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!

You are welcome to use the comment section anonymously.

Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letters! We get letters!

Whenever I look at the mail bins downstairs, I think of the that little song...

Anyway, the mail is pouring in and that's great. Our mail services staff is busily opening bin after bin of letters and passing them along to the processing staff to be checked in and then filed. However, something else is pouring in: FedEx and UPS packages from students living in the US. Now, it's perfectly normal for international students to send applications via one of those delivery services (DHL seems most popular), but there really isn't any need for students living in the United States to send their applications or supporting documents by special courier.

Pass the word around. Don't spend $20 (or whatever it is) to mail anything by FedEx or UPS or DHL if you live in the US. There's plenty of time for documents to get here via the US Postal Service.

This is considered a very small amount of mail.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The status of your status page

There seem to be many students checking their application status at odd times. I thought I'd explain how the status page works and when you'll see updates to it.

First of all, you won't see anything about your credentials until you hit the submit button. At that point, anything that our staff has already checked in will show up. As we get closer to the deadline, the amount of mail we get grows dramatically and mail may sit for a few days before the staff is able to process it. It could take around two weeks for something that arrives in early January to get through the system.

If recommendations are submitted online, the name of the writer and the date they submitted their letter will show up on your status page. Paper recommendations are not logged into the system. You will not see information about them on your status page.

Once your application is complete, your status will not change until the notification date in late March. The exact date and time of that will be posted here and on the UVa website.

Though your status won't change, you need to log into your account to send us your mid-year grades as soon as they're available. We do not need your school to send an updated transcript with your first semester grades. You simply need to log in and report them through the online application website.

Hope that helps! Please use the comments if you have any questions about status!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Transfer status update

Spring transfer decisions are going to be turned off today. By now, everyone should have their official letters. If you haven't received any notification, contact our office.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Application supplements

The deadline for sending performing and visual art supplements has passed and we're now in the process of sorting and sending mail bins off to various departments around grounds so faculty can start their review of CDs, slides, DVDs, and other media. Of course, in the mix are a few items that aren't really mean for arts faculty. Some people send DVDs, books (I wrote about those last year),
and other items. Unfortunately, the extras don't get much attention unless we're in the mood to procrastinate and throw in a DVD that didn't fit any of the art categories.

Thanks for your submissions! The faculty will review them in the next few weeks and then notes will be added to your files to let us know what they think.

A blurry picture of some art supplement sorting

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ready for the onslaught

I took CavBear down to the file room this morning to have a look around. It's a pretty different scene than the one I showed you all just a few months ago, isn't it? Those red boxes are full of file folders and I know there are plenty more stacked up in one of our storage rooms.

We're ready and waiting!

The good news is that many students have hit the submit button already. Those applications will be reviewed by the Office of Virginia Status, then get matched up with any supporting documents that arrived earlier in the season, and finally be marked "ready to read". I'd guess that about 3,000 applications are either in processing mode or being read right now. In a few weeks, that number will jump dramatically.

Good luck finishing up those applications, everyone!

Miscellaneous credentials waiting for an application

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spring transfer decision time

In roughly 45 minutes, I'll be "flicking the switch" (which is really typing "-1" five times) to turn on decisions for spring transfer applicants. Good luck to all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shock! Panic! Horror!

There seems to be a problem with one of the email servers at UVa today. If you've emailed us in the last few days and haven't gotten a reply, sit tight. I'm sure things will be back to normal tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yield Protection

Years ago, when I was just a wee student worker in an admission office far, far away, an admission officer showed me an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new practice that was growing in popularity. Interestingly, when I looked the article up this morning, I found that it was written by none other than Dan Golden, the author of The Price of Admission. Anyway, that's not the point...

The article was about the practice that is sometimes referred to as "yield protection". Schools that use this "strategy" often waitlist top applicants under the assumption that those students are using the school as a safety and will opt to go elsewhere when they make their final decision. This has become common enough that outside consulting groups offer to give admission officers some sort of predictive rating for each applicant (don't ask me the details of that process...I don't know much beyond the fact that it exists).

Here and there, I'm asked about this practice and whether it's used at UVa. We do not practice yield protection at all. The applicant pool here is so broad that it'd be hard to compile a profile for a student who wouldn't enroll. I think the practice might be more popular at smaller schools.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Students take over AccessUVa blog

This is pretty neat news, in my opinion. 'Hoos for Open Access, a recently formed CIO (Contracted Independent Organization...our name for a student club), has taken the reigns of the AccessUVa blog.

They have one great idea mentioned on the blog already: they'll be online to chat every Sunday evening from 8-9 PM EST. They also have an email address for questions outside of that hour.

Does senior year matter?

PK asked:
Hello Dean J, I was just wondering how senior year grades were considered. Are they included in your overall GPA or not?

I don't know where the idea that senior year wasn't considered in the college admission process came from. I remember hearing the same thing back when I was in high school and it didn't sit right with me. Now that I'm on the other side of the desk, I can put this one to rest. Senior year definitely comes into play during our review process. Let me explain my thinking...

The way I see it, part of what we do is spot trends. We look at the last four years as predictive of the next four years. Obviously, high school starts the same way for many students. Aside from making some choices about foreign language and electives, your course are often dictated. As you advance, you're able to make more choices about what you'll take. Ideally, by senior year, you'll have work that shows us that you're ready for college level work.

Now, if a student seems to be doing great work in junior year, then pulls back in senior year, dropping their AP/IB/DE classes for lower level work, we're concerned about the transition to the college level. Is this student really ready? Will they "hit the ground running"? Why take this student when our applicant pool has plenty who have maintained a high level of difficulty for all four years of their high school career?

Consider, as well, an analogy I often use during my presentations. Your high school career can be compared to a concert. The start of the show is usually full of energy, with signs of good things to come. Junior year is the like the end of the main set. It ends on a high note, making the audience want more. Senior year is like the encore. There might have been a time when encores weren't standard, but these days, they're expected and the songs played better be the best ones of the entire night. They're the songs that send the crowd off thinking that they can't wait for the next show. They HAVE to see that band again.

If the band pulls back, starting the encore with a great song, then finishes it with a ballad, you might leave the show wondering why they didn't do more with all of that momentum. This is a similar to the feeling we have when we read an application that shows a step down in curriculum strength without any explanation or when we get mid-year (or even final) grades and they are significantly different from the ones earned earlier in the high school career.

As for the second part of PK's question, we don't recalculate GPAs at UVa. We look at the method used by your school to calculate them and go from there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New feature!

I used to keep lists of musicians mentioned in application essays on my door. My colleagues would add to it when they thought of it and we'd laugh over some of the choices (please, no more Tupac essays). I thought I'd take the list to the internet and add it to my blog. You'll find it to the right, below the welcome comment.

This isn't a comprehensive list...just the topics that either struck me as interesting or ones that are extremely popular.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How could the process be more kind?

Leaving Alderman Library with a post-lunch cup of coffee, I was greeted by more chalk messages than usual (chalking high traffic areas is a common method of promoting events here). Imagine my surprise to learn that today is International (not National, mind you) Kindness Day!

I don't have much to say about the application today, so why don't I turn it over to you, dear readers. How could the college search and/or application process be a little kinder for you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Interested to Know asked:
Without reopening the pros and cons of that debate, are there parts of the ED process that you will miss, and how do you expect the elimination of ED will impact UVa's Admissions Office as you work to select the young men and women who will join the UVa community in the fall of 2008?

