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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Impact of Snow Days (and Snail Mail Submissions)

Did you know that admission officers tend to dislike snow days?

We had a pretty quiet winter in Virginia up until about a week ago. Mother Nature decided to finally let us have a taste of what our friends up north are experiencing and sent us some snow. Schools around the Commonwealth were closed and we know that other regions have been experiencing snow closings away well.

We don't have many snow days at UVa (there was a stretch were we were convinced that UVa just didn't close at all!). CavDog never understands why people complain about going out in the fluffy stuff, but he doesn't have to shovel or commute. He also doesn't know that snow days affect when we release admission decisions.

When schools are closed, that means your counseling staff isn't in the office. When the counseling office is closed, that means mid-year reports aren't being sent to us. So we become stuck. Without mid-year grades, we don't have any new information when we review deferred applications that were moved from Early Action to Regular Decision. Without mid-year grades, we can't finalize a Regular Decision application.

In a couple weeks, when people start asking when we'll be done with the process, I'll probably refer them back to this point.

What's more, many districts still don't allow or have the capacity for the online submission of mid-year reports. We asked for mid-year grades to be sent to us by February 15th and we imagine that some of them are sitting in bins of mail that couldn't be transported due to the snow. Our staff has resorted to calling counselors to ask them to read grades to us over the phone so we could move forward with reading a file.

Please enjoy your snow days and bear with us as we work through all of your applications. As always, we aim to release early, but April 1st is the official notification day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sending Updates to UVa

If you follow me on Twitter or have been reading the blog for a while, you probably know that I have repeatedly mentioned that application updates need to be sent to or our general mailing address (we prefer email since we are paperless) and not to individual deans and admission counselors. I took a picture that explains why. Here is the mail that was waiting for me one morning:

The envelopes inside the FedEx packages had my name on them, so our staff needed me to open them.

 During the busiest part of the reading season, admission officers read files away from the office. Just like you might go to the library to get away from distractions, it helps us to be away from email, phone calls, and drop-in visitors (some don't seem to believe that we don't use interest and want to say "hello" to the person who manages their territory). In addition, not spending time getting ready and commuting to/from Grounds (and then parking a mile away and walking up to Peabody Hall) gives us more time to focus on applications. Admission officers around the country are doing this...not at every school, but at many.

So when you mail something directly to an admission officer, it may sit in their mailbox for a few days because they are reading outside of Peabody Hall.

The items in my mailbox might have been filed by now if they hadn't been sent directly to me because I wasn't reading in Peabody last Friday.

Please make sure you are sending updates to our general mail and email addresses. They have always been on the bottom of our website and on our contact page.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It's EA Flip Time!

We are starting to roll the applications of those we deferred during the Early Action round over to Regular Decision. If you are an EA Defer, your decision is disappearing so we can put you into the RD pool. If you were admitted or denied during Early Action, you shouldn't notice any changes.

Mid-year reports have been rolling in for the last week or so and we know this will continue for a while. If you were offered admission during EA or have an active application right now (which covers EA defers and RD applicants), we need your mid-year reports. Applicants, remember that these are sent by your counselor, so keep focusing on your school work.

RD folks, we've emailed you several times if you are missing a mandatory component of your application. If we don't have the testing, transcript, or teacher rec about which we emailed you by Thursday, we're moving on.

By the way, some amazing work is happening at the Rotunda this week. The carrara marble capitals that were made to replace the ones that have been crumbling are being installed! There's a great slideshow on the UVA Today website.


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Regular Decision Status Page Update

It's about the time that Regular Decision applicants should be taking a look at their status pages in SIS to make sure we have all of their required credentials in our office. We'll be emailing anyone who is missing a document just in case they aren't monitoring SIS.

As a reminder, mid-year reports probably won't get checked off for another couple weeks, so don't worry if that is on your "to-do" list. Your counselors will be sending those in as soon as your school has them ready.

RD students, the next several weeks are going to be tough. The admission office hunkers down to read and there aren't as many updates to report. The EA students experienced this in December and January. Now it's your turn to experience the wait. My advice: keep your head down and get your school work done. It's really tempting to day-dream about where you'll be next fall, but this last semester is really important in preparing you for a great transition to the more advanced work in college. this case, to go outside to play on the Lawn.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars

Invitations into the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs are going in the mail today! Scholars get some nice perks during their time at U.Va. and you can read about them on each program's website.

