Virginia universities increasingly eyeing guaranteed admissions
Enrollment increases create housing challenges for some institutions
As Virginia Commonwealth University rolls out a program that grants admission to any high school senior with a certain GPA, it’s the latest school to face challenges ensuring its facilities and infrastructure can keep up with the influx of students.
VCU, along with George Mason University and at least four other Virginia universities, have begun offering guaranteed admissions to address declining enrollment numbers and help bolster populations of underrepresented students.
“While this is launching as a pilot program, we do expect an increase in admissions,” said Michael Porter, a spokesman for VCU. “Short term, we are working across the university to anticipate and address housing needs, including how we allocate residence hall space.”
Virginia public universities previously offered guaranteed admission to students who completed two years of study in the Virginia Community College System and had a certain GPA. But schools are increasingly eyeing more expansive programs that target high school students.
Enrollment at Virginia’s public colleges and universities has steadily declined overall to a low of 368,174 students in the fall of 2021 from 409,075 in 2012, according to data collected by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the coordinating body for the state’s colleges and universities.
There have been some rebounds. The enrollment totals rose to 369,813 in fall 2022. And since the pandemic, some schools have seen enrollment increases, with student bodies growing at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, George Mason University, William & Mary and Norfolk State University between the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2022, according to data collected by SCHEV. But that growth hasn’t been uniform: VCU lost approximately 1,000 students during the same period.
Universities and colleges “know the demographics, they know what’s happening, and so they’re making adjustments based on what they think they need to do to maintain their enrollments or if they’re looking to grow,” said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for SCHEV.
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