I personally don't miss the Early Decision process at all. The atmosphere in our office is extremely pleasant right now. When we start our reading season, our lives change the point that loved ones groan when the first pile of folders comes home. We stop going to movies, concerts, and sporting events. Thanksgiving sneaks up on us. The holidays are a blur. I'm really enjoying fall in Charlottesville for the very first time (CavBear would have never gone to the Halloween festival if we had Ed...I wouldn't have had time for that).

Up until now, I've only really thought about the educational reasons for the ED change. I'm realizing that this is a nice change for us personally as well. We're probably better admission officers right now. When the piles start mounting, we don't have as much time to talk with students on the phone or greet our visitors when they return from tours (Deans greeting the tours is a tradition here).

Obviously, things will change this year. We'll probably see a decrease in application numbers, because some student will have applied ED elsewhere. We're okay with that. Our reading load in January and February might be a little heavier, but I think it's a fine trade off!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reading Season Day 1

It's the first day of reading season and as you can see from my unusually short stack of applications, our processing team is now trying to match applications with supporting credentials so we'll have complete applications folders to read.

If you've completed your part of the application, but haven't hit the submit button yet, I think now is a good time to do that. I imagine that the mail stream will pick up significantly in the next few weeks and submitting before the rush might help us process it more quickly.

Good luck and feel free to post questions in the comments!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hope you had a happy Halloween!

CavDog (ahem, CavBee) made an appearance at the Halloween Festival on The Lawn on Wednesday. His sad eyes are for those of you who were working on ED and EA apps instead of enjoying Halloween.

Edit: I realize that this didn't actually post on November 1st...oops!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A love letter to Fairfax County

Dear Fairfax County,

You'll always hold a special place in my heart. Oh so many years ago, when I got my very first job in the admission world, my first recruitment trip was to Virginia and the first stop was Fairfax County. Wait, I'm lying. The first stop was Baltimore because it was cheaper to fly into BWI, but you get the idea. I spent three lovely days in NOVA and was struck by the great schools I visited. Every student I met seemed enthusiastic and engaged.

When I moved to Virginia to work at UVa, I was overwhelmed with the number of fantastic Northern Virginia students who applied. Of the in-state students at UVa, about half were from that area and with good reason. Some of the best schools in the country are up there.

Imagine my complete shock upon reading an article in which an admission officer at another school felt Fairfax County schools were weak; specifically that they have "a culture that’s more dominated by athletics and rock music and less dominated by APs and high academic achievement." The math, science, technology magnet school is blamed for "robbing" the rest of the county high schools of all the best students. Unfortunately, our Dean, Jack Blackburn, was also interviewed for the article and some people have decided that he said the things I've quoted.

So, my dear Fairfax, I want to set the record straight. We love you. We understand your grading system and it doesn't confuse us. We know that you have great curricula for your students. We think TJHSST is a wonderful place, but we know that there are amazing students who opted not to go there; ones who had no interest in leaving their home high school. We think rock and roll is just fine and good sports are a lot of fun to have around, so don't apologize for being great musicians, singers, or athletes.

We've had large numbers of wonderful students from Northern Virginia coming to UVa for years and I don't see anything about to change that trend.

~Dean J

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Printing problems resolved

Apparently, tightening security on some of our servers made the print function on the online application a little buggy. A solution should be in place today.

Just to reiterate what is already on the Print Application page, the process was written before Adobe 7.0 debuted with significant changes to the way past versions worked. It's not perfect, but it should give you an idea of what your data looks like on a PDF.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A fun diversion for the football fans

Something a lot of students attending football games look forward to is The Adventures of CavMan, an animated short that features the visiting team's mascot causing some sort of disturbance on campus and CavMan appearing to send the mascot on its way. The film always ends with CavMan riding across Grounds towards Scott Stadium and the entrance of the real, live CavMan into the stadium with fireworks, the band, cheerleaders, and football team.

I've always thought the videos are pretty clever and fun, but never realized that a few were available online. I also never realized that the same technology that's used in video game animation is used to create these videos. You can see the making of CavMan videos on the Virginia Sports website. A few of the videos are available on the Special Programming page of that same website.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recommendation Overload

I've spoken with a good number of students during this travel season who are prepared to send supplemental recommendation letters. I always tell students that we'll read whatever they send us, but that they need to keep the number of supplements reasonable. I fear that by not naming a specific number of recommendation letters, "reasonable" is being defined as the number each particular student has decided to send us. Let me see if I can explain where we stand on this.

UVa requires one recommendation letter as part of your application. Traditionally, your guidance/college counselor writes this letter. Now, many students feel as though there's a teacher who knows them better than their counselor, so they supplement the counselor letter with a recommendation from a teacher. This is often a good idea.

Some students don't stop at one supplemental teacher recommendation and we wind up getting several letters that basically say the same things. Teachers tend to know students in similar ways unless they moderate a club or activity in which the student is involved. The letters wind up being a tad redundant. The extras don't add anything to the application. In fact, if you have an admission officer who has been reading for eight hours before getting to your application, they might find plowing through your folder to be quite tedious.

If you feel strongly that you must send multiple recommendation letters, they should be from people who know you in different ways. Beyond that, they better know you and not your parents. Letters from people who are writing as a favor to your parents typically follow a formula: one paragraph about themselves, one paragraph about your lovely family and parents (as if we don't assume everyone comes from a lovely family with nice parents), and one paragraph, usually about two sentences long, that mentions some information gleaned from your resume and then asks that we give you our "full consideration" (wink, wink). Early in the season, these letters are kind of humorous (as if we weren't going to give you our full consideration before, but now that someone has asked us, we'll read everything and give you a shot). After a few months, though, you can imagine how they come across.

Bottom line: Quality over quantity is the best rule of thumb for all parts of the application, but especially for your recommendations. I'd rather read a nice, short letter from your counselor or a teacher that tells a story about you than get oodles of letters with sweeping generalizations that could apply to any smart, hardworking high school student.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did you forget to write a thank you note?

Recent chatter on a professional listserve prompted a New York Times reporter to write about the thank you letters admission officers receive from students after info sessions, tours, and interviews. When I interviewed students at another school, I always sent a little note of encouragement after the fact and often got a thank you note in return. I thought it was a nice practice. However, these days, it seems as though even the simplest act, such as visiting a high school, is deemed thank you "worthy" and the number of letters, and their frequency, is surprising.

If you write a thank you note to someone at UVa, it'll probably get sent downstairs to the file room to be placed in the miscellaneous credentials files. If an application with a matching name arrives at some point, the letter will make it into the application folder, but it won't get much attention considering the other documents in the file.

I guess what I mean to say is that thank you notes are fine to send, but no student should suddenly panic because they haven't been sending notes during their college search. I fear that the New York Times article might make students feel as though this is a practice they "must" to do in order to be competitive. That just isn't the case.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greetings from Northern Virginia!

I thought I'd post my travel schedule in case any Fairfax County students want to ask questions in person this week. I'm hitting about 20 of the 25 public schools in the county. Wish me luck with the traffic!

