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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The wait is almost over!

The new online application is almost ready! We'll be making some final text edits and testing the application's functionality for the next few days and anticipate "going live" with the new undergraduate application in early August (stay tuned for an exact date).

I hope you've had a great summer and are getting excited for the start of your senior year!

CavBear enjoys a little summer reading

Friday, July 20, 2007

Is PR's "Counselor-o-matic" just a revenue tool?

Our student workers did an interesting project last week that prompted me to revive the old issues blog. They started playing around with The Princeton's Review's "Counselor-o-matic", which is on their webpage. The "tool" is supposed to suggested appropriate matches for students after they have answered a few pages of questions about their academic profile. We were wondering what sorts of responses would prompt the Counselor-o-matic to suggest UVa as a reach, match, or safety. Below are the "profiles" we used (GPAs are unweighted):

Profile 1: 4.0 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2000 SAT
Profile 2: 3.9 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 3: 3.9 GPA, weak curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2400 SAT
Profile 4: 3.8 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2200 SAT
Profile 5: 3.7 GPA, good curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 6: 3.6 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2100 SAT
Profile 7: 3.2 GPA, okay curriculum, top 20% of the class, 1700 SAT

The results: UVA didn't come up for a match for ANY of the profiles. One of the "top 5%" students specified their location as Virginia and still didn't get UVa as a match. She then got more specific and said she lived right here in Charlottesville and didn't get UVa as a match. At the same time, some very random, unknown schools came up time and again as "match" schools. The only changes that allowed UVa to show up on a list where designating ethnicity or an interest in sports.

The whole exercise has me wondering about whether the "Counselor-o-matic" is a marketing tool (schools are offered the opportunity to pay for "increased visibility" on that website). What's more, it has me worried that some students are going through the survey once or twice and think the resulting lists are reliable.

I think The Princeton Review has some explaining to do.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's your turn to talk back

Around this time of year, schools around the country send out something called an admitted student questionnaire. Some schools pay The College Board to administer the survey for them, others (like UVa) create something themselves. Regardless of how it arrives, I think I speak for my colleagues when I saw we hope you take a few minutes to answer our questions. This is your chance to tell us about how you decided to go to the school in which you enrolled. It's also your chance to tell schools if they could have done something a little better.


Most ASQs have questions about where you decided to go instead of the school behind the survey. This is to help schools know what their "peer" institutions are. We know where our admitted students are often accepted, but it helps to see if there are new names to consider.

Some students are concerned that the colleges may "track" what they say in these surveys. I'm not quite sure why there's any concern, especially if you've already turned the school down, but let me assure you that we don't care about matching your answers up with your name. We are, however, interested in matching your answers up to characteristics about you. For example, we look at how students who applied to a certain school responded, or to how the answers of out of state students compared to Virginians. The data collected will help us focus on the programs and activities that students found most useful and also help us plan our travel season in the fall.