Every applicant to the College of Arts and Sciences was automatically considered for the Echols and College Science Scholars program and every applicant to the School of Engineering was considered for Rodman. We will do another round of invitations during the Regular Decision process.

If you are not invited to join as an incoming student, you can self-nominate to join one you are here (see each program's website for specific information).

There is a fourth scholars program, Miller Arts Scholars. You can apply to be an Arts Scholar in your second semester. The selected group usually consists of students studying studio art, music, drama, and dance.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

UNOFFICIAL Early Action 2015 Statistics

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVa. They take a census in October to determine the final statistics for the class. You can see official admission data in the data digest part of their website.  Obviously, what happened in past years isn't going to predict the future, but some people have fun playing around with the different charts on their site. 

Here are some unofficial numbers about the early action process. These numbers are up to date as of this morning. If you are a reporter, please contact the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for current, official information and all of your reporterly needs. :)

Early Action Applications
Total number of Early Action applications: 16,092
Total number of VA apps: 4,349
Total number of OOS apps: 11,743
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.


Early Action Offers
Overall offers: 4,856
Total VA offers: 2,044 (47% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 2,812 (23.9% offer rate)
*Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.
Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency (these numbers are for the entire applicant pool, not just early action). 

Early Action Defers
Overall defers: 3,963
Total VA defers: 1,048
Total OOS defers: 2,915
Some applicants will withdraw, so these numbers will go down.

Early Action Testing/Rank
Middle 50% SAT score (offers only): 2010-2270
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 31-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

95% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class 
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank.

Please understand that I do not have additional statistics. We are now immersed in the Regular Decision review process. There will be a post about scholars programs tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Days on the Lawn 2015 Dates

Happy Tuesday! I am working on generating some Early Action admission statistics and should have them soon. For now, I thought I'd share the dates that we'll be holding our admitted student open houses, Days on the Lawn.

DOTL is not required, but it's a chance to "kick the tires" and experience UVa in a deeper way than you may have if you visited us to attend an information session and take a tour. Admitted students can attend classes, tour residence halls, eat in the dining hall with a current student, and meet with staff members from different offices around the Grounds at a resource fair. There are also sessions about academics, student life, and resources for parents during DOTL (since parents don't go to class with the students).

Admitted students will get an email when registration opens. For now, think about which DOTL dates might fit into your schedule if you want to make a return visit to UVa before May 1st.
2015 Days on the Lawn 
Monday, March 30
Friday, April 3
Monday, April 6
Wednesday, April 8
Thursday, April 9
Wednesday, April 15
Friday, April 17
Monday, April 20
One of the things that I love about DOTL is seeing students who "met" each other via the class' Facebook page or other social media channels getting to spend time together in person. I feel like our classes show up more connected to each other than ever before because they get to know each other before they step foot on Grounds!

 DOTLs are CavDog's favorite days of the year

Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's Talk About #UVA19 Decisions: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2019 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students. Parents, you can check out the UVa Parents Page.

I'll have post about Days on the Lawn, our admitted student open houses next week. Just for reference, below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, you will see a button to let you pay your tuition deposit online*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to make your decision about whether you'll come to UVa or not. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer immediately via your self-service page.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVa!
When the Rotunda is restored, I'll retake this picture!

*We have an e-check system for deposits.  You'll type in the numbers on the bottom of a check.  The system will take certain kinds of credit cards, but it's primarily an e-check system.  Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker when you go to pay the deposit!

Let's Talk about #UVA19 Decisions: The Defer

Students who were deferred can use this entry to talk.

This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school after applying under Early Action. Once your mid-year grades arrive, your files will be reviewed again during the Regular Decision round. At this point, you should simply make sure your mid-year report is sent when the grades from the first semester or second trimester are ready.  Most of your counselors will do this automatically.

Feel free chat here. You should have already seen the link to the defer FAQ page, which answers the most common questions.