10:00 am - Hayfield Secondary School
12:00 pm - West Potomac High School
1:15 pm - Mount Vernon High School

8:00 am - Lake Braddock Secondary School
9:30 am - West Springfield High School
11:45 am - TJHSST
1:00 pm - Edison High School

7:30 am - Chantilly High School
9:00 am - Centreville High School
10:30 am - South County Secondary School
1:00 pm - Robinson High School
7:00 pm - Bishop Ireton Evening Program

8:00 pm - Fairfax High School
9:15 am - Woodson High School
10:45 am - Annandale High School
12:00 pm - JEB Stuart High School
1:30 pm - Marshall High School

8:00 am - Madison High School
9:30 am - Oakton High School
11:30 am - Langley High School
1:15 pm - McLean High School

One of my colleagues will be visiting other Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, and Loudon schools. If your school wasn't on the list, sit tight and check with your Career Center in a few weeks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A first for Dean J

Walking down the stairs from the dome room in the Rotunda where I gave this morning's information session, I saw something I've heard about, but never seen at UVa. A letter to the Seven Society. The Sevens are one of the "secret" societies at UVa (the quotes are because only a few of the societies are really secretive). The Sevens are a philanthropic group of alumni that's been known to help people in need with a financial boost now and then.

There's a great story about The Sevens giving tuition money to a student who had lost both his parents in an accident. The roommate of one of our summer tour guides once got a letter instructing him to go to the 7th aisle of the supermarket, to the 7th box, etc. and he found an envelope with $277 in it and instructions that he was to buy a needy family in Charlottesville a Thanksgiving dinner. It's definitely one of the most interesting groups we have!

To get a message to The Sevens, put a letter in the arms of the Thomas Jefferson statue on the second floor of the Rotunda.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Essay Topic

If you were a college admission officer at UVa, you'd read about 100 application essays each day. The vast majority would be in response to the question that asks students to write about a challenging or unsettling work, as the majority of students apply to the College of Arts & Sciences (CLAS). Many of the essays written in response to that prompt will contain, roughly, one of the following ideas:

  • Calculus is hard
  • AP _____ (fill in an subject) is hard
  • 1984 is an unsettling book
  • The DaVinci Code is an unsettling book
  • Guernica is an unsettling painting
Those may all be true, but the fact is that they are common topics and no matter how eloquently a student writes about one of them, it's unoriginal and to an admission officer reading 100 essays each day, it's boring.

This is one exercise in which you want to stand apart from the rest of the applicants. So, while Calculus may be challenging, it might be more advantageous to write about something a little more unique. While the work you've been studying in your AP or IB class may be unsettling, keep in mind that students around the country are taking AP and IB classes with a similar syllabus.

I'm not completely certain about how students arrive at these common topics, but "over thinking" might be to blame. After reading the essay topic, something must pop into your head. Don't second guess it and talk yourself into writing about something more "impressive" or academic. Write about what comes naturally...we'll probably get a better sense of your voice and style in that essay than from something that's been contrived and coached into existence.

Sound good? Feel free to use the comments section for asking questions.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How important is the essay?

It's a beautiful Saturday morning in most parts of the country and a lot of you are stuck inside with your first weekend of homework since going back to school. Your college application essays are probably at the forefront of your mind in addition to the work that comes with the new school year. I've given essay advice in the past, but I thought I'd revisit the topic since it's an extremely important one. I'm going to do this over the course of a few entries. Let me start actually convince you that your essay is important because I don't think students believe this when they hear it.

Inside your application folder (and folders can be electronic or physical...we have physical folders this year and will be using electronic ones next year) is your application form, the School and Transcript Report form filled out by your counselor, school profile, transcript(s), recommendation(s), and a reader sheet that has your simple biographical data on it, testing, and areas for making notes about every component of the file.

There are a lot of forms in there and a lot of the information is in the form of data. It seems as though students know how the data elements need to look to be competitive. Your transcript should show a strong curriculum and good grades, your resume should show some involvement in school and/or community, your recommendations should be from people who can say wonderful things about you, etc. Most students wind up looking pretty strong. So, what's to distinguish one student with a strong curriculum, good grades, and nice recommendations from another student with a strong curriculum, good grades, and nice recommendations?

On top of that, consider the human element in the application review process. I hope you've picked up on this during your campus visits...admission officers like students. When we read your application, we're looking for reasons to admit you, not reasons to deny you. Reading a strong application with boring or predictable essays isn't very exciting, but when we're "won over" by amazing essays, we're quick to advocate on an applicant's behalf. If you're worried about getting into some of your schools, I think you should spend more time editing your essays than on reformatting your resume.

Are you convinced?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ranking season comes again

Once again, it's ranking season. US News & World Report rankings will come out shortly and I feel compelled to once again point out that success isn't only found at a top ranked school. This year's methodology hasn't come out, but I imagine that, once again, US News did not take student satisfaction, student services, study abroad options, graduate school admission, or job placement as criteria. Aside from the average SAT scores, no student information seems to be included in their calculation.

That being said, I guess I have to write about UVa's ranking...tomorrow. I can't believe I had to do this, but the rankings are "embargoed" and aren't supposed to be released, though someone at another school sent them to me before the numbers sent to UVa directly made it to my inbox.

With UVa's hiring of some very prominent researchers, we might see our ranking shift in the coming years because the methodology used by US News puts a high value on faculty resources.


UVa has crept up one spot on the national list to #23 (tied with Georgetown and ahead of Michigan, which shared the #24 spot last year with UVa). The public school list hasn't changed since last year with Berkeley at the top the list and UVa coming in 2nd.

What does the application process say about the school?

I was away from the office for a few days to welcome the newest member of the Dean J household, Cav Pup (no, that's not his real name, but it will be on this blog). After he had someone's attention during virtually every waking moment for a few days, I decided to let him have his first taste of solitude and run to the recycling center yesterday. It was a quick trip, but as I flung old copies of the newspaper, The Hook and Cville Weekly (our two alternative weeklies) into the newspaper recycling container, I wondered how much of the bin was taken up by college brochures, fliers, and application materials.

Did you know that a 2% rate of return on an admission mailing is considered pretty good? Did you know that a large portion of every admission office's budget goes towards designing, printing, and mailing brochures? Does it all seem a little absurd in light of that 2% return rate?

At UVa, we've decided to cut back. We've never been big on having an elaborate "package" of mailings, but we have mailed out tens of thousands of viewbooks and applications each year. This year, we decided that with over 90% of applications coming in online, it was time to end the printing and mailing of the applications. Those who really want to apply on paper can download the application from our website.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Are UVa students conservative or liberal?

Every once in a while, someone mentions that they were told that UVa is full of conservatives. This originally surprised me, seeing that most colleges and universities in the United States are liberal places, as are the cities that surround them. Charlottesville is no exception, with it's eclectic mix of musicians, artists, writers, politicos, lawyers, and academics (the list could be longer).

Some statistics from our Office of Institutional Research just came my way and they point to UVa being a bit more left than some people believe it to be. 28% of UVa students designate themselves as conservatives, 35% are liberals, and 37% say they're "middle of the road".

Do those numbers surprise anyone?

Monday, August 13, 2007

2008 Undergraduate Application is available!

The 2008 undergraduate application is live!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Application website down

You'll notice that the application website is down today. You probably know what that means. Stay tuned for an announcement...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

One last note for the Class of 2011

There was a nice story about the incoming class on our local news station last night featuring one of our summer student workers and Parke Muth, one of our admission deans. It dealt with the percentage of students who are international, African American, Asian, and Hispanic. The incoming class is the most diverse one we've ever had!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The wait is almost over!

