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Thursday, September 04, 2014

On Helicopter Parenting

When I was a new professional, I'd read about helicopter parenting or hear student affairs or admission officers talk about them and nod my head in agreement. Oh yes, those helicopters were sooo terrible! Things were so bad that more terms were introduced to describe the different styles of overbearing parents. Helicopters hovered, snowplows or bulldozers cleared obstacles before they were encountered, and black hawks attacked quickly, with little provocation. Now that I'm a bit of a veteran of the college admission world, I can say with confidence that most parents are totally appropriate in their involvement in their college students' lives.

As I've been drinking my morning coffee, the Today Show anchors have been teasing a story about those terrible helicopter parents and how they are now at colleges. Now? The term has been used in higher ed circles for 15 years. Helicopter parents aren't new, but they exist in far fewer numbers than some would have you believe.

I'll be back next week with some specific examples of good and not-so-good parental involvement in the college admission process.

For now, enjoy this video of parents dropping their Class of 2018 students off on move-in day here at UVa. I don't see a single helicopter, do you?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The "Right" Extracurricular Activities

I saw a tweet today that said "Choose the Right Extracurricular at the Right Time for College Applications" along with a link. The link was to an article in a magazine [that no one I know buys until they put out a ranking issue] with a year-by-year breakdown of what a high school student's involvement in activities should look like in order to get admitted to a great college. The article is credited to a tutoring company. Nothing gets me fired up like random folks presenting admission information like it's gospel. So, buckle up. This might take a little while.

When I was younger, we looooved a show called Saved by the Bell. It was a cheesy, Saturday morning show that followed a bunch of students over the course of many years. One of the characters on the show was fixated on going to "Stansbury" and was pretty diligent about academics. At one point, she had trouble balancing school work and her after-school commitments (specifically, being in an all-girl pop group while taking geometry) and she resorted to taking *gasp* caffeine pills. This led to a "very special episode" and a truly epic scene in which her best friend discovered her secret.

You'd be surprised by how many choices I had when it came to this gif.

I told you it was cheesy. My point is that going to extremes to "look good" to colleges is not a new phenomenon, but with so many people taking a turn at being a college admission guru, I think more people are spending unnecessary time and energy strategizing when it comes to their activities.

My advice:

1. Get involved in some stuff you like.
    When I was in school we were obsessed with the idea of the "well-rounded student." The only alternative was being nationally recognized in something, so we all aimed for well-rounded. The philosophy here has evolved. We're building a well-rounded class. In a well-rounded class, there's room for all types. Some students are going to be rounded and others are going to be pointy. It all makes the class interesting. Don't "over think" things. We're looking for students who are involved in some things that they find meaningful. There is no check list and no "ideal" activity list.

2. Don't apologize if your interests change.
     I can't tell you how many times a student has expressed fear over dropping an activity that no longer fits into their busy schedule or isn't as rewarding as it once was. This is totally fine. Now, I'm not saying you get to check out on commitments you've made once you have a couple admission offers on the table. I'm saying that if your priorities change, that's okay.

3. Quality over quantity.
     There are students with long lists and there are students with short lists. Everyone knows that student who manages to be everywhere. People wonder how they get things done, but they somehow figure it out. Everyone else knows that student who has a short list, but shows serious depth in one or two areas. Both of those students probably have some interesting, impressive things to share in the activity section of their application. Don't get bogged down in the number of things you can put in the Common App's activity chart. Put your activities in the chart and move on the next section. This part of the application should be easy to complete and make you feel pretty good about yourself, no matter how long your list is!

Oh, and if your list isn't long, don't feel pressured to throw filler in there.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Best Time to Apply to UVa

These days, college application deadlines should be simple. Back when we had a paper application, we had to move our deadline to avoid New Year's Day, when the post office was closed. Going paperless in 2008 simplified many things for both applicants and admission officers. The deadlines for first-year applications haven't changed since.

The deadlines at UVa are November 1st for Early Action and January 1st for Regular Decision. There seem to be more people concerned with the "right time" to submit an application this year. Let me cover the three most popular assumptions.

1. Applications submitted early get "easier" reads and show interest.
I completely understand this thinking since it is true for some schools. There are plenty encouraging very early submission of applications these days. At UVa, we have the same review process for the entire application season. We probably won't notice the date that the application arrived. As for interest, it is not a factor for us.

