For new readers...

Peabody is the building, Jack is the dog, and I'm Dean J (she/her, btw).

There's a decade of posts here, so the search box can help find an answer to common questions. Pick a name, real or otherwise, if posting a comment.
Please link to the specific post if referencing what is written here elsewhere.

Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Does #UVA Look for Consistency in Extracurricular Activities?

One of my colleagues spoke with a parent the other day who mentioned that her child was reluctantly continuing with a particular activity because someone told him colleges want to see consistency in activities. I'd like to share my thoughts on extracurricular activities.

We want students who will contribute in our community during their time at UVA. There are many ways and venues in which to make a contribution - through work in the classroom, research, at a job, in student organizations (we call them CIOs here), in the residents hall, around Charlottesville, etc.  The simple question that is in the back of my mind as I read a student's file is "will this student contribute in some way?"

1.  We don't value certain activities over others.

There are over 900 student organizations at UVA. All of those CIOs make UVA the interesting, innovative, and fun place that it is. Whether you are involved in the most popular club at your school or the most obscure one, we'll be happy that you are making a difference in some facet of your school community.

2. We don't expect you to fill out the entire Common App activity chart.

Most students aren't significantly involved in enough activities to fill every line of the activity chart. This isn't about who has the longest list, it's about understanding where a student spends their time outside of the classroom. The length of your list is not a factor in our review.

3. You don't have to show consistency.

If you are one of the lucky students who found an activity you love early on and have maintained involvement in it throughout high school, that's wonderful! If your interests have evolved over time, you are totally normal! You're a teenager and you are allowed to change your mind about your activities. Please don't apologize if your activities haven't been long-term.

It's fine if your activity list shortens a little bit in junior and/or senior year. As academic responsibilities increase, it makes sense to reshuffled your priorities and let one or two activities fall by the wayside. If you don't have to do this in high school, you'll certainly have to do it in college. Most first-years sign up for a few too many CIOs and realize about a month into school that they have to cut back!

The tl;dr: If you have something to put down in the activity section, we'll be happy.

Jack's activity list: looking cute and greeting visitors

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Picking a School and Academic Interest on the #UVA Application

Spending time in my Virginia territory always gives me a read on what the big concerns are for the year's applicants. I gave 21 presentations at Fairfax high schools last week and sat on a panel at one evening program. Far and away, the most common questions I heard were about picking a major.

Applicants to UVA can enter through one of four schools or one academic program. The options are:

College of Arts & Sciences
School of Engineering
School of Architecture
School of Nursing
Students do not declare majors in Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Architecture when they apply. The only students who are really entering directly into a program are the Nursing and Kinesiology students. Last year, there were 75 first years in Nursing and 49 in Kinesiology. In the class of 3,683 students, 3,559 have yet to declare a major.

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences declare majors by the end of their second year and students in Engineering and Architecture declare at the end of theor first year. Engineering and Architecture expose students to all of their options (10 majors in Engineering, 3 in Architecture) before they declare at the end of the first year. Once they arrive at UVA, students can also explore the Curry School of Education, McIntire School of Commerce, and Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

You aren't making a permanent decision with your choice of school and academic interest on the UVA application. Please don't stress out about this! Pick the area that feels like the right jumping off point in light of your current interests. Very few students actually have an academic plan right now and those who have plans probably won't follow them exactly!

Interests evolve...that's normal!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Standardized Test Advice for #UVA Applicants

The College Board tweeted that students can see the results of the August SAT test today. Score release days always result in questions from students and parents about how we process and use test scores, so let's go over those topics.

The Basics

1. Take the SAT or the ACT. We don't care which one you show us.
2. There are no cut-offs. The stats we put out are describing the class that enrolled. They aren't telling you admission requirements.
3. SAT IIs are totally optional. If you don't send them, you aren't penalized.
4. The last recommended test dates are the ones in October (Early Action) and December (Regular Decision).

Now, let me explain four things that come up a lot in comments and on phone calls with applicants.

1. How UVA Receives Your Scores

Like most colleges, UVA receive scores from the SAT and ACT agencies electronically. We do not "accept" the scores, our system files them automatically. At slow times, the reports come once each day, usually around 3 AM. Around deadline, the reports come more often. I get an email every time there's an electronic transfer, regardless of whether the delivery is of one person's scores or of a massive group of scores from a popular test date. I took this screen shot of the score notification emails a few years ago. You can see that we mostly get one or two drops per day at this time of year.

2. How UVA Reviews Scores

When we built our online reading system here at UVA, we taught the system to only show us the best section scores for each applicant. I don't see all the scores a student sent us when I open a file. The system picks the best score from each section of the SAT or ACT. We use sections in our review, so the system doesn't calculate a total score, it simply shows us the best section scores.

