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, March 31, 2010

Admitted student chats

It's time to start our chat sessions for admitted students! There will be four chat sessions and each will run from 7:00-9:00 PM. The chat nights are:

Thursday, April 1st (tomorrow!)
Wednesday, April 7th
Tuesday, April 13th
Wednesday, April 21

These chats are for students only (sorry, parents) and you are welcome to join more than one. Come for five minutes or stay for the entire chat. The chats are run by students, so you'll be able to get information about academics and student life from the very best source!

I'll post a reminder before each chat, but here's a link to the chat room in case you want to bookmark it now.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First batch of aid awards is up!

Student Financial Services posted the first batch of aid packages at noon today.

If you applied for aid and don't have a package, it's possible that you haven't submitted the UFAA (SFS requires the FAFSA and the UFAA) or didn't send some requested documentation. Check your to-do list and your email folders (including junk and spam) to make sure you haven't missed anything.

As always, questions about aid are best directed to Student Financial Services.

I also heard that UAA decisions should be made at the end of the week. I'll post an update when I get more information.


Right now, many of you are writing directly to me about your decisions. Between giving information sessions, reading transfer applications, and other responsibilities, my days are packed. As those who have been reading the blog for a while know, I like to answer questions within a few hours. That just can't happen right now.

Interestingly, there was a time when people assumed "Dean J" was a team of people. I'm kind of wishing that was the case right now!

If you have questions about this process, the best way to get a fast answer is to call our office during business hours.

The Waitlist 2010

Now that you've been offered a spot on the waitlist, you are probably wondering what you should do next. First of all, you need to accept or decline the offer. Below the abbreviated waitlist letter in Student Self-Service are two buttons. Use them to accept or decline the offer of a spot on the waitlist. If you accept, you can always come back at another time and decline. However, if you decline, there is no going back. You are essentially withdrawing from consideration if you hit the decline button.

The rest of this post covers what is on the Waitlist FAQ sheet for first-year students.

1. How does this work? When will I hear?
The timing of this all depends on the students who were offered admission. If fewer than 3,240 students accept offers of admission, we will offer admission to some students who have placed themselves on the waitlist. While we'd love to move forward before May 1st to save you from paying a deposit at another school, it isn't fair to force admitted students to rush their decisions. Waitlist movement usually starts in late May.

The waitlist isn't ranked, but you could think of it as having eight parts - Virginians and out-of-state students for each of the four colleges. When we go to the waitlist, we might know we have room for in-state engineers or out-of-state Arts & Sciences students, for example. We work in teams to reread files of waitlisted students that fit the criteria needed. It takes a few weeks for us to review waitlist files. We usually make a round of offers, then give students a week to think about things, and then make another round of offers if some students in that group don't take us up on the offer. Because of this see sawing, the waitlist process can get drawn out. We like to have the entire process wrapped up by the end of June, but there have been times (last year being one of them) when it stretched into July. This is obviously not ideal. We want to fill the class as soon as possible.

2. How many will get in?
Right now, there are about 1600 students on the waitlist. We don't know how many students will come off the waitlist this year. We won't know until the beginning of May. There is no "typical" number, either. Consider the numbers from the last few years:
2009 - 288 waitlist offers
2008 - 60 waitlist offers
2007 - 159 waitlist offers
2006 - 145 waitlist offers
2005 - 83 waitlist offers

3. Why are so many offered a waitlist spot?
First of all, we know that only half of the students offered a waitlist spot actually take us up on the offer. Second, those eight groups come into play. Third, with more students applying to more colleges, it's hard to know how interested a student is in UVa. Yield may go up, as students perceive public schools to be attractive financially, but yield might go down because students have applied to many other schools and are inevitably getting attractive offers to go elsewhere.

With that said, the waitlist has been cut down a bit this year. If you look back to past years, we've been criticized for offering spots to a very large number of students. As I mentioned before, about half of them take us up on the offer, but that's still a large number.

4. What should I do to improve my chances?
Keep your application file current. When the marking period ends, send along your grades. You may write a letter, but understand that the letter should provide us with new information. If you receive any honors or awards, feel free to email us about that and we'll file your email with your application. We don't track visitations, so you will not improve your chances by coming to our office. If you have questions, feel free to call.

5. What now?
The wait list is unpredictable. Therefore, you need to commit to another university by paying a deposit and completing their enrollment process.