2. We fill the class during Early Action.
About half of our applicants applied during the early round last year and roughly half the offers went to that group. I'm saying roughly because there's a lot more to the conversation, but suffice it to say we do not fill our class with the Early Action applicants. You can look at unofficial statistics about the admission process using the statistics tag on this blog. Official statistics are published by the Office of Institutional Assessment

3. Applications submitted around the holidays are read by "jolly" admission officers.
I saw this posted in the UVa forum of a popular college admission message board. When we go into reading mode, we are laser focused on the task in front of us. We realize how important our work is to our applicants and we isolate ourselves from outside influences so we give each file the time it deserves. As a result, we aren't always too jolly around the holidays, but we do feel good about the work we're doing.

In a nutshell, submit your UVa application when you feel it is complete. While I always caution students about last minute submission, there isn't a difference between an application submitted on September 1st and one submitted on November 1st when we read. Don't rush yourselves!

CavDog enjoying the summer

As I wrote this, I got word that our first application for the Class of 2019 was submitted on Saturday, one day after the Common App launched.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The 2014-2015 Common Application is Live!

Happy Common App Launch Day!

The Common App's blog has tips for applicants, parents, and school officials that you should check out before you get started.

If you created an account last season, you need to create a new account. You may notice one format change this season. Common App allowed colleges to choose whether they wanted to maintain a separate tab for essay questions or move their essay questions so ALL questions from the school are on the same tab. UVa and lots of others moved their essays. All UVa specific questions are now on the UVa tab. There's no "Writing Supplement" tab for UVa.

Here are screen shots that show how the essay questions will change based on which school within the University you select. Remember, the essays were posted back in June right here on the blog.

I'll be back next week with a few more Common App related posts. Feel free to post questions (or messages that convey extreme exultation over launch day) below.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Demonstrating Interest in UVa

Did you ever have a pen pal? I had one in fourth grade. Her name was Lorelei and she lived in Terre Haute, Indiana. I imagine my teacher and hers were old friends and decided to expand our horizons by connecting students from very different areas. Lorelei made life in the Midwest seem lovely and I'm sure I made in the suburbs of a major eastern city sound exciting. In time, we lost touch, as many pen pals do.

This summer, I have a veritable flock of pen pals. It seems that several students want to keep me updated about what the summer has been like for them. I've heard about summer reading, jobs, and even a few trips to exotic locations like Long Beach Island. One student started her first email to me with a note about how her counselor told her that it's very important that admission officers get to know her as a person and not as a student.

Of course it's fun to get to know our applicants, just like it was fun getting to know what life was like for Lorelei in Terre Haute. As a UVa admission officer, I'm more concerned with answering questions than with getting updates about how the summer is going. By all means, reach out to us if you need help finding ansewrs to your questions, but emailing for sake of putting your name in front of us is not going to do anything to improve your admission chances.

I think there's a two part issue here. Generally, this is what I think is going on:

1. People think all schools use demonstrated interest.
UVa does not use demonstrated interest in the application review process. When I read a file, I don't know if a student has visited us, called with questions, attended an evening program in their community, or got out of class to see one of us when we visited their high school. The period prior to submitting an application is for the applicant to gather information. While we obviously keep track of who attends events, this is more about assessing our activity than about your candidacy.

On our contact page, right over the list of admission officers and our email addresses, there is a line that says we do not use demonstrated interest. I just went in and put it in bold because some people seem to be missing it.
2. Students don't know what demonstrates interest in a school.
It is totally fine to ask an admission officer if they are using interest and what they consider a good way to show it. Many come right out and say what they value: a campus visit. You can demonstrate your interest in UVa by submitting an application. That's it. At this point, frequent emails, especially when they contain no questions or questions that are easily answered by a Google search, probably aren't going to impress admission officers.

I hope you can take a little time to relax and enjoy your summer without getting too worried about the admission process.  The Common App doesn't launch for another week, but if you want to do a little thinking about your application, you can always check out our application essays, which I posted back in June.

CavDog at the lake just north of town

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Getting College Search Advice

I'm using a comment left by "GFK" as the jumping off point for this post.

I found this blog through a search (after reading a New York Times oped about admissions essays and feeling hopeless about advising our child on this topic) and have spent the entire weekend reading it almost in its entirety. This is the most incredible college admissions resource we have encountered. Living in Fairfax Country, there is no shortage of advice about the admissions process and it is hard to separate truth from fiction.

I realize that this blog is specific to UVA and though much of the information is applicable to the process overall, I wonder if you might share some advice for those of us who are hearing admissions information from all kinds of "insiders" right now.
First of all, I'm thrilled that GFK is asking about this. When you first start getting information in the college search, you read, you ponder, you share. It all seems like great stuff. As the information pours in, you might get overwhelmed.

