Over the course of an admissions cycle forced to operate almost entirely in virtual spaces as a result of a global pandemic, more students applied for admission to Virginia Tech than ever before in the institution’s 150-year history. Out of 42,054 applications emerged Virginia Tech’s fall 2021 entering class that continues to move the needle toward achieving the enrollment goals defined in the university’s strategic plan.

During the November Board of Visitors meeting, Juan Espinoza, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions, presented a breakdown of the fall 2021 census. 

“We’ve worked hard to engage prospective students throughout the pandemic, and we are pleased with these outcomes,” said Espinoza. “Not only did we receive a record number of applications, we also attracted more students from underrepresented and underserved populations.”

Virginia Tech welcomed a class of 7,743 undergraduate students this fall comprised of 6,802 first-time in college (FTIC) students and 941 transfers. The FTIC students hail from 49 different states/territories and 48 different countries. Transfer students represent 20 different states/territories and 18 countries. For fall 2021, undergraduate enrollment stood at 29,760 students. 

FTIC applicants again had the option of submitting standardized test scores for consideration. The applicant pool was nearly split evenly with 52 percent electing to submit applications without test scores.

“I congratulate those freshmen and transfer students who joined our continuing students in an educational program that is committed to providing a diverse experience and one that focuses on intellectual development of the individual as well as the attainment of vocational skills necessary for successful careers,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.

Virginia Tech’s commitment to increase diversity in its student body is highlighted in several benchmarks. Among the incoming FTIC and transfer students, 39.1 percent are from underrepresented minority (URM) or underserved (USS) populations. This marks a 22.6 percent headcount increase from fall 2017 (the last class admitted prior to Virginia Tech making significant changes to its admissions process) and places the university on cusp of reaching a strategic plan milestone of charting 40 percent URM/USS representation in the entering class by fall 2022. 

FTIC and transfer students identifying as URM eclipsed 2020 by a point, rising to 20.4 percent of the 2021 class.  This represents a 60.5 percent headcount increase from 2017 when URM students made up 13.2 percent of the entering class. 

Virginia Tech again experienced historic highs in both Black and Hispanic/LatinX student representation in the entering class. FTIC and transfer students identifying as Black - including students identifying as Black and other races – make up 8.8 percent of the class, up from 4.5 percent in 2017 and representing an 88.7 percent headcount increase. Hispanic/LatinX students account for 10.5 percent of the entering class, a 4.1 percent increase from 2017, and a headcount increase of 63 percent. 

More than 7,500 applicants identified as first-generation college students of which 1,539 enrolled this fall. Additionally, the Corps of Cadets welcomed 419 new students, pushing the Corps overall enrollment to 1,264. The strategic plan calls for increasing the overall enrollment to 1,400 by 2023. 

“The progress we have seen since implementing significant changes to the admissions process in 2018 has been remarkable”, said Espinoza. “Due to the hard work of the enrollment management team, Virginia Tech remains a top destination for students.”

Virginia Tech also continues to grow its graduate student population. Overall enrollment is 6,846, an increase of more than 500 students from 2020.

The graduate school welcomed 1,524 new master’s degree seeking and 471 new doctorate degree seeking students this fall. One year ago, new graduate students totaled 1,220 and 383 respectively.

Compared to 2020, total URM graduate students increased from 16.9 percent to 17.9 percent. Total URM professional students climbed from 16.6 percent in 2020 to 19.5 percent in 2021.  The strategic goal is to reach 20 percent URM in both classifications by fall 2024. 

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