Virginia Tech implements changes to undergraduate admissions process for 2023-24 admissions cycle
Virginia Tech in recent years has evolved its approach to admissions, seeking innovations and adjustments to remove barriers in the application process and improve access for all students.
Each summer, the university reflects on the last admissions cycle and adjusts procedures in advance of the next one. For this coming admissions cycle, changes include discontinuing the early decision option, formally eliminating legacy as a factor, and complying with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to remove race and ethnicity as an explicit factor in the admissions decision process.
Leading into the 2023-24 admissions cycle, the university will discontinue the early decision plan in favor of bringing forward its early action deadline to Nov. 15. The regular decision deadline of Jan. 15 will remain.
“The previous expectation in the early decision plan that students lock in their commitment to Virginia Tech well before the regular decision deadline was not a good option for all of our applicants, particularly those needing financial aid, and created unneeded pressure on students,” said Juan Espinoza, associate vice provost for enrollment management. “By eliminating early decision, we are simplifying our application process and also leveling the playing field for all students, regardless of their household income.”
In the past, about 20 percent of seats in the entering class were filled through early decision. Centering the admissions approach on two decision plans instead of three will streamline the application process for prospective students.
Additionally, the university will no longer consider legacy as a factor in the admissions process.
“We’ve placed less and less emphasis on legacy in recent years, to the point that it’s not factoring into admissions decisions in any significant way, and yet our legacy numbers have remained really strong,” Espinoza said. “While around 12 percent of our applications are legacy, they comprise over 20 percent of the incoming class. This demonstrates that legacy students are applying with all the academic and extracurricular preparation that they need to compete for admission.”
“Every year we examine our admissions and enrollment practices to ensure that we continue to strive for a best practiced and innovative approach to providing access to a Virginia Tech education to all qualified applicants,” said Luisa Havens-Gerardo, vice provost for enrollment management. “The discontinuation of the early decision plan and the use of legacy as a factor in admissions will allow us to improve the admissions process to benefit all students.”
As a result of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, race will no longer be used as a factor in admissions decisions, and that information will not be visible to those making individual admissions decisions or decisions about the process in the course of the cycle.
“As a land-grant institution, Virginia Tech is dedicated to serving the Commonwealth of Virginia by offering an educational environment where all students learn to collaborate with others from diverse backgrounds and are prepared to enter a global workforce and serve their communities after graduation,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.
“Much of our recent success in attracting and graduating students from underrepresented minority and underserved backgrounds (including low-income, first generation and veteran students) has been achieved by lowering barriers to admissions, creating effective pre-college programs, and supporting our students while on campus” added President Tim Sands. “We will increase our emphasis on those programs and support mechanisms going forward.”
Recently, Sands announced the Virginia Tech Advantage, a major university initiative to support underrepresented and underserved students financially and programmatically toward on-time graduation and a successful transition to a career or further education.
In fall 2022, the university achieved a key milestone in its strategic plan, with 40.4 percent of the incoming class composed of underrepresented minority students and underserved students. In accordance with InclusiveVT, Virginia Tech’s institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence, the importance of creating an environment and community that reflects diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities, and ideas should not be underestimated.
“We know that diverse environments are the most powerful learning environments” said Menah Pratt, vice president for diversity and strategic affairs. “Our commitment to an inclusive university community prepares our graduates to engage with the world and its most pressing problems.”
Since 2018, Virginia Tech has implemented several innovations in its admissions process, including:
- A more holistic review process, with about 180 faculty and staff who review applicants’ essay answers about leadership, service, resilience, and ability to set long-term goals, which builds broad-based support for incoming students.
- A shared application platform, the Common App, furthering the university’s goal to eliminate barriers and make education more attainable for more students.
- The collection of self-reported academic information with subsequent verification, the first institution in Virginia to do so, reducing the time to process an application from six to eight weeks to, in many cases, one to two weeks.
- Reporting of SAT and ACT scores optional.
- A streamlined fee waiver application process.
All of these changes have increased access to a broad demography of students and heightened interest in Virginia Tech, as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of applications received in recent years.