GFK is in an areas where the public (and most of the private) schools have excellent College and Career Centers. The Career Center Specialists and guidance counselors should be your first stop for general information about the college search. Those folks will also be able to share some tools for narrowing all the options down. They often have historical data about your school population and many different colleges and universities. If you know what a scattergram is, you know the one of the most popular resources out there. Of course, scattergrams don't tell you absolutes, but they can give you some basic information. 

We talk to counselors and career center specialists fairly regularly. Even the career center specialist I know who worked in admission for years will call or email to verify information. Things are always changing, so the policy or practice that was in place three years ago may have shifted. I tend to have a mental list of things to tell my counselor/career center friends when I visit them in the fall so they know about what's new or different at UVa that year.

If your counselors have huge case loads or feel like you aren't getting enough information about the schools that interest you from the resources available to you online at at your school, contact the admission offices with your questions. This seems like a no-brainer to some, but others seem to feel either nervous about calling us or have convinced themselves that we are suspicious folks who can't be consulted. Until I move into the reading season, my job is to make sure students have the information they need to decide if they should submit an application (more on this in a future post...I have a lot to say!).

You've probably encountered well meaning folks who want to help by sharing their observations of the admission process or experiences they've had helping past students through the process. There's a different between being an observer and being an "insider" (to use GFK's term). Again, remember that schools and practices evolve, so what someone observed about the process in the past (when their child applied, for example) may not be relevant today. Admission officers are happy to talk to you by phone, email, or via social media. Reach out to us if you'd like to get current information.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, CavDog (and a note for Instagram users)

It's almost a shame that CavDog's birthday comes at the time of year when students aren't around. His most favorite days are ones that include lots of hanging out with students. I guess that's to be expected when he's been to 39 Days on the Lawn!

The only thing that would get him more excited: crashing a breakfast party in a Lawn room and being welcomed with cream cheese.

CavDog celebrated his birthday without much fanfare yesterday. He's now seven years old!

By the way, if you are on Instagram, take a look at the @UVa_Summer account and the #uvasummer tag. The @UVa_Summer account is the work of a team of students who are working here over the summer. People all over Grounds are using the #uvasummer hashtag to show you what lives is like here when most of the students are away. It's a fun look into a part of UVa that many people don't experience!

Of course, I hope you'll also follow me, @UVaDeanJ.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Are You Reading Hoo Stories, the Student Blog?

A good number of UVa students stay in Charlottesville each summer to do various things. Some take classes to open up space in their schedules, some work, some do research, and some do a combination of those things. We're lucky that fantastic students opt to stay in town to work in our office every year. And while I love every season of our cycle, summer might be my favorite time because we get to see the summer student staff every single day.

For the last several years, the summer interns have taken over the HooStories blog. The blog passes from one group of students to the next, so the archive goes back several years. This year's group has hit the ground running and filled the blog with posts in a very short period of time. I think they've written more this month than almost any other group of students that has take over the blog!

If you aren't reading, you have to go check HooStories out!

Monday, June 09, 2014

2014-2015 First-Year Essay Questions

I've been posting our essay questions every June since 2007. It's always a nice way to mark the end of an application season and the beginning of a new one.

Towards the end of every reading season, we gather to talk about which essay questions elicited great responses, which ones could be tweaked to be better, and which essays we'd like to retire. We often pull students into our discussions to get their perspectives. Some of the specialty schools provide feedback and direction, too.

There are some questions on our application that prompt students to write interesting essays year after year, so we don't feel the need to change them. They've almost become traditions here, though the applicants rarely know this since few have looked at the application before.

You'll write one essay for the general Common Application and then you'll answer our essay prompts on the our "Member Screen" along with other questions that are specific to UVa. The Common App folks posted the main essay questions back in February. Here are ours:

2014-2015 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 - U.Va. engineers are working to solve problems that affect people around the world, from our long-term water purification project in South Africa to continuing to research more efficient applications of solar power. However, most students start small, by using engineering to make a difference in daily life. If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make your everyday life better, what would you do?
  • School of Architecture - Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
  • School of Nursing - Discuss experiences that led you to choose the School of 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 (we’ll welcome you to Grounds, not campus) 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 U.Va. culture. In her fourth year at U.Va., 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?
  • While a student at U.Va., Fulbright Scholar Rowan Sprague conducted groundbreaking research aimed at protecting the complex structure of honeybee hives. We know that colonies include bees acting in a diverse range of roles, all equally important to the success of the hive. What role will you play in the U.Va. hive?
  • To tweet or not to tweet?     

