How Can We Take In More People? A Lesson from Virginia Tech’s Enrollment Issue

Have we run out of room for people?

If you live in Southwest Virginia, you’ve heard by now about the little enrollment problem Virginia Tech has got itself into. This fall the university is about to take in an extra 1,000 or so students it didn’t plan on taking in.

As a result, plenty of solutions, from converting dorm lobbies into rooms to making deals with apartment and other housing officials. Then there’s the hotel solution.

As Robby Korth of the Roanoke times reports, a Holiday Inn Express just down the road from the university is about to make 200 rooms unavailable to accommodate for students. Assuming there are 2 beds to most rooms, 3 or 4 to others, that’d be about 400-500 of those 1,000 students who will stay at a single hotel. Just part of the school’s solution.

It’s a problem. During the year, 200 rooms will be unavailable to guests. But according to the Mongtgomery County’s tourism director, Lisa Bleakley, this great!

How?

For one, those 200 rooms are just under 10% of the available hotel space in the New River Valley. And that’s not even including Airbnb rooms.

It turns out, experts say that not only can the school find ways to adjust to the over-enrollment, but the town can still absorb plenty of visitors. The hospitality industry is filled with people who know how to handle a sudden influx, not to mention one they know is coming.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites - Eagan, MinnesotaPeople know how to accommodate. You an actually get an entire degree in that. At Virginia Tech, of all places. More people means a bigger market, and a bigger market means more available for more people.

About 5% of Virginia Tech students are from another country, mostly China. To take in an additional surplus of students sounds horrible, but it might reap astounding dividends in the future, if anything as a perfect case study. It also was not the first time this happened. In the first World War, the return home of soldiers caused a swell in enrollment.

I can’t help but think of how we address the issue of incoming immigrants into a country. We say we’re prepared for one number, but we end up with another number. At first, it looks like a problem. But with effort, communication, and genius, this opportunity drums up benefits for everybody.

We seem to run out of room for people. Until—would you look at that?—we actually do.

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