- Ike Edeani / The Atlantic
College startup Minerva Schools, whose students explore up to seven cities during four years of study, has received 16,000 applications for 306 available places this year, the Financial Times reported.
That acceptance rate for the unconventional college, at 1.9%, is far lower than at any schools in the Ivy League, as well as at Stanford.
Stanford accepted an even lower 2,063 students out of a pool of 43,997 applicants – a 4.69% acceptance rate.
The school itself, officially called Minerva Schools at KGI, is a non-profit undergraduate program. It was formed as a joint project between the Minerva Project and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI).
The Minerva Project is a for-profit company which owns the technology and intellectual property associated with the Minerva Schools.
The startup, created in 2012, doesn’t aim to be another elite private school, though; its model is vastly different from what four years of school in the prestigious Ivy League resembles.
For one thing, students don’t stay in one place during their four-year education. They spend time in up to seven residence houses in San Francisco; Berlin; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Seoul, South Korea; Bangalore, India; Istanbul; and London.
“As you travel the world with a tight-knit cohort of classmates, you will establish weekly rituals and organize interest- and activity-based groups,” the school’s website reads. “By exploring each new place together, you form lasting friendships and a collective identity – one defined by shared values and a common sense of purpose.”
Seventy-eight percent of Minerva’s students come from outside the US. The Ivy League’s percentages are roughly the inverse of that figure, with roughly 10% to 15% international students.
The admissions process at Minerva also appears different from the Ivies’.
- The Minerva Project
Minerva does not accept any standardized test scores, calling them an unfair and biased depiction of true potential. Instead it has its own set of assessments.
“Since Minerva assessments are not something you can study for, you can take them on your own schedule, as you move through the admissions process,” the admissions page says.
One of the biggest draws to Minerva may be its annual tuition and charges, which it highlights is much lower than other selective schools’.
That’s true; for the 2016-2017 school year, Harvard lists its total tuition, room and board, and additional fees at $66,900. But attending Minerva still comes with a relatively hefty price tag. Its website lists annual tuition and other fees at $28,450.
Still, founder and former Snapfish president Ben Nelson believes schools like Minerva will start to create competition in the higher-education arena. “Students are realizing that institutions can’t just sit on their brands that they’ve built over decades or centuries and deliver the same ineffective experience,” Nelson told the Financial Times.
“Much like in technology, the service industry, travel, entertainment, transportation, or any other field you can think of, when an undeniably better offering comes around, people flock to it.”
A previous version of this post incorrectly described Minerva as a for-profit college. It is a non-profit undergraduate program. The Minerva Project is a for-profit company which owns the technology and intellectual property associated with the Minerva Schools.