With a 9 percent increase in the number of applicants from the year 2009, RPI has the luxury to get even more selective—13,348 wishful students; 1,300 spots. With stronger SAT and ACT scores and greater geographic, ethnic, and gender diversity, the applicant pool for the Class of 2014 is more diverse than the last.
According to the Vice President of Enrollment Paul Marthers, Rensselaer is seeking a freshman class of 1,300 students—a goal which is 40 students less than the previous year. Marthers stated that the decreased size is intended to prevent over-enrollment in the School of Engineering. (Engineering applications have increased across the nation at other schools such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon.) This year, 60 percent of the Class of 2013 is in the School of Engineering, while the School of Science has shown a 12 percent increase in applicants.
Describing the admissions process, Marthers stated that the first consideration is whether the student has the academic foundation and has shown the drive to succeed that Rensselaer requires. The Office of Enrollment has determined that strong scores in high school pre-calculus, calculus, and physics directly correlate to success at Rensselaer. Identified risk factors include uneven student performance in classes and standardized tests, while positive attributes are students who can contribute to the community. The Institute encourages women and underrepresented minorities to apply and hopes to diversify the student body while still accepting the most promising candidates.
Marthers also stated that a continuing goal is to clearly communicate information on Early Decision. RPI only has Early Decision, which is binding, and not Early Action, which is not. This means that when RPI accepts 225 students through Early Decision, it expects 225 students to matriculate. However, this has been a problem, as applicants flaunt the binding nature of the application. This year, there were fewer Early Decision acceptances, but a higher yield from those accepted than last year.
The graduate program has also seen increases in applications, with 24 percent more applicants than the previous year. Marther anticipates that interest will increase as more announcements are made about the MBA program of the Lally School of Management. Increases in diversity also apply at the graduate level, with underrepresented minority applications rising 120 percent from last year. Rensselaer expects 350–400 new graduate students next year.