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!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Regular Decision Deadline TOMORROW!

The regular decision deadline is tomorrow at midnight!  My hope is that most of you squared things away and hit submit already.  If that isn't the case, be careful about waiting until the very last minute.  The load on the Common App's servers is apt to be huge and their support team is probably going to be very busy.  For peace of mind, try to put those finishing touches on your applications early.

The deadline is around the corner!

Good luck!

1. Check your "future plans" page to make sure you selected the regular decision option.
2. There are THREE items to submit.
3. Use the "help" link on the Common App website if you have trouble. Our office is closed and we can't fix problems you're having with tech issues.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three Reminders for Regular Decision Applicants

Many of us in Peabody Hall are wonderful where the month of December went.  We are immersed in the early action review, but the regular decision applications are rolling in.  The regular decision deadline is just around the corner!

I have three important reminders for those who are working on regular decision applications right now.  I'll try to keep this short and concise.

1. Double check your choices on the Future Plans page
You probably filled out the future plans page months or weeks ago.  Now that you're deep into the application, you might not even remember what that page was for.  Here's the thing: if you started your application really early and toyed with the idea of submitting for early action, you might need to change the radio button on the Future Plans page. 

2.  You have to submit THREE times.
Every year, there are a few students or parents who call way after the deadline to tell us that they thought submitting a payment would "force" the other sections of the Common App to come to us.  The Common App folks set things up so that you can submit a component of the application when you are done with it and still work on other components.  This is obviously helpful if mom or dad are helping you submit payment, but you want to put finishing touches on your applications.

This should be apparent when you are on the main "My Colleges" page on the Common App website, but I'll repeat it here: there are three items to submit: the Common Application, the UVa Supplement, and the payment.  Submitting one item does not force the others to come to us.

3. Use the "Help" button on the Common App website.
Individual schools can't fix problems that you have with the Common App website.  The Common App has a team of folks ready to help you if you run into trouble. I remember seeing some response time statistics last year and they were able to get back to almost every request within an hour, so they are pretty quick to help.  You obviously don't want to be asking questions in the hours around the deadline, since the calls for support will probably be high.

While admission officers around the country are working right now, many are doing so from home or from dark offices.Calling a school about a Common App problem is not going to get you very far.  Use the help button!

Good luck!
Feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When the Waiting Gets Hard...

...we play "Caption This" on the blog!  Caption This has become a bit of a tradition on Notes from Peabody.  We're immersed in our application review process and you're eagerly waiting for news.  When I don't have an update, I post a picture and let readers post their best captions in the comments.

So...let's see your best captions for this image, taken at a hotel's front desk:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Overlap Season!

While the rest of UVa is getting ready to go home for winter break, we are starting to head into a time of year that I call the overlap season.  This is when early action applicants are looking for updates about our review process and regular decision applicants are thinking about the January 1st deadline.

Blog posts over the next few weeks might jump back and forth between tips for those who haven't submitted an application and updates for those who have. 

Early action applicants, feel free to hop into the posts for the regular decision applicants if you think you have an answer to a question.

Do you think CavDog stuck his head in the tree or was he at a doggie rave last night?

Friday, December 07, 2012

When Will UVa Release Decisions?

In the middle of my last post, I wrote this:

Early Action Notification = January 31st
(any change will be announced on this blog ASAP)
I'm still getting questions in the comments asking when notification will happen.  We are just one month into this process.  Some applications from areas affected by Sandy came in late.  We sent "missing credential" emails on Wednesday, November 28th and students who got them are tracking down outstanding items.

We will remain deep in our review for many weeks. I know the wait is tough. Hang in there.

Slow down! You might break something!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three SIS Status Terms to Know

There are some common questions about SIS status that come up at this time of year.  Let me address the big three.

1.  What does "initiated" mean?
Initiated is a term the SIS uses when it puts something on your "to do" list.  It means the item is not completed or received.

2. The mid-year report is on my "to do" list, but that's not ready yet. What do I do?
Hooray!  If the mid-year report is the only thing left on your "to do" list, then you're done!  That means your application has moved into the review process. 

3. Does "view decision" mean my decision is ready?
The Student Information System has a built-in feature that adds a box at the bottom of your status page when your file is deemed complete and ready for us to read.

