Back in 1992, when the parents of some of today’s high school juniors were heading to college, the odds of getting into UVA weren’t bad. That year, UVA offered admission to 43 percent of the 12,318 students who applied—5,282.
This year, the offer rate was less than half that; UVA offered admission to a record-low 19 percent of the record-high 50,962 students who applied—9,522, itself a record high.
UVA is hardly alone in much bigger application pools and much smaller acceptance rates. Harvard’s acceptance rate dropped to 3.19 percent, Yale’s was 4.46 percent, Northeastern’s was 6.7 percent and Georgia Tech’s was 17 percent. Other highly selective colleges and universities have seen the same decadeslong trends partly because of the ease of online applications and intensified recently by test-optional policies that don’t require students to submit ACT or SAT test scores for admission. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made testing difficult, UVA is test optional through at least the 2022-23 application year.
Of course, numbers don’t console the students who didn’t get in. And Greg Roberts (Darden ’17), UVA’s dean of admission, told UVA website UVA Today earlier this year that he’s mindful of that too. “We are not able to offer admission to every accomplished and talented and deserving student given the large applicant pool and smaller number of spaces in the class,” Roberts told UVA Today. “We are mindful that this can be a very difficult time for students to whom we were not able to offer admission, and we are thinking of them as well.”
He noted that students who didn’t get in can attend another college for one or two years and transfer to UVA. Virginians on the College of Arts & Sciences’ waitlist also can attend UVA College at Wise for a year and automatically enroll at UVA if they finish 30 hours of transferable credits and maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better.
UVA has three admissions cycles—early decision, a binding admissions decision; early action, which provides early notification of UVA's decision; and regular decision. Among the cycles, UVA offered admission to 1,109 in the early decision phase; 6,243 in early action; and 2,123 in regular decision.