Spring came fresh on campus: old faces mix with new as tour groups flood onto campus, blending with chattering students freshly returned from Spring Break.
Many of the tours are for newly admitted students during the 2022 admissions season, excited to get an opportunity to get a glimpse of a place and a community that they may soon call home.
The Institute extended admissions offers this March to students all across the world.
This year, 50,601 applicants underwent the extensive admissions application process, and 17% were admitted during this historic year for Tech admission, in which the office is working towards Tech’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals by expanding the size of the freshman class.
In an interview with the Georgia Tech News Center, Rick Clark — director of Undergraduate Admission — said, “this year, we will enroll our largest first-year class in Institute history — 500 larger than it was three years ago when President Cabrera began his tenure on campus.”
In a way, the new admissions statistics provide perspective on the improvement of Tech’s path towards a more diverse student body.
As of Fall 2020, Tech’s gender distribution was 61% male and 39% female, marking a relatively stark ratio. However, the 2022 admitted class is 56% male and 44% female, demonstrating the Institute’s efforts to improve gender equity on campus. Current Tech students are anticipating new changes on campus as a result of the 2022 admissions.
“I’m happy to see more diversity in gender and race on campus. I’m all for inclusivity and am excited to hear more new perspectives in our classes,” said Ibrahim Mahmood, third-year BMED.
Explaining the connection between enrollment growth and the Institute’s 10-year strategic plan, Clark said, “as an Institute, we have a Tech-wide strategic plan, and part of that is this concept of expanding access. As a public university, we exist to serve the students and the citizens of our state, and there’s a high demand for Georgia Tech education, not only among students and families, but also among industry so we really have an obligation to try to respond to that demand, but also produce the talent that’s being demanded of us.”
The expansion of undergraduate student enrollment at the Institute is a decision that is equally supported by the University System of Georgia (USG), the overarching body made up of Georgia’s public colleges and universities. Echoing this sentiment, Clark said, “[enrollment expansion] is very intentional on the part of the Institute. And it’s also something that the USG wants; we don’t operate in a silo and we are part of a system. Funding comes from the state on some level, and we’re not a private school, so we’re not making entirely independent campus decisions. We have the ability to set vision, but we also have a responsibility, again, to the state [and] to the system. And that system also has a desire for Georgia Tech to grow. So, [the enrollment growth] is both mission based, but it’s also system based.”
As a mid-sized public university, Tech’s growing size will undoubtedly alter the first-year student experience as it has previously existed. Commenting on how student experience will change with larger class sizes than what the Institute has usually offered in the past, Clark emphasized the importance of being intentional about increasing student enrollment and making sure that the rhetoric is not reduced down to the idea of “growth for growth’s sake.”
“I think that there is capacity in parts of our curriculum. We’re starting a couple of new majors this coming year, specifically in the College of Sciences. When I meet with the deans and [other] leadership around campus, there are some people concerned about our student-faculty ratio, but not many,” Clark said. “I mean, the truth is, most of our majors in most of our colleges want to grow. However, you’re right, we have to figure out a way to not keep flooding some of these majors that are already at capacity or feeling the strains. We need to do that without having the student experience suffer, inside the classroom or outside the classroom when it comes to support, whether it be advising or mental health and counseling or any of the other sort of wraparound services and support that we provide students.”
For the 2023-2024 academic year, 10% of the incoming class belongs to a first-generation college student background, a definition that mandates that neither of the student’s parents attended college. In terms of how this statistic compares to national averages of first-generation students admitted to colleges across the nation, Clark explained the difficulty with standardizing this ratio due to varying definitions of first-generation college students across different institutions. However, he emphasized Tech’s commitment to expanding the accessibility of a college education to students from non-traditional and historically underrepresented backgrounds.
The admissions team has a formal communication plan that is specifically tailored to students who have identified as first-generation or other underrepresented population groups. Additionally, on- and off-campus programming for differing student groups provides communication to students before and after admission to ensure high yields of accepted students from diverse backgrounds.
Speaking on the broader admissions strategy, Clark emphasized this same notion of accessibility and building opportunity for a diverse class of students.
“The trajectory that our city is on and amazing research that our faculty are doing that’s needed and world renowned. There’s also a general entrepreneurial ecosystem that surrounds us, and it’s a really fun time to be a part of Georgia Tech,” he said. “One thing we think about while reading applications is potential, and it’s difficult finding a balance between potential and established excellence, if that makes sense. There’s a lot of kids who are super squeaky clean and have done amazing things in high school, and there’s a place for that student here. We could fill our whole class that way, but is that what we should do?,” Clark said.
Elaborating on the importance of granting opportunities, Clark said, “I do believe that because we have a sizable number of spots in our class, we can also take students who have had some challenges and have overcome a lot. They don’t look as perfect on paper as some other students, but we want to take these kids because of what they have shown they can overcome and given all the support and all of the infrastructure that Georgia Tech has, it’s just so cool when you can take kids like that and give them opportunity.”
More information and statistics about the 2023-2024 first-year admitted class can be found on news.gatech.edu/news/2023/03/27/georgia-tech-admission-announces-decisions. Additionally, students can read Clark’s admissions blog on sites.gatech.edu/admission-blog/author/rc218/ for more insights on the process.