Here's what it looks like:

If you see that box show up, it might cause a little excitement because "view decision" shows up in the box.  Alas, when you click on the words, you get a little message saying decisions aren't ready yet. Because they aren't.

Early Action Notification = January 31st
(any change will be announced on this blog ASAP)

We release all decisions at once and we aren't done with the EA process yet. Last year was our first year with early action and we were able to release decisions early.  We won't know the release date until we're almost at it.

Back in the paper days, we knew the release date a good week in advance because the last week was used to print letters and get them into envelopes.  We were basically done.

These days, there is no lag time between the end of the review and the release.  When we're done, we can release.  We don't have to wait for letters to be printed. 

*By the way, you'll be seeing this post again in late January and early February, when it will apply to the regular decision applicants.*

Notes from home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Early Action Missing Credential Emails Sent!

About 740 of you will receive an email about missing credentials today.  Do not panic. Calmly, but quickly, log into your SIS account to see what's missing and get us the missing item. Keep in mind that we want your application to be complete and "ready to read."  If you get one of these emails, we aren't mad and you aren't in trouble.

If getting the missing document to us requires a visit to your counselor, keep in mind that they may have sent the item and it could have been lost in transit.  I cringe at the thought of someone flying into the counseling office in a panic, accusing staff of not submitting credentials.

If you do not get an email, relax.  Do not send us a document unless we have asked for it.  Sending duplicates slows down the processing of documents we really need to complete other students' files.

Mid-year grades aren't due until February 15th. If that's the only thing left on your "to do" list, your early action application is being reviewed.

The only kind of duplicates we like (CavDog has 11 siblings)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Class of 2017 Facebook Page (and how UVa admission officers use Facebook)

I try to create as many avenues for applicants to chat and ask questions as possible.  This is why I'm available here (I answer questions in the comments on posts) and on Twitter, Facebook, and email.

Sometimes, you'll want to chat with each other and ask questions in a student-only space.  You can do that in the Class of 2017 Facebook group.  In the spirit of student self-governance, which is a big deal here at UVa, this is a space just for students. 

Click the image to go to the group on Facebook!

Obviously, the group will be for students who hope they'll be members of the Class of 2017 at this point.  This is normal.  The membership of the group will evolve as decisions are released and students start committing to colleges.

I am not in the Class of 2017 group, so if you have application questions and want to ask them on Facebook, you can use the Notes from Peabody Facebook page.

How UVa Admission Officers Use Facebook

The express version: 
We aren't searching for you on Facebook. 

The long version:
Years ago, an enterprising young college student had an idea to market a business to college bound students through Facebook in a new way.  Through made up Facebook accounts, he or his unpaid interns became administrators for hundreds of "Class of 20xx" Facebook groups for colleges all around the country.

Back then, most admission folks let Facebook groups grow organically.  Some excited student would start a group for their class and others would join as they got their admission decisions.  I shared that view. After the made up accounts were connected by a group of admission officers interested in social media, what was happening got picked up by the media and dubbed "Facebookgate."  The full story unfolds on the Squared Peg blog, but you can read a quick synopsis on this blog.

Each year since, that same enterprising, young man has tweaked his practices and tried again, more recently for a roommate matching website (our students have created their own roommate matching surveys on the class Facebook pages for years).  In 2010, even The Choice blog at the New York Times covered what was happening.

Why am I telling you this?  So you understand why I stepped in a few years ago to create class groups on Facebook.  I have absolutely no interest in tracking you on the internet or looking at your profiles.  My interest is in creating a group for each class where content won't include advertisements and your information won't be mined (my worry with groups that are tied to a company).

Over time, I developed a plan for each class' Facebook groups.  I create the group for each class early in the year.  During application season, I turn administration of the group over the current UVa students, who would best answer questions and give advice.  When the incoming class elects their Class Council, class officers become the new administrators.  I'm happy to say that most of the groups I created over the years are still in use.  

There are two current students already signed on at administrators for the Class of 2017 group. They are happy to answer questions, but they are also happy to sit back and let you chat.  Nothing in these groups will be saved or connected to your applications.

