With negative headline after headline strewn across national papers, the University of Virginia has been no stranger to bad publicity in the past few years. But for the first time in the school’s history, UVa clocked in at 37,000 applicants for the class of 2022, eclipsing all previous numbers of student applicants. The number comes as a 1% increase from last year’s 36,807 prospective students, with a total of 37,188 applicants applying to the University this year.
The high volume of students came as a surprise to some, considering that the University and surrounding community were under national scrutiny after the violent events in Charlottesville during August 11th and 12th. Although the riots were in stark contrast with the apparent beliefs and values of the UVa community, some admissions officers were wary that it would have an effect on potential applicants.
WUVA News spoke with the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Greg Roberts, about his team’s fears that students might not apply to UVa.
“We did face questions about the community in Charlottesville and the issue of race and free speech and respect for others,” Roberts said. “We worked hard to assure families that Charlottesville is a wonderful, diverse, progressive college town and that the city and University stand up against bigots and racists and those who seek to spread the message of hate.”
Dean Roberts’ sentiments clearly resonated with the applicants. Not only did UVa receive a record number of applications in total, but there was also a 4% rise of applications from minorities compared to the previous year.
This year marks the third consecutive year in which UVa has broken the record for total number of applications. Unfortunately for admissions officers, this mass of applicants makes it increasingly difficult to differentiate between prospective students. However, Roberts explained that there are still key traits that mark some students apart from the rest.
“We look for students who are accomplished academically and who have the potential to be successful at UVa and contribute academically and socially to our community,” Roberts stated. “We seek students who love to learn and who are self-starters and academic risk takers. Of course, we always look for students who are kind and thoughtful and who are good citizens and who bring with them diverse backgrounds and experiences, beliefs, and ideas.”
The qualities to which Dean Roberts referred reflect the learning environment that UVa strives to uphold. These characteristics have led to UVa’s strong academic and historical reputation, but there are also other factors that induce the tens of thousands of applications received by the admissions office each year. Dean Roberts explained that what draws students is a combination of some intangible aspects of the school.
“UVa is a place that has something for everyone. The community is warm, supportive, and welcoming and students are challenged to be the best they can be,” he noted. “Many are attracted to UVa because of our honor system and student self-governance and diverse student body. This is a place anchored in a set of values and ideals that are attractive and important to personal growth and success and it’s a place where students can participate in experiential learning activities that will help them grow and thrive.”
To many, the numbers reflect UVa’s commitment to a more inclusive university – one whose most recent classes are certainly beginning to mark a shift in the composition of its student body.