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Rice accepts 10 percent of applicants for the Class of 2024

Infographic by Tina Liu

By Dan Helmici     3/27/20 5:02pm

Rice University accepted 10 percent of applicants to the undergraduate class of 2024, a slight increase in acceptance rate from last year’s record-low 8.7 percent acceptance rate. Due to Rice’s cancellation of all on-campus admission events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, accepted students will be invited to virtual events in lieu of visiting campus during the traditional Owl Days and Admit Days, according to Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva.

On Friday evening at 5 p.m., the Office of Admission sent out acceptances to 1,906 regular decision applicants, who will join the 440 applicants previously admitted during Early Decision

The rise in acceptance rate is partly due to the decrease in both Early and Regular decision applicants, down roughly 13 percent from last year’s 27,084 to 23,443 this cycle, according to Romero da Silva.  

Romero da Silva said the drop in applications was expected, with the advertisement of the Rice Investment last year driving a significant increase in the number of applicants for the class of 2023.

“We anticipated [the drop],” Romero da Silva said. “We had so much publicity last year for the Rice Investment, and a lot of students who in previous years typically wouldn’t have applied did last year. Many of our peers were down in applications, so we thought [a] 13 percent [decrease in applicants] was reasonable.”

Harvard, Brown, and Emory all experienced a dip in the number of applications received from the 2019 to 2020 cycle, decreasing by 7.1, 4.9 and 5 percent respectively. Washington University in St. Louis was one of the few peer institutions that saw an increase in the number of applications, rising by 9.8 percent from 2019’s cycle. According to Romero da Silva, the number of applicants in this year’s cycle is still 15 percent higher than in 2018, the year before the Rice Investment announcement. 

As a result of the COVID-19-related cancellation of all admissions events in the Spring, the 2,346 admitted students will not be permitted to visit campus before making their decisions, but Romero da Silva said the admissions office is planning a multitude of virtual experiences and does not anticipate a significant drop in yield rate because of the circumstances. 

“Part of it is that every school is having to move virtual, so we have been preparing a robust virtual experience for admitted students,” Romero da Silva said. “We know that visiting campus makes a big impression for students, so we have a virtual tour of the campus. Each of the residential colleges has a highlight. It is hard to know what the impact of this whole experience is going to be on the class, but our hope is that with all that we have put together that we are really going to get a sense of what Rice is like.” 

Angela Torres, a high-school senior admitted through regular decision, said she is confident that the merits of Rice can still be seen virtually, whether that be through interactions with current students, group chats for the admitted class or the various programs that the Office of Admission and SAC have planned. 

“I have definitely already felt the kindness and spirit of the Rice family through the screen,” Torres said. “Current students have reached out to me and offered answers to any questions that I might have, and I can already tell I’m going to love being at Rice. I feel like I am getting closer to people already, but I would love to continue building our relationships.”

To best accommodate for the lack of on-campus experiences for admitted students, the Office of Admission is asking undergraduates to interact with admitted students virtually, according to Romero da Silva. 

“We are going to be sending a survey out to undergraduate students, asking if they would like to be engaged with some of our yield activities,” Romero da Silva said. “We can’t do hosting but we are going to be hosting virtual owl coffee chats. We are also hoping to highlight student groups on campus through a rolling feed of videos of student groups.”

Elijah Sales, a QuestBridge Scholar accepted in the early decision pool, while disappointed about the cancellation of on-campus admissions events, said he looks forward to the virtual experiences that will introduce admitted students to life at Rice. 

“[Virtual talks are] far from physically visiting campus and meeting students and staff face-to-face, yet it still leaves a positive impression on Rice and its community,” Sales said. “I was excited to hear about the virtual experiences provided to make up for Owl Days and similar programs. I would love to see a virtual tour of Rice.” 

With the assumption of a historically similar yield rate, the expected class size for the 2020 matriculants is 965 students. 

The Student Admission Council is leading certain aspects of the virtual experience for admitted students, mainly by coordinating a social media campaign and facilitating interactions between current and future owls. Alyssa Curry, SAC’s Outreach and Event Management Chair, said she is focusing on maintaining a student presence on social media throughout the spring semester. 

“One of our goals is to increase the quality and consistency of the postings on our social media,” Curry, a Duncan College senior, said. “In order to gather as much content as possible, SAC started a campaign that allows undergraduates to submit their own posts about their Rice experience through images and blog posts.”

The pool of admitted students saw demographic shifts from previous years, most significantly an even divide between male and female admits. According to Romero da Silva, previous admitted cohorts had a slightly higher percentage of male admits. Additionally, the geographic breakdown of admitted students showed an increase of in-state admitted students from 30 percent in 2019 to 32 percent in 2020, with international admits remaining the same at 10 percent and out-of-state decreasing by one percent. 

Despite the challenges of this year’s admission cycle, Romero da Silva said she is confident that the Rice community can overcome the hurdles and produce another successful class. 

“We are trying to do everything that we can to connect our admitted students to the Rice community because we know that’s really what it is about,” Romero da Silva said. “Students are the ones that make Rice what it is at the end of the day.”

This story was updated at 1:00 p.m. on 3/29/20 to include quotes from admitted students. 

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