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, January 26, 2011

Early numbers and a status update

My sense, which is not based on any statistics or deep analysis, is that we are ahead of where we were last year when it comes to processing applications.  I'm referring to the filing of documents with applications, not reading applications, when I talk about "processing."  Don't worry about your status pages just yet.  Do not send us duplicates of any documents if we have not contacted you to specifically ask for them.  Sit tight. 

Now, I have a first peek at application numbers.  Please understand that I am reading applications for about 12-14 hours per day right now.  I am not running reports to generate statistics.  Please don't ask me for more data.  I can't sacrifice reading time right now.  Applications come first...even CavDog [reluctantly] accepts that.

Picture I posted on Twitter of CavDog sleeping next to me during application reading

We have just under 24,000 applications right now (23,942, to be specific).  This is a preliminary number that might change.  Here's a look at our application numbers from past years:

2005: 15,922
2006: 16,298
2007: 18,046
2008: 18,598
2009: 21,831
2010: 22,516

As always, feel free to post questions in the comments.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


This is the time of year when college-bound minds start to wander.  You've been back at school for a little bit and the routine of the new term is in place.  You mind starts to wander.  All those applications are in, but you're worrying about them.  Will that minuscule typo you discovered at the end of your list of extra-curriculars ruin your chances?  Was it wrong of you to go over the 250 word suggestion on the personal statement by 27 words?  Should you have used a special font? What about double spacing?  Should you quadruple check that your counselor sent your transcript even though she said it was sent in December the last three times you asked?  If your neighbor's hair stylist's cousin was waitlisted in 2003, should you take her advice?


I know that everyone is freaking out about the college admission process, trying to assess their chances right now.  It's surprisingly contagious.  You have a semester's worth of work to get through in the next few months, though.   Worrying about an application that is already submitted isn't going to affect the outcome of your application and it's apt to take you away from more pressing tasks.

It's time to focus.

 There's also a little virus called senioritis that starts to make the rounds at this time of year. Resist it!

You have to focus.

It's going to take us a few months to get through this process. So, tune out all that background noise.

 No matter how exciting the distractions are, keep your focus.

Hang in there! 

(adorable distraction provided by CavDog's "cousin")

Monday, January 17, 2011

Notes about status pages

Just some notes to keep in mind until we are done processing mail...

-The amount of processing we have to do right now is staggering. All of your credentials may not be checked in until early February. Do not send duplicates unless we contact you. Don't worry about your status page until February.

-"Initiated" in a term used by our Student Information System to show that an item has been added to your to do list. It means the item has not been completed yet.

-If you get to the point that the only item on your to do list is your mid-year report, that's great! We know those don't arrive until February.

-Once your application is complete and it moves to the "ready to read" mode, you'll see a box pop up at the bottom of the status screen. "View decision" will appear in the box. It doesn't mean your decision is ready. That's just something that's built into the computer system. If you hit "view decision", you'll just see a note about decisions not being ready at this point.

-If/when you apply for Financial Aid, their office's to do list will appear on your status page. Our offices are separate, so we in Admission have no knowledge of what's going on with your aid application. Direct all questions about aid to them and all questions about admission to us.

-We plan to post decisions for all applicants on SIS at 5 PM on April 1st.  We we are able to notify early, I will post about it on this blog.

-While the Office of Admission is paperless, admitted students will be sent a formal letter and invitation to our open houses (Days on the Lawn) in the mail.

-Financial Aid packages are posted online ONLY. They won't be sending your paper documents. You'll probably want to take screen shots or print out the screen when your aid package gets posted so you can share it with your parents.

-If you ever forget your SIS password or want to change it, you can follow the steps in that first email you got to generate a new password.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eek! My application is incomplete!

Here's what CavDog does when you ask about status pages while we're still processing mail:


Please be patient, folks. I'll tell you when we're done scanning and checking in all this mail.  
Only at that point should you be worrying about your status pages.

Colleges want your applications to be complete.  I promise.

 Read past blog entries while you wait. :)

Another installment of Q & A with Dean J

I normally answer questions in posts, but I fear that people don't go back to the comments to see my replies.  So, here are answers to some recent questions.

Folks, please stop using the "Anonymous" option when you post comments.  Pick a name and keep using it on the blog (select "Name/URL" when posting a comment).  Your name can be real or it can be fake.
Anonymous said...Dean J, I have a MAJOR problem. I submitted my application on November 27th, 2010, but I noticed that on my 'To-do list' it says that I'm missing three official transcripts. I didn't worry about it at first since you said not to worry....but 
Please see any bold, red line in a post written in the last week.  Do not worry!

Anonymous said...I have a major issue that i feel may undercut your opinion of me as an applicant to UVa. I entered the wrong DOB by one number, a clear typo , onto the common application website and submitted, before seeing the mistake.
You're right.  This is a big deal.  Our system uses a few data points to match credentials up to files and date of birth is one of them.  Email immediately with this information.

