Record Applications Lead to Strong Class as U.Va. Announces Admissions Decisions

March 30, 2010 — The University of Virginia has offered admission to 6,907 of the record 22,520 applicants for spots in this fall's incoming class. The target is an entering class of 3,240.

The offer rates to in-state and out-of-state Virginians remained about the same as last year, with the target of maintaining U.Va.'s usual ratio of about 69 percent in-state enrollment, said Greg Roberts, dean of admission. Given the state of the economy, he added that he expects a greater percentage of acceptances from Virginia students, for whom U.Va. is a comparative bargain, than for non-Virginians.

The decisions were posted online late Friday afternoon. The fabled thick and thin envelopes – the former signifying admission and the latter wait-listing or denial – are due to arrive in applicants' mailboxes this week.

Of those offered admission, 93.8 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes, and their average combined SAT verbal and math scores increased by 10 points over last year, Roberts said.

"This is perhaps the most talented class academically that we've ever offered to," said Roberts, who oversaw his first complete admissions cycle after being named dean in January 2009. "Additionally, the class is extremely diverse."

While Roberts said it was an exciting time for his staff and for those students who were offered places in the class, he acknowledged the disappointment of those who were denied admission or offered a spot on the waiting list.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to offer admission to all of the students who have had excellent high school careers," he said. "While this week is exciting and rewarding in our office, it's also difficult because we speak to so many disappointed students.

"Every application receives a thorough review. This is a very personal process for our staff. We're building a class here, and we want to try to get to know the students as we evaluate their applications."

At the Jefferson Scholars Selection Week, an event held last week for 100 finalists for the University's top undergraduate scholarships, Jefferson Scholars Foundation President James Wright cited a list of accomplishments culled from their résumés.
One took first place in physics at an international conference for young scientists held in Poland. Two were elected governors of Girls State. Two are published authors. Two own their own businesses. There is a pipe organist and a world chess champion. One invented the "Apod," a device to aid dementia patients. One wrote a piece of state legislation. Another won a Washington, D.C.-area "best actress" award.

At U.Va., students apply to one of four undergraduate schools: The College of Arts & Sciences, and the schools of Nursing, Architecture or Engineering and Applied Science. (After two years, students may apply to the McIntire School of Commerce or to a five-year program in the Curry School of Education that leads to bachelor's and master's degrees. After three years, they may apply to the Frank W. Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.)

The toughest school to get into this year was the School of Nursing, which saw a 22 percent rise in applications. Fewer than 20 percent were offered places in the incoming class.

The Engineering School also saw its applications rise significantly, by 12 percent.

The economy has had other effects. Financial-aid figures are not yet available, Roberts said, but anecdotally, "We have had more conversations with families about aid than in any year in recent memory." The University 's financial aid program, AccessUVA, meets 100 percent of students' demonstrated need, providing loan-free aid packages to the most financially challenged and capping loans to other aid recipients.

Between now and the May 1 deadline for students to accept or decline their admission offers, the University will host five "Days on the Lawn" for accepted students, who are invited to spend a day at the University, taking classes, touring dorms and eating in the cafeterias, among other activities.

— By Dan Heuchert