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

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Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fourth Myths about UVA Admission Officers

Every now and then I get pulled into a corner of the internet where I am dumbfounded by the information I read about college admission or admission to UVA. Today is one of those days. I received a link to an anonymous message board where someone is dolling out incorrect information about how UVA admission works. Instead of jumping into the fray, I thought I'd lay out the correct information here.

Myth #1: Our job is to get as many people as possible to apply.

In my 14 years at UVA, I have never felt any pressure to increase the number of applicants. My time on the road isn't spent trying to convince students to apply (students and counselors who attend my talks at the Fairfax schools know this). The talks I give are about the academic options and what we look for as we read applications. 

There have been times when someone has asked me to "sell" UVA to them, but we don't do that here. We will explain the opportunities UVA presents and let the student decide if they line up with their needs. 

Because some conflate application numbers and our success, we joke that our ideal application number is one more than last year's total. 

Myth #2: We only read your application if you have over a certain GPA/test score.

We read every single file that comes in, front to back. There is no culling of the applications using GPAs (which everyone knows aren't standardized) or test scores. GPAs don't provide the amount of detail we need in our reviews. Students with identical GPAs at the same high school can have very different coursework and grades. The applications on the two ends of the spectrum (ones that are clearly offers and clearly denies) are faster to read, but there is no automation that puts files into categories based on GPA or testing. 

There's a reason I sometimes tweet in the wee hours of the night and on weekends. We pull some pretty ridiculous hours to get all of the files read. This is also why I can't pinpoint the date when we'll release decisions early on in the reading season. We read our files at UVA. 


Myth #3: We get "signals" from counselors at the "appropriate" students for UVA.

Counselors recommendations are very helpful in our review process. Most counselors write one recommendation for each of their students. I don't expect to see UVA-specific recommendations. I think counselors have too much on their plates to handle writing a different letter for each school on every senior's list. 


Myth #4:  We don't use interest because we can't keep track of visitors.

We do track our visitors here as anyone who has registered for an information session and tour knows. Visitor data helps us reserve the appropriate space for an event and tell the University Guide Service about higher-then-usual group numbers that might require extra tours. 

Like many schools, we can also see when our emails are opened or when students log into our student information system. This helps us assess our communication efforts. When you see that a certain email isn't getting opened, you might reconsider the time it's sent or the subject line you use. 

As we've always said, none of this activity influences our admission decisions. When we read a file, we are not consulting the reservation system to see if an applicant has interacted with us before. 


If you've come across any rumors you'd like me to address, feel free to post them in the comments. 

Friday, July 05, 2019

Answering YOUR #UVA Application Essay Questions, #UVA24!

After I wrote my usual summer blog post with essay advice in it, I decided to let students submit questions about essay writing on Instagram. My advice from last year still stands, but I thought it best to reply to what students have on their minds right now. These questions are straight from my DMs and InstaStories. If you aren't following me on Instagram, you're missing almost daily content, especially during application reading season.


What is the first step to writing these essays?
Free writing! I think that if you sit down in front of a blank screen and think "now, I shall write a college essay," you're going to write something pretty contrived. I would look at the essay prompts and so a free writing exercise. Maybe you let your self write whatever comes to find for five minutes. Or, you write one line answers for one question for a few minutes. When you're done, see if something you've written feels interesting enough that it could become a larger piece of writing.


What are you looking for? Character? Organization?
Obviously, you want your writing to be technically correct and you'll edit your essays to make sure you've avoided spelling and grammar errors. Content wise, you want your essays to share things that aren't coming through in the rest of the application. We're interested in knowing a little more about the person behind the forms and letters that have been submitted. This is the place where we get to hear directly from you.

Remember that with an incoming class with 3,800 students in it, we don't have to engineer variety. Feel free to share who you area knowing that we aren't searching for a specific student to check a certain characteristic off on a list. That means that you should write about the topic that you feel is the best vehicle for you to be authentic in your writing. It's not about picking a topic that admission officers would pick themselves.


What is the best structure?
Whatever structure works for the story/message you're conveying works for us. You are not beholden to the academic, five-paragraph format. That's great for class or for a timed exam, but not necessary for personal essays.


What is the preferred average word count for the essays?
I covered this one in the last post.


How much detail should there be?
I don't think you should be vague, if that makes sense. If you can't be thorough in a half-page essay, your topic might be too broad. We've been using most of our essay prompts for years and it shouldn't be hard to answer them in the space allotted.