For the time being, we'll be suppressing the essay (SAT) and writing (ACT) scores when we review applications. This could change in the future. There are plenty of schools requiring these sections, so you will probably still want to take these optional sections.

3. The Timing of Score Reporting

Send your scores to the schools on your list at least two weeks before the application deadline. In general, it takes the testing agencies 1-2 weeks to send a score report to a college. It could take the college a few days to match your score to your file. It's totally fine to send score reports before you submit your application. Anything that arrives before your application is held in a miscellaneous file. All of the application components will meet up in the end. I usually post on the blog and twitter when we have finished matching up documents so applicants know their to-do lists in our records system is up to date.

Both the SAT and ACT will give you four free score reports to use when you take their exams. Use your free reports to send scores to UVA and any other school on your list that automatically pulls the best section scores. If you wait to see your scores before sending them to us, you'll lose your free reports.

SAT Score Report Fees ($43 for a rushed report!)

ACT Score Report Fees

4. Taking (or Sending) Scores After Deadlines

Back at the beginning of the post, I wrote that the last recommended test dates are the month before each deadline. That doesn't mean you aren't allowed to sit for an exam after the deadline, but there is a chance that we will have already started the review your file before those late scores arrive.

You should still send those scores. After all, our review takes several months. There's a chance that the scores will be seen at some point in the process.

As always, I'm happy to answer questions in the comments!

Don't forget to order your scores well in advance of deadlines!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Admission Travel Season is Upon Us

Hello! I have to admit that I didn't intend to take such a long break from the blog, but August was a tough month for us here in Charlottesville. The energy of having all the students back on Grounds has been a great thing, but I only got to see a few days of them before going on the road.

My first week of travel was through New England with colleagues from Berkeley, Hopkins, and Emory. Group admission trips allow schools to share the cost of traveling and putting on programs and also helps us expose students to new schools. We hold information sessions for students and parents each evening and counselor breakfasts each morning on our trip and spend the hours between driving to our next stop. This year's New England trip took us to Burlington (Vermont), Boston, Providence, Springfield, and Stamford. If you want to see when we might be holding an evening program in your area, check out the "UVA Visits You" section of the Visit page on our website.

Our team fans out to visit schools and hold evening programs all over Virginia at this time of year. My second and third weeks of travel will be here in the Commonwealth, where I'll be visiting schools and going to college fairs, mostly in my Fairfax County territory. You may see UVA pop up on your College and Career Center's calendar soon! If you're on our mailing list, you'll get an email when we plan to be in your area.

My last week of travel will be in New Jersey. As a Garden State native, I'm excited to spend some time visiting schools or holding programs in Jersey, though it doesn't happen every year. Again, if you're on our mailing list, you'll get an email if I'll be in your area.

Travel season is tiring and being away from UVA is hard, but I really look forward to getting into my schools to talk to students about their interests, demystify the review process a bit, and maybe debunk a few rumors along the way.

All Jack needs for a week on the road is a Hoo Crew shirt and his toys!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

#UVA and The Coalition App

Sometimes, the deans in the Office of Admission will cover the front desk for one reason or another. It's always nice to be reminded that our front desk handles a ton of call traffic and a lot of it isn't admission-related. I think it students become so used to calling us with questions during the application phase that they assume we have the answers when it comes to housing, dining, billing, and so on.

I just spent an hour at the front desk and enjoyed chatting with students and parents about a variety of things. One call that surprised me was about Coalition Applications. The caller insisted that the Coalition's website said we were using their application this season. The Coalition Application website has a note in bold on their UVA page that says we will not be using their application this year. We are members of the group, but have opted not to adopt their application at this time.

In addition, our application instructions tell students to apply using the Common Application. If we change our application process, you would see a change on this page well before the application launch date. We know some students like to get the basic parts of the application squared away before school responsibilities kick in, so we would try to give everyone plenty of notice about a big change!

We'll continue to have one application in 2017-2018, so all rising seniors will be submitting their applications using the Common App. Juniors, we will update our instructions by the end of next June if there are any changes to the process.

FYI, here's the list of schools that, like UVA, are Coalition members while deferring adoption of the Coalition's application:

If you have any questions, I'm happy to see them in the comments.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Notes from Peabody Turns Twelve!

Twelve years ago, I thought it would be funny to chronicle my transition to life at UVA and I started blogging with this simple post. There have been years when people said blogging was dying and everyone was going to move to some other platform. Some of those platforms are gone and some faded into obscurity. A few have stayed with us. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat came along and changed how we communicate and digest information, but I think blogging remains an important component of the social space online.

Whether you've been checking in for a while or are new here, thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Are You Visiting #UVA this Summer?

I have some brief notes for those who have signed up to attend an information session and tour this summer or who will be registering soon.