CavDog hopes you find a peaceful place to wait

Let's Talk about #UVA19 Decisions: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I'm sorry this sort of entry is needed. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. If your immediate reaction is "I'll transfer", don't let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as "home" and can't imagine leaving it after a little while. Give yourself time to explore you options.

Remember that this decision is probably about our numbers. You didn't do anything "wrong" (a common question). I'll leave you until tomorrow, when I'll be back to answer questions.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.

BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don't want the messages anymore, there's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page. 

Early Action Notification Update! #UVA19

Though we post that Early Action notification happens at the end of January, it's no secret that if we finish the review early, we release the decisions instead of waiting. It seems as though everyone has analyzed my past posts every which way and you know that we aim to finish up by the end of a week and we generally post decisions in the evenings.

Our counselor friends (and our staff members) want you checking your decision at home, where you won't have an audience of classmates and a parent is standing by to give you a big hug regardless of your decision. That's more likely to happen in the early evening on a Friday (we've actually consulted a lot of counselors about this).

So my anti-climatic announcement is that we are releasing decisions tonight! Please keep reading! I have a few notes...

1. The release is always exciting, but some of you aren't going to get the decision for which you hoped. I hope you'll focus on the college options you have instead of the ones you don't at the end of the day. I hope those of you who get offers will celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.

2. Some time tonight (this is handled by the tech people these days and I don't control the exact time), the "View Decision" link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter. If you can't find your login info for the SIS, use the links on the login page to generate a new password. A welcome mailing with info about next steps will come later for those who are admitted. Please do not open multiple windows or constantly hit refresh. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window. Set a time tonight when you'll check and do something offline until then.

3. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments. Feel free to flag a comment if you need me to step in. That notification will go to my phone. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA19 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVa community. Some of you seem to be using that tag already!

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). School-specific statistics like GPA and rank are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. GPAs are meaningless without the high school profile's explanation of the methodology used to calculate them. What's more, there have been times when enough information about an applicant has been shared that their classmates could identify them.

5. Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by mail next week. Posts about deferral, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), an EA statistics will come next week. We are moving into Regular Decision reading now and we have to do this all over again. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.

THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog so far this season. I feel lucky that I get to stay connected with our applicants throughout the reading season via social media.

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. You're going to learn from amazing, inspirational professors, administrators, and peers. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all nighters studying. You're going to pull all nighters not studying. You're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably sometimes. What's going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not necessarily your location when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVa. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.

Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you'll continue to comment and stay in touch.

It's a big night and I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caption This, Part 4

When the comments show that people are getting a little antsy, I often post pictures and we play "caption this." I suggested we play in the comments the other day and I got a reply that there was interest, so here we go.

In the comments, you can submit your most clever/interesting/hilarious caption for the photo I post. Use the up arrows on the comments to "like" the captions you find amusing.

Professor Lou Bloomfield

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Caption This, Part 3

When the comments show that people are getting a little antsy, I often post pictures and we play "caption this." I suggested we play in the comments the other day and I got a reply that there was interest, so here we go.

In the comments, you can submit your most clever/interesting/hilarious caption for the photo I post. Use the up arrows on the comments to "like" the captions you find amusing.


Caption This, Part 2

When the comments show that people are getting a little antsy, I often post pictures and we play "caption this." I suggested we play in the comments the other day and I got a reply that there was interest, so here we go.

In the comments, you can submit your most clever/interesting/hilarious caption for the photo I post. You can use the up arrows on the comments to "like" the captions you find amusing.

Caption This, Part 1

When the comments show that people are getting a little antsy, I often post pictures and we play "caption this." I suggested we play in the comments the other day and I got a reply that there was interest, so here we go.

In the comments, you can submit your most clever/interesting/hilarious caption for the photo I post. Others can use the up arrows on the comment to "like" the captions they find amusing.

Edgar Allen Poe's statue in Alderman Library

Monday, January 19, 2015

Emails, Letters, and Brochures, Oh My! (College Mailings)

A friend of mine has a son in 10th grade who recently took the PSAT. She shared a screen shot of his inbox yesterday, which prompted me to write this entry. The picture shows a slew of emails from colleges. Some of the subject lines:

"You've impressed us"
"___ University has selected you"
"An exclusive invitation from ____ College"
"Great work, [Student's Name]!"
"[Student's Name], you've caught my attention."

