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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Tech's newest students profiled

By Lisa Warren, Enrollment Services

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 13 - November 17, 1994

The Virginia Tech community welcomed 4,278 freshmen and 750 new transfer students this fall. The accompanying statistical profile answers some questions about who they are, where they come from, and what their interests are. In addition, some of the numbers illustrate interesting trends.

First, the university's Enrollment Committee established a target of 4,300 freshmen for fall 1994, and the actual number enrolling-4,278-was within one-half of one percent of that target. A total of 15,000 applications was received and reviewed in the process of selecting the fall '94 class. Over the past several years, the size of the freshman class has varied from 3,900 to 4,300, but five years ago it was exactly 4,300--roughly the same as this year, and current plans call for the fall 1995 class to be about the same size, according to David Bousquet, director of undergraduate admissions.

Second, Virginia residents comprise 75 percent of the class, while 25 percent come from out of state. This mix remains the same from year to year. It is helpful to keep in mind that out-of-state students pay at least 100 percent of the cost of their education at Virginia Tech. As state support declines and our costs remain fixed, the university has become more dependent on tuition revenue. In addition, having one quarter of the student body come from other states and other countries adds diversity to the campus community. These days, however, enrolling out-of-state students requires more effort than ever before.

"Demographics and economics are the main factors influencing our ability to recruit out-of-state freshmen," said Karen Torgersen, executive associate director of freshman admissions.

It is a well-documented phenomenon that high-school students who leave their home state to attend college tend to go south. In recent years, the number of high-school students in the northeast has declined, meaning there are fewer students who may be interested in attending college in Virginia. Add to this the significant tuition increases of the past several years, which make Virginia Tech less than the bargain it once was for out-of-state students, and the enrollment challenge becomes clear. To compensate for these factors, in the 1993-94 academic year, the admissions staff visited about 1,050 high schools, of which 700 were in states other than Virginia. Compare this to 1986, when admissions recruiters visited very few schools outside of Virginia, yet out-of-state students made up 24 percent of the freshman class.

Also due in large part to the rising cost of attending Virginia Tech, the "geodemographics" of the freshmen class seem to be changing as well. New York has moved up to pass West Virginia on the list of states supplying the most out-of-state freshmen, following Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the top three "feeder states."

Another trend worth watching is in the area of majors chosen by incoming freshmen. While general engineering and "undecided" are always popular choices for Tech freshmen, the relative popularity of other majors tends to be influenced in part by occupational outlook. Top areas for job growth through the year 2005, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, would include such fields as medical and health professions, computer science and engineering, and human services and psychology. The top 10 majors for fall 94 freshmen reveals heightened interest in some of these areas.

Statistical Data Description 1994

Enrolled freshmen 4,278

Enrolled transfer students 750

% of freshmen from VA 75

% of male & female freshmen 55-45

% of minority freshmen 13

Number of freshmen legacies 428

(legacy: mother, father, grandmother, or grandfather graduated from VT)

High schools represented

in the freshmen class 981

Top five feeder states

(Listed in order, with the number and percentage of students coming from each)

1. MD: 331 students (7.6 % of freshman class)

2. PA: 192 students (4.4 %)

3. NJ: 177 students (4.1 %)

4. NY: 74 students (1.7 %)

5. WV: 69 students (1.6 %)

Number of entering students

who are international 160

(note: 137 were resident aliens)

10 Most Popular Majors for Fall 94 Freshmen

1. General Engineering

2. University Studies (undecided)

3. Biology

4. Provisional General Engineering

(new category for freshmen in fall 94)

5. Business (general/undecided)

6. Computer Science

7. Psychology

8. Forestry and Wildlife Resources

9. Architecture

10. Accounting