The Rotunda and Lawn at sunset Sanjay Suchak

Prospective UVA undergraduate students set records during the 2020-21 application season, submitting more than 47,800 applications—up 17 percent from the previous year. Application rates surged across all schools, with the School of Nursing, up 52 percent, and the School of Education, up 45 percent, seeing the biggest increases.

They rose among all races and first-generation, legacy and international students. Applications were up 22 percent from Hispanic students; 19 percent from Black students; 17 percent from first-generation applicants; 12 percent from foreign nationals; and 11 percent from legacies.

And they grew across all three application pools—early decision, which comes with a binding offer; early action, an early, nonbinding offer; and regular decision. In December, UVA sent admission offers to 968 early decision applicants and to 6,186 early action applicants. Offers will be extended to regular decision applicants in April.

UVA isn’t the only top school to see higher numbers of applications despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yale University, Duke University, Harvard University and Dartmouth College all saw spikes in early applicants. So did the University of Georgia and University of California institutions, among others.

Greg Roberts (Darden ’17), UVA’s dean of admission, predicted a more competitive admission cycle as more students are vying for about the same number of spots. He attributes UVA’s numbers to two things. Through virtual programs, admissions staff reached students who might not normally have been able to attend in-person ones, Roberts said. Even when in-person programs return, “virtual recruitment activities are here to stay,” he said.

And because of the pandemic, students weren’t required to submit SAT or ACT scores. About 43 percent of applicants chose not to submit test scores, Roberts said. “The elimination of the requirements for testing resulted in a dramatic increase in applications for all types of students,” he said.