Business as Usual

Lexi Nahl

The class of 2020 could be the most impressive freshman class the University has seen yet. This year, the University received a record 17,270 applications from prospective students. In response to increased interest, the University’s acceptance rate dropped to roughly 43 percent from the 49.3 percent rate reported in 2015. 

Additionally, this year’s freshman class boasts a GPA range between 3.80-4.23 on a weighted 4.0 scale. Standardized test scores were also higher than usual, with an SAT range between 1370-1480 on an updated SAT scale of 1600. This compares with last year’s average SAT score of 1370, according to the online standardized test program, “PrepScholar.” 

The 1,676 new members of the Villanova community include athletes, artists, scholars and dedicated community members. One orientation counselor, Addie Doyle ’19 called her group of freshman, “very genuine and kind people.” Doyle described being surprised by the diversity in her group, noting “each member of [her] group was so unique and brought something different to the table.”

Michael Gaynor, Director of Admissions at the University, provided The Villanovan with statistics that reflected this increased diversity. 

According to Gaynor, 53.9 percent of the new freshmen are women and 46.1 percent are men. They hail from 43 states and 14 international locations. Additionally, more than a fifth of the freshman class is multicultural, more than a quarter have a VU alumni affiliation (14 percent are direct legacies, meaning a mother, father or both parents attended the University) and nine percent are the first generation in their family to attend college. 

Financial aid packages were awarded somewhat more conservatively than usual. This year, an impressive $107.6 million was budgeted for need and non-need based undergraduate financial assistance, and of this total, only about $18.7 million was accepted by enrolling freshmen in need-based Villanova Grant assistance, according to Bonnie Behm, Director of Financial Assistance at the University. 

Behm said 88 percent of students who applied for institutional aid and demonstrated need were able to receive a need-based “Villanova University Grant.” However, the average grant bundle awarded per-student this year was more modest than usual. 

The average need-based Villanova Grant awarded per-student this year was about $27,672, according to Behm. This number is slightly under the $37,731 average need-based aid package awarded to University students each year.

Still, Gaynor is convinced that incoming freshmen had good reason to choose Villanova over other schools. 

“Our students are bright and bright eyed, spirited and spiritual,” Gaynor said. “They are choosing the Villanova community to build upon the strong values already instilled by their families at home.” 

The recipe for catching the eye of admissions officials like Gaynor: turning conflict into inspiration. 

According to Gaynor, admissions officers are “very moved by compelling life circumstances, strength of character, perseverance and resiliency.” 

According to Gaynor, strong academic performance is still the number one criterion in selecting candidates for admission. 

After checking off the standard ‘boxes’ for academic excellence, the committee “selfishly looks at well-rounded students who will contribute to our community by reviewing their activities resume to see how they utilize their free time outside the classroom and what they are passionate about,” Gaynor said. 

According to Gaynor, waitlist activity was also “extremely limited” this year. This past year, roughly 2,400 students proactively chose to remain on the Active Waiting List. This compares with the 1,200 students who accepted spots on Georgetown’s waitlist in 2015, according to Georgetown’s newspaper, The Hoya. 

If the University’s monstrous 2016 waitlist is any indication of heightened interest from the class of 2020, one can only begin to imagine how that number will grow for the class of 2021. Though the NCAA Championship came well after the January 15th deadline, this new athletics title (coupled by a top ranked business school according to Bloomberg and an impressive overall ranking by the U.S. News & World Report) could change the landscape of recruitment for the next round of freshmen.

Dean Kenefick, Associate Athletics Director/Communications, believes that the Athletics program is now so competitive that potential new students will inevitably be attracted to the University and could face even tougher enrollment prospects. 

Of the 24 sports teams on campus, the basketball team is one that offers full scholarships to all of its players.

However, it is unlikely that prospective students need the same amount of enticing as they have in prior years thanks to the National Championship. Kenefick suggested that an elevated interest in Villanova athletics could make spots on the team and scholarship programs through the athletics department increasingly competitive for the next set of incoming freshman.