If you're a senior, I'm sure you roll your eyes at some of this stuff by now, but for a 10th grader (and a 10th grader's parent), it can be kind of exciting! Some of those subject lines sound pretty awesome.

I applied to college before email (I got my first email address in college!) and I still remember the first brochure I got. I don't remember the name of the school, but the brochure had a pile of beautiful, red apples in a silver, Revere bowl. It made me feel special and wanted. A month later, the brochures were coming daily. I'd flip through some and recycle others without much more than a cursory glance.

Can we go outside to play instead of reading all that mail?
What's point? Well, obviously there are schools with which you might not be familiar sending you things in hopes that you'll take a look at what they offer. Then there are the schools that get lots of applications that might want more students from certain places or with certain interests (maybe that's why two schools known for engineering came after my liberal arts-loving heart when I was in high school!). Still others might have been charged with increasing their overall numbers so they can be counted among the most selective schools in the country.

Technology has improved so much over time that many colleges can personalize what they send you, which can do two things: catch your eye (how did they know that about me?) and creep you out (wait...WHY do they know that about me?). Most of this info comes off your PSAT registartion and is given to the schools when they buy mailing lists from the Student Search Service. There are other sources of mailing lists for students, but SSS is the original and still dominant one.

In undergraduate admission at UVa, we have a publication budget that allows us to send some mailings, but not as many as some of our peers. We do send emails, since the cost is an upfront investment in a communication system. We try to keep them reasonable (monthly newsletters plus application announcements), but feel free to tell me otherwise and I'll share the feedback. There are always links at the bottom of the emails that will opt you out of future communications.

Anyway, seniors, it might be a nice time to reflect and share some advice with the students who are coming behind you. Juniors are starting to make lists and sophomores are starting to do their research. They could benefit from what you've learned!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Status Page Reminders and Sending Application Updates

It's the time in the season when both Early Action and Regular Decision applicants are keeping a close eye on their status pages. I thought I'd go over some of the questions that seem to come up the most.

1. My application is incomplete because my Mid-Year Report isn't ready!

We know there's no way counselors can submit this around the deadlines, but we put that item on your "to-do" list from the start so you are aware that this component will be required. When the only thing on your list of missing items is that report, you have nothing else to do!

2. I requested a transcript weeks ago and it's missing!

Just after the deadline, we have a deluge of credentials to file and match to applicant records. Regular Decision applicants shouldn't be worrying about missing items at this point if they requested that they be sent. Give us a little time to process everything and we'll be in touch if we are missing anything in a couple weeks. Don't send duplicate documents unless we contact you requesting them! That just slows the processing down.

3. I found a huge mistake! I uploaded the wrong version of my essay!

I feel like this has become more and more common in recent years. Students are sleep deprived, they have a lot to juggle, and they are often working on applications in the wee hours. Email us at and include your name, date of birth, and high school along with the essay.

Any application update should be sent to Some students have taken to emailing half the office with their update when using that one address (which is on the Contact page of our website) is the fastest way to get new information into your application file.

Duplicates? Can you tell which one is CavDog?

Monday, January 05, 2015

Two Reasons the Early Action Review Take So Long

Most of the blog comments, tweets, and emails I've gotten from Early Action applicants in the last few days have inquired about our release date. We officially say that decisions are posted by the end of January. The timing isn't a strategy, it's a necessity. 

1. We have a small staff

We have about a dozen people who process and file documents. They had all EA and RD documents that were submitted by mail filed before we closed to the office for a three-day Christmas break. Since the 29th, they've been back at it.

There are about 18 admission officers reading full time between late October and late March to review applications. That's a fairly small staff for our applicant pool (when this blog started, we were able to send decisions to our much smaller early pool in December). We've been told that many of our peers have double the number of staff members we do OR have dramatically different review procedures that allow them to move through the bulk of their applications more quickly.

