Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute accepted 49 per cent of its applicants for Fall 2007 admissions.
That may sound pretty generous, compared to the single-digit
admit rates registered by some of the Ivy League schools that same year.
But consider this: RPI's acceptance rate for 2006 was just under 67 per cent – and even that figure marked a steep drop from 2005's acceptance rate of 78 per cent. In other words, RPI's acceptance rate has dropped by over one-half in just 3 years.
It's all about numbers. RPI plans to enroll about the same number of first-year students
in Fall 2007 that it did in 2005, but now it's filling those seats from a much larger applicant pool. 6,875 high school students applied to RPI last year. This year, 10,153 did. That's a 46.7 per cent increase in application volume in a single year.
Some of that increase is probably due to the growing popularity of science, technology, and engineering majors among college-bound students, and part of it is certainly due to RPI's efforts to spread the word about its quality education and innovative programs. But this spike in RPI's application volume also reflects the fact that more applicants are applying to more schools these days.
For RPI, getting so many more applications means that the school can be more selective about which applicants it accepts. The average SAT scores for this year's admits are said to have risen by 8 points on the math section and by 20 points on the verbal section. The average SAT score range for RPI students had already increased significantly over the past few years, with the range of composite math and verbal scores going from about 980-1190 in 2003 to 1220-1420 in 2006.
For 2008 college applicants, this example of how rapidly the admissions landscape at one particular school can change shows why you need to research your target schools carefully. Don't assume that you can count on any school as a 'safety' any more. A school that accepted 3 out of 4 applicants (as Rensselaer did) just a few years ago may only be accepting 1 out of 2 now. Make sure you understand what the current situation at your target schools is, and plan your application strategies accordingly.
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