The University of Virginia, known colloquially as UVA, has long maintained its distinction as one of the select few “public Ivies” in America. But this moniker is, in fact, an understatement: UVA does not need any comparison to the League, because the overall excellence of its academics, campus culture, and opportunities speaks for itself.
Walk about the Grounds, the UVA campus, and you are bound to see students lounging over laptops throughout most of the year. The sprawling, wooded area may begin to feel like its own micro-state, as you see social groups flourishing, immersed in dialogue.
This atmosphere harkens back to the vision of the University of Virginia’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. Like UPenn’s own founding father, Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson had a pivotal role in shaping the university. In fact, he designed not only the original curriculum for UVA’s inaugural classes, but the architectural style of the campus buildings themselves. And both of these legacies have only continued to awe and inspire thousands of students from across the country (and the world) as the years have turned into centuries.
From an academic standpoint, UVA has particular strength in its undergraduate business program: a unique B.S. in Commerce. The university has stayed true to its liberal arts core by making this program a two-year finishing major, rather than a major that can be directly entered upon admission to the university. This enables students who are so inclined to explore more widely and stress-test their passion for business before getting into the nitty-gritty tricks of the trade.
For those not business-minded, UVA has countless compelling options for pathways to pursue. Engineers, nurses, political scientists, pre-med students, and those with interests anywhere in between will encounter a wealth of sophisticated classes and expert professors in their field.
Getting into a university so hallowed and versatile is far from easy. But if UVA is one of your dream schools, you should learn as much as possible about how you stack up to your competition. This will give you a strategic edge when considering how to distinguish your application. That’s why we’ve compiled UVA’s key admissions statistics here, below:
Class of 2025 Admissions Statistics
Admission, Class Entering Fall 2021
|Offers of Admission
|First-year students enrolled
Enrollment, Fall 2021
|Total on Grounds
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
|ACT composite scores
Note: Middle 50% range for SAT and ACT scores
The numbers are daunting to say the least. But they don’t always give the full picture. And they’re representative of macro trends in worldwide education that are outside any single person’s control. That’s why it’s more effective to first understand these numbers in context, then use your time to focus on preparing your own personal application as best you can.
Why was there such a big increase in applications?
The spike in application numbers was a trend across most elite American colleges and universities. The simplest explanation for this phenomenon is the decision for many top schools–including the University of Virginia–to remove the standardized testing requirement for applicants due to COVID. It’s logical that this change led to more students feeling they would be qualified for admittance to the university.
Beyond that, more students than usual who were admitted in the previous cycle deferred their enrollment, leaving fewer seats in the Class of 2025. Some students who’d applied the previous year even decided not to matriculate to any university, given the pandemic. Instead, they chose to take a gap year and reapply to their dream schools. Finally, students are continuing to apply to more and more schools, as evidenced by the 11% increase in applications submitted through the Common App despite an increase of only 2% in the total number of applicants (a trend reflected also in the UC application system).
All of these factors, among others, contributed to the massive growth in the number of applications to top universities like the University of Virginia.
What do you need to apply to the University of Virginia?
The University of Virginia uses the Common Application. Creating an account and filling in all the basic information on this platform is an important first step toward getting your application done, and will help you familiarize yourself with just how much personal information colleges are assessing when making admissions decisions.
In the Common App, you’ll complete an application package with many components that are designed to give the admissions committee ways to gauge your fit both quantitatively and qualitatively. That means there is a significant focus on storytelling—through essays, recommendations, supplemental materials, and in some cases interviews—but also on demonstrable achievements. To apply Early Decision or Early Action, you’ll need to submit your entire application package by November 1. If you intend to apply in the Regular Decision round, your application will be due on January 5.
Here is the full list of what you will need in order to apply to the University of Virginia:
- The fully filled out Common Application, including the Activities List
- A Personal Statement, also known as the Common App Essay: up to 650 words on your personal story
- Official Secondary School Forms and Transcripts
- An application fee of $75, or fee waiver supporting documents
- Recommendations from one counselor and one core academic teacher
- Mid-year reports
- Final transcripts (when available)
- Standardized test scores (optional until 2023)
- Supporting documents for in-state privileges (only if requested)
- Art supplements (optional)
Depending on what program or college you are applying to, you may be required or encouraged to submit additional supplementary materials. For the full detail on these requirements, see the University of Virginia’s comprehensive page on Admissions Deadlines and Instructions.
How can you get into UVA?
There are a variety of ways a top high school student can approach applying to UVA so as to maximize their chances of admission. The specific decisions of what to highlight and how to make it unforgettable boil down to individual life stories and circumstances that have shaped you into who you are today. That crucial piece of the application—the storytelling—can only come from intensive reflection and earnest hard work.
However, there are certainly decisions you can make to position yourself to submit a profile that bolsters your personal story and provides you top ratings on several of UVA’s criteria:
- Plan ahead to take the most challenging courses offered at your school (and beyond). Make sure these courses are aligned with the academic paths you believe you are likely to pursue in the future. If you are interested in becoming an engineer, for instance, you should have especially robust experience in advanced STEM courses.
- Demonstrate your talents or hobbies through pursuing them in new ways and using them to connect with other communities. Compose meaningful stories about these experiences and how you will bring them to the University of Virginia community.
- Really learn about Charlottesville and the University of Virginia’s culture: subscribe to mailing lists about local events, watch YouTube vloggers who document their experiences in the city, follow famous cultural institutions on social media, and more.
- Consider honestly how a rural campus environment will work best for you as a learner and person: what about UVA’s setting draws you to it?
- Research the facilities, programs, events, and traditions that UVA proudly promotes; speak to current students about these experiences, if possible.
- Challenge yourself intellectually, professionally, and socially in demonstrable ways.
- Practice telling adults about who you are and what you care about—make sure to note their confusion or excitement, and use this implicit feedback to improve your storytelling.
- Invest significant time in writing and revising your supplemental essays to be as compelling and memorable as possible—do thorough research and carefully consider which of your communities has shaped you most
- Explore your academic passions beyond your coursework, ideally through research or other projects that show you wrestling with big questions or problems.
- Connect with UVA admissions officers who visit your school or area and ask them relevant, specific questions about your own profile’s match with the university.
- Seek to understand problems in your community and the world. Be proactive in formulating solutions that are ambitious but achievable. Then, work toward implementing these solutions in a way that integrates modern science and technology.
If you’re able to demonstrate your connection to UVA’s distinctive offerings, achieve an outstanding GPA in the hardest classes, engage meaningfully with personal interests and community problems, and take charge of your own goals by acting on your principles, you’ll set yourself up to submit an application that will impress the UVA Admissions Committee. None of this is easy, but if you’re deeply motivated to be at the University of Virginia, use every tactic we’ve listed above in order to show it.