The new online application is almost ready! We'll be making some final text edits and testing the application's functionality for the next few days and anticipate "going live" with the new undergraduate application in early August (stay tuned for an exact date).

I hope you've had a great summer and are getting excited for the start of your senior year!

CavBear enjoys a little summer reading

Friday, July 20, 2007

Is PR's "Counselor-o-matic" just a revenue tool?

Our student workers did an interesting project last week that prompted me to revive the old issues blog. They started playing around with The Princeton's Review's "Counselor-o-matic", which is on their webpage. The "tool" is supposed to suggested appropriate matches for students after they have answered a few pages of questions about their academic profile. We were wondering what sorts of responses would prompt the Counselor-o-matic to suggest UVa as a reach, match, or safety. Below are the "profiles" we used (GPAs are unweighted):

Profile 1: 4.0 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2000 SAT
Profile 2: 3.9 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 3: 3.9 GPA, weak curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2400 SAT
Profile 4: 3.8 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2200 SAT
Profile 5: 3.7 GPA, good curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 6: 3.6 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2100 SAT
Profile 7: 3.2 GPA, okay curriculum, top 20% of the class, 1700 SAT

The results: UVA didn't come up for a match for ANY of the profiles. One of the "top 5%" students specified their location as Virginia and still didn't get UVa as a match. She then got more specific and said she lived right here in Charlottesville and didn't get UVa as a match. At the same time, some very random, unknown schools came up time and again as "match" schools. The only changes that allowed UVa to show up on a list where designating ethnicity or an interest in sports.

The whole exercise has me wondering about whether the "Counselor-o-matic" is a marketing tool (schools are offered the opportunity to pay for "increased visibility" on that website). What's more, it has me worried that some students are going through the survey once or twice and think the resulting lists are reliable.

I think The Princeton Review has some explaining to do.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's your turn to talk back

Around this time of year, schools around the country send out something called an admitted student questionnaire. Some schools pay The College Board to administer the survey for them, others (like UVa) create something themselves. Regardless of how it arrives, I think I speak for my colleagues when I saw we hope you take a few minutes to answer our questions. This is your chance to tell us about how you decided to go to the school in which you enrolled. It's also your chance to tell schools if they could have done something a little better.

Most ASQs have questions about where you decided to go instead of the school behind the survey. This is to help schools know what their "peer" institutions are. We know where our admitted students are often accepted, but it helps to see if there are new names to consider.

Some students are concerned that the colleges may "track" what they say in these surveys. I'm not quite sure why there's any concern, especially if you've already turned the school down, but let me assure you that we don't care about matching your answers up with your name. We are, however, interested in matching your answers up to characteristics about you. For example, we look at how students who applied to a certain school responded, or to how the answers of out of state students compared to Virginians. The data collected will help us focus on the programs and activities that students found most useful and also help us plan our travel season in the fall.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Be careful with your personal information

I've just heard reports that someone is calling college-bound students and requesting credit card information under the guise of being a financial aid officer. The students are being told that their next tuition payment is due immediately and that they can take care of it over the phone by giving some personal information.

Obviously, when you get a spoof email, it's easy to ignore, but I imagine it's a pretty scary when someone calls from a college or university and says there's a problem with your account. Just be forewarned that tuition bills at UVa are sent by mail and no one from our Student Financial Services office would call and ask for a credit card payment to be made.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be an aid officer from UVa, report it to the police (I imagine caller ID information would be very useful) and let our Student Financial Services office know about it (you can reach them toll free at 866-391-0063).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The UVa student blog is born!

As if you couldn't see it coming, our Summer Guides, students who spend the summer working with the Office of Admission, have started a blog. They've come up with a pretty spiffy title: The View from Grounds. They're just getting going and I'm sure they'd love to field questions from prospective students about anything on your minds.

Hoos for Hokies message finally comes down

After a record setting 50 days, the Hoos for Hokies message that was painted on the Beta Bridge has been painted over. At first, I hoped that this new message was painted on the opposite side of the bridge, but alas, it is directly over the original and over the update that was added by an art class at UVa (the artists were unknown at first, but were later revealed).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

2008 Essay Questions

We've already posted the 2008 essay questions on the Office of Admission website, but I thought I'd post them here as well. See this as a hint. If you spend time working on college applications this summer, work on your essays. A lot of the time we spend reviewing applications is spent reading essays. Analyzing transcripts and reading forms can get a little dry, which makes us really look forward to getting a sense of personality from your essays!

(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.

  • What is your favorite word, and why?
  • Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.
  • Discuss something you secretly like but pretend not to or vice versa?
  • What issue of local,national,or international significance concerns you? Why?
  • "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.

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

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

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It's maintenance time

It's almost time for the ApplyOnline website to come down so that we can prepare it for the next season. The site won't be coming down, but I just wanted to give everyone a heads up just in case there are some hiccups in the next few weeks. You'll still be able to log into your application, though there will be a point over the summer when we archive all accounts to have a nice, clean database ready for the next group of applicants.

You'll see a note about that when the time comes.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Did you forget to respond?

There are still a good number of students who have not sent any response to our offer of admission. Today, we'll assume those students have turned us down and change their status.

If for some reason, you were offered admission, haven't replied yet, and want a spot in the incoming class, call our office. This does not apply to waitlisted students who were offered a spot. The letter those students received informs them of their reply deadline (usually one week after the letter is received).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yet another UVa blog

Inspired in part by the traffic to this blog and the high number of comments from transfer students, yet another UVa admission blog has been created, the UVa Transfer Admission blog.

I hope some of you transfers will still visit Notes from Peabody, but I imagine you'll all be very excited to see a blog dedicated to addressing your concerns.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A tiny bit of waitlist movement

There's been a very small bit of movement on the waitlist for freshman. I won't guess at a number...I was personally working with architecture students, so I'm not aware of how many are coming off the waitlist for the other schools. I'll just venture a guess that the number will be much, much less than it was last year (last year the number was around 145).

We'll start going to the transfer waitlist over the course of the next week to ten days. My sense is that the students contacted will mostly be CLAS students, but a few might have applied to other schools.

I know that this is not great news for many of you, but it looks like the class is nearly full at this time.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A new blog on the UVa block

Our AccessUVa coordinator has just started her very own blog! For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, AccessUVa is our financial aid program. Our coordinator works in the Office of Admission and serves as a liaison between us and the Office of Student Financial Services. She'll be writing about college costs and how to navigate the financial aid process at UVa. She'll also be happy to see your comments and questions. Remember that she isn't a financial aid officer, so she won't be able to pull up your financial aid application (that is done in Student Financial Services), but she will be able to help you understand your financial aid application and award letter.

I hope you all will be as thoughtful with your comments on her blog as you've been here on mine. After all, a blog isn't really a blog without comments and conversation!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Important notes for transfer students

Transfer decisions were posted yesterday morning and letters are going in the mail today. There are three pieces of information related to your decisions that I'd like to share.

1. You have until May 15th to reply. The site said May 1st yesterday and we've asked for an edit to be made.

2. If you were a "spring rollover", meaning you applied to start in the Spring, weren't admitted, and we rolled your application over to the fall, the decision you see when you log in is the one from the Spring. We have to make new accounts for the rollover applicants. We'll be emailing each student in that very small group to let them know, but I thought I'd put the info out there now.

