What Does It Take to Get into the Illinois Institute of Technology?
Want personalized (and free) advice while applying to college?
We’re building a free college guidance platform for high school students like you! This means we’ll let you know exactly what and when you should be focusing on things like extracurriculars, college essays, standardized tests, and more. Sign up now to get early access to our platform and get guidance applying to college!
Rated by Forbes in 2018 as one of America’s top 25 STEM colleges, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT or Illinois Tech) is an affordable STEM-oriented private school with a history of lifting up students from low-income communities.
Founded in 1890, IIT was inspired by the “Million Dollar Sermon” from Chicago minister Frank Wakely Gunsaulus and has since expanded to include graduate programs in business, design, and law. With a 120-acre campus only three miles from the Chicago Loop, IIT’s nearly 3,000 undergraduates have the city’s considerable resources at their disposal. Notable past faculty members include Nobel laureates Leon M. Lederman, Herbert A. Simon, and Jack Steinberger.
With a 54% acceptance rate in 2017, however, admission to IIT is only getting more and more competitive. Keep reading to find out what it takes to get in.
Applying to IIT: A Quick Review
IIT accepts only the Common Application, which you can learn more about here. The priority deadline for Fall admissions is December 1, with notifications beginning in October on a rolling basis. Applying by the priority deadline puts you in running for normal merit-based and most special scholarships; you’ll also get an earlier decision, i.e. before April 1. However, IIT does offer rolling admission until August 1 for domestic students, while international students must apply before May 15.
To apply, be sure to send in all of the following materials:
- A completed Common Application, including three short answer questions
- At least one (but up to three) recommendation letter(s) from a teacher or counselor
- High school transcripts
- Official SAT or ACT scores
Note that IIT offers many generous scholarships, some of which require separate applications. Be sure to keep track of dates and materials!
IIT Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?
4,708 students applied in the fall of 2017, of which 2,545 were accepted. This places the acceptance rate at about 54%, making IIT moderately competitive. Of the accepted students, 471 ultimately enrolled, making for an 18% yield.
With these numbers in mind, we advise that you keep your grades up and score as highly as possible on the required standardized tests. If you need assistance with the SAT, check out CollegeVine’s Test Prep Program, which offers personalized online SAT tutoring to students all over the world! We also recommend applying early and demonstrating interest by visiting campus, attending information sessions, or contacting your admissions officer (find yours here!) with any questions you may have.
So, How Does One Get Into IIT?
IIT takes a holistic approach to application review, so your strengths may balance out any weaknesses in your profile. Here are some of the things they definitely want to see:
Academic Strength. This is the first cut for most schools, and IIT is no exception. They recommend 4 years of English, 4 years of math (including pre-calculus for STEM majors), and 3 years of science. Transcripts should be full of grades in the A/B range, along with any available honors, AP, or IB STEM courses. Additionally, your standardized test scores should be within their median 50% ranges: 25-31 for the ACT, and 1240-1410 for the SAT.
Character. The admissions office gives considerable weight to letter(s) of recommendation. Beyond academic ability, your recommender(s) is/are expected to account for your character — and that account should be quite positive. Remember that your high school performance and interactions with others allow the college to visualize what sort of student you will be on their campus.
Community Contributions. IIT, like many other colleges, loves students who go above and beyond. If you’ve done any special projects or have any relevant work/research experience, be sure to highlight that in your application. Additionally, your extracurricular involvement will be considered, as it also forecasts how you might contribute to the IIT community.
How to Make Your Application Stand Out
Given the crowd of almost 5,000 applicants, you’ll want to somehow distinguish yourself. Here are some suggestions to make your application memorable:
Demonstrate interest. You should clearly demonstrate an interest in the college, but also in the path you’d like to pursue. Be sure to highlight your interests in STEM (the more specific and planned-out, the better!), and use the application essays to clearly communicate how you see IIT being the perfect place for you to explore, grow, and innovate for the next four years. Do your research. (For instance, did you know that IIT takes pride in its accessible research opportunities, or that it’s currently building a new tech innovation center?) It’s also okay if you don’t know exactly what your path will look like, but be sure to tie your current ideas and interests to the possibilities you see available at IIT.
Work with your recommender(s). After your academic profile, the most important thing is the recommendation letter. As such, you should pick someone who knows you well and is willing to speak highly of your academic and personal accomplishments. Explain to your recommender why you’re interested in IIT and how it will advance your personal and professional goals; consider giving them a copy of your essays. A good letter will align with the narrative you’ve created through the rest of your application.
Go above and beyond! The most impressive applicants demonstrate initiative — they’ve gone out and actively pursued their passions, whether it be a special research project, volunteering at the local hospital, or biking up the Rockies last summer. It’s important to realize that the passions you pursue need not be academic; it’s great if you do something STEM-oriented in your free time, but at the end of the day, IIT just wants to know that you’re a real person who is capable of committing to their interests and aspirations. So start a club, build a website, or sell your own lemonade — the possibilities are endless! Just make sure that it’s a genuine passion.
What If You Get Rejected?
That’s okay! Take a deep breath. There are plenty of schools out there and just as many paths to take for wherever you’d like to end up. Rest assured that with enough ambition and hard work, you’ll still find a way to get the opportunities or job or lifestyle you want. I’m also a firm believer that ultimately, the college you end up attending is where you’re meant to be.
If your heart is set on IIT, though, there are a few options. Unfortunately, the school does not accept admissions appeals; they don’t even keep a waitlist, so we recommend against petitioning your decision. The good news, however, is that IIT seems quite friendly towards transfer students, who make up around 30% of the incoming class each year. In short, if you really want to, you may be able to transfer into IIT after a year elsewhere — a process you can read more about here.
Another option is reapplying after a gap year, but this is much riskier than simply committing to another college. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.
In most cases, however, we would suggest moving on. There are many technology-oriented schools that can provide a comparative education at a similar cost: Drexel University in Pennsylvania is a possibility, as is the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Indiana), the Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey), and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Massachusetts), just to name a few. For help adjusting to a different path, read our post, Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.
If you’d like more personalized advice for getting into IIT, consider CollegeVine’s College Applications Program! This program pairs you with an admissions specialist from a top school who can help you with every step of the application process: crafting your story, writing your essays, tracking scholarship deadlines, and even deciding the next step of your life once April decisions arrive.
For more resources on the college application process, check out these CollegeVine posts:
Want more college admissions tips?
We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.