D's Mother said...DeanJ, We are new to the UVA application process. I know that you say not to worry about trascripts and other high school matters, but the other schools we applied to already had our sat/act scores matched up when we logged on to our account. How can you see if your scores are recorded; we started sending scores to UVA in September. Sorry in advance if this question has been asked before. 
The status page shows what is left to do for an application.  If your son/daughter does not see standardized testing on the checklist, it no long has to be completed.

Anonymous said...I thought I had sent in my SAT scores, but I'm pretty sure I was mistaken. If I sent them now through collegeboard, would I be penalized since they would be so late? 
Regardless, I hope you sent the scores already!  You will not be penalized.

 Anonymous said...Dean J, I have a MAJOR problem. I selected fee wavier for my payment on the common application but I negelected to notice that payment options must be faxed by that date. I thought that it had to be faxed by January 10th. My College Partnership advocated just faxed the fee waiver form today. Does that mean that my application is invalid. Please say that this is a problem that can be easily fixed, because I reallly want to go to UVA!!! 
No, it means your application is probably now complete.  This is not a major problem.

wondering said...Hi, Dean J. I just won a local award. Is this information I should send on to admissions? I know you are flooded with information right now, so I thought I would check. 
 To be perfectly honest, one award is not going to make or break an application.  Consider asking your counselor to mention it when your mid-year report is sent.

Lynn said...Hi again! I've already asked what to do if I'm being prompted to send a transcript from a college where I only participated in an enrichment program.
Please see any bold, red line in a post written in the last week.  Do not worry!

Anonymous said...Hi, Dean J. I sent my application for UVA in December and selected fee waiver as my payment option. I was unaware that I had to fax the fee waiver information on Jan.1st. My College Partnership advocate faxed the information yesterday but to the wrong fax number. I was extremely scared that my application would not be read so I asked my parents if I could use their credit card to pay for the application today. Does that mean that my application will not count? 
 I hope you looked up the correct fax number.  It's on our website, in the application instructions.  Your application counts and you should use the fee waiver option since you have a fee waiver.

Anonymous said...Dean J,I live in Frederick County Virginia and I have heard people say that our school/county doesn't get very good results from UVA. Will this count against me in any way? Also, I believe that my transcript is great except that my SAT scores are a little lacking, should I worry? I'm taking my SAT II's this month and I'm worried that you guys won't get them in time. 
 The town, county, region, etc. is not a factor in our review.  Please read past posts.  I have discussed how we read and how geography comes into play.  You are either a Virginia resident or you are not in this process.  The Commonwealth of Virginia mandates a quota for Virginia residents, but there are no quotas for counties or regions.

1hopeful said...I know you said not to contact the admissions office until february when you update everything, but
Please see any bold, red line in a post written in the last week.  Do not worry!

AnxiousApplicant said...I know of another applicant or two who have attached to their applications a resume of their activities that I worked so hard to condense and fit into the activities section of the common app!Should i do the same and mail one in now since there was more that I could have added? I submitted mid-Dec and all my items are in according to the status page, so it's possible I've already been read. Please advise... 
 I've been pretty open about my feeling on resumes.  I don't like them.  The chart is sufficient and it prompts you to present the information we need in a consistent format.  For those who have something extra to tell us, there is a text box below that chart. 

collegecupcake said...Regarding Mid year Reports:

When I got my schedule in January, I found out that I had actually signed up for level Government, and not AP. I changed my senior courses in the Common App so they would be correct.

I know my school will send a Mid year report listing my correct grades/courses for the fall semester and courses for spring semester.

Am I in trouble because my SECONDARY SCHOOL REPORT FORM differ from my COMMON APP AND MIDYEAR REPORT in my Government class? Do I have to notify colleges with an explanation of this change and how do I notify them? Or will the college recognize schedule changes are normal? I just honestly thought I signed up for AP, but I guess I didn't. I don't want this to reflect poorly on my admission.

Whoa!  Seeing a message with caps at 6 AM was not how I expected to start the day.  You all know that's "shouting" so please don't do it. It makes me think there's some sort of emergency!

Yes, we notice changes.  Make sure your counselor mentions what happens. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

From the processing side

I wish I could say that being a paperless office was exactly that.  Unfortunately, just because we go paperless doesn't mean everyone else goes paperless with us.  Applications numbers are up again and the paper is arriving by the bucket (see below) each day.

Our staff is pretty amazing.  Before we went paperless, I remember opening mail in January that had arrived before Christmas because it took more than a day to open what arrived each morning.  Now, most of the mail gets opened the same day it arrives in our office.  From there, paper documents must get scanned into our imaging system and then manually linked to an individual application file.  As you can see, the linking is where the process slows down...

