audited by the IRS.
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