2. We read our applications. All of them.

Though our office went paperless years ago, our review is still fairly "old school." There are no preliminary rounds where certain GPAs or test scores get applicants tossed to a deny pile (remember what I've said about GPAs). We don't score application components or use a rubric to render our decisions. If we did those things, perhaps we'd be able to have a six or eight week turnaround, but much of the application is prose and much of our review is done in prose as well.

Even though it takes a lot of time and results in us pulling crazy hours during the application reading season, I feel good about our review. While the transcript, showing four years of academic development, is the largest piece of the puzzle, our in-depth review allows me to understand more about you. I get to hear about the topics that excite you, the experiences that have influenced you, and the obstacles some of you have had to overcome.

We're building a class through this review. This isn't just about admitting qualified students. After all, the majority of applicants are qualified...that's why they are filling out the application. But we don't have the space for all the qualified students who apply, so we have this review to select a great class out of this great applicant pool.

I know this wait is hard. We are moving as quickly as possible without sacrificing the review. Hang in there!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Regular Decision Deadline Tonight!

The Regular Decision deadline is tonight! If you are still putting the finishing touches on your application, don't wait until the last minute. There are lots of schools with January 1st deadlines and the Common App website is apt to have a lot of traffic on it today. Submit with plenty of time to spare in case something goes wrong and you need to submit a help ticket to the Common App team!

After you submit all required parts of the Common App (when we say "Common App," we mean the general app, the UVa section, and the payment), Common App will send the application to us. Within five days of that, our computer system will send you login information. The system is called SIS and that is where you'll monitor your application and your financial aid documents (if you submit them). Read more in the "After You Submit Your Application" section of the application instructions.

The first time you log in, you will probably see several items missing from your file. Don't worry about that yet! Your teachers and counselors have a different deadline for submitting their documents.

Good luck! I'll be monitoring the blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter tonight, so reach out if you have questions. 

Keep an eye on the clock!
(image by Jen Fariello, UVA '96)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sending Resumes to UVa

This is another post that will be old news to some Early Action applicants, but it's important for the Regular Decision students who are putting the finishing touches on their applications right now.

With an applicant pool that is fairly large, the Common App is a wonderful thing. The formatting allows us to zero in on a student's information quickly. I think most people understand that this is why many schools like to use the Common App. It's Common.

The Common App lets colleges make some decisions about the questions/features they use. One of them is a resume upload function. The resume upload feature is turned OFF for UVa. I know that some really, really want us to see a resume or another activity chart, but please respect our process and use the Common App.

When you use the Common App's activity section to enter your information, a chart is created on my side of the application. I know exactly where to find all the pertinent information on that chart. Here's an early draft of what the activity section looks like. There have been a few changes, but you can get the idea...

An early draft of the activity page on the Common App

We really like how activities are organized in the Common App. We know where to look for the facts and we don't spend time sifting through extra information to get to the good stuff. Resumes tend to restate a lot of information that is presented elsewhere in the application.

Students have taken to emailing resumes because we don't offer the upload function. I got one the other day that was four pages long and the first two pages listed details about the same activity. It was as if the student whose activity sheet is above listed statistics about every game in which he had played. The detail provided (three years on varsity, elected caption) helps me understand the involvement far better than knowing a batting average does.

Keep it simple. Remember that schools ask for the things they need and they usually tell you the format they prefer. Use the activity section of the Common App. Do not email us a resume. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top Five Concerns of Regular Decision Applicants

Early Action applicants, you already read a version of this back in October. This is just for Regular Decision applicants. 

You have just a few days to go before applications are due, so it's time to go over some of the common questions that come up as the deadline looms.

1. The Regular Decision deadline for UVa is midnight on January 1st. 

That doesn't mean those of you who thought it was midnight on the 31st now have permission to procrastinate. Avoid submitting at the last minute since there are thousands of students applying to schools with January 1st deadlines who will also be submitting tomorrow. Give yourself a nice buffer just in case something goes wrong and you need some help from the Common App folks.

2.  Double check the type of application you are submitting.

Double check that you indicated that you are a first-year applicant submitting an Regular Decision application for the Fall 2015 term. Every now and then, someone decides they are a transfer student because they have AP/IB/DE/college credit. If you are graduating from high school this year, you are applying as a first year student.