3. We aim to go to the waitlist by June 1st. If you are on the transfer waitlist and want to be considered, you must send your spring grades.

I want to add a personal note of thanks for your applications. I always find the stories transfers share with us in the applications to be very powerful. If you were not admitted, that in no way diminishes your accomplishments and the obstacles you've overcome in the course of your educational career. As with the first year process, there are a limited number of spots and we don't have room for every great student out there.

Congratulations to those of you who were admitted! You'll start to receive information from various offices at the University shortly to let you know about setting up your "e-services" account, housing, transfer orientation, etc.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Great news for international students

Some alumni have banded together to organize a bus to take international students from Dulles International Airport to UVa before orientation session L (just before classes start). Seems like a nice way to make the's free, too!

For international students who are attending Session L of New Student Orientation, the University of Virginia is providing a free bus service from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC to Charlottesville on Tuesday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 22. First year international students should fly in to Dulles (IAD), where they will be greeted by U.Va. alumni and staff, driven to the University, and escorted to their residential halls to rest after the long day of travel. Students who do not ride the Orientation Express will not be allowed into their residential halls until Wednesday, August 22. For more information, please e-mail Kate Malay at Sign up online at

Transfer notification update

Transfer decisions will be posted to online accounts at 5 PM on Monday, April 30th. Decision letters will be mailed the next day.

As an aside, the Beta Bridge still looks as it does in the pictures below. I have never heard of a message staying on there so long during the school year. Walking down Rugby Road, I saw banners hanging from many Greek houses with messages about Virginia Tech. It's good to see the rivalry being put aside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A quiet day at UVa

Forgive me if I don't have much to write today. It's a quiet day at UVa, as many of our students have friends and family members in the Virginia Tech community. Our first moment of silence will be at 2 PM and the next will come during a candlelight vigil at 7 PM at the amphitheatre.

Those looking for information may find the following links helpful.

Reaching out to Virginia Tech (from President Casteen)

Counseling services at Elson Student Health Center

Statement from the Dean of Students

Simplified emergency procedures at UVa
The comprehensive Critical Incident Management Plan

This is a photo of the Beta Bridge this morning.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Financial Aid & Social Security Numbers

We've been getting a few calls from people who want to correct their social security numbers in our system either because they mistyped their number on their application or because they didn't supply a number at all. As the note on the application says, a Social Security number is required if a student is applying for financial's a requirement dictated by the federal government.

Changing a Social Security number isn't something that can be done over the phone, for obvious reasons. A copy of a Social Security card or of a driver's license with SSN on it is suitable documentation, though.

The registrar's office will review the documentation and make the change. When the change takes effect, Student Financial Services can put the finishing touches on an aid package.

So, bear with us if you didn't supply a Social Security number or gave us the wrong one. The changes are being processed as fast as possible.

NOTE: SSN changes must be submitted to the Office of Admission. The change begins here, then flows to the rest of the University. Please do not contact the registrar or financial aid to make such a change.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thoughts on the latest round of decision calls

This season's round of decision calls have been pretty manageable so far. There have been a few difficult ones, such as the parent who was convinced that an updated ACT score would have changed our decision or the one who didn't realize extracurricular activities couldn't make up for a limited curriculum and average grades. These calls are fairly routine, so they don't surprise us too much.

What has surprised me is the number of admitted students (rather, their parents) calling to complain about not being designated an Echols Scholar. They seem to think that the transcript is the key to the Echols process. As I've explained before, we're looking for academic excellence, but we're also looking for love of learning or a clear passion for a subject. The essays, activities, and teacher recommendations all contribute to our review, it's not just about the GPA.

I've started asking what the student had found attractive about the Echols and Rodman Scholars Programs. Some don't realize that it's not an honors college and that while the perks are great, there are plenty of non-Echols/Rodman UVa students having a fulfilling, rewarding experience at UVa. Some don't really know what they wanted from the program. I imagine that they just wanted to be deemed special and wanted.

If you were admitted to UVa, you are special. You were selected from over 18,000 students to become part of our community.

If you were admitted to UVa, you are wanted. We work hard to show you this by putting together Days on the Lawn, organizing phone calling, and sending you congratulatory letters and emails from people all over the University.

Echols and Rodman are wonderful programs, but please understand that the decisions have been made for this year. If you strongly believe that you should be in Echols or Rodman, you can apply to join the programs once you get here (Rodman takes applications in the fall, Echols in the spring).

Monday, April 09, 2007

Transfer update

We're a bit busy right now, hence this entry being started this morning, but not posted until now.

The transfer review process continues...we're still getting some credentials in, which is fine, so if you have any updated grades, feel free to send those along.

The University's commitment to transfers has led us to allow late applications for the transfer class. The hope is that more Virginia Community College System students will apply (preference is given to those with Associates degrees). The review process is continuing as intended, but we'll consider those late applications until May 1st.

We still plan on sending notification to those who applied by the regular deadline by May 1st. Those who submit late applications will be notified as soon as a decision on their file is reached.

Status pages will be deactivated

This is just a quick note for the first year applicants. The status page will stop showing your decision today.

I want to avoid a panic when the decision message is gone, so please pass the word along to your friends.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Q&A with Dean J, part 3

So many comments have come been posted in the last 24 hours that I decided to put the questions and replies in new posts to make them easier for all to see.

I'm going to split this into two posts, one for admitted students and one for waitlisted students. Feel free to post more questions in under the appropriate entry.

By the way, I'm not correcting grammar and spelling on the questions. Pardon the errors.

Update: New questions and answers have been posted.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Admitted Student Questions

Admitted students can submit questions in the comments and I'll update this post with answers.

Q1. Does UVA library only have scholarly stuff, or does it also have leisure reads like harry potter and dan brown? (if it doesn't then one would have to use the Charlottesville library system?)
---also is there arnes and nobles or borders nearby uva?

A1. There are 13 libraries at UVa and they include books and periodicals for scholarly and leisurely reading. Clemons library, in addition to having fiction books, has a DVD library with all sorts of movies, including new releases.

Charlottesville actually had the first Barnes & Noble outside of a major city. I often see students studying in the cafe there. We have plenty of independent book shops on The Corner and The Downtown Mall.

Q2. I applied through FAFSA and UVA and did what was supposed to be done, but am not completely sure how the notification will work. Should I expect something through e-mail or snail mail? And will that be soon or am I being too impatient?

A2. I believe financial services has begun mailing aid packages. A call to their office will confirm that your package is complete. If you call, remember that they are probably swamped right now and you might have to wait on hold for a little while.

Q3. It seems people received rejection letters before acceptances...are those generally the first to go out? Or is it just a false rumor?

A3. Scroll down and check out those photos from Friday, March 30th. Everything went out at the same time. You mentioned this is a "rumor". I'd suggest that if you don't hear about our policies from an admission officer at UVa or read it on our website, you should take it with a huge grain of salt. There are a lot of "experts" out there who purport to know how we operate.

Q4. Is it necessary to attend Days on the Lawn when I'm positive that I'm attending UVa?

A4. No, attendance at DOTL is in no way required.

Q5. My cousin applied to engineering grad school at UVA. Do you have any idea when these decisions will be announced?

