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, February 29, 2008

Weekend Topic: Music

I started weekend topics just about a year ago with this topic and a lot has changed about the Charlottesville music scene since them.

Our most well-known local band came back to town to work on a new album and word is it's being mixed and mastered in Seattle. No word on another homecoming gig.

Our most popular indoor concert venue closed and the second most popular venue became the "it" spot for shows. Our resident mogul is renovating a historic theater on the Downtown Mall to fill the gap.

UVa's new basketball arena continues to bring in major touring acts, though I think most students go there for games than for concerts.

I could go on and on about our music scene, but would rather answer your questions. What would you like to know? Reading the entry and comments from last year might be a good jumping off point.

Please keep comments to music. If you have admission questions, they can wait until Monday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Final Decisions are NOT ready at this time

I think some readers are over analyzing things and misinterpreting what I've written about our process.

Applications move through different phases of review. In the first phase, each folder is read by two readers. In the second phase, the application pool is looked at as a group and decisions get reviewed again.

At this time, decisions are not finalized.

As I've written before, we want to get decisions out as soon as possible. We do not want to delay this process in any way. When decisions are finalized, the printers will start churning out 18,000 decision letters. After that, our administrative staff will stuff 18,000 envelopes. Finally, the letters are put in the mail. The evening that letters are put in the mail, decisions will appear on your status pages (if you applied online).

Using the search feature at the top of the page or the tag feature (most entries are tagged to reflect their subject), you can read last year's entries from around this time to familiarize yourself with the timing of the process.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Moving on!

Good news! By this point, most applications have been read by two different readers and we are ready to move into the next round of review, which which consists of more reading, looking at the bigger numbers (in state/out of state ratios and things like that). This next round should take another few weeks to complete. We'll be simultaneously reviewing applications for Echols/Rodman (use the search function at the top of the page to search for earlier posts about that).

If you haven't sent in first trimester or semester grades, you need to fax or email them immediately.

If you have a question about your specific case, call our office during business hours (8:30 AM - 5 PM) and speak with someone here. Our number is (434) 982-3200.

Another sign of Facebook's pending demise...

The last time I wrote about Facebook, the comments seemed to point to high school students being tired of the "new" version, which made me think reports of the site's pending demise are true.

According this entry on The Chronicle's Wired blog, the number of unique US visitors "plateaued" for a few months and then dropped in January. Those into web stats might see this is the beginning of the end.

Twitter, anyone?

Friday, February 22, 2008

A look inside SEAS

Someone just sent me this video made by a group of students about the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (we just call it SEAS here). I love engineering, so I really enjoyed listening to what current students have to say about their program.

See if you can spot the family arriving for an info session. They're in there somewhere...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A moment of zen from CavDog (and CavBear)

You didn't need a moment of zen until March last year, but by the looks of the comments and the message boards, you need it now. One month to go, folks. Hang in there. By request, here are some CavDog pictures to provide a break from the admission talk.

CavDog is usually found under the desk while I'm reading applications

Oh, the books you're read!

Click the image for a laugh!

Did you know that we have 13 libraries at UVa?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Putting things in perspective

Some of the questions coming into the comment sections of my posts lately have led me to believe that some of you think admission officers are picky people who are sticklers for deadlines and quick to punish applicants for insignificant matters.

Many of the questions ask if something "will be held against" the applicant. For example, a student asked if she'll be in trouble if her counselor sent an updated transcript at mid-year when I wrote that we only require the student to fill out a mid-year form online. Another student was worried about not taking the SATs in January despite having said he'd take them again on his application. This is such small things and we aren't nearly as petty as you think we are.

Once again, I find myself wondering if you think we sit in a cold, dark room, at a long table with angry scowls on our faces and big, red REJECT stamps in our hands, just waiting for the next minor flub to let the hammer fall on an eager applicant.

Do I have it right? Humor me. Tell me what you imagine when you picture the UVa admission officers.

The Likely Letter 2008

I'm going to keep this entry very, very simple.

Around this time of year, many colleges and universities send letters to very strong students telling them that their applications are impressive. These letters are commonly referred to as "likely letters".

If you have questions about a "likely letter" from UVa, I hope this helps:

1. A small number of likely letters are sent each year. There is no set number of letter sent.

2. The letters are sent in waves, not at once.

3. Do not read into the absence of a letter. The vast majority of admitted students never receive one. It is best to assume you will not get one.

4. There is no relationship between likely letters and Echols/Rodman/College Science Scholars.

5. The letter means exactly what it says.  We like you!

6. International students can get one of these letters.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Q&A with Dean J, Part 5

I thought I'd pull out a few questions from the comments so more people would see them.

Q. I always wonder if I should be calling there to talk with a Dean just to ask questions about my application. Do you open files and note that the student never called for any reason or added anything new and then just put that folder in the "reject" pile?

A. This is definitely the waiting period. We are extremely busy with reading and if you called right now, chances are your file wouldn't be in the "library" for a note to be added anyway.

We have never read into student contacts (we aren't more apt to admit those who call/email).

Q. I took more standardized tests in January. Is it possible that they will be reviewed with my applications during the second round?

A. It's hard to know if your file was reviewed before or after your scores arrived. This is why we ask that testing be completed by December.

Q. How much does not taking an SAT II hurt an applicant's chance of acceptance?

A. SAT IIs can't hurt an application...they aren't a required part of the application.

Q. Will all applicants receive decisions on one day? or will some get earlier?

A. Decisions will be mailed at the same time. The USPS will determine when you get your letters. Decisions will appear on your status pages at a specific time on the day we mail the letters. The exact date and time will be posted as soon as we know the mail date.

