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!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

CavDog's serious expression might match yours this NYE if you're trying to put the finishing touches on some applications. Good luck, everyone!

Do you have last minute application questions?

If you have last minute application questions, the first thing you need to know is that we are understanding when things go wrong. Remember that we can't fix problems with the Common App site, so make sure to direct your questions to the right place.

Let me also explain that once you submit your application, it will take a couple days for the file to be sent to us by Common App and for processing to prompt a login email to be sent to you. When you log in for the first time, don't be alarmed by your to-do list. Credentials may be in our system, but not yet linked to your file. It may take a week or two to get through all the applications submitted in these last few days, so please be patient! If your transcript arrived a month ago, it was scanned and put in a miscellaneous credentials file. A staff member must manually link that transcript to your newly submitted application.

We will contact you when we are through the bulk of the processing if we are still missing documents.

That being said, here is how you can get answers to last minute questions:
  • Post a comment on this entry
  • Post on the wall of the UVa Class of 2013 group on Facebook (other students might have answers)
  • Post on the UVa forum of College Confidential (current applicants/students may have answers)
  • Instant message me through Facebook (please don't send a traditional message)
  • Instant message me through AIM (UVaDeanJ)
  • Instant message me through Google Chat (UVaDeanJ)

I won't be logged into all of those all the time between now and deadline, but I will try to be on in the evenings. If I don't reply right away, I've either stepped away from my desk (I'm going this from home) or am answering questions for another student.

Good luck with those last minute edits! Try not to submit at the very last minute!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As the holidays end, applications are due

CavDog's tired of traveling!

We're still on our "Christmas Tour", but I wanted to check in to remind those of you who haven't submitted your applications that you probably don't want to wait until the very last minute to hit the submit buttons (yes, that's plural...there are THREE components to submit).

If something goes wrong with your application, you need to get in touch with the Common App people by submitting a help ticket via the link on top of every page on their website. We can't solve Common App website problems in our office at UVa. Because there are many schools with deadlines in early January, your problem might not get resolved immediately, hence the need to get things wrapped up a day or two before deadline.

Good luck! The blog posts will come more regularly once I get back to Charlottesville on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A follow up note about Facebook groups

Yesterday, I posted about Facebook groups being created en masse by a group of people lacking any affiliation with a college or university. Turns out the group was probably just one person working for College Prowler and/or a not-quite-in-business company called Match U. The reasons given for creating the groups were: see how many students actively participate in online communities. We also wanted to identify the concerns of incoming college students.
I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that statement.

By the way, I have always enjoyed watching students create groups to connect with other appilcants. Just a few weeks ago, I talked to visitors at an open house about the wonderful opportunity that social networking offers students. I don't think incoming classes have ever been as well connected prior to showing up at UVa as they are today. I've seen students find roomates on Facebook, I've seen clubs form on Facebook...I think Facebook is great! I've never tried to control it because I understand and like what Facebook is.

I created a group for prospective Class of 2013 members to provide a group that will never be used as a marketing tool for a company.

Let's get back to the admission stuff.

CavDog is tired of talking about Facebook groups

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 12 Days of Winter Break on Youtube

There's always a surprise to be found on Youtube. I can't even remember what I was looking for, but I found the video below and couldn't turn it off. I was tempted to fast forward to the 3:30 mark for the big finale because I was a little creeped out by the animated Jefferson wearing a santa hat. There's a chuckle here and there. My personal favorite is the "Deans a-leaping."

A note for Facebook users

I've always felt pretty strongly that admission officers should let Facebook groups geared towards applicants and incoming students grow organically. Last night, a well-researched blog post by Brad Ward at Butler University changed my mind.

College Prowler, whose main activity is publishing college guide books, has created well over 300 Class of 2013 groups for colleges and universities around the country. Many are deemed "official", including two of the three they created for UVa. They've also used trademarked logos, but that's another issue.

I emailed the CEO of College Prowler to get his reasoning for doing this (and really it's a ring of unpaid student interns that are doing all the work), but I think most people would conclude that they are going to sell marketing opportunities to companies that want to interact with college-bound students. I would hate for your interest in UVa open you up for spam from companies that aren't related to us.

This morning, I created a "Dean J" Facebook account and started an Official University of Virginia Class of 2013 Facebook group. I'm not interested in checking your profiles (admission officers at UVa don't do that). I want to provide a group for prospective students and applicants that won't be used to market any for-profit enterprise. I might post updates now and then about the admission process, but I won't be heavily monitoring the group.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chat rooms open tonight!