1. Registration helps us pick our venue.

The Office of Admission doesn't have an auditorium for large groups, so we reserve spaces around the University to accommodate our information sessions. Making a reservation ensures that we have a large enough space for our guests.

Attending the information session and tour will not have any bearing on our review if you decide to apply to UVA.

2. We'll communicate with visitors by email.

A confirmation email goes to the student after they register for the information session and tour. In addition, we will send a reminder with parking information in it a few days before your scheduled visit. Please watch for these emails and share them with anyone visiting with you. Parking can be tricky in the summertime because of new student orientation and summer camps on Grounds. Don't just plug UVA into Waze and expect to park when you get close to the University. Use the instructions we send you.

3. Summer is construction season.

As soon as graduation is over, the work crews get busy with all sorts of projects around the UVA Grounds. Fewer people are inconvenienced by closures and detours during the summer. I try to remind myself that these projects are making UVA even better than ever.

4. Bring a water bottle.

Our tours are about 90s minutes long and it is HOT out there right now. Bring a water bottle and take advantage of the bottle fillers we have around Grounds (they are usually next to water fountains). We have water coolers in our office, so you can get a refill when your tour guide brings you to Peabody Hall at the end of your tour.

It's nice and cool in Peabody Hall!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hoo Stories: The Inside Scoop on Life at UVA

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you've seen me mention the UVA student blog, Hoo Stories. Every summer, a new group of student interns takes over this blog to share inside information about student life at UVA.

This summer's writers have hit the ground running with posts about traditions, lingo, places to visit around Charlottesville, and more. One of the most helpful posts for first years was their summary of the new curriculum options in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The UVA Summer Instagram account is a fantastic companion to the blog. Make sure to follow them to get to know the students behind the blog and see what life is like on the UVA Grounds during the summer!

Monday, July 03, 2017

It's Not Just About Leadership

Many high school students are pressured to show leadership on their activity sheets if they plan on applying to college. If you happen to be the founder or a club or were elected president or captain of something, that's a wonderful honor that should be shared on your Common App. However, please know that those who don't hold leadership positions aren't at a disadvantage in this process.

There are so many qualities of which we take note when we read an application. Leadership is certainly one of them, but we also acknowledge students who show love of learning or who exhibit academic industry. There are some who have experienced academic setbacks, whose stories of improvement impress us. Maybe a student has experienced some personal adversity or they have an interesting life story that brings an unique perspective to the table. There are students who exhibit character or an ability to build coalitions in the classroom or otherwise that are great assets to the classroom. We all benefit from diversity of thoughts, talents, and backgrounds. Every application tells a story and that story doesn't have to be about leadership.

Keep in mind that just because you can check a leadership box doesn't mean other parts of your application don't have to be strong. No one gets admitted to college just because of a personal quality. Academics will always be our first stop when we're reading an application, but we also want to see that a student will contribute something to our community and evidence of that is often found in recommendation letters, essays, and activities.

As always, I'm happy to answer questions in the comments.

Jack assesses love of animals in his favorite applicants.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

2017-2018 #UVA First-Year Application Essays

I hope the rising seniors out there are having a great summer. I share our essay prompts for the next year each June with the hopes that we'll give you plenty of time to think about which one is right for you. If you are thinking about writing your essays this early, I hope you'll revisit them before you actually submit an application. It's amazing how much can change in a few months.

I have three pieces of advice for you as you think about your essays:
1. Don't overthink the topic. These questions are deliberately broad so that people can take their essays in many directions. 
2. Don't feel limited to the essay formula you may use for academic writing. While the five-paragraph essay (an intro, three supporting sections, and a conclusion) you use in school is technically correct, it might not be the best way to get your style and voice to come across.
3. Don't feel obligated to use all of the advice you get. You'll obviously want to get some people you trust to read your essays and give you feedback, but it's okay to ignore feedback that doesn't fit your style.

I'll elaborate on those points in future posts. Now, let's get to the prompts. This past year's applicants submitted some really wonderful essays, so we didn't feel the need to make major changes to our prompts. Remember that these short essays are in addition to your longer Common App essay.

2017-2018 First-Year Application Essay Questions

1.    We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.  Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words. 
  • College of Arts and Sciences - What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences - If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?
  • School of Architecture - Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
  • School of Nursing - School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing
  • Kinesiology Program - Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.

2. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

I'm happy to answer questions about our prompts in the comments!

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Much Time is Spent Reading a File at #UVA?

I have filled out the Common App quite a few times in recent days because we are testing the 2017-2018 version of the application (essay prompts will be posted on the blog next week!). I found myself wondering how long it takes the average student to get through the Common App and our school-specific questions. How funny that we get the same question from students and parents all the time.

