How to Get Into RPI: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Students
- What is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the country’s oldest technological research university and today maintains an excellent reputation, in particular for its STEM programs. RPI celebrates the “discovery and the responsible application of technology to create knowledge and global prosperity.” RPI students are also prosperous; the website Payscale ranks the college 44th (out of nearly 2,000 schools) on its list of best value colleges.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?
Getting into RPI is difficult. The school received 16,661 applications for its Class of 2025, of which they accepted 10,079 students—giving the university a 60% overall acceptance rate. RPI has an early decision admissions process through which it received 588 applications and accepted 413 students, which adds up to a 70% early decision acceptance rate.
Although RPI’s acceptance rate is low, your personal chances of acceptance depend on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to help you better understand your odds of admissions at RPI, as well as hundreds of other colleges and universities. It also provides tips to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Students
The average high school GPA of RPI’s Class of 2025 is 3.93.
The middle 50% SAT score of RPI’s Class of 2025 is 1310-1460 and the middle 50% ACT score is 29-34.
55% of RPI’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school, and 87% graduated in the top quarter.
What is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Looking for?
The original vision for RPI was to instruct young persons “in the application of science to the common purposes of life,” and is something that feels as relevant (if not more so) today than ever before. RPI is searching for students to meet the moment and ask themselves the question, “Why not change the world?”
How Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, RPI considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Test scores
These factors are “important”:
These are “considered”:
- First generation
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
- Applicant interest
And these are “not considered”:
- Geographic location
- State residency
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1. Achieve at least a 3.93 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
RPI views GPA and class rank as “very important” factors when making admissions decisions. The average high school GPA of RPI’s Class of 2025 is 3.93, and more than 33% of them graduated high school with a 4.0. Likewise, 55% of RPI’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school.
Highly selective schools like RPI use a tool known as Academic Index to expedite admissions decisions. Academic Index is your entire academic performance summed up by a single number. If your Academic Index fails to meet RPI’s threshold, you risk being viewed as unqualified and your application will not be given serious consideration.
If your GPA is low but you’re early in your high school career, there’s time to improve it. Check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it’s more difficult to raise your GPA; rather, the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is with higher test scores.
Simply having great grades is not enough to wow RPI admissions officers, you’ll need to earn them in challenging classes. RPI also views course rigor as “very important” to admissions and applicants at top-notch schools like RPI have commonly completed between five and 12 AP classes in high school.
2. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 34 ACT
Standardized test scores are another “very important” factor in RPI admissions. The middle 50% SAT score of RPI’s Class of 2025 was 1310-1460 and the middle 50% ACT score was 29-34. Any score in the middle 50% will get you considered for admission, but the higher into the range you score, the more competitive a candidate you’ll be.
RPI superscores the SAT and will consider your highest composite score on the ACT. It’s a good idea to take the SAT or ACT between two and three times to maximize your test score and improve your odds of getting into RPI.
To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
RPI will practice test-optional admissions for the 2022 admissions cycle. However, if you can safely take either the SAT or ACT and you score at or above RPI’s 25th percentile for admitted students (1310 SAT and 29 ACT), it’s recommended that you submit your test scores. Students who submit test scores are admitted at higher rates than those who do not. You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
3. Write engaging essays
Essays are an “important” part of your RPI application. Every RPI applicant is required to complete two short essays: one on why you want to attend RPI and the other about your extracurricular activities or work experience. Additional essays are required if you’re applying to the following programs:
- Accelerated Physician-Scientist (B.S./M.D.) Program (BIAM)
- Electronic Arts
- Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
A strong college essay is written in your unique voice and shows how you will fit at a college—highlighting your talent and character, both of which are factored into admissions decisions—and how the school will benefit from having you on campus. For advice specifically on how to ace RPI’s essays, check out our article, “How to Write the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Essays 2021-2022.”
4. Cultivate a strong portfolio of extracurriculars.
Extracurricular activities are also “important” to admissions at RPI. Rather than participating in a variety of unrelated activities, top schools like RPI are looking for students with highly developed interests known as a “spike” and one or two impressive supporting extracurricular activities.
How impressive are your extracurricular activities? The four tiers of extracurriculars provide a good guide for understanding how colleges view your activities outside of the classroom. Examples of the four tiers of extracurricular activities are:
- Tier 1: winning a prestigious national award, earning national recognition in athletics or music, or attending a well-known merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2: winning a state-level award or competition, earning state-level distinction in athletics or music, or holding a leadership position such as student body president.
- Tier 3: winning a regional award, captaining a varsity sport, playing the lead in the school band, or holding a minor leadership position in a club.
- Tier 4: participating in a club, playing a sport or instrument, and general volunteer experience.
While you probably don’t need a Tier 1 activity for RPI, having some Tier 2 or 3 activities will demonstrate your drive. Keep in mind that the most competitive applicants have 8-10 activities total, but not all of those are “impressive” tiers, and many are seasonal.
5. Get a really good recommendation
A letter of recommendation is an “important” component of your RPI application. RPI requires one letter of recommendation from a counselor or teacher—preferably a math or science teacher—who knows you well. Because of the weight RPI puts on recommendations, submitting a compelling letter can mean the difference between them accepting you or another candidate. The nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers provide everything you need to know to net an attention-grabbing recommendation.
6. Apply Early Action/Early Decision
RPI has four admissions processes: Early Decision I (ED I), Early Decision II (ED II), Early Action (EA), and Regular Decision (RD). Applying through either of the Early Decision processes can offer an admissions advantage—RPI’s 70% early decision acceptance rate is higher than its overall acceptance rate of 60%.
Although Early Decision can offer a boost in your odds of admission, it’s not for everyone. Both ED I and ED II are binding and applicants who apply through either process are both prohibited from applying Early Decision or Restrictive Early Action at other institutions and committed to attending RPI if accepted. Because of this, applying ED I or ED II is best if you’re 100% positive that RPI is your first choice.
If you’re very interested in attending RPI, but you’re not sure it’s your first choice, Early Action is a valuable option. Applying EA shows RPI your interest in the school—which it “considers” in admissions decisions—and can up your odds of admission, but you’re under no obligation to attend RPI if accepted.
How to Apply to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Early Decision I
Early Decision II
RPI accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and the Candidate’s Choice Application. Other requirements include:
- High school transcript
- Letter of recommendation
- Portfolio (Architecture and music programs require a creative portfolio)
Other optional requirements include:
- Test scores
- Portfolio (Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences and Electronic Arts programs have an optional portfolio)
Learn more about Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Interested in learning more about RPI? Check out these other informative articles:
- How to Write the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Essays 2021-2022
- What Does it Really Cost to Attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)?
- 20 Colleges with Co-op Programs
Want to know your chances at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute? Calculate your chances for free right now.