A note about word limits:
We aren't counting words on these. The word limits are there tell you what is expected. The forms where you paste in your essay will cut you off at some point, but there is a little bit of leeway. Generally, the main essay is in the vicinity of a page and the UVa questions should be about half of a page. You aren't writing a term paper, but a concise, thoughtful statement that conveys your voice and personality.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Class of 2018 is full

This afternoon, we'll email first-year students on the waiting list to let them know that the Class of 2018 is now full. Their SIS pages will also update with the same message.

After considering the size of the first-year class and the spaces available in the student body, I regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admission this year. Our first-year class is full and I believe it would be unfair to keep your name on the waiting list any longer.

We sincerely appreciate your interest in the University of Virginia and wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. If you are interested in pursuing the possibility of transferring to the University after one or two years in another college or university, please visit our transfer page to learn more about this process.


Greg W. Roberts
Dean of Admission
University of Virginia

I know it was a long wait and this is disappointing news. I hope you can look at your chosen school and move forward with you plans to go there with excitement.

Thank you so much for being part of this blog.  Best wishes for a wonderful summer and exciting start to your college career!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Waiting List, Part 2

We've been having quite a discussion in the comments under the first post about the waiting list. There are so many comments that some of my responses to questions are probably buried, so I thought I'd post a new entry so the common questions can be answered and and seen without too much scrolling. What's more, I have the blog programmed to shut comments down on a post after a couple weeks, so it's probably a good idea to give you all a place to chat since the other post is getting old.

First of all, we know that the waiting is terribly difficult. You have a chosen school, but there's a huge "maybe" dominating your thoughts right now.


In the comments on the other post, I compared the change in speeds in this process to that of an airplane after a flight. Small, precise movements get the plane from the runway to the gate. We're trying to get to the gate right now. We landed way closer to it that we have in past years, so the change in speed was pretty dramatic.

You'll notice that at this time of year, I am not able to give constant updates. This isn't new. When we make offers, we call a student to give them a heads up that their SIS status is about to change and then we give them a few days to think about whether they'll hit "accept" and pay a deposit. If they need financial aid, we wait until the package is posted and then we give them a few days to accept. Even a student who adores UVa sometimes has to think about this whole thing for a little bit, especially since it means they'll probably be losing an enrollment deposit at another school. I'm sure you're aware that some of those deposits are substantial these days.

When the class is finalized, we'll email everyone on the waiting list to let them know that we won't be making more offers. In admission speak, we say the waiting list is "released."

A student asked what will happen if students in the class give us late notice that they won't be coming to UVa. This is called "summer melt" (students who cancel over the summer) and admission officers around the country anticipate a certain amount of that every summer.

Typically, we are able to announce that the class is full in early June (June 3rd last year, June 11th in 2012, and June 1st in 2011).

Friday, May 02, 2014

As the Dust Settles...

This is what admission officers at most schools are like on May 2nd:

This is what admission officers are like on May 2nd when a perfect storm of awesomeness swept their school after decisions were released:

The dust is still settling, but it looks like all those awesome things made UVa a pretty exciting choice for A LOT of the high school seniors we admitted. We'll know more next week, but I don't think we'll be going to the waiting list in a big way. We all have lists with names of students for whom we want to find spots in the class and I'm not sure we'll get to use them, so what is usually a really exciting day is kind of shocking. The good news is that the class will probably be finalized more quickly than in past years.

Again, we'll know more next week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Next Steps for Enrolling Students

Several times when a Days on the Lawn day was winding down, I had people tell me that they had just submitted an enrollment deposit. It's always rewarding to see the excited look on a student's face after they've made that final decision and officially come to the end of the college search.

Once the deposit is paid, you will naturally wonder "what's next?" So let's talk about that...

First of all, this is when your record in SIS moves from the admission part of the system to the student records side. You'll now move from working with the Office of Admission to working with the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs within the Office of the Dean of Students.

The Orientation folks have an entire website all about next steps and registering for Summer Orientation. In May, they'll also send you a welcome book with even more information (you can flip through last year's version online, but know that some things may change in the 2014 edition). 

Be sure to read those FAQs on the Orientation website. The Orientation staff has been doing this for a long time and they know what's on your mind.

If you just can't get enough of admission and want to work with us after you enroll, consider getting involved with some student organizations that reach out to prospective students.

Virginia Ambassadors - You have probably interacted with the Virginia Ambassadors several times without even knowing it. They chat with visitors in Peabody Hall, hold student-led information sessions, answer questions from prospective students online (through a blog, Facebook, chats, and email), visit their high schools during breaks, and were those wonderful students in orange shirts at Days on the Lawn.

