For new readers...
Thanks for reading!
Friday, January 29, 2010
-The amount of processing we have to do right now is staggering. All of your credentials may not be checked in until early February. Do not send duplicates unless we contact you. Don't worry about your status page until February.
-"Initiated" in a term used by our Student Information System to show that an item has been added to your to do list. It means the item has not been completed yet.
-If you get to the point that the only item on your to do list is your mid-year report, that's great! We know those don't arrive until February.
-Once your application is complete and it moves to the "ready to read" mode, you'll see a box pop up at the bottom of the status screen. "View decision" will appear in the box. It doesn't mean your decision is ready. That's just something that's built into the computer system that we can't change. If you hit "view decision", you'll just see a note about decisions not being ready at this point.
-If/when you apply for Financial Aid, their office's to do list will appear on your status page. Our offices are separate, so we in Admission have no knowledge of what's going on with your aid application. Direct all questions directly to them.
-While the Office of Admission is paperless, you'll be getting a paper decision letter from us in addition to seeing a short version on the decision screen on notification day.
-Financial Aid packages are posted online ONLY. They won't be sending your paper documents. You'll probably want to take screen shots or print out the screen when your aid package gets posted so you can share it with your parents.
-If you ever forget your SIS password or want to change it, you can follow the steps in that first email you got to generate a new password.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Perhaps I have application fatigue. I took a pretty extended Youtube break and got lost in a sea of lipdubs (lipsyched music videos) created by college students to go with the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling". Those who don't listen to top 40 radio (myself included) know this as the song that played while a massive group danced in the street on the Oprah show a few months ago.
The first video I watched was by students at a school in Montreal. The video was cute and I was surprised that it was done in a single take. More impressive was the "behind the scenes" video they put on Youtube.
Well don't you know those "related video" links led me to students in Japan and the Philippines doing their own versions, inspired by those students in Montreal. I made the mistake of searching for "I gotta feeling lipdub" and saw the idea is viral and students around the world are making posting their own version, all inspired by the students in Montreal.
I love this stuff. I love seeing college students being silly and quirky and not taking themselves too seriously. I've found just a handful of lipdubs made by students in the US, so I guess this hasn't hit us in a big way yet. I can't wait to see what our students come up with, if this hits the states.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Some mid-year reports have already arrived
Each of us had a vertical row. Now, the bins are used to store documents.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The methodology for calculating GPA varies dramatically from place to place. What's more, grading scales are all over the map (there are seven different grading scales in use in Virginia public schools alone!). There are schools where 4.0 GPAs are rare and signify all As in the very best courses and there are schools where 4.0 GPAs are common and could be earned with okay grades in average courses. This year, I've read applications from schools with pretty interesting GAP scales, including 18 point and 500 point scales. I've seen schools where no courses are weighted and I've seen schools where Honors and AP courses have the same weighting.
So when you see or hear people from other school districts cite their GPAs, resist the urge to make comparisons. Chances are the grading scales and methodologies in use at your schools are different.
By the way, we don't have any opinion about all those grading scales. Whatever works for your school is fine with us.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
CavDog looked perpetually worried as a puppy
The application reading season is extremely hectic and while I try to carve some time out of each day to check in on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and College Confidential, it's not always possible. Sorry for the delay between posts.
It's still too early to worry about your status pages. We will contact you at the end of January or beginning of February if you have missing credentials. Hang in there. I know you feel a little lost right now. I'm here...I'm just a little busy!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
First up, a question about essays:
At times, I'll mention a trend here and there when it comes to essay topics. However, there are some out there who think that mentioning a particular book will send applicants who used that book as a topic into a panic, convinced they are doomed because their choice wasn't unique. So, let's get to the bottom of that. Applicants, if I tell you that writing about Dave Matthews Band songs was common and you wrote about a Dave Matthews Band song, would you be upset? I'm not saying DMB topics are common, that's just a relatively safe example I'm using.
Second up, a few questions/comments about deadlines:
This is a long one and I'm hope I'm going to address all the issues here. If there are any outstanding questions, give our office a call during our normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). While many of us work far beyond those hours at this time of year, we don't keep the full staff in the office beyond the normal 40 hour work week.
Out deadlines are generally on easy to remember dates. Before we went to the Common App, our deadline was always a moving target, which was confusing. We had to make the deadline a day when post offices were open. I remember one year when we had to move the deadline at the last minute due to the closing of post offices for a National Day of Mourning. Anyway, our deadline is now January 1st and applicants don't seem to have a problem hitting the submit button before 11:59 PM on that night. Teachers and guidance counselors get a few extra days. Most credentials are submitted late at night, regardless of the day of the week.
Obviously, some people aren't comfortable with the submission system and we are flexible about that. If there's a problem outside of normal business hours, we will work with people. If a recommendation can't be submitted electronically at the deadline, a teacher or school counselor should put it in the mail or fax it.
Back when I was in school, it was common to furnish a recommendation writer with a stamped, addressed envelope. If you don't think the person writing for you will use the online system, perhaps that's the best way to ensure the letter comes to us (and not back to you, which seems to have happened in the case above).
I don't think our fax line was busy yesterday because most teachers submit through the online Common App system or mail documents over the holidays. Faxed documents aren't so common these days.
Hope that helps! If you have more questions, feel free to post them in the comments.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Back to reading...it's going to be a long season.
Since this came up in the comments, I thought I'd post this here. Total apps from past years:
If you want to see more, you can find all kinds of data in the Data Digest and Historical Summaries on the Office of Institutional Assessment website. Hit the "statistics" tag below to see past blog posts that contained data.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Please understand that there is no way to process all of your applications tomorrow. As I've written before, it will take weeks to get everything checked in and get your status pages updated.
We will contact you when we are through the bulk of the processing if we are still missing documents. This will happen at the end of January or beginning of February.
Friday, January 01, 2010
CavDog's dressed up for the big day!
The countdown has begun. I know a lot of schools have a January 1st deadline, so some of you will inevitably be putting the finishing touches on multiple applications right up until 11:59 PM.
Keep in mind...
Submit a help request on their website if you have any trouble.
Also, today is your deadline. Your counselors and teachers have until January 10th to submit school forms, transcripts, and recommendations. We prefer online submission, but you won't be penalized if these items are sent by snail mail.
If you want to chat with other applicants to relieve a little stress, check out the Class of 2014 Facebook page. We set this page up so you'd have a place to congregate online. Obviously, the membership evolves in the spring as students commit to schools.
The group I created for last year's applicants is now the Class of 2013's page. I turned over administration to students and now the Class Council uses the group to publicize events (though we have an internal networking system that they use, too).
Good luck, everyone! If you have general questions, feel free to post them. Be sure to read the "after you apply" part of the application instructions on our website. It's really important to understand the timing at work here. In the wee hours of the morning, Common App's system will transmit all applications submitted today. It will take a few days for our system to process the applications and send our confirmation emails with your Student Information System login information.
EDIT: I've repeated this a few times today on College Confidential, so I'll post it here:
Read this if you're worried.