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!

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Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another week on the road

My favorite trip of the year is around the corner. I'm headed to northern Virginia.

I've heard that some schools send rookie admission officers to NOVA as an initiation because of the notorious traffic and the advanced questions that get asked "up there". I personally love my time in northern Virginia. I enjoy being asked questions about topics that are far more interesting than SAT scores and deadlines. Hearing the current rumors that are getting passed around is interesting, too.

I'm going to post my schedule. Please understand that this year is a bit of a logistical challenge. Two of us used to split northern Virginia and each spend a week visiting schools. This year, I am trying to cover the entire region in one week. There is no way I can get to even half of the schools in Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, and the cities. The schools I'm visiting are just the ones I was able to fit into my schedule. I wish I could get to every school.

These appointments are for students who attend each of the schools below. Follow the procedure established by your Career Center if I'm visiting your school to make sure you have permission to attend.

Monday, October 26
8:30 AM Washington-Lee High School
10:05 AM Wakefield High School
1:30 PM Edison High School

Tuesday, October 27
7:25 AM WT Woodson High School
8:54 AM Fairfax High School
11:00 AM Robinson Secondary
12:45 PM Lake Braddock High School

Wednesday, October 28
9:00 AM South Lakes High School
11:00 AM Langley High School
12:00 PM Yorktown High School
1:15 PM McLean High School
7:00 PM STEM Program @ Langley High School

Thursday, October 29
8:45 AM Herndon High School
10:30 AM Park View High School
12:30 PM Briar Woods High School
2:15 PM Potomac Falls High School
3:15 PM Dominion High School

Friday, October 30
9:30 AM Freedom High School
11:00 AM Loudoun County High School
12:00 PM Heritage High School
3:15 PM Loudoun Valley High School

Unfortunately, the timing of my trip means I'm missing a huge tradition here on Grounds: the trick-or-treat on The Lawn. Each year, residents living on The Lawn host a trick-or-treat event for area children. CavDog turned into CavBee when he was still a puppy to take part in the festivities. Last year, he dressed up as a lion to prowl The Lawn for kissable children (a favorite past time of his). He has a costume lined up, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More UVa blog goodness!

While I was at the national conference for those of us who are in the admission world, I heard a speaker talk about students' expectations. He basically said that if other schools do something, students will expect it of you. If you manage to do that something, you aren't necessarily distinguishing yourself, but keeping current with others in the field.

It was an interesting idea and I started thinking about our student blogs during the discussion that followed. Most school have fairly formal student blogger programs. The students are usually given a schedule or goal with some sort of incentive to stay on task.

Between our small staff and the prominence of students self-governance here, we don't really keep tabs on our student bloggers. We don't enforce a schedule or establish goals for them. Our students started their blogs on their own and maintain them on their own. I think it makes them write authentically and with enthusiasm. I wouldn't want blogging to become a chore for them!

Anyway, when you're looking for a break from admission talk, go read the student blogs and ask some questions over there. They're writing some wonderful posts and I'm sure they'd enjoy interacting with you.

Hoo Stories

A team blog written by eleven students with a range of class years


A team blog written by thirteen students, an activity of Hoos for Open Access, a student group that promotes awareness of financial resources available for UVa students

UVa Life
One student's life at UVa, including ups and downs, frustrations and celebrations

Transferring to Uva
Hints and updates from Transfermer, an admission dean who works with transfer students

UVa Today

The source for news and updates from around Grounds

There's a pretty comprehensive list of UVa blogs on the UVa Today website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thoughts after a week on the road

As you can see from the last post, I just spent a week in New England with my friends from JHU and NU. We had a wonderful time meeting students, parents, and counselors during our programs.

A topic that came up time and again was one I thought we addressed and settled already. However, the daily questions about it beg me to revisit the topic of

Score Choice

First of all, most colleges in this country have been looking at your best combination of SAT scores for many years. When Score Choice was introduced, it was advocating a more restricted version of what we already do. At UVa, our practices remain the same. Our system is programed to pull the best verbal, best math, and best writing scores of those on file. Readers don't see anything else. For the ACT, we see the best composite score and the subscores related to that best composite score (we do not recombine ACT subscores to come up with a new composite).

I realize that some students won't believe us and will still use Score Choice to hide their scores. I only hope that they do not feel the need to take the test more times.

I fear that that the seniors who are asking us about Score Choice are fixated on something that they don't need to worry about at this point. Send your scores and move on.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I love that dirty water! (on my way to Boston)

I'm on my way to Boston for a few days where after some time seeing friends and family, I'll join my friends from Hopkins and Northwestern for evening programs and counselor breakfasts in southern New England. Here's our schedule (click the links to RSVP for one of these programs):

Sunday, October 11 - Nobles and Greenough School in Dedham, MA
Monday, October 12 - Sheraton Colonial Hotel in Wakefield, MA
Tuesday, October 13 - Lincoln School Music Center in Providence, RI
Wednesday, October 14 - Darien High School in Darien, CT
Thursday, October 15 - Simsbury High School, Simsbury, CT

All programs are at 7:30 PM

In my search for a video of Dirty Water playing at Fenway Park, I stumbled upon video of a Charlottesville band (which includes one UVa graduate) playing the song.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Youtube break!

Just an FYI before I get to the good stuff. I created a Class of 2014 Facebook group for applicants to use as a place to chat and ask questions. After admission decisions come out, I'll hand over administration of the group to the students. Perhaps the class council should take it over when they are elected.

Okay, on to the post...

I link or embed Youtube videos now and then on the blog and I can't help but share some that made me laugh today. The second year class council has created a program called First Year Friends that aims to connect new students to second years with similar interests...sort of like a Big Brother/Big Sister group. The introductory video went out via the Class of 2013 Facebook group last night and I'm sure it had a few people laughing.

That same class council did some hilarious videos last year, when they were first year students. I'll link to just one and trust that like most people, you'll get lost in a Youtube labyrinth and spend the next 30 minutes watching related videos.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Should you waive your right to see recommendations?

The subject of waiving rights recently came up among our professional organization's membership and I thought I'd see how you feel about this.

When you request recommendations from your counselor and teacher, you'll be asked to indicate whether you waive your right to see the letters that are submitted for you. Back when I was in high school, there wasn't much debate about this. Everyone signed off on the waiver. I couldn't imagine why I'd want to hunt down what my teachers had said about me...after all, I was asking them to write for me because I knew their letters would be positive. However, things have changed and it seems as though more students are reserving the right to check up on their recommendations. Interestingly, this right is only intact at the schools where you matriculate, so the only recommendations you'd be able to see are the ones that were part of an application that got you admitted to a school.

Anyway, there was much debate over this topic. Some admission officers didn't seem to care much about whether rights were waived, but many felt otherwise. They felt that writers wouldn't write freely and that they'd be crafting a vague letter. In essence, they thought that not signing the waiver deprived students of a complete and comprehensive recommendation.

I personally don't take much time pondering the waiver part of the recommendation form, but I think that if you trust your teacher enough to request their recommendation, you probably don't really need to see that letter years down the line.

Another thing to consider: in almost ten years of doing this, I have only seen two recommendations that weren't positive or complimentary and both of those letters were read when I worked for another school. So, I have only read positive recommendations at UVa. Our applicants seem to do a good job when it comes to selecting their recommendation writers.

What do you think about recommendation waivers? Do you think admission officers should take into account whether an applicant has waived their rights or not?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Happy Friday!

Have a fun, relaxing weekend, everyone!