How to Get into the University of Rochester: Admissions Data and Strategies

April 12, 2022

The University of Rochester is a mid-sized private school with approximately 6,500 undergraduate students. This is a university where the vast majority of students live on campus (90%), are involved in student organizations (90%), gain research experience as undergrads (77%), and play for one of their 23 NCAA Division III teams. Rochester–also called U of Rochester, UR, or U of R)–has a lot to offer and high-achieving students around the world have taken notice. Now attracting around 19,000 applicants per year, the university sees acceptance rate in the 29-35% range, landing it in the “highly-selective” category from an admissions perspective.

To help prepare U of R hopefuls for the challenging process ahead, we will touch on the following topics:

  • University of Rochester’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
  • University of Rochester’s Class of 2025 ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, GPA, and class rank of accepted University of Rochester applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2025
  • The demographics of current University of Rochester undergraduates
  • The University of Rochester’s yield rate
  • How U of R’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to the University of Rochester
  • How to assess whether applying to the University of Rochester is even worth the $50 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to the University of Rochester may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

The University of Rochester’s: Overall Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025

The University of Rochester has yet to release official Class of 2025 admissions statistics. However, we do know that close to 19,000 individuals applied and roughly 1,450 went on to enroll. Looking back to the Class of 2024, we can see that 35% of the 19,607 applicants were admitted.

The University of Rochester Early Decision Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025

Those who are serious about attending the University of Rochester may want to consider applying via binding early decision. The acceptance rate for ED applicants for the Class of 2024 (most recent data available) was 37%, as 525 of the 1,407 ED hopefuls were successful. This figure was only slightly higher than the acceptance rate during the regular round.

The University of Rochester Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA, and Class Rank

Those who went on to enroll in the university for the start of the 2020-21 school year earned a median SAT score of 1420 and a median ACT of 32. The average unweighted GPA was 3.8 and 71% were in the top 10% of their high school class; 93% were in the top quartile.

Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2025)

  • The university is test-optional and 45% of applicants elected not to send test scores, up from 17% the prior year.
  • Students admitted to the Class of 2025 had an average unweighted GPA of 3.76.
  • The average admitted student possessed a 1428 SAT and 32 ACT score.
  • Roughly 100 first-year students were from the Rochester area.
  • The expected size for the Class of 2025 was 1,450 which is higher than the previous high of 1,432 students in 2017.

Who Gets Into the University of Rochester?

Rochester is a very popular school for international students to pursue their undergraduate education—an incredible 27% of the current student body are international students. The following countries have the strongest representation on campus:

  1. China
  2. Vietnam
  3. South Korea
  4. India
  5. Canada

For domestic students, competition is toughest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you hail from a less populated state like Hawaii, the Dakotas, or Montana, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the undergraduate student body is as follows:

  • Asian American: 12%
  • Hispanic: 8%
  • African American: 5%
  • White: 42%
  • Two or more races: 4%
  • International: 27%

The breakdown of the current undergraduate student body is split fairly evenly between male and female students:

  • Male: 49%
  • Female: 51%

Yield Rate

The University of Rochester’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was relatively low 20% last year. This is due, in part, to the fact that Rochester is often used as a back-up plan for those applying to even more selective universities. For comparison, many other comparable universities have slightly higher yield rates such as Boston University (24%) and Villanova (26%); however, the University of Rochester is higher than the University of Miami (17%).

How the University of Rochester Rates Applicants

Only two factors are viewed by the University of Rochester as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record and character/personal qualities. The six factors rated as “important” are: GPA, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, the essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities.

In the admissions office’s own words:

  • “The University of Rochester employs a holistic application review process to identify curious, capable, and engaged students from across the globe.”
  • “We seek to understand each applicant’s academic ability, extracurricular engagement, and ethical character in order to determine their ability to improve both their campus and the world around them.”
  • “We seek and embrace the most tenacious and unconventional applicants from around the world to join our community of doers and disrupters.”

Tips for Applying to the University of Rochester

If you plan on joining the almost 19,000 aspiring U of R undergrads for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • As mentioned previously, UR adopted a test-optional policy a year before the pandemic and 45% of recent applicants utilized the policy.
  • This school offers two rounds of early decision—ED I on November 1 and ED II on January 5.
  • The University of Rochester offers virtual interviews with admissions officers as well as alumni interviews (learn more here). For tips on acing the college interview, visit this blog.
  • The University of Rochester does consider “demonstrated interest” in the admissions process. As such, it would be a good idea to visit campus (in non-pandemic times), contact an admissions officer, follow them on social media, etc.
  • U of R does consider legacy status in the admissions process so if your mother or father attended, it may help your chances.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay(s) required by the University of Rochester. In the 2021-22 cycle, students were asked to respond to three essay prompts. They are as follows:

Essay Prompt #1

The University of Rochester motto of Meliora – or “ever better” – deeply integrates critical core values into all that we do. These core values of equity, leadership, integrity, openness, respect and accountability define not only who we are, but also who we hope to become. Please use the space below to highlight a time, creative idea or research experience when you put into action one or more of these characteristics in order to make yourself, your community or the world ever better. (200-word limit).

You may answer one of three ways:

  • Essay Response: Write an analytical or creative response of 200 words or less.
  • Creative Response: Upload up to three works of your own art (e.g. pictures, video, performances, literary) and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the art is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”
  • Research Response: Upload an abstract describing your own related research and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the research is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”

Essay Prompt #2

Please select one of the following prompts to respond to in 200 words or less.

  1. American social reformer, abolitionist, writer and statesman, Frederick Douglass said, “Some know the value of education, by having it. I knew its value by not having it.” Explain ways in which education has directly influenced you and your ability to do good in the world. How will you use the curricular flexibility and co-curricular opportunities of the University of Rochester experience to grow and to promote positive change for yourself, your community and your world.
  2. Dr. Donna Strickland, University of Rochester alum and 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Physics said, “There’s no point in me being anything other than me.” The University of Rochester encourages each student to embrace who they are and create their own individual curricular path and experience. How will you use the opportunities here to fully be who you are? What unique experiences will you bring to our community?
  3. The University of Rochester benefactor entrepreneur, photography pioneer and philanthropist, George Eastman said, “What we do during our working hours determines what we have, what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.” Looking forward toward your college experience, what do you hope to do outside of the classroom at the University of Rochester? What will enhance who you are as a person? How will specific academic and social opportunities here help you grow?

Essay Prompt #3

Are you interested in pursuing research while enrolled at the University of Rochester? If Yes, what field/area of study are you interested in researching? (20 words) 

Should I Apply to the University of Rochester?

With acceptance rates frequently dipping under 30%, the University of Rochester is primarily seeking candidates who possess standardized test scores in 95th percentile and have earned mostly A’s in a highly rigorous high school curriculum. However, they are a genuinely test-optional school that will give serious consideration to applicants with a fantastic transcript who didn’t happen to score well on standardized tests.

If the University of Rochester is among your top-choice schools, make sure to also have a rock-solid backup plan. All students need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with your high school counselor or other admissions professional.