For new readers...

Welcome! Please do a search with the Google box to the right if you have a question and pick a name if posting a comment. Remember to come back and read the comments if you post a question. Please ask permission before republishing my work.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Picking the Right College by May 1st

Many of us have been on the road in recent weeks to help high schools with case study programs. During a case study program, students are put into groups and told to evaluate a handful of deliberately strong applications as if they are an admission committee. School counselors often ask admission officers to facilitate the discussions.

Before one case study program a couple week ago, a counselor friend said that her students had a few days to read the applications and many thought there was a "right" answer to each case. There were obviously three possible outcomes (admit, waiting list, deny), but each committee was bound to have different results for the hypothetical applicants. There were no right answers because all of the hypothetical students were awesome. That's the point of the exercise.

You can't make a bad decision when all the options are wonderful!

The notion of a "right" decision has been a theme this week as well, even though I'm back in the office. With May 1st around the corner, we're getting calls and visits from some who seem more anxious than ever about this choice.We can imagine the spreadsheets being developed when people ask about double majors or studying abroad, or how much the laundry costs (yes, that was a question the other day).


So here's my pep talk for everyone who is worrying about making a final decision in their college search:

You vetted these options back in the fall when you put them on your list of schools to which you would apply. All of these schools have great professors. All of these schools have exciting opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. All of these schools have happy students. If you are still debating your options, relax and remember that you can't make a bad decision.

There is no "right" decision, there is a "best" one. If you pick the school that is best for you, you'll take advantage of all those exciting opportunities. You'll be fostering your growth as a scholar and as a person. 


Whether your next stop is here or another school, best wishes for a great end to your high school career and an exciting next step on your journey.


If you're joining #UVA20, I hope to see your photo from the "College Signing Day" photobooth on Instagram or Twitter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When the Trophy Generation Applies to College

I'm used to fielding calls about admission to UVA from friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. At this time of year, most of the conversations are with parents and are about the waiting list, but one exchange rattled me a bit. The woman on the other end of the line told me she was having trouble eating and sleeping because of her son's admission results. At one point, the conversation went like this:

Me: What other options are on the table?
Her: No good ones. We've had no good news.
Me: None of the schools on his list admitted him?
Her: Well, no elite ones.

Thank goodness we were talking on the phone because I winced. I pointed out that the schools on her son's list were probably all places he imagined attending back when he was working on the applications. His personal ranking system for schools might make them elite in his mind (I tweeted about this a while ago).


By the time we were done with our conversation, I think she was feeling better.

Being a high school student right now must be so confusing. This is a generation of students who have gotten tremendous support from adults throughout their lives. This is a good thing. From getting participation trophies to seeing 112 people named valedictorian at their school, they've experienced a lot of validation. But when some of these students get to this point in their senior year, it seems like the script gets flipped on them and only certain options are valued. Why did the support evaporate? Why was that mom losing sleep and not eating despite her son having multiple offers of admission at schools he probably liked? We gave them trophies for a job well done before, but why not now?

As we approach May 1st, let's all try to congratulate students on their success and encourage them to attend the best school for them. That's the school where they are most likely to be happy and engaged both inside and outside of the classroom.



As always, if you have lingering questions about UVA, we are here to help. There's a dean on call during business hours and a team answering emails to our general email account. I'm also happy to answer questions in the comments below.


We're here to help, too!

Monday, April 04, 2016

The #UVA20 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. 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? 

We won't know this until May 1st. The waiting list forms as people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, covers the numbers. Every school publishes a Common Data Set, so you should be able to google and find these numbers for every institution.
From the 2015-2016 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: 4,547
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,081
Number of wait-listed students admitted: 402
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 (Virginia 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 of 2020. The class is supposed to be about 3,675 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.  

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 letter of interest to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us with significant news is okay. Bombarding every admission officer with an email each day is not. Please don't email one (or several) admission officers directly. We're just going to forward your email to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu and it will take an extra day for the email to get filed. Save time and 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 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 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 22nd. In 2014, we were done by June 6th. In 2013, 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.

Because we want to give students a few days to think about the offer (and because the Financial Aid folks need a day or two to post a package for the newly-admitted student), 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!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Unofficial Admission Statistics for #UVA20

As usual, I am sharing some unofficial statistics this application season. These numbers weren't targets (meaning, we don't read to "hit" a certain test statistic), they are the result of the committee's process. Please keep in mind that the Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVA. They will determine the final statistics for the class, which can be found in the data digest part of their website.

