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

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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.