Nowadays, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is scrambling solutions to deal with a problem rather unusual to not only itself but almost any other university across the nation: An unpredicted popularity boom.
Mainly thanks to its headlining association with Amazon, one of the world’s largest technology firms, it is now facing a prospect of having to accommodate 1000 more new students than it planned next semester.
An unpredictably high number of some 8,000 students have accepted Virginia Tech’s admission offers this year. And the highest enrollment numbers were observed for software engineering and related computer sciences offering specializations in artificial intelligence, cyber-security and data analytics.
The university, however, had hoped to have an incoming pool of only 7,000 students, also expecting that about half a thousand of them would later drop out because of various reasons.
Caught off-guard as a result of the astounding demand it didn’t expect, the university has already proposed various incentives to around 1500 of them to agree to delaying their enrollments. Creative salesmanship is put to work to persuade those students to take gap years, start community college classes, study-abroad programs or internships.
If all goes well and as many students are convinced to take up scholarships offered to them, the university is expected to borne a total cost of more than $3 million on those financial incentives.
Blacksburg Housing Market Heats Up
Virginia Tech has its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, but also kicked off work to construct a second, $1 billion innovation campus in Potomac Yard, only a mile away from where Amazon will have its largest North American headquarters (HQ2) in Arlington last year.
This second campus will be completed by 2025 and until then new students apparently flocking to the university were planned to be accommodated primarily inside the current campus in Blacksburg. That, however, no longer may be a plan that could be accomplished and the university has already waived a requirement for freshmen students to live on campus.
With a population of less than 50,000, Blacksburg has over the past few years had a low rental vacancy rate and the market is set to experience a more significant demand for all the supply to be around.
In that, Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith is concerned. “We have three months to find some place to house all these freshmen. There aren’t places for people to go. They don’t exist, ” he was quoted as saying in a June 2 report by The Washington Post.
She, too, pins her hopes on Virginia Tech’s efforts to convince the excess students to somehow delay their enrollments.
“I do trust — I have faith,” she said of school officials. “I believe that they are scrambling to do every inventive thing that they can do.”
According to Data USA, in Montgomery County where Blacksburg is located, the median household income is slightly more than $50,000 and the median property value is $213,300. Thanks to the presence of Virginia Tech students, its population of nearly 100,000 people has a median age of 28.
The same online database shows Arlington County, on the other hand, to be home to older and far richer people. Its population of nearly 230,000 people has a median age of 34 and a median household income of $112,138. The median property value in this affluent area just outside of the nation’s capital is more than $640,000 as well.
When fully completed, Amazon’s HQ2 will employ some 25 thousand white collars at high-paying jobs in Arlington. Both that and the Virginia Tech’s new innovation campus sit perfectly well with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s desired doubling of the size of its tech-force population over the next two decades.