How do you feel about admission folks being on Facebook?  Do you like the avenues we've set up for you?  What do you think we should do in the future?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Go Hoos!

Our last football game of the year is on Thursday and I have to admit I'm really excited that our students will experience a night game at UVa. Regardless of the outcome, this is going to be so much fun!

I say that as someone who will be listening to the game from home as I try to read applications! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Word about Early Action Notification

We've only just begun reviewing early action applications and people are already asking when we'll be releasing decisions.  I think College Confidential had three threads on this topic alone over the weekend.

While we want to work quickly, we also want to be thorough in our review. We use a holistic review process, which means we don't have numeric cut offs or minimums. We read every application.  This takes time.  We say that we'll be done by the end of January. This is only our second year with an early action process, so it's hard to say what's "typical" for this part of the process.  Know that as soon as we are done with the entire review, we will release decisions. No one wants to delay this process.

The wait will feel long.  That's to be expected when you are eager for news.  CavDog is here to take your mind off things and given you a little comic relief.

 Hang in there!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Behind the Scenes in the Office of Admission

Down a dark corner of Peabody Hall, there's a shelf full of bins.  The bins are where any "extra" items sent to us by applicants that don't fit into the confines of an art or architecture supplement go.

The items in the boxes range from newspaper clippings to DVDs to professionally bound books.   The personal viewbook is all the rage in some countries and we get buckets of them every year.  I can't even guess at how many research papers we get. 

Some of the items are a little gimmicky.  The shoe (to get the applicant's foot in the door) is fairly common. The collages of UVa pictures are ubiquitous.  The love letters are plentiful.

I think that's a box of granola bars.

There are also stacks of photocopied forms and certificates.  I sometimes wonder if every loose sheet of paper that had been put in the baby book was copied for these dossiers. Some of the documents are from years ago.

These items do not get read. In all likelihood, I'm the only admission officer who will ever see the items I photographed for this blog entry. I've referenced this stuff before, but it's worth repeating. 

It would be a lot of fun to be able to consider extra little packages, but with 28,000 potential applications, we can't encourage submission of supplements that aren't for the art or architecture departments. Our staff is spending most of the day processing required documents.  Sending all this nifty stuff slows the processing down.  Which delays files from being ready to read. Which delays our reading. Which delays notification.

There are places on the application to tell us about honors and accomplishments. You don't need to spend extra money sending all this stuff in special packages.

Don't Forget!

CavDog can't go to the polls, but he hopes you will!

Friday, November 02, 2012

To Those Affected by Sandy

I rarely share personal information on the blog because I want the message to be more important that who I am.  However, I feel I have to deviate from that practice right now.

I am from New Jersey. While I have been a passionate resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia for seven years, I am proud of my roots and proud of how my home rebounds time and again when tragedy strikes.  Though I've been shocked by the images and stories that friends from back home have shared this week, I am also affected by the countless examples of selflessness and compassion that they've shared as well.

If you are reading this from an area affected by Sandy and are without power, you may be worried about your applications.  We realize that you can't predict when power will be restored.  We know that some of your counselors and teachers won't have access to their offices or classrooms for a while, too.  We will work with you.  Contact us by phone (or email, if you have a device charged) on Monday if you still without power.

The Timing of SAT Score Reports

At almost every high school I visited this fall, students wanted to know what would happen to their application if they took standardized tests after the application deadline.  Many early action applicants plan to take the SAT IIs (the subject tests) in November.

October is the last recommended test date for the SAT/SAT II.  As you can see from this chart the College Board folks have on their website, the test scores from the October test have already arrived (if you designated UVa as a school that should get scores in advance). 

If you didn't set things up in advance so we'd get your scores, we obviously wouldn't get them as quickly.  If you waited to see your scores before sending them, this never screen shot from the College Board site might be a little unnerving.

So let me cover the big questions that are inevitably in your head right now.

If taking the SAT IIs in November, is it okay to apply early action?
Definitely.  If your application is ready to submit, I don't think the SAT IIs should change yours plans. 
Will November scores arrive "in time" for early action?
I can't guarantee that we won't have looked at your file between deadline and November 20th, when scores from the November 3rd SAT/SATII are going to arrive. However, the EA review goes into January, so I think you should still send your scores. 

