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

There are fifteen years of posts here. The search box works well, but please consider the age of the posts when you find them. The college admission process changes over time!

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Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Change is in the air

This time of year is full of changes. The leaves, our clothes, our perspectives. UVA is making a change as well. While we aren't exactly pioneers, I'm extremely excited about some of the things in store...

Stay tuned for an update.

Update: The press release is out, so it's official: Early Decision will not exist in the UVA admission process next year!

The media has arrived...

Friday, September 22, 2006

UVA Application Essays

Because so many students are hitting my other blog (about issues in higher education) by googling our essay questions, I'm posting them here, in hopes that Google will start sending them to this blog instead.


(1) Please answer the question that corresponds to the school you selected on Part I of your application in half a page, or roughly 250 words.
College of Arts and Sciences: What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised or unsettled or challenged you, and in what way?

School of Engineering: Discuss experiences that led you to choose an engineering education at U.Va. and the role that scientific curiosity plays in your life.

School of Architecture: What led you to apply to the School of Architecture?

School of Nursing: Discuss experiences that led you to choose the School of Nursing.


(2) Answer one of the following questions. Limit your response to half a page, or approximately 250 words.

a. What is your favorite word, and why?

b. Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.

c. "Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light. " (Franz Kafka) Do you have a belief that is like a guillotine? In what way?

d. What kind of diversity will you bring to U.Va.?

e. "We might say that we were looking for global schemas, symmetries, universal and unchanging laws - and what we have discovered is the mutable, the ephemeral, the complex." Support or challenge Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine's assertion.

f. According to J.H Plumb, "History is now strictly organized, powerfully disciplined, but it possesses only a modest educational value and even less conscious social purpose." According to George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Discuss your point of view.


(3) Please write on a topic of your choice.

If an essay question for another college piqued your interest, feel free to to submit your response to that question. Please limit your submission to one page, or approximately 500 words.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The start of a revolution or brilliant PR move?

Harvard surprised a lot of people yesterday when it announced that it was abandoning the early action program. Interestingly, Harvard was the first school to put "single choice" early action into place in 2003. What brought about this change? For three years, Harvard (and other schools that felt compelled to follow suit) has been using a restrictive form of EA that heavily benefited the school and not students.

So, why the change? Read the news articles about the move and the quotes are about righting the wrongs of the process. If that is the intention, then I think this is a wonderful move and I hope that it takes hold elsewhere.

But, there's a tiny, cynical voice in my head that can't help but look at this as a PR/marketing move.

One week ago, Daniel Golden's book came out. Harvard was blasted repeatedly. Story after story talked about admission practices that gave preference to the rich. One admission professional estimated that only 40% of space in the incoming freshman class was open to students without "connections".

So last week, news agencies picked up on the hype. Golden's former employer, Wall Street Journal, has a story front and center about "silver spoon admission". All the major cable news networks had articles. The buzz was good and I'm sure Golden's publisher was elated.

But then the Harvard story came out. All of a sudden, the news cycle was hijacked. Golden's book was last week's news and Harvard was the big story. Brilliant work on the media/public relations office if my cynical voice is correct. Announce a year early to allow others to follow along, do what so many wish would be done, and bury a story that was unfavorable.

Regardless of why Harvard did what it did, I'm thrilled that a step has been made in the right direction. I can't wait to see what comes next!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Price of Admission

After leaving Peabody Hall last night, I rushed to Barnes & Noble in hopes of securing a copy of the newest college admission "tell all", The Price of Admission. Talk amongst colleagues and the college search set (well, mostly the parents in that group) has been swirling for days and I imagined arriving at the store to find a Harry Potter-esque frenzy.

Instead, I walked around the "New Releases" and "New Non-Fiction" tables without seeing any sign of the book or an empty space where it could have sat prior to my arrival, when hordes must have snatched every copy. The information desk staffer was quick to take me to the children's section where one copy was shelved, spine out (not display style) next to The Chosen and The Gatekeepers.

Of course, I immediately looked UVA up in the index. The results aren't too surprising: one mention of alumni children, one of recruited athletes and one (oddly) of our initiative to give full scholarships to low income students (what we call AccessUVA).

Though I haven't gotten too deep into the book yet, I'm fairly certain that I know what Golden will say about two of the three issues above (what he finds problematic about scholarships for low income students is a mystery at the moment). My ability to predict his comments isn't a function of working in the industry. I believe these "juicy" bits of information are common knowledge (comments will support or refute that). I doubt anyone is ignorant to the fact that certain people get into college because of factors other than their GPA, rank, and SAT score.

So far, my reaction has been a "so what". Unless he proposes some sort of action, he's turned his Wall Street Journal articles into a 300 page book.