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Thursday, June 29, 2017

2017-2018 #UVA First-Year Application Essays

I hope the rising seniors out there are having a great summer. I share our essay prompts for the next year each June with the hopes that we'll give you plenty of time to think about which one is right for you. If you are thinking about writing your essays this early, I hope you'll revisit them before you actually submit an application. It's amazing how much can change in a few months.

I have three pieces of advice for you as you think about your essays:
1. Don't overthink the topic. These questions are deliberately broad so that people can take their essays in many directions. 
2. Don't feel limited to the essay formula you may use for academic writing. While the five-paragraph essay (an intro, three supporting sections, and a conclusion) you use in school is technically correct, it might not be the best way to get your style and voice to come across.
3. Don't feel obligated to use all of the advice you get. You'll obviously want to get some people you trust to read your essays and give you feedback, but it's okay to ignore feedback that doesn't fit your style.


I'll elaborate on those points in future posts. Now, let's get to the prompts. This past year's applicants submitted some really wonderful essays, so we didn't feel the need to make major changes to our prompts. Remember that these short essays are in addition to your longer Common App essay.


2017-2018 First-Year Application Essay Questions


1.    We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.  Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words. 
  • College of Arts and Sciences - What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences - If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?
  • School of Architecture - Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
  • School of Nursing - School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing
  • Kinesiology Program - Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.


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 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 UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, 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?
  • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?


I'm happy to answer questions about our prompts in the comments!
 

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Much Time is Spent Reading a File at #UVA?

I have filled out the Common App quite a few times in recent days because we are testing the 2017-2018 version of the application (essay prompts will be posted on the blog next week!). I found myself wondering how long it takes the average student to get through the Common App and our school-specific questions. How funny that we get the same question from students and parents all the time.

The quick answer we give when asked how much time is spent on each application is "it depends." There are quick reads and slow reads, so it wouldn't be accurate to throw out a number. A quick read might be one where I'm familiar with the options at the high school and the student's academic story is clear in their transcript and recommendations. It might take longer to understand the transcript from a school I don't know as well or one where the high school profile isn't clear about the school's practices. Of course, there are some applications that aren't filled out carefully, where hastily written essays and partially filled out components lead us to a conclusion pretty quickly.

What most applicants seem to be asking is "how quickly do I have to 'wow' you?" Please know that we'll take whatever time is needed to give each file a thorough, thoughtful review. If understanding the file requires a call to the school for clarification or a slow analysis of the transcript, so be it.

Does this surprise you? Do you have questions about how the mechanics of reading a file?

Take your time! The results are apt to be better.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

You Need 9 APs and Other Ridiculous #UVA Admission Rumors

Admission rumors make me laugh sometimes, but not today. Today, I heard that multiple students at a particular high school told their counselors that UVA would put them in a "special category" if they were able to get 9 AP courses on their transcripts.

Let's just nip this in the bud. This is completely false. Every application is reviewed the same way. There is a preliminary review by the Office of Virginia Status that verifies the applicant's residency. Once that is completed, the process is the same for all applicants. Each admission officer reads their applications front-to-back. There is no "first round" that just looks at academics or test scores. There is no "special category" for students with a certain number of AP courses on their transcript. Remember that program options are different from school to school, so having a universal "bar" for applicants wouldn't make sense.

There's another rumor out there that claims we will deny students who have "too many" APs because awarding advanced credit "robs" UVA of tuition dollars. This one is truly baffling. The College addresses their very generous AP/IB/DE credit policy on their website. Students can bring up to 60 credits with them to UVA. The President's office also gives a special stole that those who are completing degrees in 2 or 3 years and President Sullivan makes special mention of those students at Final Exercises. If your school offers advanced options and you feel ready to weave them into your program, go for it!

I suspect that these rumors get cooked up when people try to explain an admission decision that they didn't expect. Keep in mind that while course rigor is very important to us, the other components of the application must be strong and compelling as well.


As always, I'm happy to answer your questions in the comments!

Don't worry! We're here to dispel those rumors!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The #UVA Class of 2021 is Complete

In about half an hour, everyone who opted to remain on this year's first-year waiting list will receive an email from Dean Roberts informing them that the Class of 2021 is complete. We won't be making any more offers of admission and it is time to release the waiting list.

Please be sure to check the email account associated with your Common App account for Dean Roberts' email.

Best wishes for a relaxing summer and an exciting start to your college career at your chosen school.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A Waiting List Update for #UVA21

Remember when I said I might not check in more than once or twice in May? Well, here we are in June and I have a small, but not too significant, update about the waiting list.

We made a few offers to students on the waiting list just before May 1 and the offers continued slowly over the course of the month. The speed of this process is slow. We want to be respectful of the fact that accepting an offer off the waiting list is a huge decision. In most cases, an enrollment deposit at another school will be lost and that is a significant amount of money. What's more, plans that have been made for that other school have to be abandoned. This is why we give students a few days to think about their offer before we expect to hear back from them.

Virginia residents usually get more offers during the EA and RD phases of our application process and they also got more of the offers during the waiting list process. When it comes to academic areas, more offers traditionally go to the College of Arts and Sciences, our largest school, and this held true this year. I don't have exact number of offers, but those will be posted in our Common Data Set in the fall.

Once we feel it's time to disband the waiting list, we'll email everyone on it to let them know that no more offers are possible.