Is it okay to be funny?
If you're funny, go for it. If you aren't funny, don't force it. I think some people think they need to be super clever or make witty observations in their essays when that's not natural to them.


I know we are suppose to put our best foot forward, but at what point does it appear obnoxious?
What an interesting question! There are definitely times when people try to be more sophisticated than they are and it comes off as a bit forced. We often suggest imagining your close friends coming across your essays and thinking about how they'd react to reading them. Would they know they were yours or would they wonder who wrote them? If it doesn't sound like you, it might be best to do some editing.

Remember that admission officers work primarily with teenagers. When we get an essay that doesn't sound like one, we wonder about how many people were involved in writing it. That's not to say you can't get advice - I also wrote about that in the last blog post.


What are your thought on the way students write about their own privilege?
I *think* this question was asking if it's okay to write about topics that convey wealth - the student who talks about travels abroad or participating in some other expensive activity. I think that's okay, but I think you have to be careful about putting yourself in the territory I mentioned in the last answer.

Of course, it's refreshing when a young person acknowledges their privilege, but some students won't learn about that until they get to college and are exposed to a more diverse environment.


Can we submit a picture with our essay?
I don't think the Common App allows it and I don't think it's necessary. Describe the image, but use the bulk of your essay to talk about why it's important to you or how it affected you. If something write about a painting or photo with which I'm not familiar, I'll often google it.


What is the best way to grab the reader's attention about a topic others may write about?
What are some tips for making an essay stand out?

What's the most important thing to do for a student to stand out and show interest?\
I bundled these three questions together because they are essentially asking the same thing. I wish whoever is telling students they have to be completely unique in their essays or that their application has to "stand out" would take it down a notch. Most students write about normal things like their family, an academic interest, an activity, a piece of literature/music/art that influenced them. You can write about the same book that a dozen other people do and what will make your essay different is that your reaction to the story will be yours alone.

Regarding "showing interest," the only thing you need to do to show interest in UVA is apply. Do not write your essays about UVA. We already know the University quite well and we don't need something to tell us about it. We don't know you yet, though!


I hope that was helpful! I usually do Q&A sessions exclusively on Instagram Stories, but I'll try to do a few more cross-overs in the future! Feel free to ask questions in the comments or DM me on Instagram.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Five Tips for Writing the #UVA Application Essays

I just updated my Twitter client (a dashboard social media managers use to monitor multiple feeds at once) from following #UVA23 to #UVA24. Our information sessions and tours are getting larger. The questions have picked up on Instagram DM. It's time to start looking to the next application cycle.

Now that our application essay prompts are up, I think it's time to share a little advice for writing your responses. There are certain questions and concerns that come up every year that I should address. As always, I'm happy to answer questions I'm not covering if you would like to submit them through the comment section below. If you are reading this on a mobile device, you may have to switch the full site mode to see the comment box. It doesn't always show up when the site is optimized for mobile.

1. There's no correct answer.

We have essay prompts that are deliberate broad. We are hoping that they let students take their essay in whatever direction feels right for them. Your topic shouldn't be something you think the admission committee would pick, it should be a topic that lets your be interesting and authentic in your writing. Admission officers want to learn something about you that isn't coming through in the rest of the application. They want to get a sense of your voice and personality. Using a topic that makes your writing feel forced probably won't do that.


2. You aren't beholden to the academic format or style of writing.

I distinctly remember when I started attempted my first college application essay. I was laying on the sage green carpet in my room with a spiral notebook turned to a fresh sheet of paper and my favorite pen in front of me. I stared at that page for a long time, not really sure about how to start. Eventually, I did what most students do when charged with writing an essay - I used the standard format I had learned in school. At the time, it was called a 3-5 essay and it had an introduction, three supporting sections, and a conclusion (five paragraphs total). A lot of essays we see tend to adhere to this format, which is fine, but I want you to know that it's okay to free write and then cobble together a format that works for the story/message you want to convey.

3. Be careful about over-editing

It's always smart to have a fresh set of eyes review an important piece of writing. However, I think you have to be careful about letting a helpful editor or two change the voice that's in your essay. Remember the old saying that "two many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth."

Keep in mind that admission officers work with college-bound students for a living. We aren't expecting a graduate level thesis. You are the expect on what a college-bound student sounds like. When a helpful friend or adult offers suggestions for your essays, don't throw them in without really thinking about whether they work for your voice and the message you want to share.

