How to Get Into Ohio State University: Admissions Data & Strategies
In autumn of 1995, Ohio State University welcomed a typical freshman class of 5,794 individuals to campus. Ninety percent of this Buckeye cohort were Ohio residents and they carried an average SAT score of 1074 and a mean ACT just shy of 23. Twenty-five years later, 8,602 freshmen strutted onto campus with 29% having traveled from another state or foreign country, boasting an average SAT score of 1309 (it was 1347 the prior year) and a mean ACT of 29. This brief statistical comparison succinctly captures the story of Ohio State since the turn of the millennium—tremendous growth in size, selectivity, and non-resident population.
Given this increased desirability and selectivity at OSU, the intent of this article is to give those considering applying to the university:
- An understanding of what you are up against.
- More data on which to accurately assess your chances of admission.
- Advice for how to get your application to Ohio State to stand out.
To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:
- Ohio State’s Class of 2024 acceptance rate
- SAT, GPA, and class rank of accepted OSU applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2024
- Ohio State-Columbus’ system for rating applicants
- A look at the demographics of current Ohio State undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend Ohio State (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Ohio State University
- How to assess whether applying to Ohio State is even worth the $60 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Ohio State Acceptance Rate – Class of 2024
The Class of 2024 was selected from 53,313 applications; 33,598 were admitted for an acceptance rate of 63%, far higher than the previous year, and also a figure that does not fully capture just how selective OSU-Columbus has become. For comparison, there were 47,703 applications for admission into the Buckeye Class of 2023 and 25,634 were accepted. This works out to a 53.7% acceptance rate. Unlike many other flagship state schools, the admission standards for residents and out-of-staters are actually quite comparable. In-state applicants to the university were admitted at a healthy 54.3% rate, while non-residents gained admission at a 54.9% clip in the 2018-19 admissions cycle.
Ohio State Admissions – SAT, GPA, and Class Rank
For the Class of 2023, the mid-50% SAT range for enrolled freshmen was 1300-1420; the ACT range was 28-32. Only 39% of applicants submitted an SAT score while 78% included an ACT result in their application. Among enrolled first-year students, 60% hailed from the top 10%, while 93% earned a place in the top 25%.
Admissions Trends & Notes (Class of 2024)
- The average SAT fell from 1347 for the Class of 2023 to 1309 for the Class of 2024.
- The acceptance rate rising by ten points was likely primarily attributable to the anticipated number of students who were considering taking a gap year for the 2020-21 school year.
- A temporary test-optional policy due to the pandemic may have contributed to the spike in applications this past cycle.
- International student numbers fell off in 2020-21—again, presumably in large part due to the pandemic.
- The 2,086 minority students in the OSU-Columbus freshman class was the school’s highest number in its history.
How Ohio State Rates Applicants
Ohio State considers four factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, class rank, academic GPA, and standardized test scores. Items that are “important” as part of the admissions process are: essays, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, first-generation status, and work/volunteer experience. “Considered” factors are: recommendations, character/personal qualities, geographic residence, state residency, and racial/ethnic status.
The Ohio State admission staff reads every application carefully and, in their own words, “We seek students whose application demonstrates that they are prepared for the academic rigor of the Ohio State classroom; who are willing to lead; who see strength in diversity of people and ideas; who seek collaboration when solving problems; and who make use of all opportunities to figure out what kind of impact they want to have in the world.”
It is also worth highlighting that recruited athletes enjoy a huge edge. This is because Ohio State takes great pride in their 37 NCAA Division I sports teams. Overall, approximately 1,040 student-athletes are presently attending the university.
For advice about how to stand out on the extracurricular front, check out our previous blog entitled How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
Who Gets Into Ohio State?
Let’s look at the demographics of freshmen entering campus in 2019-20.
- In-State: 67%
- Out-of-State: 33%
The greatest number of Class of 2023 members hailed from the following states:
- Ohio: 6,057
- New York: 329
- Illinois: 324
- New Jersey: 253
- Pennsylvania: 213
Among non-residents, competition is stiffest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants. If you are from a state in the Deep South like Alabama (3 Class of 2023 members) or Mississippi (2 members) or a less-populated state like Wyoming (0 members) or South Dakota (0 current undergrads), your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances at Ohio State.
Within the state of Ohio, the counties producing the most Class of 2023 members were:
- Franklin: 1,138
- Cuyahoga: 732
- Delaware: 425
- Hamilton: 407
- Summit: 287
- Warren: 255
- Lorian: 200
- Montgomery: 197
- Stark: 185
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the undergraduate student body is as follows:
- Caucasian/White: 66%
- Asian American: 8%
- Hispanic: 5%
- African American: 7%
- International: 8%
Current international students are citizens of the following countries:
- China: 85%
- India: 4%
- Malaysia: 3%
- South Korea: 2%
- Canada: 1%
- Taiwan: 1%
Looking at the gender breakdown, the university presently enrolls a similar number of both men and women.
- Men: 51%
- Women: 49%
Ohio State’s Yield Rate
Ohio State’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 30%. This figure is lower than other powerhouse state universities like the University of Michigan (45%), UVA (43%), and UCLA (37%), but higher than Penn State University (21%).
Tips for Applying to Ohio State
If you plan on joining the 53,000+ Buckeye hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- You can apply by submitting the Common Application by Nov 1 for Early Action or Feb 1 for Regular Decision.
- Ohio State does not use interviews as part of their evaluation process.
- Ohio State does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
- We recommend submitting 1-2 recommendations from your counselor/teachers although none are technically required.
- In the 2020-21 cycle, Ohio State did not offer any supplemental essay prompts. Therefore, the primary Common App essay takes on an even greater level of important when applying to the university.
CT Advice: With only one essay to complete for Ohio State University, applicants need to channel their efforts into the Common App essay of their choice. For more on the prompts themselves, which might be best to select, and how to begin brainstorming, visit our blog covering the 2021-22 Common App Essay Prompts.
Should I Apply to Ohio State?
Those with SAT/ACT scores within the mid-50% range for Ohio State who are also in the top 10% of their respective high school class are absolutely viable candidates to Ohio State. Those in the top 25% of their class who have other strong credentials will also present as competitive applicants. Residents and non-residents encounter similar admissions standards and odds of acceptance.
Of course, it goes without saying that most teens applying to Ohio State University also need to also have a proper mix or “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. Ohio State would only be an appropriate “safety” for students at the very top of their high school class with standardized test scores in the 95th percentile. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).