The quick answer we give when asked how much time is spent on each application is "it depends." There are quick reads and slow reads, so it wouldn't be accurate to throw out a number. A quick read might be one where I'm familiar with the options at the high school and the student's academic story is clear in their transcript and recommendations. It might take longer to understand the transcript from a school I don't know as well or one where the high school profile isn't clear about the school's practices. Of course, there are some applications that aren't filled out carefully, where hastily written essays and partially filled out components lead us to a conclusion pretty quickly.

What most applicants seem to be asking is "how quickly do I have to 'wow' you?" Please know that we'll take whatever time is needed to give each file a thorough, thoughtful review. If understanding the file requires a call to the school for clarification or a slow analysis of the transcript, so be it.

Does this surprise you? Do you have questions about how the mechanics of reading a file?

Take your time! The results are apt to be better.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

You Need 9 APs and Other Ridiculous #UVA Admission Rumors

Admission rumors make me laugh sometimes, but not today. Today, I heard that multiple students at a particular high school told their counselors that UVA would put them in a "special category" if they were able to get 9 AP courses on their transcripts.

Let's just nip this in the bud. This is completely false. Every application is reviewed the same way. There is a preliminary review by the Office of Virginia Status that verifies the applicant's residency. Once that is completed, the process is the same for all applicants. Each admission officer reads their applications front-to-back. There is no "first round" that just looks at academics or test scores. There is no "special category" for students with a certain number of AP courses on their transcript. Remember that program options are different from school to school, so having a universal "bar" for applicants wouldn't make sense.

There's another rumor out there that claims we will deny students who have "too many" APs because awarding advanced credit "robs" UVA of tuition dollars. This one is truly baffling. The College addresses their very generous AP/IB/DE credit policy on their website. Students can bring up to 60 credits with them to UVA. The President's office also gives a special stole that those who are completing degrees in 2 or 3 years and President Sullivan makes special mention of those students at Final Exercises. If your school offers advanced options and you feel ready to weave them into your program, go for it!

I suspect that these rumors get cooked up when people try to explain an admission decision that they didn't expect. Keep in mind that while course rigor is very important to us, the other components of the application must be strong and compelling as well.

As always, I'm happy to answer your questions in the comments!

Don't worry! We're here to dispel those rumors!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The #UVA Class of 2021 is Complete

In about half an hour, everyone who opted to remain on this year's first-year waiting list will receive an email from Dean Roberts informing them that the Class of 2021 is complete. We won't be making any more offers of admission and it is time to release the waiting list.

Please be sure to check the email account associated with your Common App account for Dean Roberts' email.

Best wishes for a relaxing summer and an exciting start to your college career at your chosen school.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A Waiting List Update for #UVA21

Remember when I said I might not check in more than once or twice in May? Well, here we are in June and I have a small, but not too significant, update about the waiting list.

We made a few offers to students on the waiting list just before May 1 and the offers continued slowly over the course of the month. The speed of this process is slow. We want to be respectful of the fact that accepting an offer off the waiting list is a huge decision. In most cases, an enrollment deposit at another school will be lost and that is a significant amount of money. What's more, plans that have been made for that other school have to be abandoned. This is why we give students a few days to think about their offer before we expect to hear back from them.

Virginia residents usually get more offers during the EA and RD phases of our application process and they also got more of the offers during the waiting list process. When it comes to academic areas, more offers traditionally go to the College of Arts and Sciences, our largest school, and this held true this year. I don't have exact number of offers, but those will be posted in our Common Data Set in the fall.

Once we feel it's time to disband the waiting list, we'll email everyone on it to let them know that no more offers are possible. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Jack Tours 1515, a new Off-Grounds Student Center

If you have visited UVA, you may have shopped or grabbed a bite to eat on the Corner. The Corner is a shopping district just next to the University that is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes that serve the UVA community.

When one of the businesses on the Corner closed about two years ago, the University bought the building at 1515 University Avenue with the idea that it could be transformed into a flexible student space. What was interesting about the development of the project was that students were involved in every step. Facilities management documented the renovation process, so many of us were eagerly watching as the project progressed.

When 1515 opened, it became a hub of student activity immediately. Jack recently took a tour of the building, which has space for studying, music performances, exercise, playing games (hello, free skee ball, pool, foosball, air hockey, and video games!), meditating, and group meetings. There's also a coffee bar called Crumbs with the most beautiful desserts, which was closed during our morning visit. 1515 is open until 2 AM and it's full of students no matter what time I walk by.

I hope you enjoy the video by the Office of the Dean of Students' marketing team!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

What's Happening with the #UVA21 Waiting List?

It's May 2nd and I think I'll skip right to the information you're probably craving. We're making a few offers to students on the waiting list. I'm not able to post a total number or a breakdown of where the offers will be.