If you are deferred, those scores will definitely be in your file when we review your file during the regular season.

Will UVa take rushed scores?
We used to say we didn't take rushed scores because the rush reports came by mail while regularly reported scores cam electronically.  By the time the rushed scores got here and were scanned into the system, there wasn't that much time saved.  These days, it seems rushed scores are sent electronically.  They're definitely faster now. 

The trade-off is that there a fee associated with sending rushed scores. 

Regular decision applicants, I hope those screen shots from the College Board site have you thinking about sending scores well in advance!

What else is on your mind when it comes to sending SAT scores?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Print Preview Panic

Did you see the note "This institution has chosen not to receive the following information from your Common App" on the Future Plans page?  At some point, you might generate a PDF to check over your Common App.  You'll see questions that we don't ask on it and they'll be incomplete.  That's expected.

By the way, the Future Plans page is where you designate that you're applying under early action or regular decision.  If you selected regular decision, we aren't going to look at your file until the early action review is done, even if you submit today.  Make sure to double check that page!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Early Action Deadline Extension

The early action deadline is extended to 11:59 PM on 
Sunday, November 4, 2012

For only the third time in recent years, University of Virginia is closed today. Hurricane Sandy hasn't really hit us yet, but like most people in the mid-Atlantic and northeast, we're preparing for a major storm.

Stay safe, everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Overloaded October

My travel schedule was pretty packed this month and I never got around the posting itineraries for my last two weeks in Northern Virginia.  You already saw my first week in that area.  Here's where I was the last two weeks:

Monday, October 15, 2012
8:00 AM   West Potomac High School
9:30 AM   Mount Vernon High School
11:30 AM  Edison High School
1:15 PM  Robert E. Lee High School

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
10:30 AM   NOVA Woodbridge Transfer Fair
6:00 PM   Prince William County College Fair, Potomac Falls High School

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
10:30 AM   NOVA Annadale Transfer Fair
2:00 PM   Episcopal High School College Fair
7:00 PM   Arlington County College Fair, Ballston Commons Mall

Thursday, October 18, 2012
9:00 AM   Hayfield Secondary School
10:30 AM  NOVA Alexandria Transfer Fair

Friday, October 19, 2012
8:00 AM   Robinson Secondary School
10:45 AM  Lake Braddock Secondary School
12:00 PM  West Springfield High School
1:30 PM    South County Secondary School

Sunday, October 21, 2012
7:30 PM  Fairfax County College Fair, Fair Oaks Mall

Monday, October 22, 2012
9:45 AM   Heritage High School

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
3:30 AM   Loudoun County High School
11:30 AM  Woodgrove High School
1:45 AM   Tuscarora High School
3:15 PM    Loudoun Valley High School

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
10:15 AM   Potomac Falls High School
11:30 AM   Park View High School
12:45 AM  Herndon High School
2:00 PM    Academy of Science
2:45 PM    Dominion High School
7:00 PM    Pope Paul VI Evening Program

Thursday, October 25, 2012
8:00 AM   South Lakes High School
9:45 AM  Broad Run High School
11:30 AM  Briar Woods High School
1:30 PM   Stone Bridge High School

Friday, October 26, 2012
8:30 AM   Chantilly High School
10:15 AM  Freedom High School
12:00 PM  John Champe High School

In addition to traveling, we've been reading transfer applications this month (yes, we're already reading!). 

I also gave a couple interviews over the last couple weeks, mostly responding to questions about social media.  Like clockwork, the media is talking about how social media is used in college admission right around the early deadlines and I think one or two stories are scaring people.  I've addressed how I use social media before (as early as 2009, when I actually mentioned Ning...ha!) and I'll revisit that topic soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Many Teacher Recommendations Do You Need?

A thread on College Confidential jumped out at me the other day.  Despite our instructions that request one counselor recommendation and one teacher recommendation, people are planning on sending us five teacher recommendations.  So they are thinking of giving us a total of SIX recommendations?!?

No one at UVa wants this.  No one.  Colleges ask for the items they would like to receive.  We like having the counselor and teacher perspectives in the application,.  We always say that we'll read a supplemental recommendation if you feel like there's something else we need to know, but repetition is not needed.  In fact, when reading 28,000 applications, repetition can be a bit tedious at times.

