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

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Monday, June 08, 2020

2020-2021 #UVA Application Writing Prompts

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 prompts are on their website. Our prompts are below.

 As always, I'm happy to answer questions you submit in the comments.

2020-2021 First-Year Application Writing Prompts

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, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences - Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.
  • School of Architecture - Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
  • School of Nursing - Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.
  • Kinesiology Program - Discuss experiences that led you to apply to 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?
  • Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that "...there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints." Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

We are Test Optional for Students Applying to #UVA for Fall 2021 (and a Deadline Change)

I've gotten your emails, comments, and DMs asking about our admission policies for next year. I promised to share any changes that UVA leadership made as soon as possible. I have two updates to share today...


Given the uncertain prospect of universally accessible, reliable and equitable SAT/ACT testing in the next admission year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Virginia will not require that applicants submit standardized testing to be considered for admission for at least the next application cycle.

“Students and families face enormous challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” President Jim Ryan said. “This change in our admission system during a year in which all applicants might not have the same access to testing will remove at least one obstacle that might otherwise discourage a student from pursuing her higher education aspirations. At the same time, this will give us an extraordinary opportunity to explore the utility of tests in our overall admissions process going forward.”

A test-optional approach could also assist first-generation and underrepresented student populations including minority and low-income applicants who historically have not  benefitted as frequently as others in preparatory help such as test-tutors.

When making admission decisions, the Office of Admission will continue to offer a comprehensive, personal, thorough and holistic evaluation of each application, Dean of Admission Greg Roberts said. Students who wish to include testing as part of their application may continue to do so, but those who do not will be at no disadvantage in the application review.  

The pilot testing policy applies to all applicants for undergraduate admission to UVA – domestic and international, first-year and transfer students.

Additionally, the University has pushed back its Early Decision application deadline to Nov. 1 to give students more time to examine their college options and submit an Early Decision application if UVA is their first choice for college. 

“Before making this recommendation, we consulted with the deans of the undergraduate schools that accept first-year applicants,” Roberts said. “All expressed a deep commitment to equity and fairness in the admission process for their schools, and given the uncertainty surrounding the availability of testing this year, all offered clear and unwavering support for a one-year, pilot test-optional admission plan.” 

UVA will review the data related to this new, test-optional cycle to inform potential, longer-term policy considerations in the future, and will decide by next spring whether to extend the pilot.


You can see the full announcement on the UVA website. Our application instructions have been updated as well.