The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

UR admissions staff speak about pandemic's effects on college application process

<p>The front lobby of the Queally Center for Admission.&nbsp;</p>

The front lobby of the Queally Center for Admission. 

The University of Richmond's class of 2024 is composed of 811 students, which is just short of the Office of Undergraduate Admission's target enrollment of 815 to 820 students for this year's first-year class, Gil Villanueva, associate vice president and dean of admission, wrote in an email to The Collegian on Nov. 6.

Twelve additional first-years deferred their enrollment to spring and are expected to arrive on campus in January as members of the class of 2024 and 22 students deferred their enrollment to next fall and will join the class of 2025, Villanueva wrote. 

Stephanie Dupaul, vice president for enrollment management, said the deferral rate at UR did not increase as dramatically as it did at other universities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were very fortunate to bring in an amazing class," Dupaul said. "We had enrollment success when a lot of schools did not."

When the COVID-19 pandemic first surged in the U.S. in the spring, UR was close to finalizing its regular decision admission process for the class of 2024, she said. 

The Office of Undergraduate Admission staff recognized that students admitted to the class of 2024 might not be able to attend UR because of difficulties caused by the pandemic, such as limited international travel and the closing of international embassies, Dupaul said. However, the admissions staff decided to admit all of the students they originally planned to admit, she said. 

UR converted in-person and on-campus admissions programming to virtual events so prospective students could connect with UR after it closed to the public in March, Villanueva wrote. 

Prospective students were able to attend virtual information sessions focused on academics, admissions and financial aid, student life and UR's commitment to diversity and inclusivity, he wrote.

"For every college and university, student recruitment has been extra challenging because of the pandemic and the problems it has caused," Villanueva wrote. "The Office of Admission has not been able to host prospective students and families on-campus since March, and we know the important role campus visits play. But I’m very grateful for three things: our hardworking community, the admission team’s ability to be creative and innovate, and Zoom!"

Dupaul said the cancellation of in-person admitted students events was unfortunate, but approximately 75% of students admitted to the class of 2024 had already visited campus at least once.  

UR is receiving questions about how the COVID-19 precautions put in place have affected student life from students applying this year to be admitted into the class of 2025, Dupaul said. Dupaul expected fewer students would apply early decision to UR this year because of increased anxieties that the pandemic could interfere with students' decisions after the binding agreement is made, she said.

Jake Holm, a sophomore and the lead office assistant at the admissions office, said prospective students had expressed concerns about how the pandemic would affect their applications. 

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UR made the submission of standardized test scores optional for fall 2020 undergraduate applicants to relieve some of the stress of the college application process in the midst of the pandemic, as previously reported by The Collegian.

"Especially since we've become test-optional we've gotten a lot of questions about how it will affect the application [process]," Holm said. "Prospective students will be calling us a lot now asking questions about how else their application will be evaluated."

Some prospective students have expressed concerns about how the pandemic has affected their grades and the availability of extracurricular activities or employment opportunities, Holm said.

Holm said he personally estimated that 45% to 55% of applicants so far had submitted ACT and SAT scores.

Villanueva is not expecting a major change in the number of students applying to UR this year, he wrote.

"While it’s too early to tell [if fewer students are applying], my enrollment colleagues and I are encouraged by the current number of applications received for the class of 2025," Villanueva wrote. "Applications are currently up over last year at this time, but we still have a major application deadline remaining on January 1st. Transfer applications are also up. 

"I believe this good sign is a testimony to the University’s in-person fall semester, dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni, our compelling value proposition, strong national rankings, and the tireless efforts of the Enrollment Management Team to connect with prospective students and their families."

Contact investigative editor Morgan Howland at

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