Rest assured that as soon as we have spots available, we will spring into action. We are eager to pull students off the waitlist and are not interested in prolonging this process.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Signing off until Monday morning

Just a heads up that I'm signing off for the day. I've been in admission mode 24/7 for the last few months. I bet you've been thinking about admission a whole lot, too. Let's all take a break to enjoy some time with friends and family.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Battle of the blog dogs

Admissions_Daniel at Hopkins loves to brag about how awesome his lacrosse team is when we do evening programs together in the fall. Interestingly, Hopkins has had a pretty hard time beating the UVa lacrosse team over the years.

So, CavDog is going to issue a throwdown to Admissions_Daniel's dog. If UVa loses to Hopkins today, he pledges to pose in front of The Rotunda with a crab hat on if Soze (Admissions_Daniel's dog) does something equally ridiculous if we win.

Do you think they'll take us up on the throwdown?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Days on The Lawn 2010

Days on The Lawn is an annual series of open houses for admitted students who are undecided about the University. You are not required to attend.

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. You must register to attend. For more info, read this post from last year and see the "wrap up" posts I wrote after each DOTL event.

In the past, we've had many students show up for what some call a "victory lap", meaning they are already decided to attend. Some have deposited at UVa. While we love having you here, keep in mind that these events are crucial for students who are still weighing their college options. We want to allow those students to get as much time with us as they need so that all of their questions can be answered.

If someone in your party has a disability that requires an accommodation, please call us at (434) 982-3200 as soon as possible so we can plan an easy, seamless experience for you.

There is information about lodging on the website, but we're happy to chat about the options, too. There are number of hotels within walking distance of Grounds or on the bus/trolley route. If you will be driving to Grounds, please be sure to read about the parking options. We rent out one garage so there is plenty of free parking available, but that comes with a 5 minute walk to the Lawn.

Juniors and sophomores, if you are planning to visit us in April, please try to avoid these days. The Grounds are packed full of visitors and parking is very, very difficult as a result.

Let's talk about decisions: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2014 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates.

I'll be back tomorrow to answer questions, but know most of your questions can be answered online. Just below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, you will see a button to let you pay your tuition deposit online (it's an e-check type in the numbers on the bottom of your check or use certain kinds of credit cards). I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but I will verify that and post about it next week.

You have until May 1st to make your decision about whether you'll come to UVa or not. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer immediately via your self-service page. That will allow us to move to the waitlist more quickly.

Again, congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVa!

Let's talk about decisions: The Waitlist

Waitlisted students can use this entry to talk.

We have traditionally offered waitlist spots to a large number of students. In the past, this has been because there are so many different segments to the population here (CLAS/SEAS/SARC/NURS for both VA and OOS students). We have cut the waitlist down a lot this year for a few reasons. This means there aren't as many of you feeling like you are in limbo.

We won't know how large the waitlist is until you all accept or decline your offers (yes, you have to respond online to the offer of a spot on the waitlist). You are not ranked. You have until May 1 to make your decision. There have been years when we've taken 50 students off the waitlist and years when we've taken 250 students off the waitlist. Last year, we offered admission to 288 waitlisted students.

For now, you need to look at your other options and think about which one feels right to you. Some of you will want to hold on and see what happens with the waitlist and others will want to fully invest themselves in another school. Either way, you need to submit a deposit at a school by May 1st to ensure yourself a spot in another school's freshman class. If you are offered a spot in our class and you decide to accept it, you'll have to write to that other school and withdraw your name from the class (you may lose your deposit at that school). Just remember that you can't "double deposit".

Feel free chat here and stay tuned over the weekend for replies to questions. Also know that your envelope will contain a "Waitlist Frequently Asked Questions" sheet that will answer the most common questions (is the list ranked, what do I do now, what's the time line, etc.).

CavDog hopes you find a peaceful place to think about your options

Let's talk about decisions: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I'm so sorry this sort of entry is needed. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about one of your other schools. If your immediate reaction is "I'll transfer", don't let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as "home" and can't imagine leaving it after a little while.

I hope you'll read this post and remember that this decision is probably about our numbers. You didn't do anything "wrong" (a common question). I'll leave you until tomorrow, when I'll be back to answer questions.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.

CavDog wishes he could make this easier on you

Statistics for the Class of 2014

Here are some preliminary numbers for you to crunch on. Please understand that I do not have additional statistics. I am giving you all I can right now and the office is very, very busy today. Statistics for previous years were shared last week.

