You still have six weeks left to apply to Virginia Tech.
But more people have already applied for the Class of 2025 than all those who applied to the university last year. The regular admissions deadline for incoming freshmen is Jan. 15.
To date, Tech has received 31,915 applications, compared to 31,041 total last year, according to data provided Friday by Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman. That 874 bump reflects a 2.8% increase.
The preliminary figures signal that Tech is likely to become even more exclusive following an admissions year roiled by the coronavirus pandemic. Travel restrictions and lockdowns significantly lowered the enrollment of new international students nationwide in 2020, and overall undergraduate enrollment in Virginia fell 3.2%. At Tech, while freshman enrollment fell just shy of the university’s plans, undergraduate enrollment grew 2.4%, boosting the university above a goal of 30,000 undergraduates.
National data suggest applications overall this fall — particularly among low-income and first-generation college students — have dropped from the year before. But some colleges, including those like Tech that have waived standardized test requirements, have seen stronger freshmen interest.
Tech has seen a 35% increase in prospective students applying “early action,” whose deadline ended Tuesday. Last year, 20,991 people applied early action, compared to 28,256 this year. With that designation, students don’t necessarily have to accept if offered enrollment.
The university also saw a slight bump in the number of candidates applying “early decision,” which ended Nov. 1. Under early decision, applicants offered admission are bound to attend.
For the Class of 2025, 2,356 prospective students applied early decision, up a handful from 2,327 the year before.
And so far, the university has logged 1,303 applications for its regular decision pool. Last year, 7,723 people applied regular decision.
Since the university revamped its admissions process in 2018, Tech has offered early action, which has become the most popular option among the three.
University officials have urged students serious about Tech to apply early. Admissions officers conveyed to prospective students last year that admission from the regular decision pool was based on space availability, particularly for high-demand programs. The admissions rate for regular decision freshmen applicants fell from 60.3% for the Class of 2023 to 14.6% for the Class of 2024, according to data provided by the university in April.
Across all three application pools, the admissions rate fell from 69.2% to 53.1%, that data show.
Nationwide, the number of incoming freshmen applying to colleges this fall appears to be dropping.
The Common Application, a nonprofit group whose application is used widely — including by Tech, as of this fall — said it saw 8% fewer applications through early November compared to last year. And applications from first-generation college students and students eligible for application fee waivers were down 16%, according to Inside Higher Ed, a trade publication.
But many colleges that have waived SAT and ACT test score submissions have seen stronger growth.
The University of Virginia has seen a 35% increase in its early decision applications compared to the prior year, and a 15% increase in early action applicants, The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper, reported last month.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — which was forced to shutter shortly after it opened in August because of a spike in COVID-19 cases — also saw a boost of 10% in those applying early action from last year.