March 26, 2009 — The University of Virginia is about to make 6,331 high school seniors very happy.
U.Va.'s Office of Admission will officially post its anxiously awaited decisions online at 5 p.m. EDT today and drop the envelopes in the mail to those hoping to join the class of 2013.
"We're excited about the students we've admitted this year," said Gregory Roberts, who is overseeing his first admissions cycle as U.Va.'s new dean of admission. "We believe they will bring many different thoughts, ideas and opinions to Grounds. They'll make an impact."
The record pool of 21,839 applicants this year was up 17 percent from the 18,598 who applied a year ago, Roberts said. He attributed the sharp increase to two factors: the University's move to join the Common Application, an online process that makes applying easier than ever; and the state of the economy.
"U.Va. has always been seen as a great bargain, both in-state and out-of-state," Roberts said. "Compared to peer schools, our costs have always been lower."
The larger applicant pool also meant that the admissions process was more competitive. Twenty-nine percent of applicants were offered admission, compared to 35 percent last year.
This year's enrollment target is 3,240 entering first-year students, which is 70 more than last year. High school seniors who receive offers have until May 1 to make a deposit online; after that, Roberts will turn to the waiting list to fill out the class, he said.
The number of applications was up across the board – for every school at the University, in all ethnic categories, from both genders and from in- and out-of-state residents – although comparisons are difficult to make. For the first time this year, applicants were able to check more than one racial category, so the same person could be counted in more than one way, skewing comparisons to previous years' numbers, Roberts explained.
One category of applicants that saw significant increases was international students. Last year, 1,484 international students applied; this year, there were 2,188. Approximately 50 more international applicants were offered admission than last year.
"There was a lot of growth in Asia," Roberts said. "We've broadened our recruitment efforts in China."
Of students offered admission, 3,276 are classified as in-state and 3,055 are from outside Virginia. Because more Virginians generally accept admission offers than out-of-staters, the University will maintain an undergraduate student population that is 69 percent Virginian.
Academically, the average combined math and verbal SAT score was 1,390, up 10 points from last year. The middle 50 percent of students receiving offers scored between 1,300 and 1,480 – with both ends of the range up 20 points from last year.
The mean high school grade-point average was 4.14, and 91 percent of those offered admission rank in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes.
They're busy outside the classroom as well. "We're seeing students who are incredibly involved in their schools and communities, to the point where it's hard to see where they find time in the day to do everything," Roberts said.
Aside from the academic credentials and activities, though, the University values "hard-working students who bring in many different backgrounds and life experiences," he said.
Those experiences are often reflected in application essays, which remain critical to the admission decision. "Students separate themselves due to the strength and quality of the writing in their personal statements, Roberts said.
Over the next several weeks, U.Va. will host five different "Days on the Lawn" events for admitted students to visit the Grounds. To help them make their final choices, they and their parents will have the opportunity to attend classes, take tours, participate in workshops and question current students and faculty.