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Monday, October 31, 2016

What Does a November 1 Deadline Mean?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to application deadlines. There are the people who think you have to submit before the deadline day hits and the people who think you can submit at any point on deadline day. The good news is that you can follow either way of thinking and have your application submitted on time for UVA. You have until 11:59 PM on the deadline day, November 1, to submit your application.

In our minds, we are talking about 11:59 PM at UVA, which means the Eastern time zone. The Common App accounts for the time zone of all applicants, so those of you out West won't see the app shut down at 8:59 PM in your time zone.

We DO NOT recommend waiting until the last few hours to submit your application. The Common App team stays up all night on deadline nights, but you can't expect instant help if something goes wrong with submission since there are apt to be scores of students submitting requests for help.

Good luck to those putting the finishing touches on an application!




Thursday, October 27, 2016

UVA Class of 2021 Facebook Group (Students Only!)

The Class of 2021 is applying so it's time to share a link to the class Facebook group! Click the logo:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/241585222847067/
Click the logo to go to the Class of 2021 Facebook group!

 

Who Is in the Facebook Group?

Obviously, the group will be for students who hope they'll be members of the Class of 2021 at this point. Membership will evolve as decisions are released and students start committing to colleges. After decisions come out, the students in these groups often create questionnaires to facilitate roommate matches. I'm told that the questionnaires the students create are more detailed than any being used by a housing office or roommate matching service. Student self-governance works again!

Who Is Moderating the Facebook Group?

There are a few current students who keep an eye on the group. They are not paid to promote a business or product. They are students who know the ins and outs of UVA and have offered to field questions without an agenda. You'll notice that we don't really sell UVA. We present UVA to you and let you decide if the University has the things you need to be happy and challenged. Their answers to your questions will be honest and straightforward.

What Happens to the Group in the Future?


When your class elects officers, the current admins will hand the group over to your chosen leaders. We've been doing this for about six years and it works beautifully. For now, the admins are fine with answering questions, but they usually sit back and let you chat.  Nothing in these groups will be saved or connected to your applications.

Is Facebook Activity Used for Admission Purposes?

I am not in the Facebook group. I have absolutely no interest in tracking you or looking at your profiles.  If you have questions and want to ask them on Facebook, you can use the Office of Admission page.

Can Parents Join?

No. if you are looking to check in with parents of UVA students, check out the UVA Parents page. Every so often, I hear about a parent requesting to join the student group. Please let the students have their space to talk.


Why Does UVA Create the Group?

We didn't always create a Facebook group for the classes. I used to talk about how Facebook was the students' domain (it was back when you had to have a .edu email address to get an account!) and groups should grow organically. I changed my mind in 2008 when a company started creating groups with school names on them. Content in the group we created won't include advertisements from third parties and your information won't be mined.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Early Action vs Regular Decision at UVA

With the Early Action deadline around the corner, we're getting more calls and emails than ever about the "right" time to submit an application to UVA. It seems there are some rumors out there about how this all works, so let me go over a few things...

1. Early Action isn't "easier" at UVA.

Our review is the same no matter when you apply. We aren't lenient on one group and hard on another. If you feel your academic program is strong right now, you can feel good about an Early Action application. If you're rebounded from something, see #3 below.

2. We don't fill the class during Early Action.

For the last few years, our applicant pool (the people who applied, not the people who were admitted) has been split pretty evenly between the Early Action and Regular Decision pools. We did not fill our classes during the EA round.

Apparently, there is a gem of a rumor being passed around at one high school (direct quote from a student's email):

"Do you think this year will be like last year where most kids apply Early Action and those who apply Regular Decision receive a denial or waitlist?"

The data doesn't support this. Last year, we made about 5,000 Early Action offers and over 9,400 offers overall to get a class of about 3,700. Please don't think that you must apply early to be admitted to UVA. It's simply not the case. In fact...
 

3. Regular Decision is the best route for many students.

The big difference between Early Action and Regular Decision is what we know about senior year when we are making a decision. For EA students, we see the courses in which a student is enrolled as a senior, but no grades. For RD students, we get mid-year grades in February, so we also see how well a student is doing in their senior courses. If your grades dipped at some point or you had a slow start, Regular Decision would be the best route for you because you would have one more semester of work to show that you have rebounded.

