Continuing an upward trend, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a record-setting 10,219 applications for the undergraduate Class of 2018, a 19 percent increase over last year's then-record total of 8,578. Applications have grown by 53 percent during the last five years alone.
Among this year's applications, WPI saw record upticks in multicultural applicants (33 percent), women applicants (25 percent), and international applicants (42 percent). The university also saw substantial growth in geographic diversity, with more applicants coming from, most notably, Florida (43 percent), California (32 percent), New Jersey (32 percent), and New York City (47 percent).
"WPI's reputation for student success is a key driver behind these record numbers. Families are attracted to WPI because they know our students are in high demand and that a remarkable number of our graduates achieve financial success," said Senior Vice President Kristin Tichenor. "As alumni, however, what they value most are their experiences of working in teams on shared projects. WPI students learn to collaborate with others, to think creatively, to make compromises and to appreciate people with different backgrounds and perspectives. We believe that is WPI's true value proposition: combining a top-notch education with life skills that will serve them well personally and professionally."
Four decades ago, WPI launched the WPI Plan, an academic philosophy emphasizing project-based learning—learning through projects that apply acquired skills and abilities to solving real-world problems. Today, more than half of undergraduates complete at least one required project off campus through WPI’s Global Projects Program. From a single project center established in Washington, D.C., in 1974, the program has grown to more than 30 project centers on five continents. Through global project work, students have made a difference in communities large and small, in nations developed and developing, helping communities in South Africa with water resource management, for example, and creating a comprehensive database of every aspect of the city of Venice – from the depth of every canal to the location of every piece of public art.
Looking at value from another perspective, WPI also continues to be ranked among the top universities in the nation for in return on investment; last year the university took the 15th slot in Payscale's new College Education ROI Rankings. The Payscale survey showed that a graduate of WPI with a bachelor's degree should expect cumulative earnings of $1,316,000 over 30 years, after college costs are subtracted.