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!

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!