A5. My office is the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Graduate admission is handled by the individual schools.

Q6. If we haven't gotten a Echols Scholar letter by now (4/6), does that mean we weren't chosen as one? Does the letter come with the admission offer?

A6. As I wrote before, Echols students have had follow up communication by email since letters were mailed. Students who were invited into the scholars program should know by now.

Q7. Are you going to the FIRST Robotics nationals next week?

A7. No FIRST for me this year. :(

Waitlisted student questions

Waitlisted students can submit questions in the comments and I'll update this post with answers.

Q1. Because the [wait]list is unweighted, is the only differentiation by letter of interest? In other words, are students who submit a letter more likely to be selected from the list, or is the process more similar to the normal decision review?

A1. I wouldn't say that the only students who come off the waitlist are those who write letters, but it can help if you feel an explanation of some part of your application is necessary.

Q2. I realize that the waiting list is huge, and that there are different categories (although technically they aren't already separated), but I was wondering if you had any exact numbers yet. I know last year the waitlist ended up around two thousand after people actually accepted spots.

A2. We won't have numbers for the waitlist until May 1st, when we hope all students will have replied to the offer of a waitlist spot.

Q3. I have a quirky question, if you are accepted off the waitlist, which happens around late June, when it comes to housing, are waitlisters offered last options, I mean arent housing assignments already mailed out by the time waitlisters are chosen?

A3. Housing assignments aren't made until the summer, so students who get in off the waitlist in June are not at a disadvantage.

Q4. I thought that anyone who got deferred ED WAS still competitive, otherwise he/she would have been denied even after the ED round. I guess that means that the people who applied regular decision were even stronger than the ED hopefuls, so a number of the ED deferreds were no longer competitive. Am I getting that right?

A4. Back in November and December, we deferred applications for whom we couldn't make a decision for various reasons. We often think that senior grades will give us more to go on. However, when regular decision applications arrived in greater numbers than we expected, obviously, those early notions of how strong the pool would be get dashed.

Q5. Is there any such procedure such as appealing an admissions decision at UVA

A5. No, there is no appeal process.

Q6. but I'd like to know where in the required ratio of instate/OOS do OOS legacies fall?

A6. As far as the state is concerned, alumni children who do not have Virginia residency are not in the 2/3 part of the ratio. You are a resident of your home state.

Q7. would a waitlist applicant looking to enroll in the 5 year teacher education program only be considered when there were more decline responses than expected from other admitted teacher education applicants?

A7. After May 1st, we'll see which parts of the class need more students. Since first year students don't apply to the education school, that is not really a factor in the process. We'll be looking at VA/OOS in each of the four schools (CLAS, SEAS, SARC, NURS).

Q8. kinda confused, did UVA accept for students then needed? I mean did they accept like 4000, when they only had 3,500 spaces (exaggerated numbers)? so wailisted people would have to pray that more than 500 people decline?

A8. This is how all colleges operate. Because students apply to so many schools, we can't be sure that an applicant to UVa will actually come. We use past yield rates to determine the appropriate number of students to admit in order to get down to a class of around 3,170 (the target was increased by 70 this year). So, we admit around 6,000 students, knowing that many of them will opt to go elsewhere, leaving us with around 3,100.

Enrollment management is a tricky thing. Sometimes, admission officers don't see something coming and the yield changes dramatically. A good example of this would be from George Mason last year. Their basketball team did amazingly well in the NCAA tournament last year and they got a lot of wonderful media attention because of that. As a result, many students who hadn't been inclined to go to Mason were excited about going there and their yield jumped. Great for the yield rate, not so great for the housing folks, who have to find spaces for more students than they expected to have on campus!

Q9. If letters were sent on Friday, I thought I would receive it by now, but it has yet to arrive. Should I be worried?--Worried Idaho girl

A9. I imagine that it might take a bit of time for letters to make it out west. If you don't have a letter as of today (Friday, 4/6), give us a call and we'll either email or mail out a copy.

Q10. dean j, after all the numbers are in for the people accepting waitlisting, could you lets us know, please? I know it wont be for a while though, thanks!

A10. No problem. We're in the middle of the transfer review process, but after we get through that, I'll have some more official numbers to share.

Q11. this might be a stupid questoin, but when you write a letter to UVa expressing your interests...who do you direct it towards? thank you!
~wahoo wannabe

A11. You should write to the Dean of Admission. His name is on your decision letter.

Q12. is it true that UVA only accepted so many people from northern virginia?

A12. Anyone interested in the truth behind all those rumors about who we can admit should read this post from last year.

Q13. If the decisions for the waitlist pool are released around the 3rd week of May, when should our guidance counselor send in our final year grades if final year grades are not completed at my school until the 1st week of June?

A13. We don't have a rock solid time line for going to the waitlist. Send those updated transcripts as soon as their available.

Other questions
Q1. I think people would leave their names with comments but uva admissions has a weird policy of writing down notes in applicants' files following phone calls. this sort of process freaks many people out, thus they choose anonymity.

A1. This is why I suggested making up a name.

Tracking communication is very common in college admission. It helps jog our memories when we take a call from a student with whom we've talked before.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A note about submitting a comment

If you are going to comment, please do not do it anonymously. It's very hard to respond to people without names. Make something up if you don't want to use your real name, but please put something other than "anonymous".

Ranking lists I'm proud NOT to see UVa on

The RIAA and MPAA (recording industry and motion picture industry groups) have published lists of schools that have the most students who violate copyright protection laws. I'm thrilled not to see UVa on either list!

Oddly, the RIAA expects the schools to help them deliver paperwork to the students on their list and so far, a number of schools have told the RIAA that they don't have time to take on the extra administrative work.

The RIAA list
The MPAA list

Notes on the waitlist

I wrote about the waitlist twice last year, so I'm going to borrow heavily from those entries to give some information about how it works.

On Monday, we will start taking "decision calls" in our office (prepare for making one of these calls by reading this post). Those are calls, usually from parents, asking why we made the decision we did for a certain student. For the first two weeks of the month, the calls are almost non-stop. The most popular question: "Why was my child waitlisted?"

Prior to my arrival at UVa, I worked in the private college sector where we didn't entertain these conversations at all (and not many people called to question our decisions). However, at a state school, we try to be responsive to our constituents and respond to each and every call.

Here's what I think about the waitlist at UVa: It's big. There's no way around that because there are so many different segments within the class to which we have to pay attention. We have to bring in a class that will maintain that 2/3 : 1/3 ratio for Virginian and non-Virginian students. So, think of the waitlist as two main groups, in state and out of state. Next, consider that we have to fill four different schools within the university: College of Arts & Sciences (CLAS), School of Engineering (SEAS), School of Architecture (SARC) and School of Nursing.

Now, we don't break up the waitlist into smaller groups, so don't think of this as eight separate waitlists. It's still just one bunch with no ranking.

By May 1st, all the admitted students are supposed to have mailed their enrollment confirmations, saying that have either accepted or rejected our offer of admission. It usually takes a week for all of those letters to get to us. Only when the enrollment confirmations are counted do we know what will happen with the waitlist. We might realize that the Architecture school needs a few more students or that there's room in the College for a few. While keeping the in-state/out of state ratio in mind, we then go to the waitlist.