How We Make Waiting List Offers

We will call or email a student on the waiting list to give them a heads up when we are ready to make them an offer of admission. Students who put themselves on the waiting list a month ago may have moved on by now, so some tell us right away that they aren't interested anymore. That's totally fine...we appreciate the ability to move quickly right now since we know there are students eager to hear some news from us.

Within a few hours, we can usually have the student's official status in SIS changed so they can view their offer letter. The student will have a couple days to make a deposit. If the student has all of their financial aid forms submitted, they'll have a couple days after the aid package is posted to make the deposit.

When We Make Waiting List Offers

We contact students in the afternoon so we don't disrupt the school day. Adjustments are made for the time zone of the student, of course. Our office closes at 5 PM each day, so there's a window of a couple hours during which we make our calls.

How Coming Off the Waiting List Affects Housing and Orientation

Summer Orientation doesn't start until June, so students admitted off the waiting list still have time to register for a summer orientation session. Housing forms aren't due until June 1 and the Office of Housing and Residence Life does not even start to assign dorms until after those forms are in. In other words, there's no disadvantage to joining the class from the waiting list.

We're going to move quickly on this. We're so excited to make these offers!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Travel Season and a Note about Competition

It's spring travel season and that means most of our office is on the road for college fairs and conferences. This includes the annual Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling Conference (PCACAC).  PCACAC is the Mid-Atlantic regional affiliate of NACAC (I'm sure you can figure our that acronym). Many people who are involved in the college admission process are members of these organizations.

We gather for our regional conference in late April to share best practices, brainstorm ways to address the problems facing our students and offices, and celebrate successes. Pictures like the one below, taken after the opening session of the conference, are pretty common.

(Equal representation of Charlottesville and Blacksburg in this photo)

The reactions I get to these sorts of photos are sometimes mixed. Some people are a little surprised that admission officers collaborate to talk about the state of the college admission and how we can improve the process for students while also serving the needs of our institutions. The truth is that we really save the competitiveness for sports talk (go hoos!). At the end of the day, we want this process to help you discover amazing schools and allow you to select one that will provide you with a fantastic college experience.

I obviously think UVA is a wonderful home for all kinds of students with a wide range of interests, but I know you're considering other schools that can provide exciting opportunities as well. As May 1st approaches, don't hesitate to reach out to us if you want more information about UVA to help with your decision. We have a Dean on call to talk by phone every day and I'm always happy to chat via the comments here or on other social media channels.

By the way, if your school isn't sending counselors and Career Center Specialists to PCACAC, you might want to suggest membership to your superintendent.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jack's Visit to Brown College at Monroe Hill

The Dorm Tours are some of the most popular parts of Days on the Lawn. The University doesn't allow tour groups into the residence halls on a daily basis for privacy and security reasons. Can you imagine how disruptive it would be to have three groups like this parade through your home each day?

The dorm tours include the McCormick Road halls ("old" dorms), Alderman Road halls ("new" dorms), and a couple residential colleges. Residential Colleges are special-interest housing options. You can read about all of the options on the housing website, but I thought I'd give you a glimpse into one of them, Brown College at Monroe Hill, on the blog.

Brown is centrally located and just a few steps away from many academic buildings and Newcomb Hall (where they have a private dining room inside the dining hall!).

While traditional halls at UVA house first years, the residential colleges aren't specific to one class. First, second, third, and fourth years live in Brown.

Brown is known for being an inclusive community where everyone is welcome. I think that's why there are students who move in as first-years and stay in the Brown community for the rest of their college career. 

Each portal (four-room suites) in Brown feels homey, in part due to the mantles in many of the rooms. You can tell a lot about the residents by how they decorate their mantles.

The building is low and rambling, with lots of nooks and crannies. While I was walking around with Jack, we stopped in this sitting area for a moment to admire a letter the Seven Society sent to Brown residents several years ago.

The common areas in Brown include lounges and kitchen spaces. The one below known as Smith Cafe, which turns one of the study lounges into a little coffeehouse on certain evenings.

The different parts of the building are connected by tunnels in the basement. I think running through the tunnels was Jack's favorite part of our tour.

Brown has a bunch of beautiful courtyards. It's hard to believe we were so close to the hustle and bustle of Newcomb Hall and McCormick Road when we took these pictures.

The building isn't really the main attraction. The students are the best part of a visit to Brown. If you have a chance, make sure to stop by during your Days on the Lawn.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Brown application. The questions tend to be interesting and lots of students say they had fun filling it out. There have been times in the past when the Office of Admission has asked the Brownies to contribute a question to the essay choices on our application!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Notes for the #UVA21 Waiting List

If you were offered a spot on the waiting list at UVA, you had a link to the Waiting List FAQs in your decision letter. Many of the questions we're getting by phone and email are covered there, so please be sure to share that link with your parents so they understand the process. I'm going to go over the parts that come up the most and add some more information. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

How many people are on the waiting list? 

