by Suzanne Clavet
January 27, 2021
Despite the unprecedented challenges that come with managing admissions during a pandemic, the number of applicants this year for the William & Mary class of 2025 is 23% higher than last year, totaling approximately 17,400 applications compared to 14,200 last year. past.
It is the first time that enrollments for the undergraduate course exceed 15,000. It is also the first time that admission programs for the new class, including tours and interviews with students, have been conducted virtually. COVID-19 forced the Graduate Admission to completely reimagine its outreach, communication and recruitment efforts.
“As a result of the pandemic, this year has brought unprecedented challenges and uncertainties,” said Tim Wolfe, associate vice president for applications and dean of admission. “Despite this, I am pleased to see that not only have the overall numbers of our applications increased, but they also appear to be increasing consistently across all industries.”
In addition to a general increase, enrollments for first-generation students and blacks have also increased by more than 20%, said Wolfe.
“Seeing an exceptional and record-breaking pool of candidates ensures that the Class of 2025 will be incredibly strong and diverse,” said Wolfe.
An unparalleled application cycle
Wolfe noted several internal and external influences that probably contributed to the growth of applications, including that William & Mary offered a optional test application process for the first time this year. In addition, he said it is possible, with the pandemic and fewer opportunities for visits and outings on campus, for students to simply send applications to more schools this year.
Another potential influence, added Wolfe, was a deliberate and strategic approach by the Admissions Office to expand the digital reach for seniors in high school. He also noted that his team has reinvented admission campaigns this year to convey a strong sense of place to students who were unable to travel to Williamsburg. This included working closely with a newly formed team across the campus, focused on enrollment marketing projects, such as a new admission publication and an enhanced virtual tour experience.
Additional recent initiatives for the admissions office include exemption from registration fees for all first generation applicants eligible for Pell this year, a new partnership with the Posse Foundation that will make W&M the first university to work with Possession in Virginia high schools and sophomore fall programs for students on the waiting list who want to enroll in W&M in the spring. These programs include the option of enrolling in a two-year college in the fall or taking an international trip with credit through Education verto.
“Our focus is always on finding students with the best potential to thrive here and strengthen the William & Mary community,” said Wolfe. “That doesn’t change even in this unique application cycle.”
Pivoting during the pandemic
The pandemic definitely presents challenges, said Wolfe, noting that historically, on-campus visits and in-person interviews have been central to William & Mary’s recruiting efforts.
“Without a doubt, things have been different this year,” said Wolfe. “We had to turn. But we were able to implement highly adapted online programming – virtual panels, virtual tours and information sessions – that allowed us to not only reach more potential candidates, but also to further personalize this virtual experience for them ”.
Admission offers for new students will launch in late March or early April for an expected entry class of just under 1,600 students.
“Given the additional number of applications, we will read a lot in the coming weeks with some extremely difficult decisions to make, but it is a good problem to have,” said Wolfe.