3. Contact Common App if you have trouble submitting. 

There is a help button on every single screen within the Common App's website. The admission officers at your schools aren't able to help with Common App issues. What's more, if there's a problem, the Common App team needs to know about it in case it is systemic.

4. Your UVa status page won't be current yet.

We have two processes happening simultaneously right now: the Early Action review and Regular Decision application processing. Our staff is scanning documents as quickly as possible, but it will take a couple weeks for everything that arrives around deadline to be checked in. If we are missing something from you after all the documents have been processed, we will be in touch! Just focus on getting your application submitted. Don't panic about your status page just yet. Please don't call or email admission officers to check on documents. We will be immersed in file review and can't sift through mail bins or stacks of documents that are being scanned.

5. Your application won't be "downloaded" on deadline day.

Every year, we get frantic emails from students who submit before the deadline, but don't see their application as downloaded by their schools. Applications tend to be downloaded once per day and the download date is almost never the same as the date you submitted. No need to worry about that!

Here are a few blog posts that address some other things that might be on your mind. I'll be updating the posts from last year with some new thoughts in the coming weeks.
-All of the 2014-2015 first-year essay questions together
-Holistic admission explained
-Essay word length
-Essay formatting
-How we use demonstrated interest
-Sending Resumes to UVa
-About extracurricular activities
-Common concerns about status pages

 You do not need to rush your SAT scores to us at this time. As long as you get your request in to ETS before the deadline, we should be good.

Good luck, seniors! Feel free to ask questions in the comments!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Class of 2019 Facebook Group! (for students only)

I try to create as many avenues for applicants to chat and ask questions as possible.  This is why I'm available here (I answer questions in the comments on posts) and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and email.

Sometimes, you'll want to chat with each other and ask questions in a student-only space.  You can do that in the Class of 2019 Facebook group.  In the spirit of student self-governance, which is a big deal here at UVa, this is a space just for students

Click the image to go to the group on Facebook!

Obviously, the group will be for students who hope they'll be members of the Class of 2019 at this point.  This is normal.  The membership of the group will evolve when decisions are released and students start committing to colleges.

There are two current students who run the Class of 2019 group. When your class elects officers, they will hand the group over to your chosen leaders. We've been doing this for about five years and it works beautifully. For now, they are happy to answer questions, but they are also happy to sit back and let you chat.  Nothing in these groups will be saved or connected to your applications.

I have absolutely no interest in tracking you or looking at your profiles.  My interest is in making sure you know about a group that will become your class's "go to" space to chat, where content won't include advertisements, and your information won't be mined (my worry with groups that are tied to a company).

I am not in the Class of 2019 Facebook group, so if you have application questions and want to ask them on Facebook, you can use Office of Admission page.

Parents, if you are looking to check in with parents of UVa students, check out the UVa Parents page.

How do you feel about admission folks being on Facebook?  Do you like the avenues we've set up for you?  What do you think we should do in the future?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Withdraw an Application to UVa

It's the time of year that some schools with Early Decision processes are releasing their decisions. As you should know by now, Early Decision is the binding kind of early application (as opposed to Early Action, which we use here at UVa). If you were admitted to a school through Early Decision, you need to withdraw your UVa application.

Our front desk gets inundated with calls about this and individual deans get lots of emails as well. The calls and emails are often from third parties.

We don't want act on your file based on a phone call from someone whose identity we can't confirm. We need to hear from you.

If you need to withdraw your application, email from the email account you used on your Common App and include your name, date of birth, and high school with your request. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Missing Credentials for Early Action Applications

CavDog wants something.

I've been telling you all to relax about your status pages until we get all the mailed credentials checked in. Well, it looks like we are pretty much caught up. We have now sent emails to anyone missing a required document. Please check the email you used with the Common App for an email from us!

If you get an email about a missing credential, don't panic. The item could have taken a wrong turn along en route to us. You aren't in trouble. These things happen. Please contact the appropriate folks to get that missing item sent to us as soon as possible. If you are missing testing, you 'll unfortunately have to pay the fee to rush your scores. Teachers and counselors can send their items through the Common App website or email.

