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!

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!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another round done...two more big steps to go!

If you read any other admission blogs (there's a list of them on my other blog), you know that it's committee time for most of us. This is the time when we make decisions about close or complex cases. I know of a few schools where every single file is reviewed by the committee. Obviously, that's a smaller school.

Anyway, there are two more big steps in the process before letters are in your hands. While we want to work quickly, we want to give every applicant our full consideration, so we'll take however much time it takes to make an informed, careful decision.

Many of you are aware that another wave of "likely letters" has gone out, but once again, don't read into the lack of a letter in your mailbox. For the vast majority of students, the next official communication received from UVa will get the decision letter.

Hang in there!

Transfer application deadline extended

The transfer application has been extended until 3/19.

If you have questions about the application, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to get to them.

Message board attacks haunt former students

The message board used by most prospective students and parents looking for admission information online isn't my favorite place, but it's fairly tame. There's another message board out there that's more popular with current college and grad students that's a little more "wild west". I take a look at it every once in a while and see a variety of topics. Some are interesting and some comments are quite funny and clever. Some topics are pretty silly and it's hard to believe the comments are being written by educated students (many of whom are in grad/professional school).

I mentioned the site to a reporter at The Washington Post about a month ago when she was responding to an article pitch. I actually told her to stay away from it, that she wouldn't find anything interesting there. I guess I was wrong. Another reporter at the newspaper has written a story about comments on the message board haunting people long after they've left school.

We usually think of the "mean girls" as being in high school, but I guess they can be 20-something men in grad school as well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What do you think of status pages?

I've been in meetings about the new SIS (student information system) that will go live in a year or two (the most successful implementations happen after planning periods this long or longer). The application status feature is a little different from the one we use now, but similar to one used by one of our graduate schools. Each student logs into their account and sees a "To Do" list on the side of the page. The list includes items from admission, financial aid, and other offices. Once a student submits something from the list, the item disappears.

The staff from the grad school that uses a similar list said that they had to change it because it actually increased calls to their office. Students saw something come off their list or saw a "No items on your to do list" and called to check up on the message!

The ensuing discussion got me thinking about status pages in general. When I applied to college, I put all my credentials in a large envelope and mailed it off. I'm not even sure letters of receipt were mailed back then (this wasn't the dark ages, but it was before everyone had the internet). Between mailing the application and receiving a decision letter in April, there was literally no communication from the admission offices. We didn't worry...we just assumed that the schools would call if something was wrong.

Even with a status page these days, some people feel compelled to check and double check (and sometimes triple check) their application status by phone. If anything, the process is more streamlined because so many components arrive electronically and can't get lost in the mail.

What do you think? Are status pages good? How often to you check your status? Are you checking it now, even though you know decisions are still a few weeks away? Why do you think people are more worried these days?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

This weekend's topic: FOOD!

The non-admission topic of the weekend is food. What are your favorites? What are you wondering about food in the dining hall? What do you want to know about food in Charlottesville?

Background: I was born and raised just outside of New York City, so I'm pretty particular about food. I was also raised by a woman obsessed with a cooking show on PBS that was hosted by the most unusual woman (it was Julia Child, before she was famous).

I love food. I couldn't care less about the decor if the food is "authentic". That being said, here are some of my picks.

Breakfast (my favorite meal of the day)
That students seem to love The Tavern, the place with "Where students, locals, and tourists meet" painted in huge letters on their slanted roof. Personally, I find it a tad too greasy (greasy is good, but too greasy isn't always good) and chaotic.

Bodo's Bagels is a local chain (three locations, one on The Corner) that makes the closest thing to a real bagel in town. It's not an authentic bagel shop, but they have white fish and lox, which earns them major points. The Corner location seems to be staffed primarily by students, which probably makes it a fun place to work (for those of you who'll be looking for a job in the area). The Corner location was a running joke because there was a sign in the window that said "Coming Soon" for six years.

I have three favorites for breakfast: Blue Moon Diner, Cafe
Cubano, and Tip Top Restaurant.

Blue Moon Diner (that link is for their
MySpace page) has been a Charlottesville institution since 1979 and it just reopened in January after a few years of only offering catering. The staff is known to be hip and spunky. I wouldn't be surprised to walk into a local music venue to see one of the waitresses on stage. They're open all day and into the night, but I think breakfast is the best meal they serve.

Cubano serves great breakfast with a southwestern twist. It's located on the Downtown Mall, so the crowd ranges from students to professionals. Cubano used to be called Higher Grounds and the coffee there is still Higher Grounds coffee (some of the best around).

Tip Top Restaurant is the closest thing to a Jersey diner that you'll find in
Cville. The waitresses call you "honey" and don't ask before they refill your coffee. They also don't blink when you order breakfast and add on a big Belgian waffle. Tip Top is on Pantops Mountain on the east side of town.

Another good "diner" option is
Espresso Italian Villa, right between the Cavalier Inn (Best Western) and the basketball arena. They offer breakfast all day (and into the night) and I doubt the prices have changed on their menu in years (it's unusually cheap).

Of course, we have IHOP and Waffle House, for those of you who are looking for the chain breakfast places.

Pizza, sandwiches Thai, dessert, and others will be posted in the comments section!

Meet Cav Bear

A lovely family from California was in my information session on Thursday. Unfortunately for them, they left their camera behind. They called yesterday and I took their address so I could send it to them.

Well, we decided that Thursday was such a cloudy day that we had to send along some pictures from sunny Friday. We had to be creative about it, so I ran over to the bookstore and bought Cav Bear.

Cav Bear had a busy day yesterday. He bought some textbooks, went to lunch on The Corner, talked to a dean about his major, and hung out on The Lawn. He even had time to help read a few application files.

Stay tuned for more Cav Bear adventures.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Last minute transfer questions?

I'll be online tonight (UVADeanJ on AIM) for those who have last minute questions about the transfer application.

FYI, if you type information into the application and it disappears after you navigate to another page or you are kicked back to the login page, the problem is with your internet browser's settings, not with the application website.

Change your browser settings (permit cookies, turn off your pop up blocker) first and foremost. If you can't figure out how to change your cookie settings, use the help function on your internet browser. It should walk you through it.

Good luck, transfers!

They think students are nacissistic now?

I was going to post my reaction to a recent study about narcissism and American students. The AP wrote an interesting article about the study and if you caught me on the right day, I'd agree with it, but would probably disagree with it the next day.

It seems that some schools are developing marketing plans to cater to the new "me" generation. Wilkes University in PA is taking out ad space (billboards, kiosks) in public places targeting specific students. Not specific groups of students, but one student. The New York Times business section has an article about this. Interesting that it didn't show up in the education section. I imagine that marketing firms will jump on the bandwagon, proposing this strategy to clients, but from the education side, I'm a little disturbed by it. Will students see things like this as evidence that a school "wants" them more? What are those of us at schools with modest admission budgets to do?

An ad on Facebook: