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, March 31, 2011

What happens at Days on the Lawn?

Hello. Please register to your left.

As you look at your schedule for April and decide whether you can fit in a visit to Days on the Lawn, I thought I'd tell you a little more about what happens that day.

Keep in mind that coming to Days on the Lawn is by no means required, but it can be helpful for students who haven't made their college choice yet.

We (the admission staff) will greet you on Central Grounds in the morning.  After a quick hello from Dean Roberts, you'll hear from either President Teresa Sullivan or Executive Vice President Leonard Sandridge.  A fourth year student will also offer some advice for incoming students.  I have to admit that the student talk is usually my favorite part!

After this, you'll be off on the academic part of the day.  Each school and college has an information session or faculty panel (some also offer a tour of their facilities).  The students will break away to head to classes at some point.  When you submit your registration for DOTL, you can go to a special page of classes that are available on your chosen day.  The levels range from the lower level 1000 courses to more advanced 3000 level courses and there are courses open all over the academic map.  When you show up at the registration table in the morning of your visit, you may have the option of picking a second class to attend, if spots are still open.  Keep in mind that the options might be more limited.

Throughout the day, representatives from different offices will be available for questions.  There's a resource fair in the South Meeting Room of Newcomb Hall (the student union) and the Financial Aid staff will have sessions on the hour (they are usually able to talk one-on-one with people, so feel free to bring some questions). 

Different styles of residence halls will be open for tours as well.  Last year, students were able to visit Brown College (a residential college), a traditional hall on McCormick Road, and a suite style hall on Alderman Road.  These tours are a nice supplement to the pictures and floor plans of first year residence halls on the housing website.

The day ends with a student panel in Newcomb Hall.  We usually have students from different graduation years and different academic programs on the panel, so a variety of student experiences are represented.

Any questions about Days on the Lawn?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

College Science Scholar notification update

I just got word from CSS that they weren't able to finish their process today.  They will send their emails tomorrow morning.

What's next?

So, you have your decision in hand and the offers from other schools are either in or on their way.  Now what?

Obviously, you can find out about academic departments on the UVa website.  What else do you want to know about life at UVa to help you make your decision?  In the comments on the entry about admission officers, there's been a request for information about food in Charlottesville, which I'm more than happy to cover.  I have a feeling I need to write about the weather since we often get asked about the clothing students wear hereWhat other topics do you want to read about on Notes from Peabody?

I'm going to keep a running list of topics I need to cover in posts over the next few weeks, as you make your decisions.  Suggest your addition in the comments below and I'll edit the list.

Reader submitted topics for future Notes from Peabody posts:
  • Food
  • Weather
  • UVa's Honor Code
  • Political climate
  • State funding of higher ed in Virginia and it's effect on OOS students (This might be a bit too complex for my little blog!)
  • Housing
  • Transportation around Grounds and Charlottesville
  • The "personalities" of the different libraries
  • Class sizes
  • Faculty availability
  • Safety on and around Grounds

Friday, March 25, 2011

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 2015 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates.

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 waiting list more quickly.

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*.  After you deposit, check out the Summer Orientation website for a list of things you'll need to do to prepare for your first year.   Don't forget that you must have a final transcript sent to the Office of Admission!

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVa!

*We have an e-check system for deposits.  You'll type in the numbers on the bottom of your check, much like the system used when filing taxes.  The system will take certain kinds of credit cards, but it's primarily an e-check system.  Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker when you go to pay the deposit!

Let's talk about decisions: The Waiting List

Students offered a spot on the waiting list can use this entry to talk.

There's no way around it.  This is probably the toughest decision (or maybe it's a "non-decision") to get from a school.  We have traditionally offered waiting list spots to a large number of students. This is because there are so many different segments to the population here (VA and OOS groups for each of the four schools that take first year students) and we don't know where there will be openings in the class. We have cut the waiting list down a bit in recent years. This means there aren't as many of you feeling like you are in limbo as there were two or three years ago.

We won't know how large the waiting list is until you all accept or decline your offers.  Right now, you've been offered a spot on the list.  You aren't actually on it until you reply using the response buttons in SIS (you have until May 1st to do this). You will not be ranked. There have been years when we've taken 60 students off the waiting list (2008) and years when we've taken 288 students off the waiting list (2009). Last year, we offered admission to 240 wait-listed 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 waiting list 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 a freshman class somewhere. 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. You should have already seen the link to the waiting list FAQ page, which answers 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: Denied

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

Unexpected update: Echols and Rodman emails coming this afternoon!

Here's an unexpected surprise!  The Echols and Rodman Scholars decisions are ready, so we're going to email those tonight instead of tomorrow.  They will be sent by 6 PM.

The College Science Scholars will get emails on Monday.

Admission statistics for the Class of 2015

Here are some preliminary numbers about the class. 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.

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVa.  They take a census in October to determine the final statistics for the class because these numbers always change (especially once we make waiting list offers).   You can see statistics from decision days in prior years by hitting the "statistics" tag at the bottom of this post.  You can see admission data from the last twenty years in the data digest part of their website.  Another part of their site has data going back to 1977!  Obviously, what happened decades ago isn't going to tell you too much about this year, but some people have fun playing around with the different charts on their site.

Total number of applications: 24,005 (up from 22,512 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 7,955
Total number of OOS apps: 16,045
   (I'm aware there is a discrepancy there...when I figure it out, I'll edit this)

Overall offers: 7,750 total offers (7,212 last year, including waiting list offers)
Total VA offers: 3,562 offers (45%)
Total OOS offers: 4,183 offers (26%)

Enrollment goal: 3,360 first-year students

Middle 50% on the SAT (offers only): 1950-2210 (we're more concerned with each section, not the total)
% in the top 10% of their high school class (offers only): 94.5

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

A note of thanks

It's become a bit of a tradition for me to write this post on 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. I firmly believe that without comments, a blog isn't a blog. Blogs are supposed to initiate conversation and discussion. This blog is successful because you read it and you write comments.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to interact with you here.

Of course, the downside to our interaction is that I get a little attached to those of you who use consistent usernames.  It's exciting to know that we're going to make some of you very happy this evening, but that excitement is tempered by the fact that 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, supportive 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. Most of our applicants 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 (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). 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 here at 5 PM and will be thinking about you all. Good luck!

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

Happy Notification Day!

Taken while printing inserts for welcome packets

You made it to notification day! Hooray!

I have a few notes about what's going to happen this afternoon. I'll be posting a few more times today, so check back later for more information.

1. The release of decisions is set for 5 PM Eastern. The SIS has been tested many times and we have never had any problems with it on notification day.  Click "View decision" and you'll be taken to the decision letter.  If you don't know how to log into SIS or have trouble with logging in, call (434) 924-HELP or email

2. I will post entries for you to talk about offer, waitlist, and deny decisions. I will step away from the blog after that to let you chat.  I'll be back late tonight or tomorrow.

3. This time of year brings 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 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 DO have.

4. You all have done a great job of moderating yourselves and I trust you to be respectful of each other in the comments.  I caution you about posting statistics in comments.  As I've written before, GPAs are meaningless without context, so trying to compare your stats and decisions doesn't make much sense.

5.  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.  I don't think you should put down the other options that you or your peers have.  Be proud of the offers that you've received!

6. I will have some statistics to share with you this afternoon.

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Financial aid update!

The updates keep coming!  Here's a message from the folks over in Student Financial Services:

If you have applied for Financial Aid and you submitted all your forms by the March 1st priority filing date, you should be able to see your preliminary award beginning around April 5th.  Please don’t call Student Financial Services asking where your award is, as we are hard at work putting them together! 
When your award is available, you should receive an email notification informing you of this.  After you receive this email, you should then be able to view your award by going into the SIS and clicking “View Financial Aid” under the Finances section.  Choose the “2012” aid year. 
If you did not get all your required documents in by March 1st, or if you had or still have To Do List items, rest assured that you will still receive a preliminary financial aid award, most likely within a few weeks of your last documents being received by Student Financial Services.  Make sure you complete your To Do List items, as SFS cannot complete your preliminary award without them.  Awards are processed weekly on Thursdays, so notifications will come out on Thursday or Friday each week throughout the month of April.

Many of the most common questions you will have at this time will be answered on our website, so please be sure to visit here before contacting Student Financial Services.

The Office of Admission and Student Financial Services (SFS) are totally separate at UVa.  When I read an application, I don't have access to the financial forms and documents you submitted if you applied for aid.   I happen to like this...your finances and tuition bill are between you and SFS.  Unfortunately, it also means that I'm not the best person to ask questions about aid.

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars notification

Spring has arrived! My favorite tree is in bloom.

The news keeps rolling in!  I have an update from the scholars programs for you today.

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars invitations are set to be mailed early next week. Knowing that some of those invited will want to plan to attend Scholar's Day on the Lawn on Saturday, April 9th, we're going to email all scholars by Saturday afternoon so you have an early heads up. 

The email will come from or 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 (this is not the norm, but it's possible).

For more information about these programs, click the links at the beginning of this entry. If you are not invited into Echols or Rodman at this time, you can apply to the programs during your second semester.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Days on the Lawn 2011

DOTL 2010

It might seem a little early to be talking about our admitted student days, Days on the Lawn. In a few short days, you'll have all of your college options on the table and might need to visit a few schools to help you make a final decision. This is why we have Days on the Lawn (DOTL).

At DOTL, undecided students and their parents get to tour Grounds, attend info sessions about each school, visit a resource fair, and even tour the residence halls. Admitted students also get to sit in on classes and have lunch with current students while their parents are at a few sessions.

Days on the Lawn are a great way to figure out if UVa is the right place for you if you haven't gotten "that feeling" yet.

CavDog used to be afraid of the marching band. Not anymore!

Registration doesn't open until offers are released (and you must register to attend), but I'm posting the dates so that you can think about whether you want to make a visit once you have your decision.  There is an attendance cap for each date, so please have a back up date in mind in case your first choice is full.

For some reason, the first two days are always packed and the last DOTL is usually much smaller.  So, if you have a little flexibility in your schedule and want a more leisurely experience, think about coming on the 18th or 22nd.

Friday, April 8
Monday, April 11
Monday, April 18
Friday, April 22
Saturday, April 9 (Scholars' Day for Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars)
If someone in your party has a disability that requires an accommodation, please call us at (434) 982-3200 as soon as you make your travel plans. We want to arrange a comfortable experience for your family.

CavDog enjoying a little quality time with a student at DOTL 2010

There is information about lodging on the main UVa website, but I'm happy to chat about the options and answer any questions you have about travel logistics. 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.

By the way, don't be afraid to come up and say hello at DOTL!  I'll be on the other end of CavDog's leash.  :)

There is no DOTL on Friday, April 15th because that is the weekend of our new President's Inauguration.  Please do not plan to visit us that weekend.  There could be thousands of visitors here that weekend.
Juniors and sophomores, if you are planning to visit us in April, please do not visit us on Days on the Lawn days. The Grounds are packed full of visitors and parking is very, very difficult as a result.

CavDog takes his DOTL duties very seriously 

Oh wait! One more thing.  People often ask us how they are supposed to dress for DOTL. Dress as if you're going to be walking around Grounds all day.  Remember that we're not interviewing you, you're interviewing us.  We'll dress up.  You be comfortable.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Notification Update!


I'm just back from Dean Roberts' office and have the news for which you've been waiting.

Decisions will be ready this Friday, March 25, 2011 at 5 PM Eastern!
We are all smiles here.  It's been a long reading season and we are so happy that the first year decisions are almost ready to be released.  Obviously, some of you will be at your computers at 5 PM on the dot, but know that you can view your decision any time after 5 PM.  

Posts are also coming with info from financial aid, the scholars programs, and the Days on the Lawn planning group (those are our admitted students days).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Running towards the finish line

Visit traffic is up!  It looks like rolling Spring Break is in full effect.  If you decide to visit us in the next month, just be prepared for larger crowds than normal.  Each info session (there are two each day) probably brings about 200-400 extra people to Grounds.

Because of all these visitors, I might not be at my desk for periods during the day.  If you don't get a quick response to a question, please be patient (you always have been during reading season, which I appreciate!).  I'll try to to work through the comments as quickly as possible.

Someone asked for a picture of CavDog dancing in the Q&A thread.  Dogs aren't the most musical of animals (someone actually studied this), so I figured this picture might be an acceptable alternative.  


We can pretend that CavDog is gleefully running towards the end of the reading season.  

We're not done yet...but I think you all know that we're getting close.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day of Rest

In about 20 minutes, after I answer the last few questions that were posted on the Q&A entry this morning, I suggest we start an admission-free Sunday.  I don't think any of us have gone a day without thinking and talking about admission since the fall.  Let's try our best to spend a some time with our families, get outside to enjoy the sunshine, and maybe watch a little basketball.  We can resume the admission talk tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Happy day! The cherry blossoms are out!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Q&A With Dean J

I've been working from a hotel in Fairfax County this week so I can attend a series of evening programs for juniors.  I don't have too much to report at this point, so I thought I'd revive the "Q&A" entries I've had on the blog in past years.  In the comments, feel free to ask questions that have been on your mind* and I'll do my best to answer them.