Q. In addition to the SAT Subject Tests I completed, I said I would take another SAT subject test in Jan. 2008. I was not able to attend that testing. Do I need to let UVA know that I didn't end up taking it, or will they just assume I didn't take it?

A. No. You only need to notify us of major changes (dropping a class you were scheduled to take, for example).

Q. I am very worried that my transcript is still listed as not received!

A. Do you have multiple application accounts? Sometimes students create more than one application account and we check documents into one and they submit through the other. Only one physical folder exists for each student, but sometimes there are multiple online applications with the student's name on them.

Q. I'm curious if UVa does use outside resources like Facebook to help a decision, and how often you do.

A. Search for "Facebook" on this page (there's a search feature at the top of the page) and you'll find the answer to your question.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Process Update

Reading folders before breakfast usually means one thing: the end of our first phase of reading applications. By the end of this week, we should be moving on to the second phase of our review, which means every file will have been read at least once and we'll start double checking our decisions and printing those mysterious letters that have been deemed "likely letters".

Selection of Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars has been happening concurrent with the process and a few students have started to call those students we've flagged. Official notification about the scholars programs is made by mail. The programs mail the letters themselves and I'll let you all know here when that happens.

Weekend topics will start in another week or so, once the first round of reading is behind us.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Another round of Q & A with Dean J

Lots of questions came up in the comments section for the last post and I thought I'd answer them here so more people will see them.

Q. I am wondering if you read all the personal letters that applicants write to you personally? Does writing a personal letter to you hurt or help us as applicants? -Anonymous

A. Of course we read any letters sent to us, but writing to me isn't going to change your transcript, recommendations, essays, activities, and testing. At this point, unless something dramatic has changed in your program, there isn't really a reason to write to us. Wait until you get your decision and go from there. Waitlisted students often write us letters. You can read more about that if you look back at last year's blog entries from around decision time.

Q. Because we are entering our midyear grades and not sending an official transcript, does this mean that the UVA admissions office does not consider mid-year semester grades and class rank in the application process? For example, if my GPA or class rank have improved over the last semester, how can I tell the admissions office? Thanks! -Jessica

A. Jessica, if we ask you for something, we're considering it in our review process. Your first semester grades are very important to us. The comments section of the MY report is for adding any info you'd like to share with us.

Q. Under transfer FAQ's for the UVA transfer webpage, it said a student should have a B+ average to be competitive. If we've got just below a B+ average, will recs and essays come into play or will that low GPA knock us to the bottom of the pile. -KS

A. KS, courses taken also factor into our review, so don't assume you're out of the running if your GPA is a little short. As I'm sure you've read, transfers with a solid 3.4 GPA are competitive.

Q. How can I be sure my fine arts supplement was received? I sent it in and I don't know how to check...:( -Andy

A. Andy, art supplements are not checked into the computer system. They are sent to various departments for review. I believe the instructions tell you this.

Q. Do I absolutely have to send in my ACT score, even though I took it only once, and four years ago at that? I am a prospective transfer student. Thanks! -Rene

A. Rene, sending in your score can only help you, not hurt you.

Q. Can midyear grades break a decision? I have my lowest GPA(a lot of B's!!), but I am taking my most challenging course load yet. I know midyear grades can help an applicant but can they hurt them too? Sorry these questions must get tedious...just shows how nervous we all are! -Hooareyou

A. Hooareyou, midyear grades can change a decision if they show a dramatic departure from the grades earned in the past. Now, it's normal to see some change in grades when the challenge level goes up in the curriculum, so it's not the end of the world if a few Bs creep into the transcript.

Q. I am so anxious about finding out if I've gotten into UVA. I check the status of my application everyday and I've read probably all of this blog. My question is about the likely letters, because I want as much info on my admission ASAP.

Do you send likely letters to all applicants that are likely to get in? Like, are there some students likely to get in, that you never send letters to and for what reason? Will they all be sent at the end of February? -Anxious

A. Anxious, first of all, there's no reason to check your status everyday. The way our system works, decisions are "turned off" right now. They WILL NOT show up until I edit the database settings that govern what shows up on your status pages. If you read back, I talk about this fairly often and I tell students not to hammer the system because decisions won't show up without my giving you a heads up on this blog first. There is no ways, barring a bizarre computer glitch, that decisions will show up before

Likely letters are sent to a small percentage of students. A VERY small percentage. Perhaps I should repost the "Letter Frenzy" post I made last year.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's 70 degrees in Charlottesville (a notification update)

The flip flops, shorts, and t-shirts are out and the admission deans are stuck inside reading your applications. I sometimes wonder if weather affects admission decisions...we could study it, but I don't think we have the time...

Last year, February 1st was the first day I was asked why decisions weren't out yet. This year, the question didn't come until three whole days later!

We're currently about half way through the first round of reading. During the first round, each application gets read by at least two different deans. It will probably take about three more weeks to finish this round. When that's done, we'll start double checking our decisions, reviewing students for the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs, and getting those lovely "likely letters" ready. I promise you that I'll update you when those things start happening. For now, use the side navigation to look at posts made a year ago to familiarize yourself with the pace of things.

Notification will not be made early, as far as I can tell at this point. April 1st is the big day.

Gratuitous CavDog shot