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVa. Their website will update in time with more data.

Total number of applications: 22,516 (up from 21,839 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 7,964
Total number of OOS apps: 14,652

Overall offers: 6,907 total offers
Total VA offers: 3,380 offers (42.4%)
Total OOS offers: 3,527 offers (24%)

Enrollment goal: 3,240 first-year students

Middle 50% on the first two parts of the SAT (offers only): 1300-1480
% in the top 10% of their high school class (offers only): 93.8

The offers numbers for VA and OOS are similar because yield for OOS is generally lower.

They're gone

It took a few trips to the mail truck, but your decision letters are in the hands of UVa Mail Services. Their machines with seal and meter all of the envelopes and then release them into the US Postal Service system.


Just a quick run down of some things of which you should be aware.

1. The release of decisions is pre-programed. The system will show the decisions at 5 PM Eastern. The system has been tested many times and we don't anticipate any problems. Click on "View decision" and you'll be taken to the abbreviated language from your formal decision letter.

2. I will post three entries for you to talk about offer, waitlist, and deny decisions. I will step away from the blog until late tonight so you all can chat about things. I will write a post dedicated to the waitlist over the weekend.

3. I realize that some will want to blow off steam and that's fine. Last year, we had some offensive language on here. Those sorts of comments will be deleted as soon as I see them. You all have done a great job of moderating yourselves and I will leave you to do that.

4. As stated before, I hope you'll be gracious and compassionate when it comes to sharing your news with classmates. There have been times when a reader has written about another school in a comment (as in "I'm going to go to ____ instead." and they have been chastised by other readers. We don't look at other institutions as competition at this time of year (in fact, we're friends with admission officers at many of the schools that are considered our peers!). I don't think you should put down the other options that you or your friends have.

5. I'll be posting a few more times today to pass the time. I'm the Dean of the Day, so I'll be away from my desk at times today. I will have some statistics to share with you later this afternoon.

6. If you don't know how to log into SIS or have trouble with logging in, call (434) 924-HELP or email

Good luck, everyone!

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars update

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars invitations are set to be mailed early next week. Knowing that some will want to plan to attend Scholar's Day on the Lawn on Saturday, April 10th, we're going to email abbreviated versions of the invitations letters.

About two hours after decisions are released, we'll start emailing the notifications. It's going to take a while, so bear with us. Each group is going out separately, so it's possible that a handful of you could get two emails if you happen to be invited into both Echols and College Science Scholars (not the norm, but it's possible).

The email will come from or You might want to add those to your email address book to lessen the chances of the emails going into your spam filter.

Decisions will not be given out over the phone. Remember, the official invitation is coming by mail. We are emailing a short note just to give those invited into the programs a heads up.

For more information about these programs, click the links at the beginning of this entry. Also remember that if you are not invited into Echols or Rodman, you can apply to join them in your first semester.

A note of thanks

It's become a bit of a tradition for me to write this post on the morning of decision day...

Some of you won't be visiting after today, so I feel that this is a good time to say thank you for being part of this blog. My first two years of doing this were terribly lonely. I firmly believe that without comments, a blog isn't all that successful. Blogs are supposed to initiate conversation and discussion. This blog is successful because you read it and you write comments.

Last year was a rough year for us. Working with you all has brought the joy back to a process many of us struggled to get through last year. I am so thankful.

Now, let's talk about what is going to happen today. At 5 PM, you'll scroll down to the bottom of your SIS status page and hit the "view decision" link. This time, instead of seeing a message about decisions not being released yet, you'll see an excerpt from the formal decision letter that is on the way via US Mail. I'll talk more about what comes next in a few hours.

We're going to make some of you very happy, but we're going to make many more of you sad or upset. One of the drawbacks to this job is that we have to say "no" more often than we get to say "yes". I console myself with the knowledge that you will all have many other attractive offers, some from our 14 public sisters in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Regardless of what your status page says, you are going to be just fine. You are going to attend a great school and you are going to grow tremendously while there. You're going to have "ah ha" moments like you've never had before. You're going to learn from amazing, inspirational professors. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all nighters studying. You're going to pull all nighters not studying. You are going to have highs and lows, you're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably at something, possibly for the first time in your life. While I obviously think UVa is a great, suppotive place for those things to happen, I believe that what will make those experiences valuable is what you learn from them, not necessarily your location when they occur.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. With the number of applications we had, we were not able to admit all of the qualified students. Many of those who wind up on the waitlist and deny list are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVa. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.