The time between April 1st and May 1st is always an uneasy one for us. It seems as though students are applying to more schools than ever (I met a student who applied to 20 last year) and as a result, we always worry that a tiny fraction of the students who receive an offer will accept us back. Our dean remembers a time when he'd accept just a few hundred more than the class needed because yield wasn't a huge issue. People were applying to 1-3 schools back then, so if they got accepted to a school, the odds were high that they were going there. Because of the uncertainty on the yield side, we have to maintain a sizable waitlist.

Yes, the waitlist is still quite large. I wish we didn't have it at all. I remember the state of limbo I was in as a waitlisted student a one of my top picks.

If you accept a spot on our waitlist, you are not bound to us. You should send a deposit to another school by May 1st to secure a spot in another class. At this point, we don't know when we will go to the waitlist, as we rely on the responses of admitted students to do that.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Some quick numbers (more to come)

18.053 applications (16,298 last year)
6,073 offers of admission (6,019 last year)

7,073 applicants from Virginia (6,530 last year)
10,928 applicants from out of state (9,768 last year)

These aren't official (those numbers from from the Office of Institutional Assessment), but I thought I'd give you a rough idea of what the applicant pool looked like this year.

Decisions have been mailed

Admission decisions have been mailed. At 5:30 PM today, those who applied online can view their decision by logging into the application system and checking the status page.

I snapped a few pictures as the first load of letters left. Note that it will take a few hours for these letters to clear the mail room here. They need to be sealed and metered before they can be put into the U.S. Post Office system

I should add that we have moved swiftly into the transfer application review. At some point during all this, I'll find some time to crunch numbers and post them. I'll aim for Monday on that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Caption this picture

How about a game of "Caption this Picture" to pass the time? Post your caption in the comments (click the picture if you'd like to get a better look at it). The best caption (be it clever, funny, or silly) gets something cool...bragging rights to winning the very first ever official game of "UVa Admission Blog Caption this Picture".

By the way, this was the scene outside my window around 10 AM. I should have thought to use the video function on my camera so you could hear the singing.

My entry: Freshman Orientation

A surprise member of the admission blogsphere

I've been chatting about blogs with some parents on one of the college admission message boards today and came across a blog I never knew existed: The ACT student blog. Is anyone reading this? How do you like it? Is it useful?

I'm surprised (in a good way) to see that the ACT is doing this. To mean, it shows a student-centered philosophy and that they're in touch with real students. Nice touch!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A moment of zen from CavBear

The 900 1200(!) hits this blog got yesterday and the tension apparent among applicants in the comments and on a particular message board some applicants frequent are making CavBear a little concerned. He thought a nice cup of tea might help you relax.

Just a few more days. Step away from the message boards for a day or two.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Another glimpse inside the process

Up until now, I've written about the process and sprinkled in a few silly pictures here and there. Now, a real look inside the process.

This is just part of the file library that we have. These are three different pics of the aisles...there are more than this. There's a team of people who oversee this place and they are absolutely amazing. There have been times when I've gone into the office in the wee hours to drop off and pick up files and they've been there, working away. Looking at these pictures, I realize how amazing they are.

The envelope stuffing is almost complete! Another team of people is making sure this process goes off without a hitch. Not a small feat when 18,000 personalized letters have to be printed, folded, and stuffed in matching envelopes in the span of about a week!

And to give you an idea of how much mail we get, this is a photo of where credentials that arrive without applications being on file wait to get matched up and made into a folder. There's a lot of paper being wasted doing this, which is too bad. Another reason not to send multiple copies of credentials...those extra copies make for bigger files.

International Student Update

International letter have gone out and we are going to start following up by email in the next few days, knowing that it might take quite some time for letters to make it to other countries. If you live in another country, please check your spam folders over the next few days. PDFs of letters and all the information that comes in the admit package are being emailed and I imagine that the messages will be large enough to trigger your spam filters.

You can make a preemptive strike by adding and to your address book or safe senders list.

To the rest, letters are printing and envelopes are being stuffed. We're getting there!

What's zinch? Most admission officers don't know.

There's a well established pipeline through which colleges get information about juniors (and sometimes sophomores) who they want to target with marketing efforts. College Board's Student Search Service provides colleges with names of students who took the PSAT or SAT and filled out the demographic information on their registration sheet. At the end of the survey, there's a question about receiving information from colleges. Those who check "yes" should have a deluge of mail within 6-8 weeks. Those who check "no" have to visit the websites for the schools in which they're interested to put themselves on the mailing lists.

There's a new company, started by brothers from BYU, that is attempting to break into the pipeline. It's called Zinch and somehow, they're getting the word out to students, though only 451 have created profiles on the site. The problem, though, is that they haven't marketed this "service" to college admission officers in any way. A mention in The Chronicle this morning is the first I've seen outside of a student post on a message board.

Maybe they're waiting until they have the 20,000 students they want to have by the end of May, but I imagine that if students creating profiles report no response from the colleges, they won't get to that target.

I'm waiting for the pitch. What I've seen on their website isn't particularly enticing. None of the information on the site seems verified and they seem to require interaction to take place in their environment. The idea is interesting, but requires colleges to abandon their traditional marketing plans that Student Search syncs with.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

This weekend's topic: shopping

There are some questions students are afraid to ask us, for fear of the subject being too silly. I think asking about shopping is one of those subjects.

Back when I first got out of graduate school, I was offered a job at another school in Virginia. No knowing the town in which the school was located, I started investigating the shopping of the town, thinking that it would give me an idea of whether the town was urban, suburban, or rural. At that point, I wasn't ready to leave the city.

Anyway, we have three main shopping areas in Charlottesville: The Corner, the Downtown Mall, and Route 29. I've described The Corner a bit already in terms of food, but there are clothing boutiques and bookstores there in addition to the cafes. The Downtown Mall is blocks and blocks (pedestrians only) of shops, restaurants, and street vendors. Route 29 is mostly shopping centers. Barracks Road is the shopping center closest to UVA and on the UVA bus route. There are two supermarkets, Barnes & Noble (the first B&N that was opened outside of a major city), some restaurants and some stores there.

What questions do you have about shopping in Cville?

By the way, this week is Virginia's Festival of the Book. There are events all over the city with authors from all over the country (and world).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Echols, Rodman, & College Science Scholars Updates

I received a few updates from the different scholars programs this morning.

Echols mailed all invitation letters on Friday. They'll be following up by email shortly.

Rodman is preparing to mail their packages and will also follow up by email. When I have a date for their mailing, I will post it. I'm sure it will be in the next few days.

College Science Scholars mailed their letters yesterday.

This is all I know, so I'm not sure I can answer any questions. Again, when I have an update about Rodman, I'll post more information.

Update: Realizing that they were a few days behind the Echols program in mailing, Rodman has decided to go with speed over ceremony and in addition to mailing their letters, they are emailing them today.

Rodman (well, the Dean of the engineering school) will also be notifying Rodman Scholarship winners. The Dean selects these students from the Rodman Scholars. There are six full-tuition awards and seven half-tuition awards. Good luck and congratulations to those who will be receiving a call!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Some housing information (transfer housing info, too!)

I'm going to share some news about housing at UVa. Please remember that I'm an admission dean; I don't know every detail of the housing process. If you have very specific questions about residence life at UVa, it's probably best to contact the Housing Division. On their First Year page, you'll find information about the housing options open to you, along with housing policies.