Here are some unofficial numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of 3/28/2016. 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.


Applications
Total number of applications: 32,426
Total number of VA apps: 9,653
Total number of OOS apps:22,773
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.


Offers
Overall offers: 9,416
Total VA offers: 4,019 (41.6% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 5,397 (23.7% offer rate)
Enrollment goal: 3,675
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 (or look at demonstrated interest), but overall yield influences the offer rate. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency.


Testing/Rank
Middle 50% SAT score (offers only): 1970-2250
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 30-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports I'm using generate totals.

92.8% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank.


Defers and the Waiting List
Overall offer rate for the defer group: 21.4%
Students offered spots on the waiting list: 15%
Remember that the waiting list forms as students opt into it via SIS and many will decline. The waiting list will have ten different segments (in-state and OOS for each of the five academic areas that take first-year students).


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!).

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Decisions: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2020 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 posts about admission statistics and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days. Just for reference, below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, you will see a button to let you pay your tuition deposit online*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to 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 immediately via your self-service page.


Our relationship does not end here. We are here to talk if you need more information about UVA to make your decision. Don't hesitate to call or reach out to us online if we can help.


Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!

Image by Sanjay Suchak



*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 #UVA20 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 (you have until May 1st to do this).

Still, the numbers can change dramatically from year-to-year. We took 60 students off the waiting list in 2008 and 288 students the next year. We offered admission to 402 wait-listed students last year, but 42 the year before.

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 #UVA20 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 being moved to the waiting list group. We do not have an appeal process.

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. 



Regular Decisions for #UVA20 Posting TONIGHT!

When Dean Roberts stops talking about applications and starts talking about basketball, that's a really good sign that decisions are final and he is ready to release them. I think our big game against Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament has inspired him.

We
Are 
Done

This is a long post with lots of important info, so keep reading!

HOORAY!

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. Celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.
 
I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions at the end of the day. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments over the weekend.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments.

Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). School-specific statistics like GPA and rank are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. Our review is far more elaborate that a simple GPA and test score review.



Keep an Eye on Social Media

You may want to follow the UVA Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages! The Class of 2020 Facebook group is full of students who want to connect as well!

A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA and #UVA20 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community.




Now, let's go over what is going to happen tonight.

What Time is the Release?

I don't have an exact time for you. Our IT folks handle the release, so I can't pinpoint a precise moment when they will appear in your SIS account. Back in the pre-SIS days, I just typed "-1" in the code a few times and it was done, but they have to run a few processes to make it all happen, so it's not instantaneous.

Where Will Decisions Appear?

The "View Decision" link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter instead of that "April 1st" message that's there right now. If you can't find your login info for the SIS, use the links on the login page to generate a new password. 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.

Decisions do not come by email and they are not reflected in MyUVA. 

What about Scholars Programs?

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by email on Saturday. A follow-up letter will be mailed.

How Many People were Admitted/Denied?

I'll have a post full of unofficial statistics on Monday. For now, know that the applicant pool was a little larger this year, which resulted in us being slightly more selective. I wouldn't characterize the changes as dramatic. We've never felt pressure to drum up the numbers, so I'm happy about this.






THANK YOU for hanging with me through a tough application season. Your comments and tweets have been bright spots throughout the process. Your energy, enthusiasm, and humor has been so uplifting!

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. You're going to learn from amazing 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 where you are 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 for you and for UVA. I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck and go hoos!

UVA is yours now!


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.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Overlap Season Begins

It started a week ago, but I just actually had a moment to stop and think about what is going on. We're trying to wrap up the Regular Decision review, we're reading transfer applications (their deadline was March 1st), and the juniors have started to descend upon the UVA Grounds in huge numbers. It's overlap season.

Overlap Season. So tired. (outtake from CavDog filming this last summer)

I thought I'd share a little bit of advice for each of the groups with which we are working right now...

1. Regular Decision Applicants

We are seeing the news from our colleagues at other schools on Twitter, so we know you are starting to hear from the colleges on your list. Rest assured that we are working as quickly as possible to get decisions finalized and ready to release. If you read the blog, you know that while April 1 has always been the official notification date, we always post decisions as soon as they are done instead of waiting for that day. We're getting there! Hang in there a little while longer.