4. Don't be intimidated by "essays that worked."

Most of us turn to google when we have to do something for the first time. It's natural that you'll look for inspiration online when you start writing your essays. Keep in mind that the essays that get published on websites and in books aren't normal. They are extraordinary. Don't be intimidated by essays describing special talents or experiences that you don't have. Most essays are about pretty normal topics - academic interests, family, or activities. You don't have to have a spectacular story to write an essay that leaves the reader impressed and interested in you. What will make your essay interesting is that we'll learn something new about you.

5. We Aren't Counting the Words.

I can't tell you have many DMs and emails I get from students who are worried about their essays being a few words over or under the length we state. There are also students who notice that the Common App essay box lets you paste in a little bit more text and they want to know exactly how many words we expect.

We don't spend time to count the words in essays. We are more interested in reading them! We provide some direction because we don't want anyone to write a term paper. Your responses to the UVA-specific prompts should be about half a page. If you are over or under by a little bit, we aren't going to notice.

Feel free to ask questions below in the comments.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

2019-2020 First Year Application Essay Prompts

The incoming class is now working with the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs, so it's time to shift to working with high school juniors who will be applying to UVA next year.

There are three required pieces of writing on our application: the Common App essay and two shorter responses that are specific to UVA. The Common App released the general essay prompts they'll be using back in January. Our prompts are below.

Our prompts aren't changing too much. Our staff is really happy with the essays we've been getting and the student feedback we've gotten has been positive. As a follow up post, I'll give some tips for approaching these and cover some of the common questions I get about essay writing. For now, feel free to ask questions in the comments.


2019-2020 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 living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Updates for the #UVA Class of 2023 and Prospective Class of 2024 Students

I debated posting two separate posts within hours of each other, but figured it would be okay to shares these two updates in the same post.

First, we emailed the handful of students who were on the waiting list for the Architecture, Nursing, and Kinesiology last night to let them know that we are releasing the waiting list. No further offers will be made and the class of 2023 is complete.

Second, UVA is adding the option of applying Early Decision for next year's class. Next year's applicants can choose to apply under Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Decision.

You can see the timeline for all three plans on the application instructions page of our website, but let me point out that we will release the results of the Early Decision review in December. We haven't been able to do that in about a decade. The application numbers are a bit higher than back then, so the deadline for that first group is moving up to October 15th.

Our review will be consistent throughout the season, as was the case when we just had two options, so there isn't a time when it's harder to be admitted. You'll have to think about the strength of your application and whether you want to commit to UVA up front when deciding on the plan that is best for you.

As always, I'll be posting our essay prompts in June for those who want to spend some time thinking about their essays over the summer.



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A quick #UVA23 Update

With the May 1st deposit deadline looming, I thought I'd give you all a heads up about how the class of 2023 is coming together. Admitted students have until 11:59 PM on May 1st to submit their deposits, but we already know that we will be over the enrollment target for the first year class.

There is a factor that has to be considered before we make any decision about releasing the waiting list. That factor is called "melt." Melt is what happens when students who paid an admission deposit decide that they aren't coming. You can see melt happen as other schools go to their waiting list. Someone who deposited at UVA might get off the waiting list at another school and decide to withdraw from here to accept that other offer. Just as students are waiting for news of waiting list movement, admission officers are. We know that if peer schools start making offers to their waiting list students, we might see some people withdraw from our class.

The other factors that come into play at UVA are residency and the five academic entry points for first years. We could be over-enrolled in one school/college, but under the target for another. We'll know more about that after all the deposits are in. 

The tl;dr is that there probably won't be much waiting list movement at UVA this year. I'll have another update after May 1st.


(tl;dr means "too long; didn't read" and it is a way to indicate a summary statement follows.)



Thursday, April 18, 2019

The #UVA23 Class is Coming Together!

With one Days on the Lawn left and "signing day" looming (admitted students must submit enrollment deposits by the end of the day on May 1), I thought I'd share some pictures and leave the comments open for questions.




Keep in mind that people who submit deposits early don't get an advantage when it comes to housing or access to classes. That's a really common question! Spots in certain sought-after classes are reserved for each orientation session. Students who attend the first orientation might see a class as full, but it will open up for the next session because some seats will be released.

Also, keep in mind that we really use the "drop/add" period heavily here at UVA. The first schedule you put together most likely won't be the one you settle on.




