Peabody is the building, Jack is the dog, and I'm Dean J (she/her, btw).

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Reflecting on the 2014-2015 Essays

People sometimes assume that once the incoming class is admitted, we get to relax a little bit and take some time off. In reality, we move into the transfer application review season, visit season (Days on the Lawn is only half of it...huge groups of sophomores and juniors are visiting), and preparing for next year's process.

I've been thinking a lot about our essays questions and how we may tweak them for next year. We usually have admission officers, deans from the different schools/programs, and current UVa students weigh in on the questions. After reading thousands of essays, most admission officers are pretty passionate about the questions that need to stay on the application and the ones that need to go or be edited.

I'm wondering what those of you who just went through this think about the options for question #2. If you need a reminder, here are the options that were on your application:

2. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language (we’ll welcome you to Grounds, not campus) and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the U.Va. culture. In her fourth year at U.Va., Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • While a student at U.Va., Fulbright Scholar Rowan Sprague conducted groundbreaking research aimed at protecting the complex structure of honeybee hives. We know that colonies include bees acting in a diverse range of roles, all equally important to the success of the hive. What role will you play in the U.Va. hive?
  • To tweet or not to tweet?      

I definitely have my favorites, but I'm wondering if you do as well. Would you remove one of these completely (I would)? Would you tweak one to work better?