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Monday, December 18, 2006

Q&A with Dean J, part 2

There were a few comments from my last "Q&A" post that I'll address here. I'm going to ask newcomers to use the comments on this entry to send questions for a future Q&A installment.


Q1. I requested a teacher recommendation (using the email option on the UVA online app) but the teacher I asked has been out on sick leave for nearly 2 months and won't be back before the deadline. I asked another teacher to write my letter instead, but will my application be considered incomplete if Teacher #1 never submits her recommendation, since there is an outstanding request connected to my online application? Will her failure to reply to your email request for a recommendation reflect badly on me?

A1. Let me start with some general information about recommendations. When a teacher's information is entered on the online application's recommendation page, an email goes out with a special URL and password to access their personalized submission page. Plenty of teachers opt to send paper copies of their letters instead. Some will do both (submit their letter online and by snail mail). Usually, when we get the paper recommendation, we'll check the names listed by the student on the online page and see if the sender matches on of the teachers you listed.

We don't read into recommendations that don't arrive through the online site. In fact, when we read applications, we don't even see the names the student entered on the recommendation page, we just see what letters came in for that student.

Q2. Could you please, percentage-wise, list the emphasis you put on GPA, SAT scores, Extracurricular Activities, Essays, Teacher Recommendations, etc? I can't seem to find this information anywhere. Thank you very much.

A2. You can't find this information because it doesn't exist. We don't use formulas here, so components don't carry "weight" the way an AP English class carries more weight than a regular English class when calculating a GPA.

But let's be frank. The transcript (and that means course strength and grades) is going to get the most scrutiny in our review. With the school profile as our guide, we'll rate the strength of the students chosen curriculum (keeping what is offered in mind, so those who don't have access to AP Bio aren't penalized for not taking it). Grades are obviously very important, but again, the profile gives us context so we understand that, for example, an A at Central High is given for grades of 93% and higher while an A at North High is given at 90%.

I know it would be nice if you could reduce everything to a formula to see your chances of admission, but it's just not how we do things anymore.


Q3. What's the best way to have this missing/additional information included when my application is reviewed again? Thank you in advance for your advice.

A3. The best way to have new information added to your file is to mail it to us. We'll make sure anything you send is filed appropriately.