You have until 11:59 PM on May 1st to submit your deposit. As always, I suggest submitting things a tad early just in case something goes wrong and you need assistance from the help desk (4help@virginia.edu is their email address).




We are in the middle of our busiest visit week of the year right now (lots of visiting juniors on school vacation) and we are also reading transfer applications. It's a busy time, but I'm happy to field your questions in the comments!

Good luck with the big decision!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Notes for the #UVA23 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 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 fill out the waiting list reply on the portal. 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 2018 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: 5,972
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 3,588
Number of wait-listed students admitted: 13
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.

What's this thing about UVA Wise?

Virginia residents on the waiting list are given the option of enrolling at UVA Wise for one year before guaranteed transfer to UVA. There are some academic requirements for the time at Wise, of course. If you are a Virginia resident, you will see a question about the UVA Wise option on your waiting list reply form. Answering yes will get you some more information from our colleagues at Wise. You won't be removed from our waiting list process and you aren't bound to Wise if you select the "yes" option.

I accepted. Why is the form still there? 

You can always come back and pull yourself off the list. That is why the form remains after you opt in. There is no going back once you decline, though.

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 3,750 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 over 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.

2018 - 13
2017- 117
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. Uploaded a letter in the portal is appropriate. Bombarding every admission officer with an email each day is not. Please don't email one or more admission officers directly with your updates. That will delay your email being filed. Following directions is important.

By the way, showing up in Peabody Hall will have no affect. I can't tell you how many students drive here 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 May 14th. In 2017, we were done by June 13th. Every year is a little different. When the time comes, we always email the entire waiting list to let them know the class is full.

If you are going to get an offer, we'll call you at the number you put on your application. The call is a heads up that your status is about to change in the portal. 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 portal to remove their name from the list, but some people forget. When the portal updates, a new letter shows up along with the ability to 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.

Will my housing and class options be limited if I come off the waiting list?

In a word: no. Housing doesn't even open their system until June and students coming off the waiting list aren't treated differently in their process. During the Orientation season, seats in certain popular classes are held for each orientation session. That means people who sign up for the first orientation can't scoop up all the seats in classes. What's more, the registration system opens up for course changes in August. Lots of students don't finalize their courses until that period.

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!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Unofficial Admission Statistics for the #UVA Class of 2023

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVA. They take a census to determine the final statistics for the class later in the year. You can see official admission data in the data digest part of their website, including admission data by residency and school of entry.

Here are some unofficial numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of yesterday, March 24, 2019. If you are a reporter, please contact the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for current, official information and all of your reporterly needs. :)

Total Applications

Total applications: 40,869 (37,182 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 12,010
Total number of OOS apps: 28,859
We use completed applications in our statistics.

Total Offers of Admission

Overall offers: 9,787
Total VA offers:  4,331 (36% offer rate)
Total OOS offers:  5,456 (19% offer rate)
Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind. Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission.

Testing/Rank (offers only)

Middle 50% SAT score:  1340-1500 (VA)  1430-1540 (OOS)
Middle 50% ACT composite: 32-34 (VA)  33-35 (OOS)
These are the results of our review. These were not targets. We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

Defers and Waiting List

Deferred students offered admission: 12% (16.6% last year)
Waiting list offers: 13% of Regular Decision applicants (28.6% last year)
The waiting list forms as students opt into it via the portal and we have seen up to HALF decline putting themselves on the list. The waiting list will have ten different segments (in-state and OOS for each of the five academic areas that take first-year students).

A couple notes:


1. I do not have additional statistics. You can see last year's stats broken down by residency, school of entry, and other criteria using the "official admission data" link I provided in the first paragraph.

2. Scholar status is shown in the portal. If you were invited to join Echols, Rodman, or College Science Scholars during this round, you will see this in the portal. If you were not invited to join now, you can join them after the first semester. Information about this is on each program's webpage.

3. Welcome packets with information about next steps will be leaving our office soon!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Let's Talk about #UVA23 Decisions: The Offer of Admission

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVA Class of 2023 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. Parents, you can check out the UVA Parents Page, the UVA Parents Fund Facebook page, and the UVA Parent Network group (a social group run independently by parents).

I'll have posts about admission statistics and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days.

You have until May 1st to decide whether you'll be joining us at UVA. You can accept your offer and pay the enrollment deposit through the student portal. The date you deposit will not impact your housing or course registrationOrientation registration will open on April 1st and Housing opens their system on May 1. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer via your portal.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!