University Guide Service -  The UGuides are the tour guides for the University. They don't just give admission tours, though. They also give historical tours to tourists.

Monroe Society - The Monroe Society acts as hosts for prospective students who want to stay on Grounds overnight.

Common Grounds - The students of Common Grounds meet with students informally over coffee or lunch to talk about the UVa experience.

UVa Clubs Student Ambassadors - This student group works with the UVaClubs to share the student experience with constituents in their home communities.

In addition, our Outreach office collaborates with many of the multicultural organizations on Grounds to connect prospective students with current students.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Days on the Lawn Observations

We're in the midst of our 5th Days on the Lawn event (two more to go!) and I thought I'd share some of the topics that are coming up a lot as we chat with visitors.

First of all, while we have all sorts of events and sessions scheduled, you decide what you want to do. Some families have a "divide and conquer" strategy and try to get to as many different sessions as possible and others wander at a more leisurely pace. This is a day to "kick the tires" and if that includes having an hour-long coffee break at the Greenberry's in Alderman Library, that is just fine.

Registration is on the Lawn before the welcome talk, but all of the tables move to Peabody Hall around 9:30 AM. If you arrive a little late, just see us in Peabody and we'll get you all the information you need for the day.

The admission officers are wearing gold name badges. Ask us anything! The student volunteers are wearing orange t-shirts or gray sweatshirts. Ask them anything, too. Beyond that, I think you'll find that most UVa students are friendly and happy to help you if you aren't quite sure where you are going on Grounds.

The financial aid folks are meeting with people in Newcomb Hall, but they are usually very, very popular. Consider contacting their office before you visit if you need to talk about your aid package.

By the way, the Office of Admission can't give you more money. We've had a few people come in to tell us about what other schools have given them in hopes of us somehow adjusting their aid package. Our office can't change your financial aid.

Similarly, we can't give someone entrance into the Echols, Rodman, or College Science Scholars programs because other schools accepted a student into an honors college. Our review process takes months (as I'm sure you remember!) and it is specific to us. The results of another school's process doesn't change ours. Our programs have processes for bringing some students on board once they are already here. See their websites for information.

An unusually large number of students have asked to switch schools. While we were able to accommodate switches before decisions were released, at this point, we can't guarantee a switch. The Dean of Admission, Greg Roberts, is handling those requests.

This is a minor point, but if you want to take a picture with CavDog, try to come see us before the welcome talk starts. Each of the deans has responsibilities during DOTL events, so we can't always linger on the Lawn after the welcome talk. Later in the day, CavDog is usually in Peabody and is happy to meet guests.

Remember to check the DOTL parking information! The Office of Admission has rented out the entire garage at Emmet and Ivy Roads, so it is free to park there on DOTL days. If you have visited us before, you probably parked at the Central Grounds Garage (under the bookstore). We are not using that garage on DOTL days. That garage has regular paid parking for other visitors to Grounds.

Shuttle buses are ferrying DOTL guests from the Emmet and Ivy Garage to the Lawn for the welcome session. If you don't want to take the shuttle, it will take about 10 minutes to walk to the Lawn.

Feel free to post questions about DOTL in the comments!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Big Developments!

There is so much great news coming out around Grounds today!

1. Student self-governance has been a hallmark of UVa's culture for a really long time. The Cavalier Daily declared that we're giving it up. Thank goodness. I mean, who wants students actively engaged in the development of the University? We should really just be satisfied with where we are and never change. Who needs innovation and progress?

2. Along the lines of staying exactly where you are, the library has decided that there's no need to actually walk into one of the 13 libraries on Grounds. Their new system will foster your lounging skills by allowing you to order a book online and get it delivered by drone. Forget about the fact that drones are illegal in Charlottesville.

3. This last piece of news is specific to this blog. CavDog debuted on the blog in 2008, when he was still a very young pup. He was super cute as a little dog, but let's be honest: he's pushing seven and he's got some gray hair. It's getting harder and harder for students to relate to him. It's time for CavDog to retire.

When looking for a CavDog replacement, I wanted something that was distinctively "UVa." Granted, other schools don't have golden retrievers like CavDog, but plenty have dogs. I got to thinking about some of the things at UVa that are special and unique to our Grounds. One thing came up over and over again.

Serpentine wall UVa daffodils 2010
By Karen Blaha (Flickr: Daffodils and serpentine wall) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 
(], via Wikimedia Commons

The serpentine walls. We love the beautiful serpentine walls that surround the gardens along the Mr. Jefferson's Lawn. 

So, CavDog's replacement on the blog will be...


