Virginia Tech continues focus on serving needs of current, incoming Hokies
Virginia Tech continues to build and implement strategies for managing the outcomes of its latest recruitment cycle that attracted one of the largest and most diverse incoming classes in its history.
Although the university is undergoing a period of managed growth to achieve an undergraduate population of 30,000 by 2023, the response to offers of admission this year far exceeded both expectations and Virginia Tech’s enrollment plan.
The university expects that enrollment will decline somewhat during the summer as students finalize their college plans, but the number of students matriculating in the fall will still be significantly higher than the goal of approximately 6,600 first-year students. Results of a survey completed by students who accepted offers of admission indicate that enhanced recruitment procedures and a growing national reputation for academic and research excellence played a role in increasing enrollment.
To meet the needs of both new and continuing students, the university is actively implementing a number of strategies to provide the high-quality learning and living environment that is a hallmark of the Virginia Tech experience. Additional sections are being created for high-demand courses and are being distributed across the fall and spring semesters.
To support the increase in course sections, additional faculty are being recruited to preserve the faculty-to-student ratio, and the scheduling of courses is being optimized to enhance efficient use of teaching spaces. These actions, together with full use of available class meeting times Monday through Friday, will allow Virginia Tech to accommodate the higher number of students without increasing class sizes.
Investments in other personnel, especially in student support offices most affected by enrollment, are also being made. These include positions in undergraduate academic advising, international student support, student wellness and mental health, and services supporting students with disabilities.
University leaders are working closely and collaboratively with the Town of Blacksburg to address off-campus housing, dining, transportation, public safety, and wellness services for both incoming and returning students. Virginia Tech and Blacksburg officials are meeting regularly and discussing a number of options for accommodating the higher number of students who will arrive in the community this fall. These include permitting first-year students to live off-campus and offering housing contract buyouts to upper-class students living in residential halls. In addition, Virginia Tech is in discussions with local residential properties to convert available units to university housing and reprogram these to align as closely as possible with the services and experiences offered on-campus.
Actions taken to optimize instructional capacity and accommodate student housing, dining, and other needs will be funded by the additional tuition and fee income resulting from the increased enrollment.
In an effort to reduce or distribute enrollments for the upcoming year, Virginia Tech has offered several opportunities to incoming in-state students who plan to major in areas with higher than anticipated enrollments. These include options to take a gap year, start their studies by enrolling in a community college for the first year, or take a gap fall or spring semester and enroll in summer sessions to maintain academic progress. These options have incentives that are designed to make students’ education more affordable, expand use of the summer session and promote experiential learning, including internships, co-ops, undergraduate research, and study abroad. In addition to the community colleges option, several four-year universities such as UVA-Wise have expressed an interest in participating in the program.
So far, fewer than 10 percent of students presented with any of the delayed enrollment options have accepted.
“Irrespective of the outcome of the options we’ve designed to mitigate the higher than expected enrollment, we are making plans to welcome and serve all students who matriculate this fall, in a manner that maintains and continues to advance the high standards of Virginia Tech,” said Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost. “The care and concern we have for all our students, both new and returning, cannot be overstated.”
For more information regarding the preparations for the incoming fall 2019 class, visit the #VT23 website.