Alumni who haven't returned to RIT in a few years are invariably stunned to see the new buildings, expansive facilities and large numbers of students.
The size and bustle are the visible signs of RIT's transformation. Less obvious to the naked eye are some equally impressive changes that illustrate RIT's increased stature.
- RIT is now among the 15th largest private universities in the country, based on full-time undergraduate enrollment.
- Total enrollment reached an all-time record of 16,494 for fall 2008, up 3 percent from 2007.
- Among private universities, RIT is the nation's third-largest producer of bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).
- Since 1995, applications for admission (undergraduate including transfer students and graduate) have doubled, increasing from 10,607 to 21,223.
"The growth of RIT's reputation has allowed us to expand our reach, both domestically and internationally," says James Miller, senior vice president, Enrollment Management and Career Services. "The majority of our freshmen now come from out of state. And our student population is more diverse than ever before. Since 1997, 50 percent of the enrollment growth on the Rochester campus has been in African American, Asian American, Latino American, Native American and international students."
At the same time, "We've also become increasingly selective," says Miller. Fall 2008 brought the lowest freshman admission rate ever: Approximately 60 percent of prospective first-year students who applied were accepted.
That's a big change from 1995, when 78 percent of freshmen applicants were accepted. RIT is now among the top 4 percent of U.S. institutions based on SAT scores.
While RIT officials are understandably cautious about predictions in the current uncertain financial situation, applications for fall 2009 were are ahead of last year when the magazine went to press. The demand for higher education is likely to remain strong: More than 3.3 million high school students - the largest number in the nation's history - will graduate this year. More than two-thirds are expected to go directly to college.
"Our reputation as a career-focused, technological institution with a well-known cooperative education program and wide range of programs is firmly established. But it is our emerging brand that is making RIT an even more attractive choice for students and their families," says Miller. "While retaining an emphasis on careers and technology, we are also emphasizing creativity and innovation, becoming more global, and creating a greater sense of community.
President Bill Destler believes RIT's unique blend of programs prepares students to become the innovative leaders the world needs. "The future health and wealth of nations will depend on ambidextrous problem solvers - professionals who are critical and creative thinkers," he says. Later this spring, RIT will open a Student Innovation Center that will serve as a showcase and workspace for innovation-related, multidisciplinary projects and activities involving all programs and disciplines.
Miller notes that many of RIT's 100,000-plus alumni are helping to bring qualified students to RIT. Through the Alumni Admissions Volunteer Program, alumni can host hometown interviews in the fall or represent RIT at a college fair. During the past year, 210 alumni participated in the volunteer program, and the group is growing.
Alumni also help by getting the word about RIT to potential students, including friends and family members. Applicants recommended by an alumnus don't have to pay the $50 RIT application fee. (The Alumni Admissions Fee Waiver can be requested online through the Alumni Association.)
"Our graduates are the best advertisement for RIT," says Miller. "We're very proud of them."
If you are interested in learning more about the Alumni Admissions Volunteer Program you can e-mail Sheila Sarratore at Sheila.Sarratore@rit.edu.