Mid-year reports are a "to do" item for everyone, regardless of when an application was submitted. EA decisions come out before most schools send mid-year reports, but if you get an offer or are deferred to the Regular Decision round, we expect your counselor to send those mid-years along. We want you to be aware of this now as opposed to having that pop up late in the game. Some students are apt to stop checking their status once the to do list disappears.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Lighting of the Lawn 2014

We're in the thick of the Early Action review and at the same time, our students are moving into their exam period. For a little over a decade, we've taken a break from the papers and exams to come together for the Lighting of the Lawn.

The Lighting of the Lawn started in 2001 as a way to bring our community together after a difficult semester. Each Lighting of the Lawn since has consisted of performances by a capella groups, the reading of a poem that recaps major events of the year, the singing of The Good Old Song with the Cavalier Marching Band, and then the main event - the lighting of the buildings along the Lawn.

The Rotunda is in the middle of a massive, two-year restoration process. Many assumed the lighting would be on the opposite end of the Lawn, but the committee surprised us all!

That committee is an incredible group of students that works with many offices to make this happen. The committee also raises money for a charity at each year's event. Camp Holiday Trails was the designated charity for this year's LOTL.

Without further ado...the 2014 Lighting of the Lawn.

We'll be raising our hands, shining up to the sky
'Cause we got the fire, fire, fire

In case you're interested, here is video of the 2013 LOTL from the UVA Drama Light Shop and another that gives a look at what it's like inside the crowd.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Important Reminders about Status Pages

We are one month into the Early Action application review process and that tends to be when people start getting nervous about their status pages. Here are a few of the most common questions and concerns with my notes about each.

1. My status is incomplete, but the only document missing is the mid-year report.

If you are admitted or deferred, you'll be required to submit your mid-year report. So that no one sees "complete" and never looks at their account again, the system keeps showing the incomplete status showing. If the mid-year report is the only thing on your "to-do" list, you are done for now and we are ready to work with your file.

2. I sent new test scores, but how do I know you have them?

Our system doesn't have date tags on your status page. To verify that your test scores from a recent date were sent, you need to check with the SAT or ACT folks. They've been transferring scores electronically for years without major issues.

3. I see a "View Decision" link, but there's no decision when I click!

We are only one month into the review. With about 15,000 applications, this process is going to take a while. We have always said that notification will be made by the end of January, but we'll notify early if we can. The "view decision" box shows up when your file moves into the reading pipeline. It doesn't mean we've reached a decision on your application yet.

In the paper days, there would be a 1-2 week lag between finalizing decisions and mailing letters (it takes quite some time to print all those letters, label envelopes, stuff envelopes, double check that the right letter is in the right envelope, and then send the letters to the mail room). These days, when we're done, we release!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We'll be back in the office on Monday if you need us.

Go Hoos!

CavDog guarding last year's turkey.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Some of you have contacted me asking for my response to the Rolling Stone article that come out on Wednesday. President Teresa Sullivan and Rector George Keith Martin (the head of UVa's Board of Visitors) sent letters to us shortly after the article was posted online. Vice President Pat Lampkin sent this letter to our students this morning:

Over the past two days, our community has been deeply affected by the article that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine earlier this week.  I know that many of you are feeling shocked, dismayed, saddened and, perhaps, betrayed.  Our community is hurting.  We are concerned about Jackie and we are worried about other survivors who have lived through the horror of sexual assault.  Many of us are confused by the contradictions between the U.Va. portrayed in the article and the U.Va. that we know.  Many of you are questioning your trust in our University.

President Sullivan and I want to be absolutely clear: we do not tolerate sexual violence in any form.  Sexual assault is a crime that can destroy lives and create profound suffering.  It has no place in our society, much less in an academic community characterized by freedom and civility. 

To add to these overwhelming emotions, we learned late yesterday of the death of a second-year student, the details of which we will share according to his family's wishes as soon as we are able.

This painful set of circumstances comes on the heels of other recent tragedies on Grounds.  The constellation of these events would be enough to put the strongest of communities into crisis.  But know that we will cope, and together we will heal.

