Radford University sees record applications for fall 2017

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) More students are applying to Southwest Virginia universities than ever before. Radford University has already nearly doubled its applications from last year.

As of Feb. 10, 13,291 new freshman applications have been received, representing a 78.5 percent increase compared to last year’s total applications (7,447) and 62.2 percent more than the previous record of 8,192 total applications for the fall 2012 entering freshman class.

Enrollment staff members at Radford have been stepping up their game this year to attract both in-state and out-of-state applicants.

"We have done some new things with visitation programs. Our recruitment staff is even more engaged with perspective students, making outreach by telephone, email, texting, [and] we're very visible on social media," Vice President for Enrollment Management Kitty McCarthy said.

McCarthy is in her first year at Radford. She said there's not just a high quantity of applicants, but quality as well.

"We have seen the high school GPS increase and that indicates to us that students who have done well in high school are interested in Radford University," McCarthy said.

The academic profile, as measured by high school GPA average, of the new freshman applicants to-date increased by 1.9 percent compared to the average GPA of total applicants for last fall’s new freshman class.

Current Radford students all had strong reasons why they chose the Highlanders.

"My senior year in high school I decided I wanted to become a special ed. teacher. Radford has a really good education program and when I came on campus to tour, it felt like home," Sophomore Emma Sarbin said.

Radford University also is experiencing a 28 percent increase in transfer student applications to-date for the fall 2017 entering class, as compared to the number of fall 2016 class received at the same point in time, with a total of 936 applicants as of Feb. 10. That's not a new record, but it could be if that rate continues.

The transfer application process is ongoing and continues through the summer.

"My two years at [Virginia Western Community College] has really helped ease in the transition to Radford. I've already learned the basics there of how to treat college and how to approach all the work in classes," Transfer Student Kyle Grindsaff said.

Radford officials don't know if they can keep up this growth in applications. But they believe it helps solidify their standing as a strong Virginia university.

"Students have lots of choices and we're thrilled that Radford University," McCarthy said. "We want to be competitive with all of the universities in the Commonwealth."

Applications are still being accepted year round, but the school will need them in by early summer if they're being considered for this fall. McCarthy said there's no set number of spots for next year's freshman class. But based on these applications, it will likely be a new record too.

Other Virginia schools are still tallying their applications this year. Virginia Tech says the application numbers are up from last year and could surpass the record set two years ago. JMU has had about 1,000 extra applications so far. Numbers from Liberty University and UVA were not available.