As William & Mary prepares to celebrate its 329th year, the university is experiencing record-breaking interest in entry to the school. The Office of Undergraduate Admission received 18,050 freshman applications for fall 2022, a 3.5% increase from last year and a new record for the university. 

William & Mary also received a record number of Early Decision applications, a 5% increase from 2021. The total number of applications from underserved communities also rose, with a 10% increase in first-generation students, 7% in students of color and 14% in students using a fee waiver.

Last year, the university also saw a record-setting number of applications, with a 23% increase from the previous year.

“Following last year’s dramatic increase in applications, we didn’t know what to expect going into this year,” said Tim Wolfe, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of admission. “We’re delighted to see that when the dust settled, we experienced an additional increase in applications again this year, including record totals for our Early Decision programs and overall.  It’s also exciting to see this includes continued growth in applications from first-generation students and students of color.”

Wolfe attributes the increases to the university’s work to remove barriers and expand access by continuing to make standardized test scores optional and by expanding application fee waivers for first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students. While both efforts have been in place for a couple of years now, awareness of their availability is spreading, Wolfe said. Last fall, the university enrolled a record number of freshmen and new transfer students receiving federal Pell grants, a 32% total increase from the previous year.

Efforts by the Office of Undergraduate Admission to find innovative ways to reach prospective students within the ever-evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic also likely played a role in the increase, said Wolfe. The office started hosting in-person campus tours and information sessions in June while also continuing to offer some programming virtually. They also worked with campus partners to expand the university’s virtual tour.

“While the story of last year’s cycle was the need to pivot all prospective student engagement opportunities to virtual formats, the theme this year was one of balance — finding a way to build a connection with prospective students through both in-person and virtual events,” said Wolfe. “I can’t say enough about the work done by this admission staff and our partners across campus to restart outstanding on-campus visit experiences while continuing to develop meaningful virtual visit opportunities.”

Early Decision selections were announced in December and January, and the Office of Undergraduate Admission is currently reviewing regular decision applications for the fall. Those decisions are expected to be announced in late March.

“Building an entering class from such a large pool of applications won’t be easy, and we have many tough decisions in front of us,” said Wolfe. “I’m confident, though, this means we’ll have an incredible group of students to welcome to campus this August as the W&M Class of 2026.”

, Senior Associate Director of University News