Aug 2, 2023 - Education

Virginia Tech ends legacy admissions

Illustration of a graduation cap but the tassel is a ladder.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

One of the largest colleges in Virginia is making changes to its admissions policy to improve access for students from diverse backgrounds in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision striking down affirmative action.

Driving the news: Virginia Tech announced last week that it will end the early decision option and formally eliminate legacy as a factor in its admissions going into the 2023-24 admissions cycle.

  • The university also said it will comply with the court's ruling to remove race and ethnicity as admissions factors.

Why it matters: The change makes Tech the first university in Virginia since the June 29 affirmative action ruling — and fourth in the nation — to end the practice of giving preferential admission treatment to children of alumni, per Inside Higher Ed.

Studies suggest legacy admission disproportionately benefits white and wealthy applicants, Axios' Felix Salmon reports, and many colleges have begun reviewing their policies post-ruling.

  • On Tuesday, UVA — one of the most competitive schools in the state — announced it would drop a legacy "checkbox" from its applications, but it's adding an option for students to write an essay about their "personal or historic connection" to the school, per the Washington Post.

Worth noting: The end of early decision at Tech will likely have a stronger impact on students from lower income backgrounds than the legacy change.

  • Early decision tends to benefit wealthier students who can commit to a school without reviewing financial aid packages from multiple schools, Inside Higher Ed reported.
  • Plus, Tech says it's been deemphasizing legacy in recent years.

Zoom in: Tech has been making admission changes since 2018 in an effort to enroll more underrepresented students, including first-generation college and Pell Grant-eligible students.

Yes, but: Black and Latino students are still disproportionately underrepresented at Virginia colleges, including Tech.

  • Black and Latino Virginians are 34% of the state's college-age population but less than 25% of its college students, per the Times-Dispatch.
  • Tech's 2022 freshman class was 8.7% Black and 10.9% Latino.

Meanwhile, Tech has become increasingly popular — and competitive.

  • Tech received 47,000 first-year applications last year — a record for the school for the third year in a row, the Times-Dispatch reported.
  • Its most recent acceptance rate was 57%.
  • A decade ago, it had a 73% acceptance rate out of 21,000 applications.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Richmond.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Richmond stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Richmond.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more