I can't wait to share all of CavSnake's charming antics with you! He's quite a little gentleman! Don't you think next year's seniors will be put at ease by having CavSnake pictures on the blog during their application process?

In case you didn't look at the calendar, it's April 1st

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Quirk: Friendly Rivalries

Well, a very exciting run is over. The UVa men's basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament over the weekend. We all stayed up way too late on Friday night, so Charlottesville was pretty quiet on Saturday morning. Side note: I know students are used to staying up late, but a 10:15 PM tip off is brutal! They were still playing at midnight!

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little story to tell you about how tight the UVa family is. When the NCAA tournament started, I sat CavDog next to the logo of the team's first opponent to see if he would do anything funny for my camera. He just looked bored. I could work with that.

 For the next game, I gave CavDog a stuffed toy that resembled the other team's mascot. He loved it. He loved it so much he destroyed it quickly and efficiently.

The poor tiger toy was in pieces by the tip off of that game.

The last opponent we had was from pretty far away. I had a couple days to find something for CavDog to play with in videos and pictures to represent our opponent (and at this point, people were asking what I was going to do next, so I felt some pressure!). Desperate, I put out the word on social media that I needed someone in the state of our opponent to help me.

Three UVa graduates volunteered. I can't tell you how much running around they did, but one went to at least five different stores to track down some sort of toy for CavDog. He struck out. Another graduate explained that they take their in-state rivalries much, much more seriously than we do in Virginia, so her area (where our opponent's in-state rival was located) wouldn't have anything for CavDog. She literally had not seen anything in her town with the other school's logo on it.

I found the temperature of the rivalry in that state kind of interesting. At most of the stores in Charlottesville (excluding the ones on the UVa Corner), you can find items with the Virginia Tech logo right alongside the UVA items. This is true at the little boutiques and the big chains. These flags are not uncommon around here:

While we talk about having a rivalry with our sister schools in the Commonwealth, it really only exists in the sporting arena. Most UVa students have high school friends at the other state schools, so while we obviously hope we win the "big game," we don't hate our peers. What's more, if they ever needed us, we'd be there for them.

Oh, in the end, one of the UVa graduates came through with a football that sang our opponent's fight song. CavDog was so, so pleased.

Some teasing is fun on game day, but remember that in the end, we are all part of a the amazing network of public schools in the Commonwealth. I've found that some of the people who make the rivalry out to be bigger than it is are people who didn't actually go to the schools involved.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Days on the Lawn #2 - Rain Plan in Effect!

There's a strong chance of rain tomorrow, so we are moving all Days on the Lawn events to their rain locations. Admission officers and student volunteers will be around to point you in the right direction, but just in case you find you way to Grounds without us, we'll be starting the day in Old Cabell Hall instead of outside at the Rotunda. Old Cabell is on the opposite end of the Lawn from the Rotunda.

The DOTL website has parking information, but I thought I'd revisit the parking situation for these events. We have rented the entire Emmet & Ivy Garage for DOTL. This is the garage behind the Cavalier Inn at the intersection of Emmet Street (aka Route 29) and Ivy Road. If you've been to UVa before, you've probably seen the playing field and tennis courts at this intersection. We have shuttle buses to take you from the garage to the Lawn.

If you visited UVa in the past, you probably parked in the Central Grounds Parking garage. That garage isn't big enough to accommodate everyone coming for Days on the Lawn.

Any questions about DOTL?

By the way, CavDog stays home when we move to the rain plan. Old Cabell Hall isn't pet friendly.

Not a fan of the rain plan.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Waiting List, in Depth

A lot of the comments on the waiting list post from decision day ask questions that are addressed on the waiting list FAQ page, which was linked in your letter and in that post. I'm going to share some of the same information here and add my own notes. There is a lot of information to share. Here we go...

How many people are on the waiting list? 

I think the biggest thing that students skim over is the part where we say that you have to accept or decline the offer of a spot on the waiting list. The waiting list doesn't really exist until people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, covers the numbers.
From the 2012-2013 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: 4,393
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,540
On May 1, the waiting list will be big. There's no way around that. While we don't have a ranking, you can think of the list as having ten sections. The sections are for Virginia and non-Virginia residents for each for the five schools/programs that take first year students.

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?  

No one will know this until May 1st. 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 of 2018. The class is supposed to be 3,570 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 are numbers from the last few years:
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 letter of interest is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us with significant news is okay. Bombarding us with an email each day is not.