Let's Talk about #UVA23 Decisions: The Waiting List

Students offered a spot on the waiting list can use this entry to talk.

This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school. At UVA, the waiting list tends to be large because there are so many different segments to the population here (VA and OOS groups for the four schools and the one program that take first-year students). At this point, we don't know where there will be openings in the class.

We won't know how large the waiting list is until you all accept or decline your waiting list offers.  Right now, you've been offered a spot on the list. You aren't actually on it until you reply via your portal.

You should have already seen the link to the waiting list FAQ page in your decision letter, which answers the most common questions (is the list ranked, what do I do now, what's the time line, etc.) and provides a decade of data about waiting list offers.

For now, you need to look at your other options and think about which one feels right to you. Some of you will want to hold on and see what happens with the waiting list and others will want to fully invest themselves in another school. Either way, you need to submit a deposit somewhere by May 1st to ensure yourself a spot in a freshman class. If you are offered a spot in our class and you decide to accept it, you'll have to write to that other school and withdraw your name from the class (you may lose your deposit at that school). Just remember that you can't "double deposit".

Feel free chat here.



We hope you find a peaceful place to think about your options

Let's Talk about #UVA23 Decisions: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. If your immediate reaction is "I'll transfer", don't let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as "home" and can't imagine leaving it after a little while. Give yourself time to explore your options.

Some students inquire about being moved to the waiting list. We do not have an appeal process.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.


BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don't want the messages anymore, there's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page. 



#UVA Regular Decision Notification is Tonight!

As if we aren't excited enough because the men's basketball team is playing the first game of the NCAA tournament this afternoon, we also get to share our decisions with Regular Decision applicants! I have a few notes about this evening's decision release. This might be a little long, but this is important info.

1. At some point this evening (I don't control the exact time), you will be able to see your decision in your student portal. You will also get a formal letter by mail in an orange packet.

2. The release is always exciting, but some of you aren't going to get the decision you wanted. I hope you'll focus on the college options you have instead of the ones you don't. Celebrate your successes, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.

3. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA23 on social media so they can welcome our newest Hoos to the UVA community. We love seeing your reactions when we check that hashtag!

Keep an eye on the UVA InstagramTwitter, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages!



4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). As I've talked about before, GPAs are not calculated the same way at all schools and don't represent the applicant or their program accurately. Parents, please be careful about sharing your student's profile. There have been times when enough information about an applicant has been shared (here and elsewhere) that classmates could identify them.

5. EcholsRodman, and College Science Scholars will see their status in the portal as well. They will also receive a letter in their admit packet.

6. I will write posts about the waiting list and share admission statistics in the coming days. There is no lag time in our office, so we have transitioned to reading transfer applications. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.



THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog and chatted via social media this season. The Instagram Q&As have been a highlight for me. They are a much-needed way to interact with students while spending most of my days staring at a computer screen.

Regardless of what the portal shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. You're going to learn from amazing professors, administrators, and peers. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all-nighters studying. You're going  to pull all-nighters not studying. You're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably at some things. What's going to make or break those experiences is your openness to learning from them, not your location when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVA. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.


Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you'll continue to comment and stay in touch.

It's a big night and I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Course Rigor is Not a Number


I often mention the cyclical nature of admission work. There are certain phases that happen every year and certain issues that come up when we talk to families. I want to address the questions we get about rigor in the high school curriculum.

1. All of your core classes are important.

A lot of people focus on the core areas that correspond to their current academic interest. I've even had people wave off certain subjects because they aren't interested in them or they don't come "naturally" to them. I wish they'd stop this. High school is the time to get a broad foundation in several areas and college is the time to specialize. We most concerned with a student's work in four core areas (in alpha order, not order of importance): English, Math, Science, Social Science, and World Language. 

At UVA, students don't even declare a major until the end of the second year in the College of Arts and Sciences or the end of the first year in Engineering and Architecture. The Nursing and Kinesiology students are the only ones admitted directly into a program. 

2. The number of APs doesn't drive a decision.

Plenty of people want to know how many AP courses a student should take to be competitive in our process. We don't approach applications this way. First of all, not everyone goes to a school with APs as an option. Second, some schools limit how many AP courses a student may take. Third, with the number of AP courses offered these days, you can rack up a lot of APs in just one subject. There could be students with big AP numbers who also haven't take an advanced course in other core areas. 

