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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Waiting List, in Depth

A lot of the comments on the waiting list post from decision day ask questions that are addressed on the waiting list FAQ page, which was linked in your letter and in that post. I'm going to share some of the same information here and add my own notes. There is a lot of information to share. Here we go...

How many people are on the waiting list? 

I think the biggest thing that students skim over is the part where we say that you have to accept or decline the offer of a spot on the waiting list. The waiting list doesn't really exist until people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, covers the numbers.
From the 2012-2013 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: 4,393
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,540
On May 1, the waiting list will be big. There's no way around that. While we don't have a ranking, you can think of the list as having ten sections. The sections are for Virginia and non-Virginia residents for each for the five schools/programs that take first year students.

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?  

No one will know this until May 1st. 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 2018. The class is supposed to be 3,570 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 are numbers from the last few years:
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 is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us with significant news is okay. Bombarding us with an email each day is not.

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 want to move quickly. No one wants to drag this out. Last year, we started on April 30th. In 2012, it was April 30th again (total coincidence). The year before, we started on May 4th. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, 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. We'll give you a couple days to think about things.

What about aid?  
If you applied for aid by the 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 over 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. 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!

 Oh, look at that. He nodded off.