2. Transfer Students

If you are reading this blog and you are a transfer student, be sure to visit the UVA Transfer Admission Blog. My colleague who writes that blog is the expert on transfer admission in our office. Even though I've been at UVA for over a decade, I still find myself running down to her office to ask questions about courses or transfer credit. She is the best. Use her as a resource!

3. Juniors

We are probably seeing over 1,000 visitors right now due to high school spring breaks. We are getting a lot of questions about GPA and course selection. I've addressed GPA fairly regularly on the blog, but please remember that it is not standardized. We are more concerned with courses and grades than with a number. Your GPA is an attempt to summarize that information, but remember that two students could have identical GPAs and very different coursework behind them.

When it comes to course selection, remember that high school is the time to create a solid foundation for the more advanced work you'll do in college. Pay attention to your cores subjects (English, Math, History, Foreign Language, and Science). Electives are wonderful, but you should not be doubling and tripling up in an elective area because you think it will "look good" while dropping a core subject.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Notes from the first #UVA20 Days on the Lawn




We interrupt this Regular Decision review process to bring you the first Days on the Lawn for #UVA20! This DOTL was for students admitted during the Early Action process. The day is winding down and families are heading out, so I thought I would share a few photos from the day.




 DOTL check-in is at Old Cabell Hall. Most people take one of the shuttle buses from the Emmet & Ivy Garage, which we take over for these days. We have some entertainment in the theater before the official welcome.

After the welcome session, some students head off to sit in on classes and others will go to sessions given by the different schools and colleges at UVA. We also have a resource fair, tours of the grounds, tours of the residence halls, and chances to relax and socialize. 




I think it's safe to say that our press conference photo booth was a hit. Since May 1st has been dubbed "College Signing Day," we thought we'd set up a faux press conference so students could take pictures to post on the big day. 

Jack even decided to crash (and steal a pom) at one point. Sorry for the photo bomb, Future Hoo.


Only a fraction of the 900+ organizations at UVA can fit in the resource fair, but we had a great variety represented.


How does the Cavalier Marching Band do it? They are always on the road, but they manage to play at DOTL and have a table at the fair. I can't wait to see them on Friday night. (Go Hoos!)


This was Jack's first DOTL and I think he had a fantastic day. Of course, he thought everyone was here to see him and posed for pictures like his brother did before him. He's still learning the ropes, so thanks to those who put up with his puppy energy! 

Jack, exhausted, around 4 PM.


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Days on the Lawn Update for #UVA20

I wrote a general post about Days on the Lawn earlier in the season, but wanted to add a few notes. As a reminder, here are the DOTL dates for this year:

2016 Days on the Lawn
Monday, March 21
Monday, March 28
Monday, April 4
Friday, April 8
Monday, April 11
Friday, April 15
Monday, April 18

Registration

The two dates set aside completely for admitted Early Action students have been popular. We are no longer taking reservations for the 21st and there may be a little more space available on the 28th. The April dates are open to all admitted students since they obviously come after the April 1st Regular Decision notification date. We have blocked spots for the RD group on those dates and will open them up soon after decisions are released.

There is a waiting list for each date, so if you register for a day and your plans change, please change your reservation right away so someone can come off the waiting list.

Who can join me?

This is addressed on the registration site, but each admitted student can bring two guests. We ask that you not bring the entire family down for DOTL. Space is limited and we want to make sure as many seats as possible are available for admitted students and a parent or two.


 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" pagehttp://www.virginia.edu/visit/schedule 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.


 Feel free to use the comments to ask questions!

Jack's First Visit to UVA, around 10 weeks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Internet Rumors about UVA Admission

If a random stranger walked up to you on the street and started telling you how UVA admission operates and makes decisions, would you believe them? Of course not. You'd want to know how they learned the information and about their connection to the Office of Admission. So when an anonymous person on the internet starts doing the same, why do people believe them?

I know you are anxious. If you have questions about something you've heard, know that we are more than happy to chat. You can call us at 434-982-3200 during business hours, email us at undergradadmission@virginia.edu, or reach out to me here or on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Hang in there. 

