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 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Virginia Tech Admissions: Myth And Fact
or "If I were applying now I wouldn't get in..."

Livestock Update, September 2000

Cindy Wood, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

Over the past few years, we've heard more and more often about the difficulty of getting into Virginia Tech to study Animal and Poultry Sciences. The phenomenal success of the football team in 1999 has given rise to the expression "The Michael Vick factor" to help explain the large increase in applications last year, and an expected increase this year. Part of the increase is probably due to successful sports teams, but it is also very likely that the attendant publicity has exposed a well-hidden secret: Virginia Tech is a GOOD university that attracts bright, highly motivated students. There has been much press about the excellent average performance of freshmen entering Virginia Tech in fall 1999, and all this has led more than one alumnus to exclaim "If I were applying now, I wouldn't get in!"

Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

It is true that the standards for admission to Virginia Tech have risen over the years. It also is true, however, that many high schools are keeping pace in preparing their students for the competitive admissions procedures. For example, in 1999, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences freshmen had high school records that were on average as good as College of Engineering freshmen. Enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) courses has risen, as has dual enrollment of high school students in college-level community college courses. By carefully choosing courses throughout the high school years, students who want to attend Virginia Tech increase their chances of admission. Currently, Virginia Tech requires students to complete the following minimum high school coursework.

Table 1. High school coursework required or strongly recommended for admission to Virginia Tech.

Units    Subject
3Math (Algebra II and Geometry at least)
2Social Sciences (one must be U. S. History)
2Laboratory Sciences (biology, chemistry, or physics)
2Years of a single foreign language (highly recommended)
3Other College Prep courses (English, sciences, math, languages, fine arts, etc.)
4Additional electives towards graduation

Competitive students tend to have at least four years of math, three social sciences, at least three lab science courses, and three years of a foreign language. Grades of A and B are the norm, and students usually excel in at least one extracurricular activity. Thus, motivated students who follow a college-prep program in high school position themselves well to compete for spots at Virginia Tech. A student who excels in school and is an active participant in 4-H and/or FFA is the kind of student we love to see in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.

Other criteria for admission to Virginia Tech include SAT or ACT scores. Students are also encouraged to take the SAT II writing test. Virginia Tech encourages students to take these standardized tests more than once IF a student believes he/she can do better. The university considers only the highest score.

Admission to Virginia Tech is based on a combination of several performance measures. The three considered most heavily are SAT scores, class rank, and grade point average (GPA). Grades in college-preparatory courses receive more emphasis than elective credit grades. Students with high GPAs and class ranks can generally compensate somewhat for lower SAT scores because these students are considered to be over-achievers. Students with high SAT scores, however, generally cannot compensate for low GPAs and/or class rank (they are considered to be under-achievers). The bottom line is that it is extremely important for students to perform to their potential. For more information about freshman admissions, including an on-line application, go to on the web. Or you can call the Admissions Office (540-231-6267) and request that an application booklet be sent. Be sure to note that the deadline for freshman applications this year (2001) is January 15.

Unlike many universities which have set standards of admission (you meet them and you're in), Virginia Tech does not have hard and fast rules for minimum standards. Much of this is due to the enrollment cap in place at the university. Thus, not only is the combination of performance measures for each student important, but each student is compared to the applicant pool as well. As a rule of thumb, students should have combined SAT scores of at least 1050, a GPA of 3.2 or better, and be in the top 20 percent of their graduating class to be competitive for admission to Virginia Tech. Table 2 summarizes the profile of Animal and Poultry Sciences majors admitted for fall 2000. Many of these students also excel in extracurricular activities, so the message here is that academics must come first. Wholehearted participation in extracurricular activities, no matter how important, cannot compensate for less than stellar academic performance.

Table 2. Performance measures of Fall 2000 freshmen studying Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Performance Measure   Average   Range
SAT scores1138780-1450
Class rank (%)Top 16%1-46
Grade point average3.592.79-4.0

With freshman admissions standards getting higher and higher, transferring to Virginia Tech is becoming more and more attractive. In many cases, this path towards a bachelor's degree is a highly desirable alternative. Community colleges are generally cheaper and have lower admissions requirements than many four-year institutions of learning. In addition, classes tend to be smaller, which helps students receive more personalized attention from instructors. Finally, with some coordination and good communication, students can complete up to 60 credits that will transfer to Virginia Tech and count towards graduation. Thus, students can still complete a four-year degree in four years.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech has an articulation agreement with the Virginia Community College system. It guarantees that a student will be granted admission to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences upon completion of a core set of courses and an associate degree in science with at least a 2.5 GPA. There is a "Transfer Guide" (available on-line, from the Admissions Office, or at the local community college) which spells out the details on this program. The guide also has an extensive list of courses which will transfer to Virginia Tech. It should be noted that students do not have to complete two years before applying to Virginia Tech. Some students transfer to Virginia Tech after one year at the community college if they have the right combination of courses and grades. We strongly encourage students who are thinking about transferring into Animal and Poultry Sciences to stay in contact with our Central Advising Office so we can help them maximize the benefits of attending a community college before transferring to Virginia Tech.

Our Central Advising Office can be reached by e-mail at, on the web at, or by telephone at (540) 231-6936. If anyone has any questions about admission to Virginia Tech, send them our way. We would particularly like to hear from students with strong livestock backgrounds and solid academic performance in high school. We also welcome visits by prospective Virginia Tech students, either freshmen or transfer students, but do ask that appointments be set up ahead of time.

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