The Class of 2023 arrives on campus this fall as Virginia Tech’s largest, most diverse, and — by measurement of traditional metrics — the second-most academically competitive class in its history.

Following the announcement of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus as part of the Amazon deal in Northern Virginia, as well as transformational changes to the admissions process that offered greater accessibility to a broader range of applicants, the university saw record enrollment among students from underserved and underrepresented communities.

“Virginia Tech is clearly a very attractive option for students across the commonwealth,” said Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost. “Enhanced admissions procedures and the reputation we’ve built through the strength of our academic programs and leadership of enterprises such as the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and the Innovation Campus have brought students to Virginia Tech and led to a higher acceptance rate than anticipated."

With the unprecedented response, the number of first-year students is projected to be between 7,500 and 7,585 for the start of the Fall semester. This projection is 15% higher than the original goal and as always, enrollment numbers are expected to change throughout the summer.

Much effort was put into modeling enrollment outcomes for this year including partnering with an outside agency that specializes in predictive modeling. Even with the sophisticated modeling that was conducted, the response was much stronger than the models projected.

The university is actively developing options to ensure that every student continues to receive the quality of programs and services they expect. This includes innovative approaches to housing, allowing first-year students to live off campus, and other measures to create an optimal student living experience. Updates will be shared through stories and notices on VT News as new information is made available.

“We are now focused and engaged in managing the success of this admissions cycle and developing strategies necessary for the support and education of a higher-than-expected number of new students,” Clarke said.

The announcement of the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia became a high-profile recruitment tool for Virginia Tech and showcased its position as a magnet for leading tech talent development, research, and education. The announcement also helped highlight the breadth and depth of the university’s computer engineering and computer science programs and faculty expertise. The programs and festivals emerging from the university’s Creativity and Innovation District, such as the ACCelerate Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., last month, further demonstrate how the university’s Beyond Boundaries vision brings together science and art in ways that enhance both.

Simultaneously, the university has revamped its admissions office with a more holistic application process and commitment to access and affordability that proved popular among the future class of 2023.

First-generation students are projected to increase by 48%, along with significant increases in African-American students (28%), Hispanic/Latino students (49%) and students who identified as two or more races that indicate African American (21%). Virginia Tech also saw increases in key areas such as Pell-eligible students (27%) and veterans. Currently, 36% of Virginia Tech's student population come from underserved or underrepresented communities. The university is looking to reach its goal of 40% by 2022.

By traditional academics metrics — SAT scores and grade point average — this class also is the second-most competitive in its history. But because of the new application process, the Class of 2023 also rates highly in qualities such as leadership, service, resilience, and the ability to set long-term goals — all indicators of likely success in college, as well as core Hokie values.

“Virginia Tech has embraced its transformative role in securing a bright future for the commonwealth and the success of this admission cycle demonstrates that it has not gone unnoticed,” said Luisa Havens Gerardo, vice provost for enrollment management. “We will continue to pursue inclusive excellence in the admissions process as a way to strengthen that contribution.”

The shift to an admissions application model designed to enable a broader range of students to apply to college by improving ease and accessibility to financial aid has also become an attractive option for prospective students.

The university shifted to a model that was centered on the Coalition Application that included new essay questions that focused on leadership, service, resilience, and the ability to set long-term goals — all indicators of likely success in college, as well as such values as service that distinguish Virginia Tech. More than 180 faculty and staff reviewed the application essays, ensuring that the responses were vetted not just by admissions officials, but by a broad swath of the campus community.

Virginia Tech also allowed students to self-report their grades and test scores online, which allowed a nonbinding early action. All transcripts are verified by Virginia Tech after a student is accepted. About twice as many applicants opted for early-action as for early decision and regular decision combined. Virginia Tech’s letters of admission also included financial aid information so that students received all the information they need to make a decision.

“Virginia Tech commitment to a more open and fair admissions process was validated with this unprecedented response to offers of admission,” said Juan Espinoza, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions. “The addition of the Coalition Application allowed us to connect with students that we were not reaching before and raised our level of access. Being the first Virginia institution to allow applicants to self-report their grades and test scores provided more options and better access for students.”

Espinoza said the university’s service-minded mission, strong academic programming and departments, and the Innovation Campus have helped amplify the university’s standing as a leading institution focused on having global impact. “This response is not only validation for these changes, but illustrates our future students’ desire to help us change the world,” said Espinoza.