Thank you for reading and sharing yourselves with me for the last few months. Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this. To the rest, I hope you'll chime in now and then while you're a UVa student to give the next group of students a little advice and comfort as they take their turn on this roller coaster.

The big day is finally here! I'll be at the switch at 5 PM to turn those decisions on, thinking about you all. Good luck!

Give the students a hand, CavDog!
They gave us some great applications to read this year!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Update on Financial Aid

Student Financial Services aims to post financial aid packages around our notification date. We moved our date up a week, which means you are going know your decision for a little while before getting your aid package.

SFS anticipates posting a batch of packages on Tuesday, March 30th. I imagine that if all of your documentation (FAFSA, UFAA, and supporting credentials) was in by the priority deadline, you'll be in that first batch. They'll have another batch ready by the next Tuesday, April 6th.

Packages are only available via SIS. When your aid is ready, there should be a "View Financial Aid" link to click. You'll probably want to print out the screen to share it with your parents.

I'm not a financial aid officer, so questions about aid need to be directed to Student Financial Services.

If you're interested in current students' perspectives of AccessUVa and Financial Aid, check out the Hoos for Open Access blog. It's a great team blog that was started by and continues to be maintained by students. I'm sure they'd love to answer your questions!

A plea from the front desk

Please don't call our office asking for your admission decision. The poor ladies at our front desk have been inundated today with these sorts of calls. We do not give out that sort of information over the phone.

We moved the notification date up by almost a week. We are posting decisions online days before your formal letters will arrive in your mailboxes. Admission decisions will be known in just over 24 hours. If you want to keep an eye on the clock, one of the students on the Facebook group for the Class of 2014 made a countdown clock.

Our front desk needs to greet our visitors and help transfer students who are calling about their applications (which we are reviewing right now).

(If you are in a different time zone, the countdown clock may not be accurate.)

Scenes from the office

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caption This #5: From The Lawn

Caption This #4: Another from Flickr

Caption This #3: From Flickr

Caption This #2: Photo from the desk of Dean J

Caption This #1: Photo from outside Peabody Hall

Let's have some fun! In the comments, leave your best (that means funniest) caption to describe what is happening in this photo. This was taken from my window.

A word about what's happening this week

I want to address what is happening this week in the college admission world before we get to the fun stuff (the "caption this" photos will start in the morning).

Many schools are set to post decisions or mail out letters this week. There's going to be a lot of joy, but there are going to be some hurt feelings as well. While I want you to be happy and celebrate your successes, I hope you'll be gracious and considerate around classmates who might not get good news. If you don't get the good news, I hope you'll be happy about the options you and your classmates DO have.

We deliberately post our decisions at 5 PM, when most of our applicant pool is out of school. Obviously, there's no perfect time...between the different time zones, after school meetings, and practices, it's inevitable that some students will view their admission decisions at school or around friends.

I personally think it's best to check your decision at home, around your family. I'm sure you'll find some way to share the news with your friends soon after decisions are posted

CavDog with a few members of his family

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tomorrow is "caption this" day at Notes from Peabody

Whew! I spent the day combing through the archives trying to find some of my favorite posts from the last five years. Those who are reading this by email will probably want to visit the site and read the comments on a few of the entries from the last few days. There's been a lot of discussion!

One reader mentioned something that has become a bit of a tradition at this time of year. To pass the time, I have occasionally posted pictures and readers have commented with a funny caption for the photos (this blog is a good example).

I'll post a few photos throughout the day tomorrow for you to caption in addition to my regular post. Enjoy!

A moment of zen from CavBear

Before CavDog was born, there was CavBear. CavBear became part of the admission team after a family left their camera in one of my information sessions on a rainy day. I felt badly that 1) they left their camera and 2) all of their pictures were taken when the weather was dreary. So, I bought CavBear at the bookstore and took pictures of CavBear doing different things around Grounds and Charlottesville. CavBear made appearances on the blog for a while after that. Back in 2007, getting over 1,000 hits on the blog in a day was a big deal. These days, the blog gets many times that many hits in the days leading up to notification.

Originally posted March 27, 2007

The 1200 hits this blog got yesterday and the tension apparent among applicants in the comments and on a particular message board some applicants frequent are making CavBear a little concerned. He thought a nice cup of tea might help you relax.

