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!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Little signs of things to come

This is the time of year when little signs start to emerge that we're reaching the final month of our application review process. A few groups are going to start reaching out to applicants to provide information you may need as you start to assess your options.

I always think it's best to manage your expectations at this point. Most students won't hear anything from us until April 1st*, notification day. If you happen to get a nice call or email from a student, a Likely Letter from our office, or some information from a school or department, see it as a nice surprise. Don't sit by the phone or compulsively check email. Sit tight, read some of the blog entries from last year, or chat with other applicants here or on the Facebook page.

Hang in there! We are still poring over your applications, chasing a few of you to complete your applications, and mid-year reports are still trickling in since some schools were closed for as long as a week this month due to snow storms.

*Every year, I promise that any changes in the notification day will be posted here immediately after I hear about them. We want to release decisions as soon as possible. Please don't ask me for updates on the notification day. If I haven't mentioned it, it will be April 1st.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Q&A with Dean J, part 2

Here are answers to a few more questions that came in list week, while I was immersed in your applications.
Janet said...
Would I be penalized if midyear reports do not get there until March (that's the time the counseling center told us they'd reach our schools)?
No, we won't penalize you for something that's happening at your school. This goes for those who had their schools closed for snow days, too. These things happen. They aren't your fault.

Conrad said...
If the tracking system shows I'm missing something but I don't get an email, should I not be concerned?
We sent the email out for those who were missing testing and/or high school transcripts. I imagine the item left your your list is something else, so it still needs to get here.
Anonymous said...
Does my counselor still need to send a fax/email of my missing SAT score if I sent them on college board through regular delivery couple days ago?
Just follow the directions in the email you got. :)
Cameron said...
What should we do if we haven't received an email on how to access our status pages?
I think I've covered this one before. First, verify that you actually applied. Log into your Common App account and make sure you submitted the application, supplement, and payment. All three of those items have to be submitted for our system to consider you an applicant.

If you verify that all three parts of the application were submitted, check your spam/junk folder in the email account you used on the Common App. The email would have come from If you do not have an email from that address, email it with your full name and high school so we can generate a new email. Add that email address to your address book. I'm told that can decrease the chance of the email being marked as spam.
KPage said...
I am faxing my unofficial SAT score reports - should I send just the first page (which contains the scores), or the entire 10-page report?
I don't think any school will want a ten page report on anything! Just send the score page.

CrozetGirl said...
Dean J, Will you be writing a post this year regarding likely letters (when they're being sent out)?
Yep. I also addressed Likely Letters in yesterday's post.
Anonymous said...
Dean J,I submitted a form to my school to send my mid-year grades. However, I forgot to submit the Common App mid-year form. Will I be penalized for this late form?
We're not concerned with getting the form. We just need the mid-year grades. The form is just a duplicate of the Secondary School Report your counselors already sent us.
Diana said...
I do believe SAT Rush Reporting also now delivers from SAT computer to UVa computer.
Eureka! Finally! You don't know how happy that makes us. I know the processing staff is going to do a little dance when they hear this. We might change our policy for next year if College Board verifies this. Thank you so much!
dadofapp said...
Dean J: Is there any information in the Website, or can you tell me, what the SAT/ACT averages are or any other criteria that distinguish between in-state and out-of-state UVA applicants. There is always the line that it is harder to get in from out of state, but I would like to know what the differences really are.
I talked about this a little bit yesterday. We don't have minimums or different bars for the different pools. While we could generate stats for the different groups, I fear that publishing them would lead people to assume that we read with minimum numbers in our minds, which we don't do.

If you want to poke around and look at statistics, the Office of Institutional Assessment is the place for you. There are more statistics on their website they you'll ever want!
E said...
Have any likey letter been sent out this year so far?
Nope. Not yet!

PossibleUVaMom said...
Dean J, We told our daughter she could make visits to her accepted universities to help her with her decision process. I noticed that UVa had a Days On The Lawn (DOTL) last year for accepted students in April. Will that occur this year? Could you please tell me the dates? We are out of state and would need to make airline reservations and accommodations. Is there a special DOTL for out of state students?

Days on The Lawn is an annual series of open houses for admitted students. The DOTL dates for this year will be:
April 9th
April 10th (Echols/Rodman/College Science Scholars only)
April 12th
April 16th
April 19th

Please note that registration is not open until offers are released, as these are for admitted students only. There is no set date for out of state students. For more info, read this post from last year and see the "wrap up" posts I wrote after each DOTL event.

I'd also like to say thanks to KEA for the comment she posted on Sunday. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Q&A with Dean J, part 1

I had a busy week last week and didn't get to too many of your questions. So you don't have to go back and look at old posts, I'll copy and answer the questions that came in here. Feel free to add more questions in the comments section of this post.

Please don't use the "anonymous" option when posting a comment. Select "Name/URL" and enter a name, real or made up. It makes it easier to direct my answers when you use names.

Valley Alum said...
Dean J, Not to split hairs but that "haystack" CavDog is standing in front of is called a "Round Bale." Thanks for writing the blog, I enjoy reading it from time to time.
Duly noted. I shall refer to all hay structures properly from now on. :)
Michael said...
As an out of state applicant am aware that UVA accepts more in state students. Are the standards more competive for the out of state students?
We don't read the way you seem to think we do. There is no "baseline" or minimum criteria for admission, so there aren't different bars for the different populations. I've written this before and I'll repeat it a few times between now and deadline day. Most students who apply to UVa are perfectly capable of coming here and doing well. There is so much good data out there about what works that most students won't put their hat into the ring if they aren't competitive. We wind up being able to take more of the strong Virginia residents because of our commitment to keeping the 2/3 : 1/3 ratio (VA:OOS). If you don't get an offer, chances are there was nothing wrong with your application. We just can't take all of the qualified students who apply.
Alex is Avenged7x said...
Hi. alex here: My to do list says I need to get my midterm grades in by Feb 15. Our grades didn't come out until week before last and we've been snowed out of school since then. My high school counselor is always behind on things and I don't see how the date will be met. Also -- my sat's needed to be upgraded and somehow that has never been done. Can I call someone or email so I can try to get these faxed in as soon as we get past these snow days?
Alex is Avenged7x said...
found out my high school counselor already submitted mid-term grades. Didn't even have to ask. (Is there a counselor appreciation day?)
I think you're onto something, Alex. Maybe after decisions come out, high school students should have a Counselor Appreciation Day to celebrate the end of the process. :)
Diana said...
Hi Dean J, Because my status for my official transcript is marked "Initiated" 3 times, would you like me to fax another copy? Is the number 3 because of my college courses or have computers just duplicated this requirement?
The system automatically asks you for transcripts of schools entered in the "education" section on your Common App. If you entered a local college because you have Dual Enrollment credit, chances are the courses are going to show up on your regular high school transcript. The system doesn't know's just asking for the transcripts from the schools you said you attended.
Lisa said...
Hi Dean J,How can I be sure my SAT II Subject tests have been received for review? Collegeboard indicates they have been sent, but since they are not a requirement,my status page gives no indication.

Thank you!

Our system isn't going to confirm SAT II score arrival since it's not a required part of the application. If you want to check up on that, send me a quick email with your full name (deanj "at" virginia "dot" edu) and I'll look your file up.
Matt said...
Hi Dean J, I've been reading your blog for quite some time now, despite never going to UVA, but I was wondering if you know anything about Graduate Admissions and when the Liberal Arts acceptance/rejection letters might go out. I applied in History and the the waiting is slowly driving me insane. Any ideas?
Matt said...
Ask, and ye shall receive. I got my acceptance letter yesterday :-D
Hooray! Congratulations! Graduate admission is handled by the individual schools, so I wasn't going to be much help on this question. I'm glad it worked out. Wahoowa!
Anonymous said...
Tell me there is a dogpark in Charlottesville! If I am accepted to UVA I am MAKING my parents bringing my puppies down :)
There are plenty! In fact, I've posted pictures from the dog parks in the past. I might repost some of those pictures in the next month. There are two great dog parks in the county (CavDog, being a bit of a water dog, loves the one at Chris Greene Lake where he can swim) and one in the city. There is also an "off leash" time at another park for dogs that don't need a fenced in park. Well behaved dogs can also be found on The Lawn right here on Grounds. There are at least three canine residents on The Lawn (owned by UVa administration and faculty) and there are a few felines, too.
UVA Alum mom said...
Dean J, I know you all are buried under snow and applications, but will likely letters be sent anytime soon?
We will probably send Likely Letters once this year, which is a change from years past. I think it's best to assume you won't get one since the vast majority of applicants never see them. It's just a nice surprise if you happen to get one. Do not read into the absence of a Likely Letter

Friday, February 12, 2010

Missing credentials emails have been sent

Our processing staff sent out missing credentials emails to about 1,000 of you this morning. Please check the email address you used with your Common Application to see if we have asked you to submit a missing document.