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 a good 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 want to move quickly. No one wants to drag this out. Last year, we started on April 30th. In 2012, it was April 30th again (total coincidence). The year before, we started on May 4th. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we finished on June 3rd and the year before that, we were done on June 11th.
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.
Anyway, the usual response is screaming or "OH MY GOSH!" When SIS updates, a new letter is viewable along with the buttons needed to accept the offer and pay a deposit. We'll give you a couple days to think about things.

What about aid?  
If you applied for aid by the 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 over 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. 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!

 Oh, look at that. He nodded off.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Unofficial 2013-2014 Admission Statistics

First of all, I am not the source of official 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

Here are some numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of 3/24/2014. If you are a reporter reading this, please be sure to get in touch with the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for all of your reporterly needs. :)

If you want to look at numbers from past years, head to the Office of Institutional Assessment site (link above) or click on the "statistics" tag at the end of this post, which will take you to older posts of this nature. Remember that my numbers are unofficial and old posts were not updated when the census was taken.

Total number of applications: 31,042
Total number of VA apps: 9,014
Total number of OOS apps: 22,028
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Overall offers: 8,972
Total VA offers: 3,903 (43.2% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 5,069 (23% offer rate)
Enrollment goal: 3,570

*Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.
Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. We do not try to figure out an individual student's likelihood of enrolling (demonstrated interest), but overall yield influences the offer rate. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency.

Middle 50% SAT score (offers only):1970-2240
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 30-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

92.5% 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. It's Days on the Lawn season and spring break at many high schools, so we are inundated with visitors. We have also moved into the transfer review process (reading season doesn't end with the first year release!). There will be a post about the waiting list tomorrow and next step later this week.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Let's Talk About Decisions 2014: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk.  I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2018 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students.  Parents, you can check out the UVa Parents Committee and the UVa Families page. We would love to see your celebratory pictures or videos! Tag them with #UVA2018 and #UVA. There will be loads of Hoos online tonight during the basketball game and I bet they'd love to welcome you to the UVa family!

Just below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, a pop-up box will appear so you pay your tuition deposit online*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but you'll get more information about that soon via email.

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!

*We have an e-check system for deposits.  You'll type in the numbers on the bottom of your check, much like the system used when filing taxes.  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 Decisions: The Waiting List

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

There's no way around it.  This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school.  We have traditionally offered waiting list spots to a large number of students. This is 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) and 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 (you have until May 1st to do this).

You will not be ranked. There have been years when we've taken 60 students off the waiting list (2008) and years when we've taken 288 students off the waiting list (2009). Last year, we offered admission to 185 wait-listed students.

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 at a school by May 1st to ensure yourself a spot in a freshman class somewhere. 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.).

CavDog hopes you find a peaceful place to think about your options

Let's Talk about 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. I hope you'll read this post and 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.

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.

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. 

CavDog wishes he could make this easier on you

A Note of Thanks

This is my eighth time writing this post. I often start with last year's note and edit it as I go along. Some things have changed a lot about this process and other things haven't changed at all.  Writing this note is my little tradition and I don't want that to change. So, here we go.

Thank you.

Some of you will be moving on after tonight and so I think it's a good time to express my gratitude for having you spend a few moments from your busy days on the blog. My work in social media is successful because of you. When I'm bleary eyed from staring at forms and transcripts, your comments help me feel connected to the students who are behind the applications. I'm thankful for the opportunity to interact with you here, on Twitter, Instagram, the Facebook page, and the blog. I am not thankful for SnapChat yet. I'm not sure I ever will be.

For an admission officer, a dream moment would be to be able to see a student open their admission letter. During the EA release, students were tagging their happy pictures and videos with #UVA2018, so that dream came true for me. I love thinking about how happy some of you are going to be this evening. That excitement is tempered by the fact that we're going to make many of you sad or upset. I console myself with the knowledge that you will all have other attractive offers, some from our 14 public sisters in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to be just fine.  You are going to attend a great school and you are going to grow tremendously while there. You're going to have "ah ha" moments like you've never had before. 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 are going to have highs and lows, you're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably at a few things. 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. The vast majority of the applicant pool is 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 chime in to help the next group of applicants.

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

Seriously, use the #UVA2018 and #UVA hashtags tonight. 
Our entire community is so excited to welcome the new class!

Regular Decision Notification Update

The last two weeks of March, everyone is looking for signs that we are finished with the review process. I've had students tell me about my patterns on Twitter or the blog and how they relate to when we released decisions in past years. I've had people contact me almost every. single. day. to ask if this is the day they we'll be done.

Where did everyone go?

There are so many different pieces to this process. Besides the application review, we have to look at mid-year reports, early action students who were deferred to regular decision, the scholars programs, and we also have the rolling spring breaks that bring hundreds of students to the UVa Grounds every day.