There are people who seem to think online applications, with their confirmations and status pages aren't trustworthy, so they send paper copies of everything that's been submitted online.  There is no reason to do this.  This slows down the processing of credentials.  What's more, it negates our efforts to green the process a bit.  When we started working on implementing our imaging system in 2007, I sometimes wondered about how much paper (and postage) would be eliminated if every university in the state went paperless along with us.  Now, I realize that there will always be paper.  There will always be plenty of paper.  

Please, please do not send a duplicate of anything at this time.  Only send us a duplicate of something that was already submitted if we contact you and ask for it. 

Those papers hanging out of the bins aren't loose...they're irregularly shaped school profiles or international documents..  
Lots of schools use a format that has a flipped top.  When you flatten the profile, it's legal sized.

If you are looking at your status page and worrying even though I've told you not to (here, here, here, and here), stop.  Your documents might waiting to be scanned and linked. 

Please do not call our office about your status page or to check on a document.  Your status pages will update in time.  You just need to be patient.  We will contact you by email if we want you to send us something.  I will post when the first "missing credential" emails go out.  Last year, they went out on February 12th.  I know you feel like you have to do something right now, but you shouldn't.  You need to wait.

Clearly, we do not expect mid-year reports to be here at this time.  That item will remain on your status pages until those reports are sent by your schools in February (unless you're on a trimester system, in which case we have what we need already).

Psst...what to see what this process looked like in past years?  Click on the "office photos" tag and you'll see all "behind the scenes" posts.  The ones from the early years, before we went paperless, are pretty amazing.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

To worry or not to worry?

We're processing right now.  We're going to be processing for a few weeks.  While we're working on that, I thought I'd make a list of things you should worry about and things you shouldn't worry about right now.

Things you should worry about:
-checking your Common App account at to make sure that all three parts of your application are submitted.  If you didn't submit each part of the application, we did not get anything.  Submitting one item did not automatically submit the other items.

Things you should not worry about:
-your status on the UVa SIS
-your status on the UVa SIS  (seriously)
-your status on the UVa SIS  (really, I promise)

It will take us a few weeks to process everything we have gotten.  Right now, your "to do" list on the SIS may have items on it that have already arrived in our office, but haven't been checked in and matched up to your file.  I heard about a school that doesn't even let students check their status until February.  Part of me thinks that's a great idea.  Part of me thinks it would drive students crazy!  I wonder if it prompts more calls/emails from people who want to verify that items have arrived.  That reminds me...

Please do not call asking us to verify receipt of credentials.

Our staff needs to process.  They can not check on documents for you.  This is what the SIS will be for at the end of the month.

Oh, and because I haven't posted a picture in a little bit, here are photos of the two things college admission folks hate the most at this time of year:

Staples have to be removed so we can scan things into the system

 Special packaging. 
Everything gets yanked right out of these folders and binders so we can scan the contents.  
Please, please save your money and stop using these things!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

UVa application status pages

Our office will open tomorrow morning for the first time since deadline. Inevitably, there will be a mountain of mail to process (and plenty more arriving for the next two weeks), the front desk will be overwhelmed with calls, and there will be hundreds of emails in the general account to answer.

Please understand that there is no way to process all of your applications tomorrow. As I've written before, it will take weeks to get everything checked in and get your status pages updated.

Do not worry about your status pages at this time.

We will contact you when we are through the bulk of the processing if we are still missing documents. This will happen at the end of January or beginning of February.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy Deadline Day!

CavDog's dressed up for the big day!

The countdown has begun. I know a lot of schools have a January 1st deadline, so some of you will inevitably be putting the finishing touches on multiple applications right up until 11:59 PM.

Keep in mind...

We can't fix Common App website problems.
Submit a help request on their website if you have any trouble.

Today is your deadline. Your counselors and teachers have until January 10th to submit school forms, transcripts, and recommendations. We prefer online submission, but you won't be penalized if these items are sent by snail mail.  In fact, application readers probably won't realize how your documents arrived because we scan mailed credentials into our imaging system.

If you want to chat with other applicants to relieve a little stress, check out the Class of 2015 Facebook page. We set this page up so you'd have a place to congregate online. Obviously, the membership evolves in the spring as students commit to schools.

I turn administration of class Facebook pages over to the UVa Student Council after May 1st.  Once those of you who come to UVa elect a Class Council, they will be given the group to publicize events (though we have an internal networking system that they use, too).

Good luck, everyone! If you have general questions, feel free to post them. Be sure to read the "after you apply" part of the application instructions on our website. It's really important to understand the timing at work here. In the wee hours of the morning, Common App's system will transmit all applications submitted today. It will take a few days for our system to process the applications and send our confirmation emails with your Student Information System login information.  It will take a few weeks for the system to match your transcripts, recommendations, and test scores to your applications.

Don't be alarmed by your to-do list at this time.
Read this if you're worried.