A random entry deserves a random picture.

*Within reason, of course.  Don't ask me to do your Calc homework! :)

NOTE: If you do not see a Disqus comment box, hit refresh or upgrade your browser. Three or four people have commented using the old blogger form (which must be showing up for those without updated browsers).  Those comments won't post since I've upgraded the commenting system to Disqus.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The dreaded overlap season

Oh no!  It's the dreaded overlap season!

We are now entering the overlap season.  This is when we are still working with the applications of the seniors who applied for Fall 2011 admission, but are also starting to talk to juniors who will be applying for Fall 2012 admission.  Our information sessions now have two groups of students with different sorts of anxiousness.  One group is just starting the college search and is eager to figure out what colleges should be on their list and the other is waiting for us to finish our review so they can move forward with their decision making process. 

The juniors want to know what courses will best prepare them for UVa.
                                     The seniors want to know when we'll be done with application review.
The juniors want to know what study abroad programs we offer.
                                     The seniors want to know when we'll be done with application review.
The juniors want to know how easy it is to double major.
                                     The seniors want to know when we'll be done with application review.
The juniors want to see the dining hall, classrooms, and residence halls.
                                     The seniors want to know when we'll be done with application review.

Next week, I'll be working on the seniors' applications on the road so I can attend some mini-fairs and college nights at a few high schools in Northern Virginia.  If you're a long time reader of the blog, you know that I love my NOVA trips.  I've never made one at this time of year, though.  It'll be interesting to work with the seniors (via their applications, of course) by day at my hotel while talking to the juniors at their high schools at night.

Seniors, what advice do you want me to give the juniors about the college search and the application process?  What do you wish someone had told you at this point last year?  Or, what advice were you given that you think was especially good when you were starting your search?

Monday, March 07, 2011

UVa Engineering Open House on March 19

I have a soft spot for engineers, so the Engineering Open House is a fun event for me to write about.  The Engineering Open House is open to the public and there are demonstrations and activities for all ages, from elementary school children to high school students.

If you've been meaning to come check out the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Saturday, March 19th is a great day to visit.  You can register ahead of time on the Open House website, but you are also welcome to drop in.

By the way, this isn't an admission event.  I just think it's a fun activity and thought I'd tell you about it.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A little perspective.

Right now, I bet March seems like a pretty long month in light of what's going to happen on April 1st.  I thought I'd provide a little perspective about how far you've come.

On August 1st, the Common Application went live.  Most of you probably weren't aware.

At some point, you realized it was time to work on your applications and you sprung into action.

You plugged away here and there, trying to meet deadlines.

Goodness gracious, were there deadlines! Would you ever be done with this?

After you hit "submit" on that last application, you still had to keep an eye on your status.

Now you're in the home stretch. Your applications are complete and it's time to wait for decisions to arrive.

You've come a long way. Good job.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Have you logged into SIS?

Shockingly, there are a couple thousand applicants out there who still haven't logged into the SIS.  I can see that they've been sent their login email, but they just never went through the process of setting their password up.

I have a feeling that those students aren't even aware of the blog, but I might as well mention this.  Make sure you can log into SIS.  That's where you'll be seeing your decisions on notification day.  You don't want to be emailing the help desk that night trying to figure out how to get into your status page while everyone else already knows their decision.  If you lost the login email, you can send a note to to get it resent.

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

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Likely Letters 2011

If you're a regular reader, you've probably seen references to something called a Likely Letter in comments for the last few weeks.

We are probably going to print two rounds of these letters this year.  As I wrote the other day, the majority of files have been looked at a couple times at this point.  We're going to print some letters now and probably print some more when the rest of the files have gotten those initial reads.  We are by no means done with this process.  After the files get their initial reviews, then the work of shaping the class begins.

For now, let's talk about the likely letters...

What is a Likely Letter?
Around this time of year, many colleges and universities send letters to 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 and I am not permitted to release the number of letters we printed, 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.  Despite the chatter, there's little to no official talk of these letters outside of articles in college student newspapers.  I'd rather let you know the facts than 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?
No. 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?
No. 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. 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. That's very rare. 

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 like to help with the management of expectations, you have a hand in that, too. If after reading all of this, you expect a Likely Letter, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. 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 mail.

A quick recap:
  • Likely Letters are sent by many selective schools to some top applicants
  • 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
  • Likely Letters are sent via standard mail
Do not read into the absence of a letter.

Please do not 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.