You probably know that all first year students live on grounds and housing guarantees housing for second year students. Enough students study abroad or live off grounds that you could live on grounds all four years at UVa. In the past, transfer students were offered spots here and there as vacancies were found in the buildings. There were enough spaces to meet all of the transfer demand and last year, there was enough space to offer rooms to 130 students from colleges in New Orleans who displaced by hurricane Katrina.

This year, the housing office has set aside 150 spaces in Gooch-Dillard (two story suites, air conditioned) just for transfer students. We've just been told about this, so if you have questions about it, make a call to the housing office.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Plenty of time?!?

EDIT: Apparently not. It was a great post-season anyway!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weekend topic: weather?!?

I wanted to continue the sports talk in light of what's happening at the NCAA tournament, but I thought weather might be something interesting to address. Weather's usually a lame topic of conversation, but it's actually a fairly common question posed by our visitors. They want to know how much snow we get, how hot or cold it gets, if we close school, and so on.

Being a northerner, I find winter here pretty uneventful. Charlottesville gets some snow each year, but getting more than a dusting seems rare. A few inches is a major event here. People still talk about the blizzard that dumped a few feet of snow about 15 years ago. As for temperatures, we have four defined seasons in Cville. Winter can be cold, but I don't remember single digit temperatures in the last few years. In fact, we had quite a few spring-like days in the middle of winter.

If you're coming from the deep south or southwest, you'll want to get a good winter jacket, hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and some boots before you come to school. Every year there are a few students who think a North Face fleece will get them through the winter. You need something a little more substantial than that. You don't need monster boots, as the snow doesn't get too high here, but you'll need something to come between your foot and the cold ground for those walks to class.

In case you were wondering, UVa doesn't have snow days. Sorry, kids.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Days on The Lawn

Days on The Lawn is the name for our admitted students day at UVa. The format is pretty standard: arrive in the morning for coffee and snacks, listen to a welcome address, meet with your individual school, visit classes, optional panels, etc. What sets this apart from the admitted student days I've been a part of elsewhere is that there are enough of these to keep the total number of students at each DOTL to around 400 prospective students. Because of the number of current student volunteers we have, we wind up having about a 1:1 current to prospective student ratio at these events.

On top of that, if you really want to ask questions about something specific, you have a good chance of talking to the person with the answers. In addition, you won't be herded around our campus (much). You can branch off and do your own thing or stick to the scheduled events. We'll also be providing discount coupons to the bookstore and dining halls, if you want to get even more of a taste for student life at UVa.

Anyway, more information will come to you after the offer of admission arrives. Keep an eye out!

The dates for Days of The Lawn are:
Monday, April 9th
Friday, April 13th
Monday, April 16th
(Echols & Rodman Scholars)
Friday, April 20th
Monday, April 23rd

If you're an Echols or Rodman Scholar, you aren't required to attend on the 16th. If another date works better for you, that's fine.

Update: DOTL are intended for students trying to decide if UVa is the right school for them. For this reason, we don't invite students offered admission during the Early Decision round.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Your turn to give me some information

There's an article in today's USA Today about the different ways colleges are communicating with prospective students. Some schools are having great success with using new methods to reach out to students. Some schools are deliberately staying away because they don't want to blur the line between the officer and the student.

I don't want to rehash the entire article, but I'm wondering what methods you think are good for asking questions about the college application process and communicating with admission officers. I made a little poll about it (see below) and would love to hear your comments in addition to seeing how you vote.

I'm not asking about your communication with UVa specifically, just about the overall college application process. You can select as many items as you want to and use the comments section to elaborate, if you wish.

Thanks for participating...this should be interesting!

What forms of communication do you think are useful for getting information about the college application process?
Message boards
Online chats
Instant messenger

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You've been waiting for it...notification update

It's the information for which you've been waiting!

Please read this entire post and if you pass this information along to a friend, pass the entire entry, not just a snippet. From now on, letters of a kind will go out together. There will be no "waves" of letters. The US Post Office will obviously get some of you (Virginians) your letters first. Those of you in rural areas or far off places will obviously have to wait a few days longer for letters to arrive.

Friday, March 30th - Decision letters will be mailed
Friday, March 30th, 5:30 PM - Those who submitted applications online will see a decision on the status page of their online account. Please do not hammer the online application site. The decisions will not appear before 5:30 PM. Check if you want to keep an eye on the official time.

The Jefferson Scholarship Foundation will notify the winners of their scholarship this weekend, at the end of the selection process. If you are a Jefferson Scholarship Finalist, you know that you have been admitted, though notification from the Office of Admission will not be made early.

Some special scholarship groups will send notification letters before our notification letters. We have verified decisions, so if you receive a letter from another office awarding you something, it's an early indication that an admit letter is coming to you.

Every year, letters sent by other offices create a flurry of phone calls to the Office of Admission. Please understand that there are no appeals when it comes to academic awards or distinctions. In addition, for privacy reasons, we cannot give out decisions over the phone and we can only talk to you, a family member, or a school official about you. Please see my post from the winter about calling the Office of Admission with questions if you are thinking of doing so.

I don't know if knowing the notification date makes you more worried or puts you at ease, but I hope it's the later! Hang in there!

Late night update: Remember that all decision letters are thin!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Finally...what many of us know makes it to the mainstream

A few years ago during a discussion about US News & World Report, a colleague pointed out some data that used in their "ranking" that was clearly wrong to anyone who has read up on admission practices. The school in question is besides the point. The point is that common sense told us that the statistic published was impossible to achieve.

There are plenty of admission officers out there who have probably seen similarly incorrect figures when scrutinizing the college ranking issue of US News. We wish we could just toss the issue in the recycling bin (or better yet, leave it on the newsstand), but because so many of our constituents, from prospective students and their families to our alumni, put so much emphasis on the rankings, we analyze and dissect the issue each year when it comes out.

It seems that the conversations that used to happen in our offices, behind closed doors, is going public. An op-ed by Michele Tolela Myers, the President of Sarah Lawrence, was published in The Washington Post yesterday. I have to admit that I haven't gotten through the Opinion section's still on my coffee table. However, Inside Higher Ed wrote a follow up on the op-ed, saying that other college presidents are circulating a letter suggesting that all colleges and universities stop cooperating with US News.

From the comments posted on the Post website, it seems that the average reader is hanging on Sarah Lawrence's specific case and doesn't realize that that school is just one example of incorrect data being used in determining US News rankings.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

This weekend's topic: Sports!

It was a bittersweet night for sports last night...our dear Hoos went down to NC State. I watched the game on The Corner (a few places show games on big, projection screens) and the mood was pretty somber by the end of the game. On the flip side, one of my Alma Maters won their game and it looks like both teams will make it to the tournament.

Anyway, I thought it might be appropriate to make sports this weekend's blog topic. UVA is usually named by Princeton Review as a school where "fitness is hot" and Charlottesville has an equally active community. If you have questions about UVA sports, opportunities to play traditional sports, outdoor recreation options (hiking, riding, running, etc.), feel free to post them in the comments.

By the way, outdoor rec is a big deal here. I have to admit that I showed up here after living exclusively in major cities my entire life. Within a few months, I found myself climbing rocks in Shenandoah National Park and hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway. UVA has groups to take everyone from the completely inexperienced to the most expert camper on little adventures in our area.

The Blue Ridge Mountains really are blue!