Which pool is right for you?


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Yes, We Really Read All the Files

It's always a head-scratcher when someone asks me whether admission officers really read all of the applications students submit. For admission officers (and for our families), there are two main times of year: reading season and not reading season. The "not reading season" is broken down into smaller bits (travel and yield seasons, for example), but reading season is the main event.

Thanksgiving Day, 2015


There are many different ways to organize your staff and the applications you have to read. Most admission offices split the files up by regions so the admission officers who know the area best can read the files from there. At UVA, we work in teams to make sure each file is read multiple times during the application season. How many times a file is read can vary, but the first two times the file is reviewed, the application is read in its entirety, front to back. There are no "minimum" GPAs or test scores used to reduce our reading load. We read everything.

My colleagues and I are in the last couple weeks of our travel season, when we visit high schools. When we get home, we'll be moving into reading season (though some already started with spring transfer applications earlier this month). We won't emerge until late March (at which point we'll move to reading fall transfers). 

Good luck to those who are putting the finishing touches on Early Action applications. We're looking forward to learning more about you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

UVA Admission Quotas for Northern Virginia

"Beyond our in-state to out-of-state ratio (2/3 of our students are Virginia residents), there are no restrictions, targets, or quotas regarding how many students we may take from a high school, town, county, or region."

I say this sentence during every information session, evening program, and high school visit. I've been at UVA for 11 years, so you can imagine how many times those words have come out of my mouth!

Rumors of regional quotas are pretty prevalent in my territory in Northern Virginia. My students in Fairfax, Arlington, and the continuous cities (cities are separate from counties in Virginia) are convinced that we have to balance out the class between the 95 counties and 38 independent cities in Virginia and that means it's easier to be admitted from the counties with smaller populations. Let's look at some of the most common things I hear and some data...


1. Only __ people are admitted from my high school each year.

Many conversations I see about admission quotas cite enrolled student numbers that have been confused with admission numbers. This is probably because many schools publish lists of college destinations for the graduating class and people count up the number of times a certain school is listed. What's missing is a discussion of yield. Yield is the percentage of admitted students who decide to matriculate at a school.

At UVA, we break down our admission and yield stats by residency. About 60% of the Virginians who get offers of admission wind up enrolling at UVA. When you see a certain number of seniors headed to Charlottesville, remember that there were probably some more who were offered the option, but turned it down to attend another school.





2. The students from my area are more qualified than students from other places.

The notion of "qualified" applicants is a little bit funny to me. Students have access to so much admission information between their counselors, data that we put out, and data that high schools collect that most of the people apply because they know they are qualified. 

In a selective admission process, academically qualified students get denied because the vast majority of the applicant pool is qualified. Those students aren't denied to make room for students who can't do the work. The applicant pool is full of people who are prepared and ready for UVA.




3. UVA doesn't like my school because last year's seniors didn't attend in high numbers.

This is a relatively new rumor and I hear it in different iterations. One student told me that someone  said that her brother turning down his offer from UVA and attending another school a few years ago was going to be held against her.

We don't hold grudges. Students say no to us every year. That's how this process works. Our feelings aren't hurt.

Okay, now let's look at some maps!

UVA Magazine published an awesome article about the Class of 2020 that includes a lot of admission data. My favorite part is the map area, where you can hover over a county (or state or country) and see how many students in the first-year class are from a particular area. If you hold the shift key and click on multiple areas, you can get a summary. 

Above, we saw that 3,720 students are in the Class of 2020. If I add up the counties/cities in Northern Virginia, I can see that 1,130 students are from the area. So, four counties and four cities are pretty well-represented in the class. So 2,590 students are from the other 91 counties and 34 cities that make up the Commonwealth.


Side note: Back in the day, I'd set aside a day or two for Loudoun County visits. These days, one of my colleagues covers Loudoun while I cover Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria. The number of Loudoun high schools has increased as the area has been developed!

You can see how the numbers increased in our student body on the map:

Keep in mind that when you see charts with admission data on them, you are seeing the results of an elaborate review process plotted using just a couple variables. Things like scattergrams don't tell you how we make decisions. 

 

 As always, I'm happy to chat with you via the comments!