Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Welcomes Members of the Class of 2017

Meet the Next Generation of Leaders, Scientists, Innovators, Artists, Scholars, Game Designers, Architects, Humanitarians, and Entrepreneurs

August 21, 2013


The incoming Class of 2017 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute promises to be an exceptional group, with an increase in average SAT scores and 145 receiving a perfect 800 SAT critical reading, math, or writing score. Seventy-two percent of the students are from the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The incoming class represents the next generation of leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, humanitarians, and innovators, in fields ranging from engineering to architecture, from fine arts to science, and from business to information technology.

The incoming class comprises 1,424 new students, in addition to a total of 134 students transferring to Rensselaer from other institutions. This high-achieving group also includes 440 women, representing 31 percent of the class, greater geographic diversity with 33 percent of the students coming from beyond the Northeast, and a near record of underrepresented students representing 12 percent of the class.

This year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions received a record total of 16,150 freshman applications. The number represents a growth of approximately 6 percent since last year..  

 “For eight consecutive years, Rensselaer has set records for freshman applications. Since 2005, applications have grown by 190 percent,” said Paul Marthers, Rensselaer vice president for enrollment and dean of undergraduate and graduate admissions. “It is gratifying to see that Rensselaer’s academic strength attracted another record number of applicants with excellent credentials and a passion for science and technology.”  

This year, more than 470 students in the Class of 2017 are from areas outside of the Northeast. The first-year students hail from 46 states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, 127 international students joining Rensselaer reinforce the Institute’s global reach and global impact.

“The geographic composition of the new students reflects the fact that Rensselaer has been gaining greater recognition around the world for its excellence,” Marthers said. “As usual, the freshman class is comprised of very bright students with a special interest in discovery, innovation, and interdisciplinary study in architecture, engineering, science, computing, management, and the intersection of technology with the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The rising application and student quality trends have run parallel with the exciting transformation that has occurred at Rensselaer over the last decade.”

According to the Rensselaer Office of Admissions, this year’s overall increase in applications was also driven by greater numbers of students visiting campus, a higher conversion rate from the inquiry to the application stage, and the CLASS student life programs designed to enhance the overall student and educational experience. 

“Rensselaer also continues to register growing interest in new areas of an expanding curriculum, such as cognitive science, sustainability studies, the Design, Innovation, and Society program, and the new concentrations in management, beyond the Institute’s traditional strength in engineering,” Marthers said. “Here on campus, we know that Rensselaer has historically been a top producer of future leaders and innovators, so it is very encouraging to see external evidence that more and more students value the high-quality academic and co-curricular programs that we offer.”

The Class of 2017 also includes students who are focused on reaching new heights through their accomplishments—70   incoming freshmen were valedictorians or salutatorians of their high school, and many were actively involved in music, science, research, community service, launching new businesses, and the arts. In addition, more than 700 students participated in sporting activities while in high school, with 58 students serving as captains of their schools’ athletic teams.

Overall, the Rensselaer Class of 2017 joins Rensselaer with a demonstrated record of extracurricular achievement, leadership, and support for civic engagement by serving in various roles including sports captains, class presidents, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scout Gold Award winners, and others.  

Members of the incoming class also include students who have carved out time to help others. For example, many students have volunteered their time to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy through clean-up efforts or fundraising.  Another student started a nonprofit to benefit educational opportunities for children globally, and one student was profiled by Comcast on Demand for their TV program showcasing young girls and women who are making a difference and changing the world.

Of special note, the class also includes several business-savvy students. One student created a company to design web pages and applications, many of which are available from the Apple App Store. Another student started a town camp for students interested in lacrosse, while another owns a lacrosse stringing company.

Some student achievements in the world of sports include a student who participated in the junior Olympic ski team, while another who serves as a member of the USA Triathlon team will compete in the 2013 Triathlon World championships taking place in London, and a student who is a member of the national championship ultimate Frisbee team. One new student is a two-time national sand castle construction winner, while another student is an accomplished juggler and acrobat. In addition, the class includes a student who is a champion race car driver.

This year, 181 students are recipients of the Rensselaer Medal. The honor is awarded to promising secondary school juniors who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science. The Medal was first presented in 1916 with two purposes: to recognize the superlative academic achievement of young men and women, and to motivate students toward careers in science, engineering, and technology.

The class also includes 95 legacies, or students who are related to Rensselaer alumni. “This is a wonderful message about the Rensselaer education and the impact it has on alumni long after they’ve graduated,” said Karen Long, director of undergraduate admissions. “The number of students following in the footsteps of family members demonstrates the longstanding connection Rensselaer makes with graduates to educate men and women who are the leaders of tomorrow.” 

Starting classes, meeting peers, and exploring a new geographical area all at once can seem intimidating for many new college students. But it doesn’t have to be that way—at least that’s what staffers in the Rensselaer Office of the First-Year Experience believe. From August 21-26, members of the incoming class will participate in Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond (NRB), a weeklong program of welcome events and team-building adventures. The annual program features events that are designed specifically for first-year students to help ease the transition to college life by connecting new students to each other and to resources available on campus and in the local community. 

For more information about the NRB program, visit:

To see video from last year’s NRB activities, visit:

Press Contact Jessica Otitigbe
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