University of Virginia Sees Record Number of Applications for Admission

January 16, 2008 — The University of Virginia has received a record number of applications for admission for the second year in a row.

As of Jan. 15, U.Va. had received 18,526 applications, with another 250 in process. The anticipated total of 18,776 will represent a 4 percent increase over last year, when applications increased by more than 12 percent.

The record-setting application total is especially significant as this is the first year since the 1960s that U.Va. has not had a binding early decision program. Previously, the University would already have admitted about 30 percent of its entering class under early decision. This year, all applications were due on the same date — Jan. 2 — and notification of acceptance will be in late March.

"I'm genuinely delighted by this result," said Jack Blackburn, dean of admission at U.Va. "We did not know how the year might go without early decision, but we did believe, and continue to believe, that it was the correct decision to make."

U.Va. announced in September 2006 that it was ending early decision, under which students whose first choice was U.Va. committed to attend if offered admission. In announcing the decision, U.Va. officials cited the goal of increasing accessibility for low-income students who may not have the resources to apply early, or must wait to see what financial-aid packages they receive before making their college choice.

"We will not know until later in the year, perhaps as late as June, whether or not we have been successful in our efforts to increase the number of low-income students who apply," Blackburn said. "But I have been heartened by the responses that we have received to our decision from students, parents and high school counselors. I am hopeful that we'll see the result we want."

Blackburn said that the target for the Class of 2012 will once again be 3,170 students, but added that the number of students to be offered admission is yet to be determined.

One of the new initiatives that U.Va. introduced last fall was a national admissions tour in November with representatives of Harvard and Princeton universities, the two other institutions that also ended early decision programs. Admissions representatives of the three schools visited high schools in 19 cities nationwide.

"At this point, we can't point with certainty to students who applied based on those visits, but we were very pleased with the students we saw," said Blackburn. "When we had early decision, the admissions staff was already in the midst of reading applications in November and unable to travel. This tour allowed us to get our message out to more prospective students."

Blackburn said that applications increased in all four of the undergraduate schools — the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing and the School of Architecture. In addition, he said that the increase was reflected in both in- and out-of-state applications and that the percentage of applications from women and men was tracking as it had a year ago with 54 percent from women and 46 percent from men.
The number of students who applied electronically increased from 88 percent to 97 percent this year, Blackburn said.