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Saturday, January 31, 2009

This is what winter looks like at UVa

It snowed on Tuesday for the first time this academic year. I stepped outside to take a few pictures so you'd see what can close down local grade schools. Classes are rarely canceled at UVa (it has only happened twice in recent years), which is understandable when this is what is on the ground.

The snow usually melts by the end of the day, then freezes overnight and that's when getting around becomes a little more difficult.

Those of you from warmer climates should think about getting some boots and winter gear this year in preparation for college.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We have a new dean!

We have a new dean and it's a member of the family...Greg Roberts, who was our Senior Associate Director, is now Dean of Admission!

I'm blogging by Blackberry from the President's house. More tomorrow...maybe I'll even have a fun picture for you.

Update: Public Affairs already has a press release posted.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Did you hear? We got a few applications.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago in a comment on the blog, but I didn't make a post out if it, so you might not know. We're up. Way up. We had about 18,500 applications last year and we're up to about 21,500 this year. I missed winning the office pool by 500 apps. Just kidding...we don't have an office pool.

Everyone wants to know what this means for the admission process. It's a little early to predict our offer rate. We expected an increase in applications when we moved to the Common App (most schools see a jump in apps the first year the Common App is used) and I guess the economy has more people considering public schools, but we don't know if that increase in numbers will also mean an increase in quality. I usually don't have admission statistics until late March, so please don't ask for them now. I will post them as soon as they are calculated.

For now, I can make one prediction: notification probably won't be early this year. With such a dramatic increase in numbers, we're going to need as much time as possible to review applications this year. Count on April 1st being our mail date. As always, if there's any chance of notification coming earlier, I'll write about it here.

Thanks for reading...I apologize for the slow updates. We're doing our best to get back into our routine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jack Blackburn

I haven't posted a picture of anyone in our office in the past. Today, I want you to see the man who was behind the Office of Admission at UVa for over 20 years, Jack Blackburn.

Jack passed away last night. I'll let our public affairs office handle listing the litany of achievements and awards. I will say that he was a wonderful, kind man who truly cared about each applicant. He once said his proudest accomplishment is the student body at The University and I know he'd be proud of the talented applicants who have asked to join that group this year.


The Cavalier Daily published a news story and a wonderful opinion piece about Jack yesterday. Their timing was amazing. I find it very fitting that a scholarship fund with Jack's name on it will benefit AccessUVa, something he strongly supported.

4:00 PM update: Public Affairs has posted a news release about Jack's life and his contributions to The University.

A message from President Casteen that had been emailed earlier today has also been posted on the UVa website.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quiet times at Peabody Hall

It's very quiet in Peabody these days, mostly because we are up to our ears in your wonderful applications. However, we're having a bit of a disruption at the moment. There is a caped figure parading around out front with a sign that says "Keep Poe Alive" or something like that (a recreation of Edgar Allen Poe's Lawn room is across the street from Peabody Hall).

My first thoughts were of you, dear readers, and whether I could get a photo of this young man for your amusement. Alas, I am reading at home today and can't snap the picture myself. If one of my colleagues comes through with an image, you'll see an update to this post.

Cross your fingers!

Is it sad that this is the highlight of the day thus far?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekend Topics: Time to brainstorm

"Weekend Topics" has become a bit of a tradition on this blog. I'm confident using the term "tradition" because someone told me just the other day that doing something two years in a row constitutes a tradition at UVa. Because this is the third year of Weekend Topics, it's a traditional along the same lines as Secret Societies and Girls in Pearls.

Weekend Topics are posts that I make on Friday night or Saturday morning and the subject of the posts can be anything except college applications and the admission process.

You can use the tag at the bottom of the post to find old Weekend Topics (sports, music, food, shopping, transportation...the list goes on). After looking at those old posts, I'd like you to post some ideas for this year's topics. A current UVa student also made some suggestions and I'll add yours to the list to fill the weekends between now and the big day (notification day).

Let's here it...what are you ideas for Weekend Topics?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eek! My application is STILL incomplete!

I'm seeing a lot of chatter on various sites from students who are worried about their incomplete applications. I guess the first post I wrote about this is too far down the page to matter, so I'm doing a follow up.