Your counselor's recommendation will be the one that sets the stage. They usually talk about the "big picture."  The go beyond the information in the school profile to tell us about your class and what big choices you may have made about your academics.  Your teacher's recommendation will be about the day-to-day.  They are often more personal and more anecdotal.  They tell us about those great contributions you've made in class or the projects you've done that have gone beyond their expectations.

That's what we want.  Keep it simple. 

By the way, if people stop asking three, four, and five teachers to recommendations, maybe teachers will have a little more time to write great, thoughtful letters that give us better insight into who our applicants are in the classroom.

 CavDog's reaction to recommendation overload

Monday, October 01, 2012

A Week on the Road

I'm in Peabody Hall for the first time in two weeks.  It's great to be home!  Two weeks ago, I spent six days in New England with colleagues from UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins for "group travel" and last week, I was in Northern Virginia for high school visits.  I'm sure you know what high school visits look like, so I thought I'd show you what group travel looks like from our perspective.

Group travel is when a admission officers from a few schools organize programs together in a region.  At night, they often host information sessions for students and their parents and in the morning followed by breakfasts for area guidance counselors the next morning.  After breakfast, the group usually moves to another location for another set of programs.

UVa travels with quite a few schools, but I usually travel in New England with Hopkins, Northwestern and Berkeley.  This year's trip was a little different.  We went to two new locations and had a new Hopkins traveler with us.  Our friend from Northwestern couldn't join us this year, so we traveled as a trio.

Night 1: Burlington, MA

The crowd in Burlington (a Boston suburb) was large and they arrived quickly, so there wasn't much time for pictures.  Here's my colleague from Berkeley giving his presentation that night:

Here's when we told them we were going to post a picture of the crowd on our Facebook/Twitter pages.  We told them to tag themselves in our photos.  No takers on that, yet.

Night 2: Providence, RI

I lived in Providence for four years and have insisted that we eat well at lunch, since we rarely get to eat a real dinner on our trips.  We usually have to set up our presentation rooms around 6:00-6:30 PM because people start arriving up to an hour before the official start time.  We aren't usually done until 9:00-9:30 PM.  So, lunch has to hold us over.

We shared our Northwestern friend's favorite as a tribute. 

 This isn't becoming a food blog, but I had to share my pretty salad and those beautiful scallops.

Night 2 in Providence went well.  We had a nice crowd and great questions.  I even had a recent graduate join me at the UVa table to answer questions afterwards.

 Night 3: Tarrytown, NY

I have a bit of a uniform when I'm on the road.  I always try to wear something with our school colors, along with my gold name badge.

Inevitably, my hotel room is a mile away from the room where we are presenting, so I leave my room way early to meet my colleagues to set up.

Along the way, it becomes clear that the hotel has made the mistake that our Hopkins friends loath.  They forgot the "s" on "Johns."  Our banquet manager looks at her contracts and goes off to make new signs.

The Tarrytown room is huge, but they haven't set up a screen for our LCD projector.  It's 6:30 PM at this point, so they have an hour to set one up.  The first families start arriving at this point, an hour before the presentation is set to begin.

The banquet staff corrects the signage and the families start pouring in.

As I'm checking people in, I notice a funny entry for "high school" on the registration form.

Within half an hour, the room is almost completely full.

We've given ourselves 12 minutes each to present on our schools.  After that, we take general questions, then retreat to our school tables to answer individual questions.  By the third night, we've gotten our timing down perfectly.

Our program officially ends at 9:00 PM, but people always linger with questions. When we were finally done and packing up, a student came back to the ballroom with a question.  My Berkeley colleague made him help fold a table banner while they talked.

Night 4: Teaneck, NJ

Our last program brought two of us close to home.  My Hopkins colleague, who grew up in Queens, was presented a Giants hat by the banquet manager.  Interestingly, the room we were using is where the Giants gather before games to run plays. 

We were just a few towns away from where I grew up, so I decided to start the session with "My name is Dean J and I was born at Valley Hospital!"  As I anticipated, that got applause.  It's always nice to be in front of a Jersey crowd. 