How can I help?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sending Application Updates to UVA

I'm going to make this short and simple because there is a lot of reading to do. Many students want to update their files right now. This is totally fine. On our contact page, the page where people fine our email addresses, we have this statement:

Application updates are sent to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu 
and not to individual admission officers.

 If you send an application update to an admission officer, they forward it along to that address. To speed things up, just send the updates directly to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu. We are reading all day and into the night and many of us stay off email so we can focus on applications. 


Nobody available to play because they are reading files!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Days on the Lawn: Admitted Student Open Houses for #UVA20

If you've planned a visit to UVA, you know that we have visitor programming every day and allow students to visit class any day of the week. In addition to those daily options, we have several open houses for admitted students each spring.

Students admitted during Early Action will be getting an email shortly about Days on the Lawn, these admitted student open houses (on the UVA Grounds, we just say DOTL).

A photo posted by Dean J|UVa Office of Admission (@uvadeanj) on


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

Admitted students will get an email when registration opens. Keep in mind that a portion of the reservations for the April events will be set aside for RD students. For now, think about which DOTL dates might fit into your schedule if you want to make a return visit to UVA before May 1st. DOTL has always started bright and early at 9 AM, but we are going to offer one program that starts in the afternoon this year.

2016 Days on the Lawn 
Monday, March 21
Monday, March 28
Monday, April 4
Friday, April 8
Monday, April 11
Friday, April 15
Monday, April 18 (AM and PM)
One of the things that I love about DOTL is seeing students who "met" each other via the UVA Class of 2020 Facebook page or other social media channels getting to spend time together in person. I feel like our classes show up more connected to each other than ever before because they get to know each other before they step foot on Grounds!



This year will be the first one in 8 years without CavDog at DOTL. He went from being scared of the large crowds as a pup to being so excited by all of the extra attention he got. So, UVA20, a cycle starts anew with you. Your DOTLs will be Jack's first ones and we hope you'll bear with us as he gets used to attending.

A photo posted by Dean J|UVa Office of Admission (@uvadeanj) on

Friday, January 29, 2016

What To Do When You're Deferred for #UVA20

Being deferred is tough. I still remember the feeling of limbo that I got when I was deferred in high school. There are different reasons for deferring a student out there, but there are two that come up a lot in our discussions.


1. The Big Senior Program

Many schools allow students to have more control over course selection as they advance. Senior year is often the year with the most freedom and many students go for the big finale. This is awesome! Senior year should be the finale to your high school career. Your transition to college is going to be smoother when the leap to college-level work isn't a huge one, so a strong senior program is smart.

Seeing mid-year grades from these top courses can help us make a final decision on the file.


2. The Upward Trend

We try to counsel students about waiting for Regular Decision if they are rebounding from some shaky grades earlier in the high school career. We know that there are lots of other voices pushing students to submit applications early because there is a belief that early rounds are easier. That might be the case at some schools, but not at UVA.

When we see someone who is rebounding, we often feel it's best to get one more semester of work in the file. If you are rebounding, know that we are rooting for you!



How Do I Respond?

There's a link in the decision letter you received that goes to a Defer FAQs page that covers what you are supposed to do next.

We get plenty of emails/comments that start with an acknowledgement of those FAQs, but then a question about sending the things we tell students not to send. You do not need to start a defer campaign. I think there are people out there who insist that you must do this and that might influence the process at other schools. If you look back at the two scenarios I cited above, the issue isn't with supplements or recommendations (remember, we turned off the non-academic recommendation function in Common App). An academic update about how the first semester went will be most helpful.

If you are a senior, you have a lot on your plate. I can't tell you how many essays I've read about sleep deprivation and time management in the last few weeks. You are all obviously busy and you have to be smart about how you spend your limited time. If a college tells you not to worry about doing something, don't do it. Use your energy elsewhere!



A Word About Statistics

People inevitably ask me for stats about the defer pool. I haven't been able to run reports off multiple years, so it wouldn't be appropriate to cite a trend. Suffice it to say that residency is still a factor, with more deferred students from Virginia getting offers. School choice and the size of the pool are also factors.


