Getting To Know: Virginia Tech-Again
Virginia Tech was a popular alternative to Rutgers back in “my day.” It did not cost much more for a Garden Stater to go there, even paying out-of-state tuition and fees. That’s not true today, although Virginia Tech is still a popular out-of-state option for New Jersey’s college-bound students. I updated my Virginia Tech Pinterest page since my last visit almost ten years ago.
Among schools that I have visited Virginia Tech is smaller, but similar to Penn State-University Park
It is in a smaller, but no attractive, and no less isolated setting with 10,000 fewer undergrads (30,000 vs. 40,000) and a smaller college downtown. But there is the same emphasis on a campus-based social life and football to bond the community. About a fifth of the students are both schools are involved in Greek social life.
The Hokies play in a smaller (65,000 seat) stadium, compared to over 100,000 seats at Penn State. But Hokie fans gets no less excited as their team takes the field. The Hokies had one of the best college football teams in the country from the middle 1990’s to the middle ’00’s. But they have not won a conference title since 2010, and they have not won a bowl game since 2016. However, the women’s basketball team just won it’s first-ever conference title in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the most competitive sports conferences in the country.
Those who get into Virginia Tech tend to stay.
At least 91 percent of every freshman class that has entered since 2010 returned for their sophomore year. According to the most recent data I could find, 68 percent of the freshmen who entered in 2015 graduated in four years. This is about equal to Rutgers and Penn State among flagship state schools.
Virginia Tech is a good value for Virginians, a fair value for out-of-state students.
The estimated resident cost of attendance for this academic year is between $32,000 and $34,000 depending on the academic program. That’s about the same that a full-pay New Jersey resident would pay to go to Rurgers. Non-resident estimates range from $53,000 to $55,000. That’s about the same that a New Jersey resident would pay as a full-pay student at Penn State-University Park.
However, only 11 percent of the freshmen who entered in 2021 received merit-based aid. The school met, on average, only half of estimated need for those who received need-based aid. The average merit award was approximately $3,500. 2021 graduates who took out loans owed, on average, just over $30,000.
Virginia Tech and Texas A&M are the only two national research universities in the country that continue to provide a civilian education and a military education.
Both schools have a Corps of Cadets, where membership was once required of all students. Also, like Texas A&M, Virginia Tech began its history as a center of agricultural and mechanical engineering education as well as a military academy. Virginia Tech’s original name was Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, aka Virginia A&M.
At least three traditions at Virginia Tech that date back to military education
Virginia Tech has an Honor Code, designates freshman class officers as class officers for all four years, and for life, and the Ring Dance, where the design of the senior class ring, directed by students, is unveiled during the spring of the junior year.
Virginia Tech is more likely to be thought of as a science and engineering school.
There is some truth to this, because a third of the undergraduate student body is enrolled in engineering. Nearly a quarter of the Class of 2021 graduated with an engineering degree, according to the school’s most recent Common Data Set.
However, just under a fifth of all bachelor’s degrees were in business majors. Fifteen percent were in agriculture, natural resources and family and consumer sciences, subjects that would be found in a school of agriculture.
Virginia Tech sets higher standards for engineering admissions.
From the recent counselors briefing I attended, Virginia Tech recommends at least a 680 on the Math SAT and the most rigorous math and science courses for engineering. Over half of those who apply to Virginia Tech get accepted, including engineering. One unique aspect to Virginia Tech is that there are also several minors in engineering, though some are restricted.
Those interested in Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering should take at least Calculus II before they come for freshman year.
Virginia Tech is also one of the rare state universities that uses Early Decision as well as Early Action.
Only a fifth of the class of 2025 was filled through Early Decision though over 60 percent were admitted through Early Action. Twenty-eight percent of all accepted students decided to come, an above-average yield for a flagship state university.
Virginia Tech also has restricted majors that have limited enrollments for first-year and transfer students. Architecture is one of the smaller, but most competitive programs for admissions; so are the programs in the visual arts. Building Construction is the only non-restricted engineering major.
Living options are more plentiful than prospective students might expect.
Virginia Tech can house about a third of the undergraduate student body, and offers residential college and living-learning options. Room and board costs are estimated to be just under $13,000. It is possible to share an off campus apartment or house for less than $400/month. But it is also wise to live within walking of distance of campus. When I visited I saw that student parking was really tight. However, the student reviews I read included complements about the dining services that I rarely see about a large state school.
Few public universities that I have visited have the level of campus pride that I found at Virginia Tech. This school has strong academics and brand recognition, especially if you want to work in the Washington DC metro area after graduation. If you want a challenging environment with spirit and sports, Virginia Tech might be your school, especially if you can get into the major you want.
Report Card: Virginia Tech
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: B (residents)/B (non-residents)
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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