Juan Espinoza, director of undergraduate admissions, addressed how last year’s over-enrollment happened and the steps Virginia Tech is taking to better manage the enrollment of students in the coming year at the Blacksburg Town/Gown meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6:00 p.m.
“The enrollment advisory committee was lead by the provost ... college deans and different administrators around the university,” Espinoza said. “Its main goal (of the committee) was to figure out how we can make sure that this is a positive enrollment of students as they come into campus –– how can we work with the hotels and town to make this as seamless as possible, make sure the same experience everyone has had here for the last several years as a freshman continues on for these students.”
Espinoza explained how the changes to the admissions process may have made Virginia Tech seem more attractive and accessible to future students, leading to more students than expected to accept their offers. The changes to the admissions process included joining the Coalition for College, self-reporting, new application deadlines and more emphasis on a student’s identity outside of academics.
Outside factors like the Virginia Tech basketball team going to the Sweet 16 and the new innovation campus may have also raise the attractiveness of Virginia Tech, Espinoza said.
In sync with the campus master plan, the university already expected to accept more students than the previous year. The number of offers are relatively similar when comparing 2018 and 2019, but the yield rate increased.
In-state offers for students went from 9,151 in 2018 to 9,778 in 2019. The yield rate, which is the percent of students who choose to enroll, went from 47.1% in 2018 to 52.8% in 2019.
Out-of-state students had the biggest jump in offers from 8,874 in 2018 to 10,262 in 2019. The out-of-state yield rate went from 18.7% to 21.4% within a year.
The number of offers for international students went from 1,929 to 1,986, and the yield rate increased from 32.2% in 2018 to 36.3% in 2019.
“Yield rates are becoming harder and harder to predict because as more students apply to more schools,” Espinoza said. “It's very common to see (students applying to) 10 schools, and they’re only going to one place, and chances are they are getting offered to several schools; that is messing with everyone’s yield rate, and so everyone’s yield rate is going down. For us to shoot up to 50% is insane and shows people are really interested in what we have been doing here, so now we have to adjust and make sure this year we’re factoring that number in.”
Espinoza unveiled strategies to manage student numbers for the next year. He revealed that admissions do not have any intentions of having the student body go over 30,000 until 2023. To reach this goal, admissions will have to be more conservative. This means changing the yield model to reflect the higher yield from the previous. The admissions team will also implement more variables in the application process like campus visits, where it was found those who visited were more likely to attend.
For the more competitive colleges like the College of Engineering, the College of Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this means implementing a waitlist strategy.
“It doesn’t mean waitlist everyone; it means essentially that we want to be a little more conservative and have that waitlist to inch up to where we need to be,” Espinoza said. “So, if we’re shooting for a goal of 300, aim for 290 and then to inch up to 300 to insure we don’t go over ... whatever (number) we’re looking at.”
The admissions group hasn’t set an official number of students admitted, but will set the number after getting results from the yearly census, which indicates how many students graduated, transferred and are still attending.