Virginia Tech makes application process more inclusive

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- Beginning August 1, Virginia Tech will roll out a new application with different essay questions that will allow students to communicate things that don't show up in test scores.

"We're really doing a complete revamp," said Interim Director of Undergraduate Admissions Juan Espinoza. "We're really looking forward to trying to reinvent the admissions process here at Virginia Tech."

The new process is part of the university's goal that by 2022, 40 percent of its student body will be underrepresented, first-generation or lower-income students.

"It's also making sure that we're looking at the applicant, not only as a student in the classroom, but also as an individual outside the classroom and the characteristics and leadership skills they might have," Espinoza said.

Besides the changes to the application, the new admissions process will also allow students to self-report their transcripts and test scores, making Virginia Tech the first university in the state to do so.

"It gives them ownership in this part of the process to make sure everything that is required for an admissions decision is submitted right away," Espinoza said.

Once a student is enrolled, the school will then verify to make sure the self-reported transcripts are accurate. The school said it's about expanding opportunities, not lowering standards.

"We're looking at the application process, and we're identifying every barrier throughout the process, and we're doing everything we can to remove barriers," Espinoza said. "So if the application fee is a barrier, we're trying to make sure that students who aren't able to afford that are still able to apply."

The new application was developed by the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, a group of colleges and universities dedicated to "increasing students’ access to higher education," according to its website.