Rice Admissions

It’s been about a week since I’ve had to do any data analysis, so I thought I’d throw some in for kicks.

Undergrads at Rice like to say they don’t care much about rankings, or hold much credence in them; this is true until we’re #1 quality of life or #1 happiest students, at which point my facebook feed blows up with links to Kiplinger or Princeton Review. I’ve never tried to lie about it – I think Rice is beyond excellent, and I love seeing that validated numerically by whoever’s putting together the stats. Anyway, we’ve spent the past few years tied with Vanderbilt at #17 in US News (and behind Brown and Cornell, seriously?), and I think this is the year we’ll jump up to top 15.

This is where it started: numbers for Early Decision applicants came out last week. And…well, damn.

Here are some numbers from 2007 onward, with 2012 projections in red (all of these are from press releases the school puts out during each admissions cycle – feel free to go to the main site and search away).

Class size is the key. Though our acceptance rates have declined as our applicant pool has grown, Rice has also been undergoing a period of undergraduate population expansion – my class of 2008 is about 200 students smaller than the class that just matriculated (yes, I hate expansion, thanks for asking). This growth has done a lot to mask the increase in competitiveness. Last year, for example, admissions failed to anticipate the increased yield, and we had to kick off upperclassmen to make room for 51 extra freshmen. We’re aiming for a total undergrad population of 3,800, so I’m guessing they’ll drop back down to a goal class size of 950.

Acceptance rate is where it gets tricky. 17.5% acceptance is what you get if you follow the acceptance rate trendline, but we go all the way down to 15.6% if you follow the applicant trendline and calculate backwards using expected yield (which I think is the more valid method).

None of this is good for those vying for a spot in the class of 2016, but I’m calling a huge jump in rankings and looking forward to seeing Prez Leebz’s efforts pay off.

Rice Admissions

2 thoughts on “Rice Admissions

  1. George Romar says:

    This is great work, Jordan! Thanks for sharing it. Leebz certainly has done a lot to improve the school’s national standing, which I appreciate a lot. Rice is definitely underrated in prominent rankings lists like those of U.S. News (undergrad and grad) and I suspect this is in part due to our small size. Although I dislike the idea of expanding the university significantly, I did favor the recent moderate expansion. While university rankings certainly do not warrant much of the attention they receive, I too know that Rice is beyond excellent and am pleased when others independently determine the same.

    These are exciting times for Rice. The endowment seems to be recovering healthily. With the new Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (which we essentially stole away from UCSD) beginning operations in the BRC, we’ve now got three badass NAS researchers on our faculty, plus all of the talented grad students they’ll attract. The leader of the best Materials Science Dept. in the world is now our dean of engineering and has said that he aims to do everything in his power to produce results similar to those he enjoyed at MIT, and hopefully better. Strategic moves like these help raise the university’s national profile even further, which is great. I just hope we get more star hires.

    I stumbled recently upon a lecture by the previous president, Malcolm Gillis. The Glasscock School of Continuing Studies used its YouTube account to upload a lecture series from 2001 about the history of Rice University. Gillis was the final lecturer in the series and spoke about the university’s future. It is a very interesting talk that shows the seeds that were planted just before president Leebron arrived, and gave a clear picture of Rice’s aspirations at the time. For example, Gillis mentioned that Rice aspired to be the leading university between the Atlantic Seaboard and San Francisco Bay. Of course, this huge region includes great schools like WashU and UChicago. I haven’t heard Leebron mention anything this specific, but it seems to me that his aspirations for the university may be even greater!

    1. Thanks, George! The hires you pointed out are doing a TREMENDOUS amount to raise our profile on the slow-and-steady side. I had never heard of the Gillis lecture – that’s fascinating. And entirely doable.

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