We acknowledge how difficult it is for survivors of sexual assault to talk about their experiences and to feel confident in reporting them, whether to the police or to the University.  We will continue, as we always have, to encourage survivors to go to the police, to pursue the University's disciplinary process, and most of all, to take advantage of the many support services available at UVA and in the community.  (Please see the end of this message for a list of resources.)

This is a time for us to come together, not to be pulled apart. I hope that we as a community can address this issue in a spirit of deep compassion, concern, trust and resolution.


Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer

How to Report Instances of Sexual Assault or if You Need Personal Support

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Website:
Counseling and Psychological Services:
Daytime Phone: 434.243.5150; After Hours Phone: 434.972.7004
Office of Dean of Students: 434.924.7133

You may be interested in this article that was published in The Cavalier Daily last year. It answers the most common question people have about the University's response to reports of rape and sexual assault.

Now, I'll share some of my personal thoughts, which were reviewed before I published this entry.

I have wavered between feeling angry and devastated since reading the Rolling Stone article. The stories are sickening and horrific, but I am thankful that sexual assault survivors are getting support from the entire community right now. Changes in policies (and perhaps legislation) are on the horizon as a result of their bravery.

I can't publish this without saying something about the Office of the Dean of Students. I started my career in student affairs (specifically, residence life) at another school. I was also part of the school's Sexual Assault Network (trained by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center as a survivor advocate). It was the hardest job I've ever had. I am grateful to those who continue to serve in a role I found so incredibly difficult.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What are your "non-negotiables?"

The team that answers emails that arrive in our general email accounts shared a cute email with me yesterday. In case you didn't know, is for general inquiries and is for application questions and updates.

First of all, I want to address the mention of another school in that comment. It isn't a secret that most of you are applying to several schools. When I see another school mentioned in a message meant for UVa, it doesn't bother me at all.

Second, this brings up a larger point that I try to make to students who will be making a college decision in the near future. It's totally valid to have non-academic factors included in your college search. I tell students to go on their tours with 3-5 "non-negotiable" characteristics, beyond the academic ones, that they need a college to have. Maybe you love the atmosphere at a certain kind of sporting event or you want the opportunity to hike or fish near school. Maybe you are afraid of certain animals and don't want encounter them regularly on your way to class. I think that you are more apt to be engaged in the classroom when you feel comfortable and happy overall.

By the way, I haven't seen stray cats on the UVa Grounds. I wonder why...

Friday, November 07, 2014


In case you aren't following me (@UVaDeanJ) or UVa (@theUniversityofVirginia) on Instagram, I thought I'd let you know about the UVa Photo Contest. Over 1,000 people have posted images taken around the UVa Grounds and given them the #UVaPhotoContest tag.

Entries will be judged by Alexis Ohanian ’05, the co-founder of Reddit. The U.Va. Magazine did a great profile of him. I'll be judging a few of the specialty catagories. The prizes are gift cards for the UVa Bookstore and UVa swag.

If you aren't entering, follow along!

Last year's winning photo

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Five Post-Deadline Notes for Early Action Applicants

We are going to be processing documents that have come in for Early Action applications for a while, but I thought I'd go over a few things to keep in mind as we work on your files.

1. Applications are transferred from the Common App to our system once per day. Approximately five days after your file arrives in our system, you will receive an email from us with login credentials for our Student Information System (SIS).

2. When you log into the SIS for the first time, your status probably won't be current. Please don't worry about your status in SIS right now! Our staff is linking thousands of documents to applications right now. This can take some time. I'll let you know when we are done processing. Do not send duplicates of any item unless we contact you with a request.

3. We will email you from or about your application. It is extremely important that you read your email.

4. Once the mid-year report is the only thing left on your "to do" list, your file is ready for us to read! When your file moves into read to read status, you'll probably see a "View Decision" box appear at the bottom of the SIS Student Center. People always think this means we are already done reviewing their application. That box is built into SIS and we can't change it. I'm sorry to report that it doesn't mean your decision is finalized. That won't happen until January.

5. We are now moving into reading mode. Our staff is relatively small and our reading loads are large. As always, we will take turns serving "on call" duty, so if you have questions about your file or the process, you can call the main office number or email with them.