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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Which Activities are Most Valued by #UVA Admission?

I was reading some old articles about how admission with an eye towards how parents provide support and guidance during the college search. I came upon a comment on an article that struck me.
The problem is often that children's childhoods are literally sacrificed to that ideal of getting into UVA/Princeton/Yale, etc. This girl may have been discouraged from pursuing her actual interests (scouts, horseback riding, etc.) and instead had them channeled into things that would look better on an admissions application (chess club, afterschool Chinese) beginning in kindergarten.

Our solution was to encourage our kids to do what they loved and to think of college admissions as a crap shoot. 

First of all, lumping UVA in with schools that have single-digit admission rates might not be the best move. We have always published our admit rates broken down by residency. We offered to 38% of the Virginia residents who applied this past year and we offered to 23% of the out-of-state applicants. I can't fathom UVA ever being among the 15 or so schools with single-digit admit rates.

When it comes to a student's involvement outside the classroom, we don't favor certain kinds of activities over others. With 869 student organizations are currently registered in our system, it should be pretty obvious that we value variety. I hope you'll chose to make meaningful contributions in some arena (home, school, job, community, etc) of your life.

I've heard a lot of people talk about colleges valuing long-term activities in the admission process. While it's always interesting when a student has sustained involvement, that isn't something we require. Plenty of students change their activities as their interests evolve. Also, as your academic responsibilities become heavier, it may make sense to cut pack on your involvement so you can get your school work done. I don't want you staying on a team or in a club if it's making your feel stressed or miserable. Move on to do other things! 

Lastly, admission is not a crapshoot. Admission offices establish pretty elaborate review processes to form their incoming classes. It is not random. I do like that the parent who wrote the comment encouraged their student to participate in activities that they loved!


Friday, July 06, 2018

2018-2019 #UVA First-Year Application Essay Prompts

The first #UVA22 orientation is on Grounds right now, which marks the end of our time working with last year's senior class. It seems like a good time to share our essay prompts for the next application season.

Each year, we solicit feedback about our prompts from students and admission staff. Some times we tweak a question, sometime we add to the options, and sometimes we remove options. Our prompts aren't changing too much, but we did add one option to the second.


2018-2019 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?
  • UVA students are charged with pushing the boundaries of knowledge to serve others and contribute to the common good. Give us an example of how you’ve used what you’ve learned to make a positive impact in another person’s life.

I'm happy to answer questions in the comments. I'll share some more advice for essay writing next week.