Deans and current students will be logging in to the UVa chat rooms answer your questions tonight from 7-9 PM. There will be multiple rooms, so when you are presented with your options, don't just go to the first room. This is the last chat night before the application deadline.

Hope to see some of you there!

Let's talk about perfection

The pressure to live up to perfection can get anyone down

There was a point yesterday afternoon when my fingers hovered over the keyboard and I found myself thinking "I don't know this kid at all." I had just finished reading an application and was trying to write an enthusiastic opening to my notes, but nothing was coming. It didn't really make sense. The curriculum was excellent, the grades were great, the test scores were solid, the applicant was involved, the counselor's recommendation was positive, and the essays were meticulously edited. Many people would say the application was flawless.

I had the perfect application in front of me, but I had trouble getting excited about it. It was an application that epitomized an idea I had a few years ago:





Does the student who achieves perfection (whatever that is) get accepted to lots of schools? Sure. But at UVa, we'll be admitting over 6,000 students to bring in a class of about 3,170 students. If we only admit perfection, we'll have a pretty small class. Yes, you need a strong profile to be admitted, but we don't have a picture of the perfect student in our heads as we read your files.

My advice: don't try to be the perfect applicant. Try to be the most perfect version of you. You might wind up giving us a lot to write about when we take our notes.

Perfection is nice, but so is personality

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Log into the SIS...all the cool kids are doing it

CavDog wouldn't dream of letting a day go by without looking at his application checklist

A few days after you submit your Common App and we download it into our SIS (Student Information System, the "cradle to grave" computer system that holds all info about people who work and attend UVa), you'll get an email outlining how to the Student Self-Service part of the system.

First, you have to generate a password for the system using your UVa computing ID and SIS ID number (both are sent in the email). You can generate a new password whenever you'd like to by following the same instructions again (no need to email us if you lose your password, just generate a new one). Once your password is displayed, write it down! The system isn't going to email it to you.

I have a report that shows me when a student who has submitted an application last logged into the system and I'm sad to report that less than half of those who have submitted an application have logged into Student Self-Service. This is really important! Student Self-Service is where you'll see your decision (around April 1st), accept your offer of admission, pay all of your bills, pick classes, update your contact's basically your "one stop shop" from the moment you apply until your relationship with UVa ends.

Go find that email. It came from and it would have been sent within five days of your application being downloaded. Check your spam/junk folders for it if you don't see it in your inbox. If you still can't find it, you can email us for your info, but please scour your email folders for the information first. Our email accounts are being inundated with student requests right now, so it might be a few days before we are able to respond to your message.

Reminder: check your Common App status

I've gotten a few calls in the past week from students who thought they submitted their applications, but who haven't gotten email confirmations from us about getting into the UVa Student Information System, where status pages are found.

In these cases, I've found that students have submitted one part of the application (payment, for example), but they haven't actually submitted the Common App Basic and UVa Supplement. Be sure to check your main Common App page to verify that all parts of your applications (this goes for all of your apps, not just your UVa app) are submitted! There's a little chart for each school that should show you the dates that you've submitted each component.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The semester is coming to a close

The last of the final exams will be given tomorrow and the most of the students who are still here will head home for the holidays. Many locals look forward to our student-free weeks, when traffic is lighter and sidewalks are so congested, but I have to admit that I miss the hustle and bustle that comes about when 13,000 undergraduates are in town.

Goodness knows we won't see anything like this until the students get back.

These pre-exam mobs are pretty common. I've heard about variations at many different colleges around the country. I doubt any end as impressively as ours, though!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Essay Wall returns

Pardon my absence, but we've been knee deep (as opposed to elbow deep) in applications and have been tucked away reading for pretty long stretches. Happily, I was able to put the first essays up on The Essay Wall this afternoon. Old readers probably know this from past years, but I'll explain for the newcomers...

I like to post the most interesting essays on the wall outside my office for my colleagues to read. The good essays definitely make reviewing applications more interesting and more personal (well, as personal as staring at an image of your credentials can get) for us. Over the course of the application season, the essays pile up and spread to the door, the molding, and get stacked on top of each other.

When the wall gets truly impressive, I'll post a picture. For now, you'll have to imagine three lonely pieces of paper waiting for others to join them.

Back I go to my files...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Admission office field trip to the School of Architecture

After our visit to Campbell Hall today, I think everyone should try to fit in a tour of the School of Architecture while at UVa. Two striking, thoughtful additions were added to the school this year. Both were designed by faculty members, who were kind enough to act as our guides.

You can open the photo album in a new window to see larger photos by clicking on the bottom part of the slide show box.