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Friday, September 14, 2018

Sending Resumes, Abstracts, and Writing Portfolios to #UVA

I'm on call today and got two calls in a row from parents who wanted permission to send extra items to supplement their child's applications. I explained that supplements that adhere to our art and architecture portfolio guidelines (available on the application instructions page) are acceptable, but that we can't take anything that falls outside of them. Those calls reminded me that it's time to cover this topic on the blog.

First of all, the application is enough. We ask for quite a bit of information in our application: transcripts, two recommendations, three pieces of writing, test scores, and an activity list. We ask for the things we know we need to make our decisions. If someone is telling you that UVA needs things that aren't listed in our application instructions, they are mistaken. 

Please don't spend your money on stuff like this.

1. Resumes

The Common App allows each college to turn the resume function of the app on or off. It is OFF for UVA. I'm not sure about how the Coalition is handling that feature, but UVA does not accept resumes. The application presents information in a systematic format, which allows us to zero in on pertinent information quickly. You don't need to make more work for yourself. Follow our instructions and use the application to share information in a concise way.

2. Outside Recommendations

We require one recommendation from your counselor and one from a teacher of your choice. We are looking for insight into your style in the academic environment. People who have never taught you can't speak to your learning style or how you work in a classroom situation. Also, those people tend to think they need to summarize facts (hours worked, tasks performed). Repetitive information isn't helpful.

Some people want to send recs from faculty they met at conferences or special programs. Consider how briefly these people have known you and remember that your teachers and counselors have a little more familiarity with you.

The required academic recommendations are perfect! Don't worry about sending extras!

3. Research Abstracts

It's great to tell us about research, but don't send us an abstract. A line or two in the activity part of the application summarizing what you did is great. A paper is over the top and not useful. In fact, if you send us a paper full of jargon, you're increasing the chances that the gist of the work won't be clear. 

4. Writing Portfolios

We get three pieces of polished writing in your application. The application has a long essay and there are two short-answer prompts. That's plenty of writing for us. We don't accept portfolios.

5. Copies of Certificates

You sign off on our Honor Code when you apply and promise that the information in your application is accurate. We don't need a copy of a certificate to believe that you are a member of a certain organization or received an award for something. Leave those papers in the baby book or that folder where you stick important stuff.

6. Newspaper Clippings or Pictures of You Doing Something

Anyone who was on the staff of a literary magazine, newspaper, or yearbook is proud of their work. It's best to keep copies for yourself and your family. The same goes with photos (even the adorable baby-on-the-UVA-Lawn photos). They belong in a safe place at home, not in a college application.




We try to make this clear on out website with a statement above our email addresses:



 Again, colleges ask for the things they need to make their decisions. If we don't ask for it, we don't want you to spend time (or money) on it. Further, to make this process fair, we are specific about what we review for each candidate. We accept supplements that fit the criteria for arts and architecture supplements. That's it. So when you hit submit, it's time to move on to monitoring your status. You don't need to spend time and money crafting extra items to send us.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

How Many APs Do You Need to Get Into UVA?

A counselor emailed us yesterday to say that a family left an information session with the impression that we "required" students to take 8 AP courses. My first reaction was to question whether this was really an information session at UVA. We never, ever mention numbers of AP courses in the context of admission requirements. Everyone knows course options differ. Plenty of students don't even have access to APs or APs in that number.

We don't have firm requirements when it comes to the high school curriculum. This is why we often encourage students to challenge themselves in each of their core subjects. Putting together a great program looks different at each school and for every student at that school. Yes, we want you to stretch and challenge yourself when it comes to course selection and we want you to get good grades. There is no standard formula for that. We hope you're talk to your counselor, some teachers, and parent about the choices that are right for you.

Gratuitous CavPup with students photo