The waiting list forms as people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. We offer spots to many, but about half of those students will actually put themselves on the waiting list. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, has a section about waiting list numbers. Some schools omit this section, but here are our numbers from last year:
From the 2016-2017 Common Data Set:
Do you have a policy of placing students on a waiting list? Yes Number of qualified applicants offered a place on the waiting list: 4,987
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,871
Number of wait-listed students admitted:360
Is your waiting list ranked? No
The waiting list will be big on May 1st because we need to ensure there are students to fit all ten sections of the first year class. The class is made up of Virginia residents and out-of-state students for each of the five schools/programs that take first years.

I accepted. Why are the buttons still there? 

If you hit the "accept" button, you can always come back and pull yourself off the list. That is why the buttons remain after you opt in. There is no going back once you decline, though. If you decline the spot, the buttons disappear.

How many people will come off the waiting list?

Even though I've been doing this for years, I can't predict this one. May 1st is when all of the admitted students need to have deposits submitted to reserve a place in the class, which should be about 3,725 students. If we don't have that number of admitted students accepting a spot, we move to the waiting list.

It's hard to cite trends with certainty. One year, we might have room for in-state Nursing students and the next year, that group could be full on May 1. We're all waiting to see how this works out right now.  

How many people got offers to come off the waiting list in the past?

Here's a decade of data, which should show you how unpredictable this part can be. I don't have a breakdown of where the offers were for these years. 

2016 - 360
2015- 402
2014- 42
2013 - 185
2012 - 284
2011 - 117
2010 - 240
2009 - 288
2008 - 60
2007 - 159
2006 - 145
2005 - 83  

How do I improve my chances of getting an offer?

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about this. Emailing a update letter to is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us via with significant news is okay. Bombarding every admission officer with an email each day is not. Please don't email admission officers directly with your updates. We're just going to forward your email to and it will delay your email being filed. Please use the general account.

By the way, showing up in Peabody Hall will have no affect. I can't tell you how many students drive here and then sit on the sofa and ask the questions covered in the FAQs. This is not the best use of your time (or gas money!).

When/How do you make wait-list offers?

We start making waiting list offers as soon as we know we have space in the class. We move quickly because no one wants to drag this out. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we completed the class on June 2nd. In 2015, we were done by June 22nd.

If you are going to get an offer, we'll call you at the number you put on your Common Application. The call is a heads up that your status is about to change in SIS. Of course, it's fine if you tell us "no thanks" and that's the end of it. We hope that people who are no longer interested in UVA use the "decline" button to remove their name from the list, but some people forget. When SIS updates, a new letter shows up along with the buttons to accept the offer and pay a deposit.

Because we want to give students a few days to think about the offer (and because the Financial Aid folks need time to post a package if the newly-admitted student applied for aid), this process takes a while. I can't give constant updates on the blog. I can usually check in once or twice in May. I will always tell you when the Dean says the class is full. 

What about aid?

If you applied for aid by March 1st and got all of your documentation in, Student Financial Services will put a financial aid package together. Once that's posted, you'll have a couple days to accept the offer and pay your deposit.

What now?

Look at your other options. Get excited about one of them and pay a deposit to guarantee yourself a spot in a freshman class somewhere.

By the way, calling a student and telling them that they are getting an offer of admission is probably the most exciting thing admission officers experience. We can't wait to make them and everyone has a story or two about favorite calls. I promise you that when it's time, we'll be working very quickly so we can deliver some happy news!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Admitted to #UVA21 and Want to Make a Return Visit to UVA?

I got word late yesterday afternoon that all of the upcoming Days on the Lawn dates are full! At this point, we can't encourage any more visitors on DOTL days due to parking availability and the fire codes for the spaces where we hold academic panels (for our students' safety and ours, the Fire Marshall attends to make sure our spaces aren't over capacity). We're excited that we've been able to host so many visitors during our seven open houses.

If you'd like to make a return visit to Grounds and weren't able to attend a Days on the Lawn, you can plan your day on our Visit page. The visit page has information about sitting in on classes, requesting an overnight host, and taking another tour.

The one thing you can't do on a typical visit day is tour our residents halls. For security reasons, non-residents can not have access to a dorm unless they are a guest of a student living in the building. Instead, check out the Housing and Residence Life website. The res life team has gathered images of rooms in every residence hall to give you a sense of the variety of accommodations here. Don't miss the residential colleges that are open to first year students. Brown, Hereford, and the IRC are fantastic options to consider!