Only send duplicate credentials if you have been asked to send them.

Sending out duplicate credentials takes a lot of time on your high school's part and it can slow the processing of other credentials (credentials for which we've asked!).

These are the only duplicates we like

If you get an email asking for official SAT scores to be sent, do not pay to rush your scores. Have them sent through regular delivery. Here's why: it is our understanding that rushed scores are sent by mail. So, each student who rushes a score prompts ETS to put a half sheet of paper with their scores into an envelope to be mailed off. This creates A LOT of mail. We believe it is faster to have your scores sent the traditional way. The traditional delivery is electronic. Here's an extremely simplistic snapshot at the two processes:

Traditional Delivery:

SAT Computer > UVa Computer

Rushed Delivery:

SAT Computer > Printer > US Postal Service > UVa Central Mail Services >
UVa Mail Delivery > Office of Admission Mail Room > Processing Staff Member > Scanner > UVa Computer

Traditional SAT delivery is faster than rushing scores.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Snowboarding at The Rotunda

There was a nice, thick layer of snow protecting the marble steps of The Rotunda this weekend and some snowboarders decided to see if they could catch some air off them.

I don't know who these people are. The video was taken by someone who happened to be walking by and was sent along to us by someone else.

I am not endorsing this. In fact, there's a huge statue at the bottom of those steps and had the boarder not fallen during his landing, I'm afraid he might have hit the base. The standard disclaimers apply here (do not try this at home, do not try this at UVa, do not do this ever).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Let's talk about course selection

Whenever I'm the "Dean of the Day" (giving info sessions, answering questions for walk ins, taking phone calls that the front desk doesn't handle), I get questions from students and parents who want to know how many APs we want to see on transcripts. When I tell them we don't have a number in mind, people seem skeptical.

Let me explain why we don't have ideas about the ideal program in mind.

First of all, Virginia high schools have a lot of curricular diversity, as do the rest of the schools in this country. There seem to be roughly six types of advanced programs out there: Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge (AICE), Dual Enrollment, and then there are schools that combine two or more of those programs and schools that don't use them at all. Obviously, when it comes to the IB schools, you're either going for the full diploma or you aren't (we think you should for for gold, but understand that there are sometimes reasons students can't do that). With the other programs, the options vary from school to school. One school may be able to offer over 20 AP courses and another may offer five. One school may have such a tight collaboration with a Community College that they are able to offer dozens of Dual Enrollment courses, while others can only offer a handful.

We can't have a preferred number of advanced courses. It wouldn't be fair. If you attend a school with multiple options (IBs and APs, for example), we will adopt the philosophy of your school when it comes to determining what is the best possible program. Some high school have a definite hierarchy (which is evident in the profile they send us) and others consider all of their advanced programs to be at the same level.

We will look at the program you have chosen in reference to what was offered at your school. We wouldn't penalize a student who was only offered 5 AP courses at their school. We would look at the program they put together in light of their limited options. Ideally, as you've been able to make choices about your program, you will have worked in those advanced courses so that by senior year, you are close to college level work. You want to show your schools that you are ready for the next step; that the transition to college isn't going to rock your academic world in a bad way.

As with GPAs, resist the urge to compare your program to the program of a student from another school. We aren't comparing apples to oranges and neither should you.

If you're a junior or sophomore reading this, this is a time to think about balance. You want to decide how many of these top courses you can handle while still maintaining good grades. Don't sign up for every top class you can fit into your schedule if that means you'll be struggling and Cs. Similarly, don't shy away from challenges just to have all As. Obviously, it's nice to see all As in top courses, but we would rather see you sacrifice that A and get a challenging course into your program over taking the path of least resistance.

It's all about balance!

Monday, February 01, 2010

How CavDog spent the day

While I read files at home, CavDog gets to veg out. He's transfixed by this Air Bud movie, about a golden retriever that plays football.