Just a few more days. Step away from the message boards for a day or two.

Let's talk about perfection

Originally posted December 18,2008

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 3,240 students. If we only admit the perfect students, 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

Let's talk about blog interaction

Originally posted March 21, 2008

This is obviously an emotional and stressful time for all of you. While I understand that it's sometimes cathartic to blow off steam on message boards and blogs, I hope we can keep the discussion here polite and thoughtful in the days leading up to notification and during April, when many are here asking questions about Days on The Lawn, different programs at UVa, the waitlist, etc.

I posted a similar entry to this one a few years ago and I think there was a good response. I have a few suggestions for those who want to discuss topics on the blog. It's fine to address each other (in fact, when students answer each others' questions, it's very helpful!), but I hope that you'll keep a few things in mind.

1. Be welcoming of newer readers.
They might not know how to search past posts for answers.

That's a baby CavDog greeting a pretty well known dog in town.

2. Don't gang up on other readers.
A good discussion doesn't have to end with consensus.

3. Don't horde information.
Unfortunately, CavDog tends to horde tennis balls.

4. Be patient when waiting for answers to questions.
CavDog as a puppy at his cousins' house

5. Know when to take a break.

It's fun to talk about admission, but sometimes you need to step away from the discussion.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Notes from Peabody goes retro

Whew! Three posts in one day! Those reading by email will probably want to visit to read the comments on the two notification posts.

Tomorrow is going to be retro day here at Notes from Peabody. I'm going to post some of my favorite blog entries from past years (with a few updates, when needed). I hope you find the information helpful and a little entertaining, too.

Get out the Ray-Bans. We're going back in time.

Scholar notifications update!

CavDog strikes a scholarly pose

It's a big news day here!

The notification plan for the three scholars groups (Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars) has come together. Our office will email notifications to those three groups on Friday night (I will give you a specific time later this week). Formal letters will be sent in the mail, but we want to get the information to you as soon as possible so you can plan a visit, if needed.

Of the five Days on The Lawn open houses, one is dedicated to those invited to the three scholars programs. Scholars Day, as we call it, will be Saturday, April 10th. Information about DOTL will be in your offer packets.

Remember, if you don't get into Echols or Rodman at this point, you can apply to join during your first semester. CSS doesn't have that option.

Notification Update!

Notification is moving up to this Friday, March 26, 2010 at 5 PM Eastern!

The video is of all the printing supplies ready to go...boxes upon boxes of toner, US Mail bins, envelopes, and letterhead. There are always a few last minute changes, but now that the printers are whirling and our staff is folding and stuffing as quickly as possible, we know that we'll be ready to put letters in the mail on Friday.

I just looked back at the announcement from last year (check out the video I made...had I not been under the weather, I would have done something similar again) and we're releasing decisions on the same date. That's just a coincidence.

I'll do quite a bit of posting this week to pass the time. If you have topics you'd like addressed, let me know about them in the comments on this post. I'll try to cover both admission topics and fun ones.

If you haven't logged into SIS yet, now is the time to verify that you know how to get to your status page. If you don't know what SIS is, read this blog entry.

Transfers, my blog is geared towards first-year students. Updates on your process are on the transfer blog. The link is in the menu to the right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some words about financial access

You've probably seen me mention that the Office of Admission is separate from financial aid, which is handled by Student Financial Services before. When I read applications, I'm not thinking about how the applicant is going to pay their tuition bill, which is something I like. Obviously, there are times when we find out about a student's financial background through their essays or recommendations and that's just fine.

You should know that we are committed to increasing financial access here. AccessUVa was the name of the initiative that started back in 2004 to make sure there is adequate financial support for low income students. AccessUVa is our pledge to:
  • Meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for all admitted undergraduate students.
  • Replace need-based loans with grants in the financial aid packages of low-income students — those whose family income is equivalent to 200 percent of the federal poverty line or less.
  • Cap the amount of need-based loans offered to any student at approximately 25 percent of U.Va.’s in-state cost of attendance over four years, and meet all need above that amount with grants. All students, regardless of state residency, receive the in-state cap level.
  • Offer additional one-on-one counseling to admitted students and their families, assisting them in the financial aid application process and presenting them with financing options outside of need-based financial aid.
I came across some financial aid statistics the other day and thought I'd share them with you:
  • In 2004, we had 702 applicants from low-income families, described as those whose income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. In 2009, that number had more than doubled, to 1,599.
  • Five years ago, 49.8 percent of low-income students accepted offers of admission. Last year, that number had jumped to 61.8 percent.
  • In 2009-10, over 32 percent of the student body qualifies for financial aid, up from 27 percent in the previous academic year. As these numbers have risen, so have our Pell Grant recipients. The number is up 48 percent since 2005.
  • Total need-based aid to undergraduates increased from $37 million in 2003-04 to $59.1 million during the 2008-09 academic year. Forecasts indicate that total need-based aid may top $73 million in 2009-10.
  • The University's level of support for AccessUVa has risen each year to almost $30 million in the current academic year, even as state support has continued to dwindle.
Obviously, we're always trying to do better, but I think thought those show that there's been good progress here when it comes to access. I'm not a financial aid officer, so any questions about aid need to be directed to Student Financial Services.

If you're interested in current students' perspectives of AccessUVa and Financial Aid, check out the Hoos for Open Access blog. It's a great team blog that was started by and continues to be maintained by students. I'm sure they'd love to answer your questions!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reports from the commercial shoot

Did anyone go to the football commercial shoot I wrote about last Thursday? From the story on the Virginia Sports website, it looks like a great cast of alumni showed up.

I wasn't able to go myself, but here are a few shots from CavDog's last photo shoot on The Lawn, during which he made a cute, new friend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

It's a good day to be a redhead.

I think CavDog's wishing for Notification Day to come early. No updates yet!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's talk about ratios, quotas, and admit rates

Every admission officer I know bristles at the mention of the word "quota". Maybe we hate it because it implies that we don't have control over our processes and that we are slaves to demographics while we read applications. During every Q&A session, every College Night panel, and every phone call, I think we all brace ourselves for that word, which usually comes in a sentence that starts with "We heard that UVa..." and ends with the name of a county or a region. We don't have quotas that specific here. We have one ratio.

The State Legislature has set a ratio that governs the in state and out of state populations at UVa. Two thirds of our students must have Virginia residency. Therefore, one third can come from outside of the state.

Beyond that, no population rules are enforced on us. Obviously, most admission offices want to bring in an interesting class that has people from many backgrounds, but we have not been handed target numbers for different regions, counties, or populations beyond that 2/3 : 1/3 ratio. There are definitely trends within the admitted group, though. For example, around one third of our Virginia population tends to come from the northern part of the state, but that area is highly populated and makes up a pretty big part of our applicant pool. There's no target for that region or any other. State legislators propose bills to change the ratio almost every year, but the bills fail each year.

Now, the ratio obviously impacts the offer rates for VA and OOS (out of state) residents. Here's a chart that shows offer rates back to 1990. On the Office of Institutional Assessment website, you can see data that goes back even further.

One thing to realize, though, is that the number of applicants jumped dramatically last year and hovers around the same number this year. This year's statistics (I'll post them when I get them, which usually happens around notification day) will probably look a little like those from 2009. Here are the stats from last year. I'm adding a "Class of 2013" to make sure those who are just skimming this know that these are last year's stats.

Total number of applications (Class of 2013): 21,839
Total number of VA apps (Class of 2013): 7,663
Total number of OOS apps (Class of 2013): 13,764

Overall offers (Class of 2013): 6,331 total offers (28.9%)
Total VA offers (Class of 2013): 3,276 offers (42.7%)
Total OOS offers (Class of 2013): 3,055 offers (22%)

Enrollment goal (Class of 2013): 3,240 first-year students

Again, the stats for the current year generally get crunched at the very end of the process. I hope to post them on the day we release decisions.

I can't tell if all this talk about statistics made CavDog serious or sleepy

Monday, March 15, 2010


Last week, I made this statement in a comment:
Most of the activity done from this point until May 1st (the National Candidate Reply Date) is focused on yield. We aren't alone in this sort of activity. We may be the only ones talking about what we are doing.
Which got this reply:
I have to tell you how much I agree with your statement "We may be the only ones talking about what we are doing." Sometimes I feel like the whole college admissions process is a game that you try to play and no one wants to tell you the rules! I find the UVA approach to be the most fair and it seems to me, the most ethical. Thank you for your transparent approach.
It was a very kind comment, which made me feel good about what I'm doing here. However, it has me wondering...

Have any of your other schools talked about this stuff on their blogs? Back when I started this blog in 2005, I followed all of the admission blogs I could find. There weren't all that many, so it was easy. I can't keep up with them all anymore, so I'm wondering what the other admission bloggers are saying. Do they talk about the same topics? Have you seen something on another blog that you wish I did on mine?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Calling all local Cav fans

The UVa Today blog just posted a story that might be of interest to anyone who lives in Charlottesville or Albemarle County. Next Tuesday, there's going to be a commercial shoot on Grounds and the organizers are looking for extras.

If you are out of school in time (notice that I directed this at locals; I don't think you should be missing class for this), this might be fun! Of course, if you decide to go to a different school, you might have to hide from your friends when the commercial comes on. ;)

Here's the official info:

On Tuesday, March 16, we’re going to shoot a television commercial designed to show broad-based support for the UVa football program. The shoot will take place on the steps of the Rotunda and include the coaching staff, current and former players, UVa students, and our fans. There’s a specific reference to the fans in the commercial that states, “Ultimately, a successful program is sustained by unwavering and passionate fans.”

The shoot will take place from approximately 2-4:30 p.m. on March 16. If you are willing to participate, it’s important that you report to the amphitheater on Grounds no later than 2 p.m. The nearest public parking garages are the Central Grounds garage off Emmet Street and the 14th Street Garage. Hourly fees apply.

You will receive an email to confirm participation as there is limited space.

You have to fill out a little form to get involved. It's on the Virginia Sports website.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's talk about the SAT Writing section essay

The other day (or maybe it was today), someone asked about how we use the essay that many of you had to write for the SAT people as part of the Writing section.

First of all, back when the writing section appeared on the SAT, the process for looking up the scanned essays was tedious. Along with our normal electronic score delivery came a massive file containing PDFs of the essays written by every student in the score batch. The order of the essays wasn't evident at the time (I don't recall them being in alpha order). So, if we wanted to look at an essay, we had to scroll through pages and pages of poor quality scans, some with handwriting that looked like chicken scratch, to find the right page. That's way too elaborate a process to find an essay that was scribbled out in 30 minutes. Which brings me to my next point...

Your applications provide us with three writing samples. Hopefully, those essays have been written with care and thoughtfulness. They should be accurate examples of your very best writing skills. I would much rather read essays that you crafted over time than one you hastily dashed off with an eye on the clock and a rumble in your tummy.

As for the essays scores, there isn't enough deviation in the scores to use them all that much. The SAT essay is read by two readers who each award up to six points. Now, the three digit writing section score is of interest...just as we used to like to see the old SAT II in Writing in addition to the old, two section SAT.

In a nutshell, we're interested in the essays you provided us on your application. We aren't interested in looking up the scan of the SAT essay.

Does that help? Do you think your application essays are better indicators of your writing skills than the SAT essay?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring Break 2010

Pardon the lack of a post yesterday. I've been offline at home for the last two days while some work is going on. Most of my posts are written at night or in the early morning, then set to post during the day. I'll be back to the normal routine in a day or two.

Though following contractors around is a favorite past time of his, CavDog has been in the office so he's out of the way at home. Unfortunately for him, most of the students are away for Spring Break, so he isn't getting all of the attention he's used to getting.

I'm bored. Where are the students?

As you may have read in an email Dean Roberts sent out to the entire applicant pool, all of us here in the Office of Admission are busy working on the next phase of our review process. Almost all of the first year files have been read twice by this point. Now, we are going back to reread to make sure we hit our targets for the number of students admitted to each of the four schools. We also have to make sure we hit the Virginia:Out of State ratio that is set by the state legislature. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Class of 2014 logo

Hot off Alumni Association presses...

It should go without saying, but here we go:
Agencies external to the University may NOT use any of the University's symbols, or logos for any purpose without the appropriate permission of the Office of Public Affairs or the Collegiate Licensing Company.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Likely Letters 2010

Likely Letters are now in the mail. We are only sending them once this year. This post aims to answer the common questions we get about these letters.

What is a Likely Letter?
Around this time of year, many colleges and universities send letters to some very strong students telling them that their applications are impressive. These letters are commonly referred to as likely letters, but you might also seen them called love letters or early writes.

Why do you send Likely Letters?
In this day and age, it's hard to feel confident about admission. These letters let some of our strongest candidates know we were impressed by their applications. These letters are not specific to UVa. Selective schools around the country send them. Doing a search for "Likely Letter" or "Love Letter" on College Confidential will yield signs of them being sent by plenty of other schools.

