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Record number of students apply for early decision at Rice

Photo by Channing Wang

By Savannah Kuchar     12/20/20 12:32pm

On Dec. 10, Rice admitted 421 students through the Early Decision program, a 16 percent acceptance rate, according to Vice President of Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva. This year, Rice received its highest ever number of applications for this round of admission, narrowly beating the previous record set in 2018, with 2,635 applying to join the class of 2025. 

The total number of applications increased by 29 percent compared to last year, which saw 2,042 applicants and a 18.9 percent acceptance rate. Romero da Silva said she attributes the higher interest, as well as a greater diversity of applicants, to Rice’s test optional policy this year. 57 additional students were also recently admitted through the QuestBridge National College Match program.

“The testing policy change may have encouraged students who thought they weren't going to be competitive before to consider Rice,” Romero da Silva said. “We did see a pretty strong increase in international applications, and I think that that's where the testing policy you'll see helped. We saw students from countries like Great Britain and Brazil and other places having a higher interest in applying to schools in the US.”

Of the 421 admitted, Romero da Silva said 12 percent were international students, while the remaining 88 percent was split evenly between in-state and out-of-state students.

Along with the change in testing policy, Romero da Silva said she also thinks that a recent rebranding by the Office of Admission may have contributed to the growing interest in Rice.

“We've put a lot of effort in since April to just reimagine how we communicate the Rice experience to undergraduates, doing more to really showcase the student life and lived experience here on campus,” Romero da Silva said. “I think they got more of a sense of the personal aspect, the social aspect that they're going to enjoy while they're on campus.”

Cole Holladay from Waller High School in Texas said these aspects of life at Rice were part of what attracted him to apply.

“I go to a smaller high school and I definitely use that to my advantage throughout my high school experience, like getting to be very close with my friends in school and also with my teachers,” Holladay said. “I wanted to have a similar experience where I went to college, and I felt like the small size of Rice and just the way that it’s set up with the residential colleges and everything definitely gave me that opportunity.”

Madeline Belknap, a high school senior from Flower Mound, Texas, said she applied Early Decision after wanting to go to Rice for several years now.

“I was kind of nervous the whole day about my decision,” Belknap said. “But when it turned five o'clock, I logged into my portal – I had a video recording going, so I could watch back my reaction – and I opened up the decision letter, and it showed confetti and it said congrats. I immediately just started crying, I was just so so excited.”

Belknap said she plans to major in chemistry with a pre-med track, and so Rice’s proximity to the Texas Medical Center was a factor in her decision to apply.

“I’m just really excited to get to go somewhere that really prioritizes STEM and math and science,” Belknap said. “I had seen a video about the chemistry of art class, and so I'm really excited to take classes like that, that pull together different subject areas.”

Holladay said he chose Rice for its small class sizes as well as the research and academic opportunities. He summed up his experience of finding out that he had been accepted last week with one word: overjoyed.

“I was so excited. I knew that I deserved it, but whenever you apply somewhere like Rice, you just never really know,” Holladay said. “Getting that acceptance, it was just so exciting knowing that I'm going to get to go somewhere that has the caliber and community that Rice has for the next four years. So overjoyed, I guess, is the best way to explain it.”

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