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New class size exceeds expectations

By Ellen Liu     8/20/11 7:00pm

The number of incoming Rice undergraduates is 52 more than anticipated, marking a rise in the university's student yield but also leading to shortage of on campus rooms for the new Owls.

According to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, the university had originally targeted 950 new students for this fall, but the number as of June was about 1,019. Though 16 of those students didn't want to live on campus, 1,002 were still left to vie for the 950 beds. Hutchinson said about half of the extra 52 students were given rooms that had been vacated by upperclassmen who didn't return this fall.

Hutchinson said the administration responded to the issue in a variety of ways. They turned some upperclassmen double rooms into triples and gave those who moved into these rooms a reduction in housing cost for a semester. He added that they also encouraged existing on-campus students to switch into the Rice Graduate Apartments, which offered lower rates compared to on-campus rooming, and discounted meal plan to those who did. In addition, according to Hutchinson, some new living spaces were created in certain colleges. For example, the visiting faculty apartment on the first floor of Brown College was turned into a student room. 

"We had quite a few more freshman than anticipated because Rice is competing very well for the best students," Hutchinson stated. "Still, as far as I know, every freshmen who requested a room has a room."

Vice President of Enrollment Chris Munoz commented on the changes the university had seen this year in the number of students accepting their admission into Rice. He said last year, Rice had admitted 2,639 students, and 36 percent of them enrolled. However, this year, though only 2,600 applicants were admitted, 39 percent decided to come to Rice. This higher yield rate led to the incoming class size of more than 1,000 people.

Munoz also discussed the national and international composition of the new students. He said the actual number of foreign nationals was fairly proportional to last year's, despite the significant increase in the total number of new students. He added that the proportion of the students from Texas is smaller than it was a year ago. 

"Basically the yield rate both for Texans as well as those that were admitted outside of Texas was up," Munoz said. 

According to Munoz, the proportion of American students from outside of Texas who had been admitted into Rice percent from last year's 28-percent yield. 

Hutchinson noted that the increased stress of extra incoming students was only a temporary inconvenience that had already been accommodated. 

"The fact that we wound up with more students is something to celebrate," he said, "[Rice] is increasing interest in a more national and even international audience.

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