Ready to explore!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Unofficial #UVA21 Admission Statistics

My post about admission statistics hasn't changed much over the years, but I am so excited to share a big development over in The Office of Institutional Assessment. Every school has an office (the name usually has to do with institutional assessment or research) that publishes data about the school and answers surveys about statistics. I personally think UVA's assessment group has been one of the best around, maintaining clear, easy to digest data (with percentages already calculated, hooray!) about all facets of the University for years and years.

Accessing Official Data from the Office of Institutional Assessment

Our assessment team has recently migrated to presenting data using Tableau. Basically, instead of fixed charts showing years of data, you can now customize tables to show the data you wish to review. It's hard to explain, but you should take a look at the admission part of their website and play around a bit.

I just created this chart about Fall 2016 applicants using residency and school of entry as my variables. Isn't this cool?

Remember that the charts show you the results of an lengthy, elaborate review. They don't show you how we make decisions, but rather how our decisions correlate to different variables (just as the scattergrams your school just show correlation between decisions and testing a certain GPA).

There's also a really interesting report on the results of the SERU 2016 survey, which stands for the Student Experience in the Research University. A consortium of peer schools administered this survey, so you might be able to access the SERU survey for other schools on your list. Of course, make sure to check the percentage of students who completed the survey at each institution. At UVA, 30% filled it out, which I believe is a pretty good return rate for a survey.

If you love data, the Assessment website is a treasure trove that you may enjoy exploring.

Unofficial Data for this Season

These numbers are up to date as of yesterday, March 22, 2017. 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. :)

Applications for Admission

Total number of  applications: 36,807 (32,377 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 10,942
Total number of OOS apps: 25,865
We only count completed applications here. There are schools that include incomplete/partial applications in their statistics.

Offers of Admission

Overall offers: 9,957
Total VA offers: 4,276 (39% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 5,681 (22% offer rate)
Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind. Yield reflects how many students accepted our offer of admission.

Class of 2021 goal: ~3,725 students

Testing/Rank (offers only)

Middle 50% NEW SAT score: 1330-1490
Middle 50% ACT composite: 31-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals. Way more students submitted the new SAT than the old, so I'm dropping the stats about the old exam. 

93.4% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank to colleges. Even if your school ranks, they may not report that statistic to colleges. Your counselor can tell you if your schools reports rank.

These are all the statistics I have for now. We are now throwing ourselves into the transfer review process.

Some final notes:
-Waiting list students should be sure to click the link in their letter to read the FAQs. Most of the waiting list questions I'm seeing on the blog are answered there.
-Days on the Lawn emails with your personalized RSVP link will go out this afternoon.
-Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be invited to their programs via email today or tomorrow.
-Welcome packets with information about next steps have left the office via US Mail.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Let's Talk about #UVA21 Decisions: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVA Class of 2021 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students. Parents, you can check out the UVA Parents Page and the UVA Parents Facebook page.

I'll have post about admission statistics in the coming days and you'll be getting an email with your personalized RSVP link for Days on the Lawn (admitted student open houses) soon. 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*. Orientation registration will open after April 1st and you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to decide whether you'll be joining us in Charlottesville. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer via your self-service page.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!
Image by Jen Fariello Photography

*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 #UVA21 Decisions: The Waiting List

Students offered a spot on the waiting list can use this entry to talk.

This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school. At UVA, the waiting list tends to be large because there are so many different segments to the population here (VA and OOS groups for each of the four schools and the one program that take first year students). At this point, we don't know where there will be openings in the class.

We won't know how large the waiting list is until you all accept or decline your waiting list offers.  Right now, you've been offered a spot on the list. You aren't actually on it until you reply using the response buttons in SIS.

Still, the numbers can change dramatically from year-to-year. We took 42 students off the waiting list in 2015 and made 402 waiting list offers the next year.

For now, you need to look at your other options and think about which one feels right to you. Some of you will want to hold on and see what happens with the waiting list and others will want to fully invest themselves in another school. Either way, you need to submit a deposit somewhere by May 1st to ensure yourself a spot in a freshman class. If you are offered a spot in our class and you decide to accept it, you'll have to write to that other school and withdraw your name from the class (you may lose your deposit at that school). Just remember that you can't "double deposit".

Feel free chat here. You should have already seen the link to the waiting list FAQ page in your decision letter, which answers the most common questions (is the list ranked, what do I do now, what's the time line, etc.).

We hope you find a peaceful place to think about your options

Let's Talk about #UVA21 Decisions: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. 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 your options.

Some students inquire about appealing their decision. We do not have an appeal process, so the denial is your final decision.

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. 

A Regular Decision Update for #UVA21 Applicants

When online applications became the norm, most college admission officers and school counselors agreed to a best practice around the release of admission decisions. To avoid disrupting the school day and saving students from hours and hours of worry, it was decided that we would notify students of their decisions after the school day was over in our time zone, where most of our applicants live. This also let our staff work on fine tuning decisions throughout the work day.

