Record applicant pool signals demographic shifts for RIT

Fall applications reach new highs with big gains in women and underrepresented STEM majors

Gabrielle Plucknette-DeVito

A surge in applications from women and students from underrepresented races and ethnicities in STEM fields is helping an overall record year for applications.

Adele Jones has always been focused on exploring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Growing up in Catonsville, Md., she immersed herself in STEM programs like Project Lead the Way, joined clubs like her high school’s Society of Women Engineers, and reveled in classes like digital electronics.

When she started looking at colleges, she knew she wanted to major in a STEM field, but she did not know specifically what she wanted to do. The high school senior spent last summer touring campuses across the country, but the program that ultimately caught her eye was Rochester Institute of Technology’s imaging science program. Imaging science is one of RIT’s multi­disciplinary, transformative, and future-focused “new economy majors.” It combines physics, math, computer science, and engineering to develop cutting-edge imaging systems for satellites, drones, augmented reality, and more.

“The combination of subjects in the major seemed like something I would be interested in because I enjoy all the subjects it mentioned,” Jones said. “I liked the approach of the Innovative Freshman Experience class and was interested in the companies grads went on to work at.”

She applied early decision to RIT and is excited to be part of the incoming class in fall 2022.

More women like Jones are applying to RIT than ever before, especially in STEM programs. Applications from women were up 13 percent across the board from last year, with the biggest increases coming from the College of Engineering Technology (up 25.7 percent), College of Health Sciences and Technology (up 25.2 percent), Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (up 24.2 percent), College of Science (up 10.3 percent), and Kate Gleason College of Engineering (up 4 percent).

The surge in women applicants in STEM is helping an overall record year for applications, according to Assistant Vice President and Dean of Admissions Marian Nicoletti. The university received more than 23,000 applications for fall 2022 enrollment, up nearly 10 percent from last year. This follows two straight years of record enrollments.

“Through our strategic plan, RIT has made a concerted effort to become more attractive for women and underrepresented populations, and we’ve gained some traction there,” said Nicoletti. “The RIT community needs to reflect the growing demographic changes of the world around us. If we truly want to be a university that propels economic empowerment, we need to further our representation so that all individuals can reap the benefits of RIT.”

Nicoletti also said that applications from African American, Latino American, and Native American students were up 18.5 percent overall compared to last year. She noted that RIT is receiving more applications from first-generation students than ever before as well, an indication that RIT’s state-of-the-art facilities and programs like cooperative education can set students up for a life-changing experience.

Jones also said that she is excited to join the RIT community because it will allow her to continue to pursue her passions outside of her major, including playing for RIT’s women’s lacrosse team and getting involved in visual arts.

“In addition to the rigorous STEM programs offered at RIT, I really liked the focus on the arts and how they integrate them into STEM programs and offer art programs for people who aren’t majoring in them,” said Jones. “RIT stuck out to me as the place which felt the most like I could live and learn there.”

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