How many Likely Letters do you send?
We don't have a target number, but it's safe to say that the number is comparatively small each year. I don't have year by year statistics, but I'd say the percentage that gets these letters is in the single digits. So, ninety-something percent of you won't see these letters.

If so few applicants get them, why are you writing about them here?
As you have probably seen from comments posted in the last few weeks, people are already asking questions about these letters. When the letters land in mailboxes, the talk will increase. I'd rather let you know the facts that leave you in the dark. I hope that makes you all worry less than you would if I didn't talk about these at all.

Will I see the Likely Letter on my SIS page?
Likely Letters aren't decisions. They won't show up on the SIS.

Does this mean I'm getting into Echols/Rodman/College Science Scholars?
There are students in the scholars programs who never got a Likely Letter and there are students who got Likely Letters who aren't in any scholars program. For more information about these programs, see the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars websites.

I got one! What does the Likely Letter mean? Am I admitted?
Congratulations! The letter means exactly what it says, no more and no less. In a nutshell: we like you! Keep in mind that this is not an offer of admission. Obviously, we aim to only send these to candidates we think are among the strongest in the pool, but there have been times when mid-year grades or some other new piece of information has changed a decision.

We are still a few weeks away from having decisions finalized.

When will I get my Likely Letter?
You shouldn't assume you are getting one. While I think I can help with the management of expectations, you have a hand in that, too. If you expect a Likely Letter, you are increasing the chances of being disappointed. Try to look at the big picture. Most students don't get them.

For what it's worth, I don't control the US Postal Service, so I can't predict when anyone will get a letter. What's more, we use a regular stamp on these, so if you are far away, I imagine it could take a while.

The Reader's Digest version:
  • Likely Letters are sent via standard mail
  • There is only one batch of Likely Letters this year
  • The vast majority of applicants will not get a Likely Letter
  • Likely Letters are not offers of admission
  • Decisions are not finalized yet
  • Getting a Likely Letter does not equate to an offer into one of the scholars programs
Do not read into the absence of a letter.

Please don't call our office to ask about a Likely Letter. The front desk does not have a list of who got them. Similarly, there is no need to reply to a Likely Letter. See it as a pat on the back.

If you have a question, look at the replies I made to questions about these in the past. If you still have a question after that, post it below. Please use this post for questions about Likely Letters only. If you have a question about something else, comment on the next post.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Have you logged into SIS?

I just took a look at my side of the SIS and was shocked to see that a little over 4,000 of you have never logged into your SIS accounts! Here's everything you'll miss if you don't get into your SIS account:
  • viewing your application status
  • viewing your financial aid application status
  • viewing an abbreviated version of your decision letter (formal letters are mailed)
  • viewing your official financial aid award (financial aid awards are not mailed)
  • accepting or declining a spot in the Class of 2014
  • accepting or declining a spot on the waitlist for the Class of 2014 (we offer you a spot, you have to reply to actually get placed in the unranked pool)
  • paying your deposit (which makes you officially a member of the class)
  • registering for orientation
  • searching for classes
  • registering for classes...and the list goes on!
We're about the email everyone who hasn't logged in to make sure they know what they need to do. Here's the message:


We are excited that you have applied to the University of Virginia. However, we recently noticed that you have not yet logged into your U.Va. Student Center account. This is where your “to-do” list is located and where we will first notify you of our decision.

You will need your computing ID to log in. This information came to you in an email from our office when your application was submitted. If you did not receive this email, contact the Help Desk at 434-924-HELP or for assistance. Before you call, check your spam or junk folders to be sure the message was not filtered from your inbox.

Once you have your ID, the link to log into the U.Va. Student Center is: .

We understand that plans change. If you no longer wish to be considered for admission to the University of Virginia, please respond directly to this email with “WITHDRAW” in the subject line.

Thank you for your interest in U.Va. We hope you have a wonderful rest of the year!


Office of Undergraduate Admission
University of Virginia

I want to see those numbers drop below 4,000 by the end of the week and I want them to keep dropping. Log into those SIS accounts!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It's that time of year

It feels like you've been waiting...

...and waiting.

Please understand that we are working as quickly as possible. We'd love to be done right now, but we'd be shortchanging a lot of applicants if we rushed through this process.