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Tuesday, October 03, 2023 — Houston, TX

1,127 freshmen join Rice

Photo Courtesy Gustavo Raskosky

By Riya Misra     8/22/23 11:52pm

This year, 1,127 new students joined Rice as the Class of 2027. This marks the most selective admissions year in Rice history, which saw a record-low acceptance rate of 7.7%

Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva said that this selectivity was, in part, purposeful.

“We intentionally aimed to enroll a smaller freshman class this year, given the two previous enrolling classes were over 1200 students,” Romero da Silva wrote in an email to the Thresher. 

These numbers echo a similar story that Romero da Silva said in March, after telling the Thresher that higher-than-anticipated yield rates — the percentage of admitted students who ultimately enroll — had led Rice to be more conservative with their admission offers for the Class of 2027.

Still, this year’s yield rate is 46%, a slight uptick from last year’s 44%. Romero da Silva noted a pattern of rising interest in Rice over the past several years, but this increase has its limiting factors, she said. The termination of the Rice-Baylor Baccalaureate/MD program, which ended in August 2022, continues to hamper interest in Rice, according to Romero da Silva.

“We knew the discontinuation of the Rice/Baylor program would have a slight dampening effect on applications to Rice, which it did — applications were down by about 400, but we also knew that meant we would have students who were far more committed to Rice in our pool,” Romero da Silva said.

Alina Zhong, a Wiess College freshman, said she initially harbored doubts about how she’d connect with her peers coming into college. Coming from an online high school, she said, made college seem that much more daunting.

“I was really worried about going to college in general, which I feel like is probably a sentiment that all freshmen share,” Zhong said. “But in particular, I actually went to an online high school, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve been at an in-person learning institution. I was very worried about meeting people … but I feel like O-Week totally dispelled my concerns.”

Other students echoed Zhong’s sentiment about the impact of O-Week. Summer Orr, a Duncan College freshman, said that O-Week helped her reconcile the social and academic sides of college.

“The main thought that was running through my head was, no matter what the social side of this looks like, it doesn’t really matter,” Orr told the Thresher. “I’m here to go to school and I’m here to get an education. But I feel like the love of everyone last week, the DuncLove, just the support that I felt really changed my mind [that] the social side of this does matter. It’s what’s going to allow me to thrive academically and just enjoy myself these four years.” 

This year, 13% of admitted students are international, 35% are from Texas and 50% are from outside of Texas. Interest in the undergraduate business major has remained consistent — 11% of the incoming class declared an intention to major in business, compared to last year’s 10%.

Romero da Silva said that 32% of Rice’s incoming domestic students identify as traditionally underrepresented students of color. According to data compiled by Sarah Diez, Associate Director of Analytics for Enrollment, using federal reporting methodology, 30% of the incoming class identify as Asian American, while 24% identify as Caucasian, 18% as Hispanic and 8% as African American or Black. 

Faustina Ironkwe, a Will Rice College freshman, said that matriculation was a particularly surreal experience for her.

“Everything happened so fast … just walking through the Sallyport and seeing the fireworks, taking pictures. That was really an amazing moment for me,” Ironkwe said.

The Class of 2027 is entering Rice at a notable time in Rice’s history, marked by several changes in the university’s administration and structure. A few examples include Rice’s rebuild of the student center, announcement of two new residential colleges and a continued commitment toward student body expansion.

Romero da Silva said that the freshmen class fits neatly into the administration’s vision for Rice, and she looks forward to seeing the impact they leave.

“The incoming class is an incredible reflection of President [Reggie] DesRoches’s vision for the future of Rice and where Rice is headed,” Romero da Silva said. “They are an incredibly talented and gifted group of students who bring their unique gifts, passions and perspectives to Rice from all across the world. I look forward to seeing the mark they will make at Rice and beyond.”

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