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

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Travel Season and a Note about Competition

It's spring travel season and that means most of our office is on the road for college fairs and conferences. This includes the annual Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling Conference (PCACAC).  PCACAC is the Mid-Atlantic regional affiliate of NACAC (I'm sure you can figure our that acronym). Many people who are involved in the college admission process are members of these organizations.

We gather for our regional conference in late April to share best practices, brainstorm ways to address the problems facing our students and offices, and celebrate successes. Pictures like the one below, taken after the opening session of the conference, are pretty common.

(Equal representation of Charlottesville and Blacksburg in this photo)

The reactions I get to these sorts of photos are sometimes mixed. Some people are a little surprised that admission officers collaborate to talk about the state of the college admission and how we can improve the process for students while also serving the needs of our institutions. The truth is that we really save the competitiveness for sports talk (go hoos!). At the end of the day, we want this process to help you discover amazing schools and allow you to select one that will provide you with a fantastic college experience.

I obviously think UVA is a wonderful home for all kinds of students with a wide range of interests, but I know you're considering other schools that can provide exciting opportunities as well. As May 1st approaches, don't hesitate to reach out to us if you want more information about UVA to help with your decision. We have a Dean on call to talk by phone every day and I'm always happy to chat via the comments here or on other social media channels.



By the way, if your school isn't sending counselors and Career Center Specialists to PCACAC, you might want to suggest membership to your superintendent.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jack's Visit to Brown College at Monroe Hill

The Dorm Tours are some of the most popular parts of Days on the Lawn. The University doesn't allow tour groups into the residence halls on a daily basis for privacy and security reasons. Can you imagine how disruptive it would be to have three groups like this parade through your home each day?

The dorm tours include the McCormick Road halls ("old" dorms), Alderman Road halls ("new" dorms), and a couple residential colleges. Residential Colleges are special-interest housing options. You can read about all of the options on the housing website, but I thought I'd give you a glimpse into one of them, Brown College at Monroe Hill, on the blog.



Brown is centrally located and just a few steps away from many academic buildings and Newcomb Hall (where they have a private dining room inside the dining hall!).

While traditional halls at UVA house first years, the residential colleges aren't specific to one class. First, second, third, and fourth years live in Brown.


Brown is known for being an inclusive community where everyone is welcome. I think that's why there are students who move in as first-years and stay in the Brown community for the rest of their college career. 



Each portal (four-room suites) in Brown feels homey, in part due to the mantles in many of the rooms. You can tell a lot about the residents by how they decorate their mantles.


The building is low and rambling, with lots of nooks and crannies. While I was walking around with Jack, we stopped in this sitting area for a moment to admire a letter the Seven Society sent to Brown residents several years ago.


The common areas in Brown include lounges and kitchen spaces. The one below known as Smith Cafe, which turns one of the study lounges into a little coffeehouse on certain evenings.



The different parts of the building are connected by tunnels in the basement. I think running through the tunnels was Jack's favorite part of our tour.


Brown has a bunch of beautiful courtyards. It's hard to believe we were so close to the hustle and bustle of Newcomb Hall and McCormick Road when we took these pictures.




The building isn't really the main attraction. The students are the best part of a visit to Brown. If you have a chance, make sure to stop by during your Days on the Lawn.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Brown application. The questions tend to be interesting and lots of students say they had fun filling it out. There have been times in the past when the Office of Admission has asked the Brownies to contribute a question to the essay choices on our application!


Friday, April 07, 2017

Notes for the #UVA21 Waiting List

If you were offered a spot on the waiting list at UVA, you had a link to the Waiting List FAQs in your decision letter. Many of the questions we're getting by phone and email are covered there, so please be sure to share that link with your parents so they understand the process. I'm going to go over the parts that come up the most and add some more information. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

How many people are on the waiting list? 

The waiting list forms as people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. We offer spots to many, but about half of those students will actually put themselves on the waiting list. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, has a section about waiting list numbers. Some schools omit this section, but here are our numbers from last year:
From the 2016-2017 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: 4,987
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,871
Number of wait-listed students admitted:360
Is your waiting list ranked? No
The waiting list will be big on May 1st because we need to ensure there are students to fit all ten sections of the first year class. The class is made up of Virginia residents and out-of-state students for each of the five schools/programs that take first years.

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?

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, which should be about 3,725 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's a decade of data, which should show you how unpredictable this part can be. I don't have a breakdown of where the offers were for these years. 

2016 - 360
2015- 402
2014- 42
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 update letter to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us via uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu with significant news is okay. Bombarding every admission officer with an email each day is not. Please don't email admission officers directly with your updates. We're just going to forward your email to uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu and it will delay your email being filed. Please use the general account.

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 the best 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 move quickly because no one wants to drag this out. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we completed the class on June 2nd. In 2015, we were done by June 22nd.

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. When SIS updates, a new letter shows up along with the buttons to accept the offer and pay a deposit.

Because we want to give students a few days to think about the offer (and because the Financial Aid folks need time to post a package if the newly-admitted student applied for aid), this process takes a while. I can't give constant updates on the blog. I can usually check in once or twice in May. I will always tell you when the Dean says the class is full. 

What about aid?

If you applied for aid by 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 offer 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 and 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!