The 20 Most In-Demand Colleges for Arlington’s Class of 2021

These schools received the most applications from APS seniors last year.
Lucidclick Khva7mlwd9g Unsplash

Virginia Tech was the most popular school for Arlington Public Schools seniors last year, who submitted nearly 600 applications to the Blacksburg university. (Photo by lucidclick on Unsplash)

For many high school seniors, March is more than just the start of spring—it’s also peak nail-biting season, as soon-to-be-grads await college acceptance, rejection, waitlist and deferral letters.

The competition has grown more nerve-racking of late as colleges and universities report a notable uptick in applications. In 2021, Virginia Tech pulled in nearly 600 applications from APS students, versus about 420 in 2020. Similarly, the University of Virginia saw more than 550 applications from APS students in 2021, compared with about 450 in 2020.  

Last year, as with 2020, the top six schools targeted by APS students were in-state, public universities. The focus on state schools may be due not only to the lower sticker price, but also to an increased desire among students and their families to remain close to home after two tumultuous years of an ongoing pandemic, says local college admissions consultant Eleanor Jones.

Jones says many of the students she coaches have wrestled with just how many schools they should apply to, as well as whether it’s in their best interest to submit SAT or ACT scores now that many schools are test-optional. The Common App, an application platform used by more than 900 schools across the country, has made the application process “easier now than ever,” says Jones, who formerly worked in admissions at Georgetown University and is the founder of Rigby. As a result, seniors are applying to more schools overall.

Test-optional admission, an outgrowth of the pandemic, was offered at more than 1,800 schools for fall 2022, and is a trend that’s likely to gain steam, she says, despite its complexities.

“At the end of the day, I think it adds another layer of debate with families,” Jones says. “Testing expenses can add up if you apply to more schools … or take the test a few times.” And some students are better test-takers than others.

While APS application data specific to this year’s seniors is not yet available, several of Virginia’s most coveted universities have already reported record numbers of applications from the Class of 2022.  (UVA has already announced that it accepted a record low percentage of applicants this year, though the number of in-state students who were offered spots held steady at 28%.)

Where have Arlington graduates been setting their sights? Below are the 20 colleges and universities that received the highest number of applications from APS’s Class of 2021. The application dataprovided by students from Arlington Career Center/Arlington Tech, H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, Washington-Liberty High School, Wakefield High School and Yorktown High Schoolwere drawn from our annual College Bound admissions chart, which ran in the Sept./Oct. 2021 issue of Arlington Magazine. Tuition and enrollment data are from U.S. News and World Report‘s annual Best Colleges rankings.


Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island

APS Students Applied: 91

APS Students Accepted: 2

Tuition & Fees: $62,404

Enrollment: 6,792


University of Colorado at Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

APS Students Applied: 92

APS Students Accepted: 65

Tuition & Fees: $38,312 (out-of-state)

Enrollment: 35,491


George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

APS Students Applied: 93

APS Students Accepted: 37

Tuition & Fees: $59,870

Enrollment: 11,762


Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

APS Students Applied: 93

APS Students Accepted: 16

Tuition & Fees: $59,816

Enrollment: 16,872


Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

APS Students Applied: 95

APS Students Accepted: 9

Tuition & Fees: $61,015

Enrollment: 14,743


University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

APS Students Applied: 98

APS Students Accepted: 19

Tuition & Fees: $53,232 (out-of-state)

Enrollment: 31,329


New York University

New York City, New York

APS Students Applied: 100

APS Students Accepted: 13

Tuition & Fees: $56,500

Enrollment: 27,444


Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

APS Students Applied: 102

APS Students Accepted: 50

Tuition & Fees: $37,712 (out-of-state)

Enrollment: 20,868


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

APS Students Applied: 110

APS Students Accepted: 11

Tuition & Fees: $36,776 (out-of-state)

Enrollment: 19,399


University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

APS Students Applied: 113

APS Students Accepted: 64

Tuition & Fees: $34,124

Enrollment: 19,197


University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 131

APS Students Accepted: 82

Tuition & Fees: $13,845 (in-state)

Enrollment: 3,993


Christopher Newport University

Newport News, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 171

APS Students Accepted: 99

Tuition & Fees: $14,924 (in-state)

Enrollment: 4,758


Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA

APS Students Applied: 173

APS Students Accepted: 102

Tuition & Fees: 11,520 (in-state)

Enrollment: 19,622


Pennsylvania State University

University Park, Pennsylvania

APS Students Applied: 204

APS Students Accepted: 110

Tuition & Fees: $36,476 (out-of-state)

Enrollment: 39,809


College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 337

APS Students Accepted: 110

Tuition & Fees: $23,812 (in-state)

Enrollment: 6,236


George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 390

APS Students Accepted: 214

Tuition & Fees: $13,119 (in-state)

Enrollment: 27,105


Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, University

APS Students Applied: 395

APS Students Accepted: 264

Tuition & Fees: $15,028 (in-state)

Enrollment: 21,943


James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 398

APS Students Accepted: 229

Tuition & Fees: $11,720 (in-state)

Enrollment: 19,727


University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 554

APS Students Accepted: 123

Tuition & Fees: $19,698 (in-state)

Enrollment: 17,311


Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

APS Students Applied: 594

APS Students Accepted: 189

Tuition & Fees: $14,174 (in-state)

Enrollment: 30,020

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