I am so excited to tell you all that this afternoon, we finalized the last decisions and we are ready to let them go. We're going to post Regular Action decisions on your SIS accounts TONIGHT! Please keep reading!

 1. You have to log into your SIS account to see the decision. Some time tonight, that "View Decision" link at the bottom of the dashboard that goes to a dead end right now 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. Please do not open multiple windows, hammering the system. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window.

I don't have a time for the release because it takes the IT folks a while to run the script that posts the letters. It's not a case of just flipping a switch.

Welcome mailings

I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I will step away from the blog this evening to give you time to chat (I'll be on Twitter during the basketball game because I like seeing UVa as a trending topic). 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.

3. Notification Day brings a lot of joy, but there are going to be some hurt feelings as well. While I want you to be happy and celebrate your successes, I hope you'll be gracious around classmates who might not get good news. If you don't get the good news, I hope you'll be happy about the options you DO have.

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). This is not a private page. What's more, statistics like GPA and rank 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, posting that you took 87 AP courses doesn't tell the story of your high school career.

5. I'll share statistics on Monday afternoon.

Good luck to you all!
Whoo Hoo! You made it to the finish line!

Engineering Open House Tomorrow!

One of my favorite days of the year is tomorrow! I'll be spending the morning on Engineering Way here at UVa, visiting with our engineering students who are holding an open house for the community. If you're a prospective student and want to come, you can register online for the event.

I'll be giving back-to-back admission talks with Dean Ed Berger in MEC 205 (Mechanical Engineering building) at 11 am and 12 pm. If you've already attended an information session, you've probably heard a lot of what I'm going to say, so don't feel obligated to come. You should DEFINITELY check out the other things going on in the MEC building, though.

Former astronaut and UVa faculty member Kathy Thornton is giving a talk right after our admission session and she always draws a crowd.

There's a full schedule and parking information on the open house website. The weather is supposed to be beautiful!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Happens at Days on the Lawn?

Two posts in one day! That doesn't happen too often around here.

A comment on this morning's post made me realize that I've been catering to Regular Decision applicants on the blog lately and there are a lot of admitted Early Action applicants who are making plans to visit. This post is also for the RD applicants, of course. Some of you will make plans to visit us for Days on the Lawn in April.

What is Days on the Lawn?
Days on the Lawn (DOTL) are open house days for admitted students. There are two DOTLs in March and six in April. The first one is this coming Monday.

Monday, March 24
Friday, March 28
Friday, April 4
Monday, April 7
Wednesday, April 9
Monday, April 14
Wednesday, April 16
Friday, April 18
 A link to registration, which is required, sent to every admitted student. DOTL is not required.

CavDog expects pets first and registration second.

What happens at Days on the Lawn?
Admission officers and Days on the Lawn student volunteers will greet you at the Emmet & Ivy Parking Garage when you arrive and point you towards the opening session (on the Rotunda steps unless it rains).  We'll have some light refreshments until 9:00 AM.  After a quick hello from administrators, a student will offer some advice for incoming students.  The student talk is usually my favorite part!

After this, you'll be off on the academic part of the day.  Each school and college has an information session or faculty panel (some also offer a tour of their facilities).  The students will break away from the parents to head to classes at some point. 

Throughout the day, representatives from different offices will be available for questions.  There's a resource fair and the Financial Aid staff will be around as well (they are usually able to talk one-on-one with people after the give out some general information, so feel free to bring some questions). 

Different styles of residence halls will be open for tours in the afternoon.  Last year, students were able to visit Brown College (a residential college), a traditional hall on McCormick Road, and a suite style hall on Alderman Road.  These tours are a nice supplement to the pictures and floor plans of first year residence halls on the housing website.

The academic events of the day end with a student panels.  We usually have students from different graduation years and different academic programs on the panel, so a variety of student experiences are represented.

There is no set schedule. You decide what you want to attend. 

 DOTLs are CavDog's favorite days of the year!

What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can walk in. You'll be able to wander all over the Grounds and you don't want your attire to slow you down or make you not want to walk over to the residence halls or to the building of the department that interests you.

What if I can't come to a DOTL?
You can do a lot of the same things on another day, but you'll just have to do a little planning. Our "Plan a Visit" page has links to an open class list, the Monroe Society (overnight visit hosts), and other resources for visitors. If you scroll down on the tour page, you'll see that there are department tours offered in addition to the general tour.

Wahoo Love.

Feel free to post DOTL questions. One observation I can share is that one or two days always become the most sought after ones. If a date fills up, please pick a different date.