Early action application numbers down for black and international students compared to last year

The early action application closed Nov. 1

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Dean of Admission Greg Roberts says at first glance, there is a decline of applications from black and international students.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Despite the record number of early action applications submitted, the University received fewer applications from prospective black and international students for the Class of 2022 relative to last year’s early application cycle. 

While the numbers are not finalized, Dean of Admission Greg Roberts says at first glance, there is a decline of applications from these demographics. 

“We are slightly down in African-American students and we are more significantly down in international students,” Roberts said. 

It is unclear whether there is a link between the decline of these demographics applying and the white supremacist demonstration on Grounds on Aug. 11 and the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, but Roberts said that the admissions team that travels noticed an increase of questions about the events. He responded with a positive message to the prospective students. 

“Charlottesville is the center of the Universe right now when it comes to discussion about race at the moment, so our message was if you want to make a difference and you want to stand up for what is right and just, then this is a perfect place for you,” Roberts said. 

Associate Dean of Admissions Jeannine Lalonde, who also runs a popular admissions blog for prospective students, visits schools around the Commonwealth and the East Coast to answer questions from prospective students and give them admission tips about the University. She also noticed an increase in questions about the events of this past summer but said the majority came from out-of-state alumni who perhaps had not seen the changes the University made after the rally. 

“I think they’re up on what happened in August but they might not know about meetings and what’s happening day-to-day here and now,” Lalonde said. 

There has also been a significant decline in students taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language exam (TOEFL) — a standardized test that measures proficiency and mastery of English among non-native speakers who wish to attend English-speaking universities. 

The number of students taking this exam internationally is down by 60,000, according to Roberts. 

“I think this is probably a reflection of national policies and conversations coming out of Washington as much as anything else,” Roberts said. “My belief is ... something that most colleges and universities in the country will be dealing with this year is a decline in their international applications.”

Despite the decline in applications from black and international students, overall applications submitted are up five percent overall with 21,400 applications submitted for early action review. This is a record number of applicants for the early action program.

“We are seeing slightly over half of the applicants early,” Roberts said. “It’s a tremendous number of early applications … We do make a significant number of offers early.”

However, it’s hard to say whether the influx of early action applications will have an effect on the number of regular decision students applying. 

“We won’t know for a few months whether that is just students shifting from regular decision to early action or if that means an increase overall,” Lalonde said. 

The University admissions had used an early decision program prior to the early action program which was implemented in 2011. When the University was using the early decision program, they were receiving only about 2,500 applications early and could notify students before the holidays of their acceptance, Lalonde said. 

“I’d say between Thanksgiving and break, we were fine tuning, we were meeting in committees,” Lalonde said. “It was a much smaller process. We were a smaller staff back then too.”

Now, the admissions team has had to begin reading applications before the deadline due to the massive amount of applications received. 

“We started reading before the deadline because of the numbers. We have to start reading late October and I’ve been reading non-stop all week,” Lalonde said. 

Despite the largest number of applications, the admissions team still does in-depth reading about each application. The lengthy time between submitting an application and hearing back from the University disappoints high school students, Lalonde said, but gives the admissions team a better understanding of the applicant. 

“I don’t think they would want us to take the shortcut to get to a decision that quickly because for a lot of them, understanding the big picture is going to be really important, especially with all these schools that have different styles of curriculum now,” Lalonde said. “You can’t just make a decision based on data, that’s not giving you the full story.” 

Accepted students will be notified of their acceptance to the University around the end of January. 

Correction: This article previously misstated the number of black early action applicants in comparison to previous years. The article has been updated to note there were fewer black early action applicants this year in comparison to last year. 

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