That's a week on the road in pictures.  Have you been to these group programs at hotels before?  Are you planning on attending any this year?  How do you like these events?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hitting the Road: Northern Virginia (Week 1)

Some schools send rookie admission officers to Northern Virginia as an initiation because of the notorious traffic and the advanced questions that get asked there. Sending a rookie to the Fair Oaks or Ballston Commons Malls is sort of like throwing someone into the "deep end" of the college admission pool.

I personally love traveling in that region, probably because I grew up in an area just like it. I enjoy being asked questions about topics that are more elaborate than "What GPA do I need?" which doesn't even make sense since GPA is a highly creative calculation these days. Hearing the current rumors that are getting passed around is always interesting, too.

If your school is on my schedule and you'd like to come see me, you already know the drill. Your Career Center Specialists have probably made you aware of the sign up procedure you need to follow to get a pass. This is the first of three weeks that I'll be spending in NOVA, so don't worry if your school isn't on this list.

I should add that the weeks when we can travel are a little limited these days.  Most schools don't want us to visit until the school routine is normal, so the first couple weeks of September are avoided.  Columbus Day weekend brings many visits to Grounds, so most of our staff tries to be home for that.  By the end of October, most of us have to finish the travel season so we can get back home for the Early Action application review. 

So, here is where I'm headed for my first week in NOVA.  I'll post my other itineraries shortly. 

Monday, September 24, 2012
8:00 AM   Fairfax High School
9:30 AM   James Madison High School
11:00 AM  Oakton High School
12:45 AM Woodson High School

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
8:30 AM   Yorktown High School
10:00 AM  Wakefield High School
11:30 AM  Washington-Lee High School
1:15 PM    Bishop O'Connell High School

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
8:30 AM   Annandale High School
10:00 AM  Falls Church High School
11:45 AM  TJHSST
1:00 PM    Bishop Ireton High School

Thursday, September 27, 2012
9:00 AM   Marshall High School
11:00 AM  McLean High School
12:15 AM  Langley High School
2:00 PM   George Mason High School

Friday, September 28, 2012
8:30 AM   JEB Stuart High School
10:30 AM  Centreville High School
1:15 PM   Westfield High School

I'll post my schedules for the second and third weeks soon!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hitting the Road: Richmond (and Charlottesville!)

I usually stick to sharing my travel schedule, but one of my colleagues has some dates to share, too!  Assistant Dean Merav Frazier is spending a bit of time in Asia this year, but she also gets to visit high schools that are much closer to home.

Here's where she'll be in the coming weeks:

Friday, September 14, 2012
2:30 PM     Monticello High School

Thursday, September 20, 2012
10:00 AM     Goochland High School
12:00 PM     Trinity Episcopal School
2:00 PM       Powhatan High School

Friday, September 21, 2012
7:30 AM     The Stewart School
8:30 AM     Saint Gertrude High School
9:45 AM     Benedictine College Prep School
12:15 PM    Saint Christopher's School
1:30 PM     Saint Catherine's School

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
7:30 AM     James River High School
9:00 AM     Clover Hill High School
11:30 AM    Cosby High School
1:00 PM      Lloyd C. Bird High School

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Notes from Peabody is on Facebook!

I maintained a regular Facebook profile page for years and plenty of students would "friend" me to keep track of what was happening in Peabody Hall.  I had no interest in tracking them or seeing what they were up to, so I rarely logged in to use the my profile.  I set it up to automatically pull content from this blog and my twitter feed.

Facebook pages obviously make it far easier for me to share content without giving me a window into a student's private space.  So, I shut down my Dean J profile and created a Notes from Peabody Facebook page.  Updates from the blog get posted there, but I also post things that you'll only see on that page. 

So, if you'd like to keep up with Notes from Peabody via Facebook and see some extra content (mostly behind-the-scenes pictures), you can like the page

Monday, September 03, 2012

Hitting the Road: New England & the NYC Area

In a couple weeks, I'll join colleagues from UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins for a week of evening programs and counselor breakfasts in Boston, Providence, Tarrytown, and Teaneck.  If you're on any of our mailing lists, we probably already know this because we mailed and emailed invitations to these programs a few weeks ago. However, if you'd like to join us this week, you can RSVP via our "UVa Visits You" page.