3. Doubling up in one subject at the expense of the core doesn't "look good."

There are some students who are so excited about a certain subject that they want to double or even triple up on courses in that area. I don't think it's smart to drop core subjects to load up classes in one area. Cover the core and use your electives to explore your interests.


As always, I'm happy to answer questions about rigor of curriculum or course selection in the comments.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mid-year Reports Due Tomorrow for #UVA23!

I writing a quick post today to remind students who were admitted or deferred under Early Action and all Regular Decision applicants that mid-year reports are due tomorrow. Please upload a midyear report card through your portal. We are a paperless office, so please do not mail or email this.

Many students are sending updates to individual admission officers (or several admission officers at once). Please use your portal to submit all updates. In addition, some are submitting a "letter of continued interest." You do not need to declare your interest in UVA. Your application is proof that you are interested. We address this in multiple places on our website and I've written about it several times on this blog.

Keep it simple! Send us the stuff we request and don't spend time or energy on the things we don't. You have enough on your plate right now and there's no need to add more to this process.

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



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Facebook Deleted the #UVA23 Class Facebook Group, So Here's a New One

Facebook decided a bunch of college class groups needed to be deleted, so they got rid of the UVA Class of 2023 along with some others over the weekend. The current students who volunteered to answer questions in the group told me that the incoming students were simply introducing themselves, so they couldn't figure out how they could possibly have run afoul of Facebook's community standards.

Anyway, the students just created a new UVA Class of 2023 group and shared the link with me. Here's hoping this one doesn't have any issues.

As a reminder, this group is for students only. I'm not even in there. A few current UVA students volunteered to answer questions when needed. When the incoming class elects their Class Council, the admin roles will be handed over to the officers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2288147377864188/

Monday, January 28, 2019

Unofficial #UVA23 Early Action Statistics

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVA. They take a census to determine the final statistics for the class. You can see official admission data in the data digest part of their website. Obviously, what happened in past years isn't going to predict the future, but some people have fun playing around with the Tableau on their site.

Here are some unofficial numbers about the early action process. These numbers were up to date on Friday. If you are a reporter, please contact the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for current, official information and all of your reporterly needs. :)

Early Action Applications

Total number of Early Action applications: 25,098 (21,573 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 7,019
Total number of OOS apps: 18,079
We use completed applications in our statistics.

Early Action Offers

Overall offers: 6,550
Total VA offers: 3,051 (43.4% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 3,499 (19% offer rate)
Enrollment Goal: ~3,750
Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind. Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. Virginia residents yield at a higher rate than OOS students.

Early Action Defers

Overall defers: ~7000 as of last Friday
Applicants are withdrawing, so this number is likely much lower today and will continue to do go down.

Early Action Testing/Rank (offers only)

Middle 50% SAT score: 1350-1500 (VA) 1450-1540 (OOS)
Middle 50% ACT composite: 30-34 (VA) 33-35 (OOS)
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals. We do not use the essay or writing scores.


A couple notes:

1. I do not have additional statistics. We are already immersed in the Regular Decision review process and I have to read files!

2. Welcome packets should be leaving our office this week.

3. The Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars program invitations will be in welcome packets. Another round of invites will go out after the RD process concludes. Echols and Rodman also allow self-nomination after the first semester.



Friday, January 25, 2019

Let's Talk about #UVA23 Early Action: The Offer of Admission

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVA Class of 2023 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. Parents, you can check out the UVA Parents Page, the UVA Parents Fund Facebook page, and the UVA Parent Network group (a social group run independently by parents).

I'll have post about admission statistics and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days.

You have until May 1st to decide whether you'll be joining us at UVA. You can accept your offer and pay the enrollment deposit through the student portal. The date you deposit will not impact your housing or course registration. Orientation registration will open on April 1st and Housing opens their system on May 1. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer via your portal.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!

Let's Talk about #UVA23 Early Action: The Defer

Deferred students can use this post to talk.

Your application hasn't finished it's journey yet.

Your file will be reviewed again as part of the Regular Decision pool. At this point, you should simply upload your midyear grades through your student portal once they are ready.

We know the wait is tough, but we think your mid-year grades could help your case. Hang in there! You should see the link to the defer FAQ page in your letter, which answers the most common questions.

Jack hopes you can find a peaceful place to wait.