If your application is marked as incomplete and the missing item is your transcript, do not go into your Guidance Office and ask for it to be sent again. Never, ever send unsolicited duplicates of documents to admission offices. It just slows down the speed at which everything is processed. We still, in this day and age, have people who print out applications that have been completed online to mail in. In some cases, they've hit submit online, so the application is a complete duplicate. In other cases, they did not hit submit online, but created an hour of work by submitting the print out (we actually asked a few who did this to hit submit online to save us all the work of hand entering their data into the computer system).

If your application is incomplete and the missing item is something for which you were responsible, get it done today. We aren't going to throw out your application because you didn't have your SAT/ACT scores sent. We want you to complete your application. We aren't going to penalize you because you forgot one part of the process.

At this time, all of the deans/readers are reviewing applications full time and the administrative staff is working to scan and index (index is the term for linking a scanned document to an applicant's file) all the mail. We will contact you individually if we are still missing documents from your file after the indexing is completed.

Hang in there! There isn't much for you to do at this point but wait until your mid-year grades are ready and make sure your counseling staff knows which schools need those grades from you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A new trend in admission?

I've got a lot of reading to do, so I'm just going to get to the point. I have seen more students checking that they do not waive the right to see recommendations and Secondary School Reports than ever before. Just a few years ago, it was rare to see this. Most students are still waiving access to school forms, but the number of those who are not is definitely increasing.

Why do you think this practice in is happening?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Let's talk about competition


Sometimes when I meet students on the road or take calls, they want to know who "their" admission officer is. While other schools give them the answer they expect (a name), we have to explain that we don't have territories at UVa. We don't group students by school to read them. This is more time consuming, but we think it means that we compare students to their school's profile, meaning we look at what choices they made in light of the options open to them at their school. We don't have the profiles of a student's classmates in our heads as we review their application. I may read a student from Richmond, then a student from Chicago, then a student from Atlanta, then a student from Virginia Beach...you get the idea.

Resist the urge to think that certain students are being admitted "over" their classmates. We don't call up all applications from a certain school with the idea that we'll take a certain number. We have multiple rounds of review that aim to check and recheck decisions. This takes a good amount of time and we try our best to assemble the most competitive, interesting class we can.

Do you have questions about this style of reading?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Eek! Your application is incomplete!

If you've been eagerly checking your application status and wondering what to do about it being marked "incomplete" despite all available credentials being sent, don't worry just yet. At this time of year, we are working as quickly as possible to open, scan, and index all the mail that is coming into our offices. Here are a few scenarios:

Everything is in except my mid-year grades. My school doesn't have those yet!
Mid-year grades aren't due until February 15th. If all of your documents are in and the mid-year report is the only thing left on your to-do list, don't worry. We will move forward with your application for now, but expect a mid-year report will be sent as soon as it is available. Make sure your counselor has the mid-year report form, which can be found on the Common App website.

My credentials were sent weeks ago and I just logged in for the first time to see that they aren't there!
In this case, your credentials are probably here and not linked to your file because your application hasn't been processed yet. Credentials that arrive for students who haven't submitted applications yet are scanned into our imaging system and filed in a miscellaneous credentials "drawer". When applications are received from Common App, a staff member goes through the miscellaneous drawer to find credentials that need to be "linked" to that application. At this time of year, we get many applications each night (there is a nightly transfer from Common App that gives us all applications submitted that day). Our staff is small and works as quickly as possible to process and link as many applications as possible each day. Obviously, as the deadline draws closer, the number of submitted applications goes up (sometimes over 1,000 applications come in at a time).


My application was submitted weeks ago and I know my counselor sent credentials before the deadline!
In this case, your credentials are probably in a mail bin, waiting to be opened. To give you a sense of how much mail is coming in, on January 2nd, we were opening mail that was delivered on December 15th. Once mail is opened, each document is scanned into the system and linked to an application. You may not see a change in your status for 2-3 weeks because so many documents arrive in the days around the deadline.

I took these pictures on January 2nd:



One of the stacks from DHL

Don't worry! We aren't going to penalize you if your credentials aren't checked in for a few weeks.


If this entry hasn't made you feel better, perhaps some peaceful pictures of CavDog will help.


Friday, January 02, 2009

You did it! Now what?

After you hit submit, you might enjoy reading UVa Life, a blog that was started by a current student earlier this year. The writer isn't paid and is blogging as a service to prospective students. I think she'd really enjoy answering your questions.

Enjoy!