Waiting is so hard.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Unofficial Early Action #UVA20 Statistics

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

Here are some unofficial numbers about the early action process. These numbers are up to date as of 8 AM this morning, January 26, 2016. If you are a reporter, please contact the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for current, official information and all of your reporterly needs. :)

Early Action Applications 

Total number of Early Action applications: 16,768 
Total number of VA apps: 4,460 
Total number of OOS apps: 12,308 
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Early Action Offers

Overall offers: 5,192
Total VA offers:
2,237 (50% offer rate)
 
Total OOS offers: 2,955 (24% offer rate)
*Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.
Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency (these numbers are for the entire applicant pool, not just early action). 


Early Action Defers

Overall defers: 4,065   
Total VA defers: 1,060 
Total OOS defers: 3,005 
Some applicants will withdraw, so these numbers will go down!

Early Action Testing/Rank

Middle 50% SAT score (offers only): 2020-2270 
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 31-34 
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.  
95% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class  
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank.

Please understand that I do not have additional statistics. We are already immersed in the Regular Decision review process. There will be a post about deferral tomorrow, but if you clicked the link in your letter and read the Defer FAQs, you know much of the content.




The Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs are sending invitations by mail on Friday. Welcome packets with information about next steps will be leaving our office soon!




Thursday, January 21, 2016

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Early Action: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2020 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 and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days. Just for reference, below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, you will see a button to let you pay your tuition deposit online*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to 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 immediately via your self-service page.


Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!

Image by Sanjay Suchak

*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 #UVA20 Early Action: The Defer

Deferred students can use this post to talk.

Your application hasn't finished it's journey yet.

Once your mid-year grades arrive, your file will be reviewed again during the Regular Decision round. At this point, you should simply make sure your mid-year report is sent when the grades are ready. Most of your counselors will do this automatically.

We know the wait is tough, but we think your mid-year grades could help your case. Hang in there! You should have already seen the link to the defer FAQ page, which answers the most common questions.

Jack hopes you can find a peaceful place to wait.

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Early Action: 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 being moved to the defer group. Please understand that we do not have an appeal process.

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. 



Get Ready for a #Cavalanche of #UVA20 Hoos!

Though the instructions say that Early Action notification happens at the end of January, it's no secret that if we finish the review early, we release the decisions instead of waiting for the 31st. It seems as though everyone has analyzed my past posts every which way to figure out where we are in the process.

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


Waiting
With a huge snow storm poised to hit the east coast, the weekend has already started for many of our applicants. So let's just get to the announcement. We are releasing decisions tonight! Please keep reading! I have a few notes...


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

2. 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, use the links on the login page to generate a new password. A welcome mailing with info about next steps will come later for those who are admitted. Please do not open multiple windows or constantly hit refresh. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window. Set a time tonight when you'll check and do something offline until then.

3. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments. Feel free to flag a comment if you need me to step in. That notification will go to my phone. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA20 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community. Some of you seem to be using that tag already!




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



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

5. Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by mail next week. Posts about deferral, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), an EA statistics will come next week. There is no lag time in our office, so we are now reading Regular Decision 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 (see #2 above) or your decision.




THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog so far this season. This season was a tough one for me and your excitement and enthusiasm was so helpful.

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!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Let's Talk About Everything #UVA20

Whenever I see or hear chatter about the admission process that warrants a blog post, I jot a note in the task app on my phone. If you've been reading for a while, you know that I try to address one big topic at a time. Well, this week, my task app looks like this:


I'm going to attempt to address each of those topics in half a page or roughly 250 words (haha, get it?). If you've been reading  the blog for years, you have probably read posts where I have addressed these topics many times before. I'm going to link to some of those longer posts at the end of each section.

GPAs are Meaningless Without Context

Almost every time a parent starts a conversation about a student, they begin by citing a GPA. That number is meaningless without context. What does a 4.0 mean when there is no standardization in that calculation of that number?

The way I see it, your GPA is an attempt to summarize the work on the transcript. It doesn't tell the whole story, though. Two students at a school could have identical GPAs with very different paths behind them.

More about GPAs.

Strength of Program

A conversation I had with a parent on Facebook last night prompted this one. We look at progress over the course of four (really 3.5) years across academic disciplines. We don't just count up the number of AP courses to assess program strength. After all, there are students who load up on APs in one subject area and shy away from challenging courses in others.

More about program strength (see the second part).

