Interest in Virginia Tech continues to increase among prospective students, as the university saw a record 24,260 visits to campus during the first six months of 2019.

That’s a 44 percent increase from 2018, and a 24 percent increase over 2017. The numbers include visits for Open House, Hokie Focus, and daily visits, said Juan Espinoza, director of admissions.

“We’re on pace right now to be at around 50,000 total visitors for 2019, which would be 10,000 more than 2017 or 2018,” Espinoza said.

The spike in interest among visitors comes on the heels of Virginia Tech admitting its largest, most diverse, and most academically competitive classes ever over the past two years.

Espinoza attributes the growth to changes made to the admissions process that lowered barriers and increased accessibility and transparency. These innovative changes included the introduction of a new college application (Coalition), self-reported academic transcripts and test scores, a new holistic application review process, and an early action option for applicants. The goal was to make the application process more accessible and easier to navigate.

Combined with Virginia Tech’s rising global profile, internationally recognized research, and leadership in building a Northern Virginia Innovation Campus in connection with Amazon’s expansion, the process of opening up the university’s admissions process has sparked unprecedented interest among prospective students.

“The record number of students coming to Blacksburg to visit the campus and explore the opportunities Virginia Tech provides shows that we are a preferred choice for both graduating high school students and those transferring in from other institutions,” said Luisa Havens Gerardo, vice provost for enrollment management. “The visibility and reputation we’ve earned as a university continues to attract outstanding students from across the nation and around the world.”

“We’re much more aggressive than we’ve ever been,” Espinoza said about his office’s approach to recruitment. “The change in admissions has piqued a lot of interest from prospective students, but as we instituted these changes, I think it also sends a stronger message of accessibility. We’re encouraging them to visit the campus more than we’ve done in the past. We’re presenting Virginia Tech as a much more welcoming institution regardless of background. That focus on accessibility is definitely being noticed by everyone — not just across the commonwealth, but across the country.”

The changes to admission resulted in a larger-than-expected enrollment for fall 2019. Espinoza said his office is hard at work to revise its procedures and formulas for projecting enrollment among future classes based on the strong response to offers made this past year.

Additionally, the university continues to build and implement strategies for managing the outcomes of its latest recruitment cycle that attracted one of the largest and most diverse incoming classes in its history.

Espinoza, however, notes that the enrollment challenges haven’t affected student interest.

“Is over-enrollment negatively impacting people’s interest? It’s clearly having the opposite effect,” Espinoza said.

In June, the most recent month with confirmed figures, 3,245 people visited campus — more than 1,000 more than in 2017 or 2018. Espinoza thinks that momentum will continue as word spreads.

“At the end of the day, it’s validation of our changes to make admissions more transparent and accessible,” he said.

Mason Adams