This August, an increasingly talented and diverse bunch of new Hokies is coming to Virginia Tech.
The class of 2022 comes to campus with a higher academic profile and includes more underrepresented and underserved students than last year’s first-year class, based on the university’s fall preliminary figures.
The class’ graduation year marks an important milestone at Virginia Tech — the university’s 150th anniversary, its sesquicentennial.
Orientation began this week for all new 6,428 Hokies, who hail from 46 states and U.S. territories and 53 countries. Of these new students, 2,009 are considered underrepresented minorities or underserved. This is up 5 percent from 1,914 in 2017. The 2018 cohort comprises 34 percent of first-year students, excluding international students.
According to the federal definition, underrepresented students include those who are American Indian/Alaska Native, African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and two or more race combinations of these ethnicities. Underserved students are those who are the first in their families to attend college and/or are eligible for Federal Pell Grants.
By 2022, Virginia Tech wants to increase its population of underrepresented and underserved undergraduate students to 40 percent, with a goal of creating a diverse campus that prepares students for the world, said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands during his State of the University address last year.
Based on the fall 2018 numbers, “this is exactly where we are headed,” said Luisa Havens Gerardo, vice provost for enrollment management at Virginia Tech. "This reflects the direction of inclusive excellence that the leadership has set for the future of Virginia Tech.”
She said several factors likely led to these increases, including a redoubling of communication and outreach efforts to increase yield and a greater number of financial aid packages sent to students and families within a week from when they received their admissions decisions.
Also, some individual colleges at Virginia Tech renewed or increased the scholarship funds offered to first-year students.
“That’s the kind of work that is required,” Gerardo said. “We want to eliminate as many barriers as possible.”
Virginia Tech already is making changes to its admissions process for students next year. Among the changes, the university will begin using a uniform application process intended to be easier and increase accessibility to financial aid, encouraging more lower-income and first-generation students to apply early. Other changes include application fee waivers for some and the ability for students to self-report their transcripts and test scores to save money.
Although Virginia Tech saw the highest number of applications in its history, at more than 32,000, the overall size of this year’s Hokie class is smaller than the approximately 6,800 first-year students last fall. The size reflects the university’s efforts to manage growth, Gerardo said.
As for popular colleges for new students, the College of Engineering leads the way, with 1,888 students enrolled this fall. The College of Science is the second-most popular, with 1,122 first-year students.
With a 4.06 average grade point average and an average SAT score of 1,280, the newest Hokies also represent some of the best students in the country — and in Virginia.
About 57 percent of this year’s new students have a high school grade point average of 4.0 and higher. More than half of those students are from Virginia.
Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone
The Newest Hokie Class
A snapshot of the Virginia Tech sesquicentennial class of 2022