Most smart, resourceful applicants will look at the 10+ years of posts on this blog and zero in on the fact that we tend to finish our Regular Decision review in the last two weeks of March.

Jack practicing his surprised look. won't be much of a surprise that we're done with our review and we are releasing decisions tonight. Please keep reading. There's a lot of important info to go over.

1. At some point 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, review the "After You Submit" section of the application instructions. 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.

2. 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. 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.

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. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA21 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community. We love seeing your reactions when we check that hashtag!

Keep an eye on the UVA Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages!

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). After all, school-specific statistics like GPA are subjective 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 email by the end of the week. Posts about the waiting list and statistics will come in a few days as well. There is no lag time in our office, so we are now reading transfer applications. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.

6. You don't need to call us to verify this. It's true. We are releasing decisions tonight. The receptionists can't tell you an exact time or your decision.

THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog so far this season.

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 at some things. What's going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not 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!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Overlapp Season Returns to UVA

Just when you start to get really, really drained from reading season, the overlap season begins and saves the day. Days on the Lawn brought several hundred admitted students to Grounds over the last few days. These events are supposed to help admitted students, but they wind up giving us an infusion of energy that will carry us through the final days of the process. DOTLs also remind us that a careful, thoughtful review of every application is so important. There are wonderful people behind each application we consider.

When I refer to "overlap season," I mean a time when we are interacting with several different groups of students. We are working with our admitted EA students, RD applicants, transfers (their application deadline was March 1), and juniors visiting us during spring break.

I know our Regular Decision students are eagerly waiting for updates. As always, we will release decisions when we finalize all decisions. We promise decisions will be available on April 1st, but you all know that we will post them earlier, if possible. Keep an eye on one of my accounts (the blog, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) for updates.


 By the way, the photos in today's post are from yesterday's DOTL. The first image is from the morning welcome at the Rotunda and the rest are from the student social in the afternoon. The social is "students only," but I took Jack over to meet some of our visitors.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Class of 2021 Logo Revealed!

I was going to write about a totally different topic today, but a colleague told me that cards with the Class of 2021 logo just arrived and I had to post a picture!

The UVA Alumni Association creates a unique logo for each incoming class. In recent years, they've sent us stickers to give out at Days on the Lawn (DOTL). It's always funny to hear the staff members who are alumni talk about their logo and what they think of the newest one. At least one person in our office is jealous that the Class of 2021 has the Rotunda in their logo. 

Here are the logos of a few past classes. There are even more in my InstaStories, if you want to take a longer walk down memory lane. I personally remember thinking that the Class of 2014's logo was super modern and cutting edge. It seems so silly now!

On your first day as a student at UVA, you'll see your logo and the logos of the other classes on banners at the Opening Convocation.

Wahoowa, Professor West!

On your last day as a student at UVA, one of your classmates (or you!) will lead the class down the Lawn for Final Exercises. *tears*

Between those two days, you'll see your logo pop up pretty regularly online and in person.

The fact that we have a Class of 2021 logo means it's almost time to shift from admitting the class to meeting the class. We are still hard at work, but rest assured that as soon as we are done with our review, we'll release decisions. As always, I'll post here and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook when I have news.

Hang in there, future Hoos!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

March Madness in UVA Admission

I'm so thankful the students on our basketball team aren't playing in the ACC tournament until this evening. They've been slated for afternoon games in the past and everyone winds up sneak peeks at the updates between files. We have a tradition of letting my dog "play" with our opponents' mascots before games. Follow me on Instagram if you want to see how things go this year.

March Madness for us is the knowledge that this process wraps up this month! The end of the tunnel is in sight, though it's still weeks away. At this point, there is still a lot to do! We are reading Regular Decision files and rereading the files that were deferred from the Early Action process now that midyear reports have arrived. We've emailed students missing documents twice at this point. In a few cases, we've called counselors to get some extra information or to track down a missing item.

The Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) planning team is also busy preparing for admitted students to arrive on Grounds. We have a few DOTLs in March for Early Action students and many more in April for EA and RD students together. Personalized links to register are emailed to admitted students. Obviously, we aren't done with the RD process yet. We'll send links after decisions are released.

To get you excited, here are some images from past DOTLs...

This next image is from a new tradition. When the previous First Lady suggested that all students celebrate "signing day," something that traditionally was associated with athletics, we created a faux press conference photo booth so students could take pictures of themselves to post on May 1st, the national "signing day." 

We'll have the photobooth set up in Peabody Hall again this year. Jack sometimes joins it!

Just collecting those images has me excited. Back to the files...