Activities

There are people out there who have decided that you have to be either well-rounded or angular when it comes to involvement. This is false. The bottom line is that we are looking to build a well-rounded class. There is room for all kinds of people in a well-rounded class. If you have something to put down in the activity section (and that would be clubs, sports, a job, or other responsibilities), you did it properly. You don't need a resume (we don't accept resumes at UVA). Just fill out the form on the Common App and move on to the next section.

There are 959 student organizations on the books at UVA. They cover things you have your high school and then the list goes off into all sorts of directions, even into fringe-y and strange territory. We want students who are going to help propel all those things along. That's why we don't prefer certain kinds of commitments over others.

More about activities.

Recommendations

Keep it simple. UVA asks for two recommendations, one from a counselor and one from a teacher of the student's choice. Most students should send two recommendations. If your style is dramatically different in different classrooms, it might make sense to send an extra recommendation. Repetition is not necessary, so think carefully about whether you really need the extra recommendation.

I see recommendations as a compliment to the transcript. The transcript provides the data and the recommendations bring the data to life with examples and anecdotes about the student's efforts and style in the classroom.

More about recommendations.

Holistic Admission

People throw the word "holistic" around and want it to mean lots of different things. In a nutshell, holistic admission means that all components of the application are considered when rendering a decision. If your school has Family Connections, I know your instinct is to draw conclusions about our process by looking at scattergrams, which plot past admission decisions on a chart that uses GPA and SAT scores on the axis. This isn't appropriate. Scattergrams show you the result of our review, not the methodology.

In our review, academics come first. After all, that transcript represents 3.5 years of development. Most of our applicants are perfectly qualified to do the work here, so we also look to recommendations, essays, testing, and activities to understand the big picture.

More about holistic admission (and some really bad drawing from me).


Rumors

I try to have a sense of humor when it comes to the rumors that fly around about our process, but that gets difficult at this time of year because students are so eager for this process to conclude. When you hear a rumor, choose to do the ration thing and check it out with us. You can call, email, tweet (@UVADeanJ), or comment here to get our take.


This was especially long, so we need a Jack picture to close the post.

Hi

Friday, January 15, 2016

A #UVA20 Non-Update Update

I don't think I've ever done this, but there are people who claim to have insider information getting our applicants worked up. Decisions won't be posted today. I know you are eager for the Early Action process to conclude, but we can't take shortcuts and sacrifice a careful, thorough review. Hang in there!
 

Committee work

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Early Action Status Pages (and Why this Takes so Long)

It's the time of year when Early Action students get a little punchy. They're obsessively checking SIS and wondering if it will give a sneak preview of decisions and every mention of UVA has them looking like Jack waiting for a treat.

Can I have it? Can I have it? Can I have it?


First of all, UVA's SIS is a system that was created by PeopleSoft called Campus Solutions. Lots of schools around the country use the same system. When you implement a SIS, it takes a few years and a lot of resources (human and financial). Customizing parts requires even more resources. There are always going to be features that aren't used by a certain school (but might be perfect for another). I know the boxes that pop up during the application season are confusing, but we can't get around them.

As always, we will have decisions ready by the end of January. I always post an update here, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Word spreads quickly. We also queue up a mass email to go out, but those can take a little time to land in in-boxes. You'll know when notification is coming, I promise.


Now, I want to address the timing of our process. Years ago, our early pool was pretty small, just a few thousand applicants. In those days, our review was done before students went on winter break. These days, half of the applicant pool is applying early. It just isn't possible for us to read 16,000+ files in six weeks unless we a) dramatically changed our review or b) had a way to significantly increase the size of our staff.

I like the holistic review that we use here. It means that decisions aren't just about GPAs and standardized test scores. Recommendations, essays, and activities also factor in (though academics come first!). In addition, we don't "auto" admit the top of the pool and deny the bottom. We read every application. I'm sure there are admission folks out there who might find that antiquated or quaint, but it works for us.

As for our staff size, Peabody Hall is already bursting at the seams and I don't think resources allow for more counselors or deans at this point.

So, the process continues. Hang in there, everyone. Decisions will come, but there is still a bit of work to be done.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Five Tips for #UVA20 Regular Decision Applicants


The Regular Decision deadline is around the corner and from the tone of the calls I've gotten today, some of you are freaking out. Here are my final notes for all of you who are putting the finishing touches on applications right now:

1. Read the application instructions. There's a whole section about "Accessing the Student Information System" and so many of the questions I get on the blog are covered there.