Each school typically presents a truncated information session at the evening programs and then answer questions as a group.  Afterwards, there is time for students and parents to chat with each school.  We are often able to have some young alumni join us.

Our evening programs:

Monday, September 17 at 7:30 pm
Boston Marriott Burlington

1 Burlington Mall Road
Burlington, MA 01803

Tuesday, September 18 at 7:30 pm
Providence Marriott Downtown

1 Orms Street
Providence, RI 02904

Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 pm
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tarrytown

455 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591


Thursday, September 20 at 7:30 pm
Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe

100 Frank W Burr Boulevard
Teaneck, NJ 07666  

Are you planning on joining us?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How CavDog Spent His Summer

I've been notified that some loyal readers are dismayed by the lack of CavDog pictures in recent posts.  An update was requested.

A summer recap seems to be in order.  This summer, CavDog...

played a lot of ball,

visited the office,

was in a wedding,

went to some rallies,

turned five years old,

stayed cool during a heat wave,

and took a trip to DC.

(his perch overlooking Thomas Circle)

How was your summer?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Talk About Recommendations

Today is the first day of school for students in our community. My Facebook feed is a long string of photos of smiling sons and daughters waiting for school buses wearing new outfits and light backpacks. 

In my admission officer mind, that leads to thinking about teachers, which leads to thinking about teacher recommendations.

In recent years, it seems that student think that when a school asks for something, the truly strong candidates do than and a little bit more.  So, when UVa asks for two recommendation letters (one from the counselor and one from a teacher), some think that they have to track down extra people to reiterate the good things that will be shared on the required letters.  This really isn't necessary.

First of all, your counselor will usually write about the "big picture" items like your curriculum and what your class is like overall.  Some counselors are able to spend enough time with their students to share a few stories, but many stick with the general.  You can think of them as setting the scene.

The teacher recommendation will be more specific and talk about you in the classroom, day-to-day.  This is where we hear about the project you did that went above and beyond their expectations or about the time class discussion went in a great direction because of something you said. 

Those two recommendations are going to give us plenty of information.  Most applicants should not be spending time chasing down more people to reiterate the ideas that were presented in their required recommendations. 

If you feel like there's something we need to know that won't come across in your application unless we hear from someone else, you can submit a supplemental recommendation.  Make sure there's a true reason for it.

I'll have more to say in my next post, but for now, feel free to post questions you have about recommendations.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Summer Construction on College Campuses

Summer is construction season on college campuses.  As soon as trunks are packed and farewells are said, the barricades go up and campuses become hives of a whole different kind of activity.  If you've done a lot of touring this summer, you've probably seen at least a few detours signs during your travels.

The summer construction season has been busier than usual this year at UVa.  Many projects have been completed (the new track facility is open!) and many will wrap up in time for move in.  A few will continue through the first semester and some, like the renovation of the Alderman Road residence halls, will continue for a while. 

The student union, Newcomb Hall, is going through a huge renovation just next door to our home in Peabody Hall.  The project is supposed to be complete in November.  Because that work has taken one of the larger "all you can eat" dining halls offline, a temporary dining facility is being built on the other side of Peabody Hall.  The temporary facility will accommodate 500 people for meals and have kitchens, air conditioning, and bathrooms.

When word of the plan first came my way, I imagined a huge event tent like the ones that go up on the Peabody Hall lawn for reunions.  I pictured plastic walls and big fans cooling the space.  I couldn't see it being the most practical way to feed a lot of people, but figured the project managers knew what they were doing.  As the temporary facility started to go up, it became clear that it was going to be way more than a tent.

One Sunday, I came into the office and found a crane putting three trailers into place.  There were kitchens inside them that looked like they belonged in a restaurant.  This temporary dining hall was clearly going to be much more than a tent!

Today, the full size of the building is clear.  Notice that I'm not calling it a tent anymore?

The view from my window has changed quite a bit!  Here was the view from my office last Sunday:

Here's the view from my office today:

While I miss the Calder statue that used to be in front of our building, watching this project unfold has been fascinating.

If you're curious about other projects going on around Grounds, check out the Featured Projects page that the Facilities & Planning folks have put together.  Most projects have monthly photo galleries where you can see how each projects has changed over time.