Let's Talk About #UVA23 Early Action: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. If your immediate reaction is "I'll transfer", don't let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as "home" and can't imagine leaving it after a little while. Give yourself time to explore your options.

Some students inquire about being moved to the defer group. We do not have an appeal process.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.


BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don't want the messages anymore, there's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page. 



Early Action Decisions for #UVA Class of 2023 Are Posted

About 30 minutes ago, Early Action results got posted to the student portal.

The release is always exciting, but some of you aren't going to get the decision you wanted. I hope you'll focus on the college options you still have instead of the ones you don't at the end of the day. I hope those of you who get offers will celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.

I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions momentarily. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments.  Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). As I discuss often on social media, school-specific statistics like GPA are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. What's more, there have been times when enough information about an applicant has been shared that their classmates could identify them.

There is no lag time in our office, so we are now reading Regular Decision applications. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed. 


A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA23 on social media so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community. We love seeing your reactions when we check that hashtag! Keep an eye on the UVA Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages!





THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog and chatted via social media so far this season.

Regardless of what your portal says, you are going to attend a great school. You're going to learn from amazing, inspirational professors, administrators, and peers. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all-nighters studying. You're going to pull all-nighters not studying. You're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably at some things. What's going to make or break those experiences is your openness to learning from them, not your location when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVA. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.


Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you'll continue to comment and stay in touch.

It's a big night and I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The #UVA Class of 2023 Facebook Group (students only)

I've had a hands-off approach to Facebook over the years, except when I see companies trying to be part of groups that should be left to students. It seems it's happening again. Thanks to some students on Reddit, I found out that an adult created dozens (hundreds?) of Facebook groups and GroupMe chats for applicants to colleges all over the country. Regardless of why an adult is doing this, I don't like it and want to share a new group with you.


Here's a link to a students-only Facebook group for the Class of 2023:


https://www.facebook.com/groups/241585222847067/
Click the logo to go to the Class of 2023 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 2023 at this point. Membership will evolve in the next few months as students make their college choices. 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 UVA 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. I am not in the group.

What Happens to the Group in the Future?


When your class elects officers, the admins will hand the group over to your chosen leaders. This has been happening for about a decade and it works pretty well. 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?

Nope. I have absolutely no interest in tracking you or looking at your profiles. 

Can Parents Join?

No. 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 it 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.

What About GroupMe?

 I fully support students using whatever channels they feel are most helpful. I am letting the admins of the class group decide whether they also want to set up a new GroupMe and keep an eye on it. They're UVA students, so I want to be respectful of their time.

Please just keep an eye on the admin/mod of groups you join and don't share too much information in groups that may include companies looking for data.

Remember that anyone can slap the word "official" on a group. That doesn't mean the admin is affiliated with UVA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A #UVA Early Action Non-Update Update

The questions about when Early Action decisions would be ready started coming in about a month ago, but the pace has definitely picked up in recent weeks. Every Q&A session I do on Instagram Stories (if you haven't joined in, I do them once or twice per week) is guaranteed to have at least a few submissions asking about our progress.

I compiled a little chart last year to show the date that early applicants saw their results online. Way back in 2006, we had Early Decision and only got 2,311 applications. We had a home-grown online app back when that was a little tedious to use and we printed every application out. It was a very different time!

We had a few years with just one deadline (Harvard, Princeton, and UVA made that move around the same time). I remember being convinced that people would applaud us for giving seniors their fall semesters back. I remember thinking that schools would follow our lead. No one followed and we got lots of complaints. In time, we gave in and added an Early Action process.


Unofficial numbers...official ones are here.


As you can see, the application numbers have increased dramatically over the years. Critics seem to think that a big increase is something we want (they also will say that the lack of a big increase is a sign of doom). They'll say our job is the drive up applications. We don't have that philosophy at in our office. One of my colleagues likes to joke that an increase of one application each year would be perfect. The critics are appeased, but we aren't burning the midnight oil to get the job done. 

Our workload is significant (so significant that the blog has fallen by the wayside this season) and we are well aware that other schools have been able to release their decisions. We aren't going to take shortcuts in our process, so we are going to keep working. 

Here's what you need to know if you applied Early Action to UVA:

1. Decisions will be posted by the end of the month.
2. All decisions are posted at once on your portal.
3. If we are able to post decisions before January 31st, I will post here and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We will also email all applicants the news.


Hang in there, everyone! We still have some work to do.