The Virginia Tech Class of 2025 has been recognized as a record-shattering incoming class.
In previous years, Virginia Tech made national headlines by enrolling hundreds more freshmen than expected. In an article for The Roanoke Times, Henri Gendreau reported that in 2019, a record 31,974 potential students applied. This year, the university saw a 36% increase in applications and received 42,084 applications. Virginia Tech added the Common App, used by more than 900 schools nationwide. Juan Espinoza, director of undergraduate admissions at Virginia Tech, said in Gendreau’s article that other universities have seen an 8%-12% increase in applications through the Common App, and that Virginia Tech is beyond that margin.
This increase in applications was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s uncertainty and the option to submit standardized test scores. About 47% of applicants chose not to submit scores. Colleges such as the College of William & Mary, New York University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University have all reported record-breaking numbers in applications as well.
Across the country, colleges and universities have seen a decrease in numbers from first-generation and low-income students due to the price of the application. However, Virginia Tech is not one of those schools.
“The application process was unique because we incorporated changes to make the application more accessible, fair and transparent to truly get to know the applicant,” Espinoza said. “The introduction of the self-report of academic records allowed students to self-report their grades and (optional) test scores contributed to a 47% increase in applications. This shows that during a pandemic we were able to lower those barriers for underrepresented students.”
Espinoza explained how virtual tours have helped in the admissions process. “Having our tours go virtual has been a big help in making them accessible to everyone and we plan to keep some of those methods for students who may not make it to in person tours due to distance,” Espinoza said. “This contributes to diversifying our pool of applicants as tours are accessible to all and can have an impact on college decisions.”
Espinoza describes the class of 2025 as “resilient” as they have overcome overwhelming obstacles during a pandemic and has no doubt that they will succeed in life.
The class of 2024 was the most diverse class in university history, with a 27% increase in African American students and a 25% increase in Latinx and Hispanic students. According to a story from VTx’s website, 17% of the class of 2024 were made up of first generation students. 45% of the College of Engineering and 37% of the Pamplin College of Business came from underrepresented and underserved populations within the class of 2024.
The class of 2025 has 75% more African American students and 43% more Hispanic and Latinx students than the class of 2024. The number of first generation students increased by 47%. President Sands stated in the State of the University address this year that the school is close to reaching its goal of having 40% of an entering class consist of low-income, first-generation, veteran and underrepresented students by 2022.
“Incorporating the test-optional portion of the application has contributed to increasing the enrollment of these groups,” Espinoza said. “Research shows that standardized tests create a barrier for underrepresented and underserved populations and, given the circumstances of this year, Virginia Tech (and) Ivy League schools have seen an increase in admissions for underrepresented and underserved students.”
“Making a college decision was very difficult as I was not able to tour any schools,” said Daniela Espinoza, a rising freshman from Danville, Virginia. “The main obstacle I faced when applying to schools was the lack of communication from the admissions office. Some schools would take up to a week, if not more, to respond to applicants’ questions. However, Virginia Tech was on top of answering applicant questions, which was really nice. I am very excited to experience a freshman year in a close-to-normal experience as it is beneficial for me.”
Ashlyn O’Neill, a rising freshman majoring in general engineering from York, Pennsylvania, explained how Virginia Tech was one of a few schools that had a unique college application that helped her reveal different perspectives of herself.
“During the college application process, I really liked how Virginia Tech provided a variety of different essay prompts,” O’Neill said. “Providing different essay prompts helped me figure out how I could best present myself given limited experiences. Though I am the only one from my high school attending Virginia Tech, I am very excited to start freshman year as most of my senior year was lost.”