2. Get YOUR part of the application submitted by 11:59 PM on January 1st. Your teachers and counselors have a grace period for submitting their parts of the application.

3.  You don't have to "rush" your SAT scores. As long as you have submitted your request to ACT or SAT, we can work with you. In an ideal world, you'd have submitted those requests earlier in the month, but we'll have plenty of things to work on if the scores aren't here on deadline day.

4. I know I mentioned this the other day, but make sure you submit your Common App. Paying the fee doesn't submit your application. Every year, there are people who submit a payment, but don't submit their actual application.

5. If you have any trouble, hit the "Instructions and Help" link that is on every page of the Common App website. They have support team members staying up into the wee hours to help students. That isn't permission to procrastinate. Can you imagine how many help tickets get submitted on the night of a big deadline?

That's all I have! Feel free to tweet at me (@UVaDeanJ) or post in the comments if you have a last minute question. Good luck!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Last Minute Notes for #UVA20 Regular Decision Applicants

January 1st is around the corner and it's time to remind Regular Decision applicants of a few things. Early Action applicants, you're going to recognize a lot of the information here. 


Deadline Night

This comes up every year. The deadline is January 1st. It is still January 1st up until 11:59 PM that evening. Don't wait until the last minute to submit just in case there is a technical glitch and you need assistance. The Common App team stays up all night to help students, but you can probably imagine that there are tons of support tickets being submitted on deadline night. Don't procrastinate!

Paying the Fee Doesn't Submit Your Application

Make sure you follow the submission procedures in Common App. Paying the fee won't make your application come to use. You still have to submit the application. We spend a few weeks following up with people after deadlines because they neglected to submit an application, but sent us a fee!

After Submitting, You'll Monitor Your Application Status in SIS

This is explained in our application instructions. A few days after your file is pulled into our system, UVA's Student Information System will send an email with login information to the email account you used on your Common App. On the main screen, you'll see a "to do" list of items that need to be checked into your file.

The first time you log in, you might see items that are in our system, but just haven't been matched up to your file yet. Please be patient. It takes a few weeks for our staff to match all those transcripts and teacher recommendations to newly submitted applications.We only log required documents due to volume.

Mid-Year Reports will be sent by your counselors once first semester grades are available.

SAT and ACT Score Aren't Sent Instantly

Despite the testing agencies having this on their websites, many people don't know that it takes the SAT and ACT folks a few weeks to transmit scores to us. Even if you sent your scores a week ago, you might see them on your "to do" list in SIS for a while. Don't delay. Send your scores NOW.


Sending Resumes, Papers, and Other Supplements

We do not accept resumes, papers, and supplements that fall outside the lines of art supplements (for the arts, architecture, and marching band). Your activities should be listed in the activity section of the Common App. Be concise and brief. If we have any questions about your activity list, we'll email you. Recommendations should come from your counselor and a teacher of your choice. The feature for submitting "other" recommendations is turned off in Common App.

If you are a Virginia resident, please be sure to fill out the residency section of the Common App. Only send extra documentation to the Office of Virginia status if they contact you with a request for supporting information.

Submitting unnecessary documents slows the process down for everyone. The Common App is a robust application that provides us with plenty of excellent information. Don't complicate the application process with extras!

Jack loves the Common App...scarf.

Monday, December 21, 2015

View Decision Status in SIS for #UVA20

It seems some students have started to encounter some of the wonderful quirks (ha) of the UVA Student Information System (SIS). They are seeing "View Decision" at the bottom of their SIS status pages and are assuming their decisions are ready. Decisions are not ready.

Applications move around in our reading system. They go from incomplete, to complete and ready to read, and then they start getting passed around by the different counselors and deans who are reviewing them. We are in that third phase, the part of the reading season that takes the most time. When you see "View Decision" on your page, it means your files has reached that third stage and we're reviewing it.

On notification day, clicking on "View Decision" will take you to a decision letter instead of the message you see now about checking back on January 31st.

Waiting is so hard!

About Notification Day

January 31st is the official notification day. If you log into SIS on that day, you will be able to see your status by hitting "View Decision." That being said, we have always been able to finish a little early and post decisions before January 31st. When we are done, we release the decisions. If there are updates, I will announce them here, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.