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!

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Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Time to Focus

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. All those applications are in, but you're worrying about them.  Will that minuscule typo you discovered at the end of your list of activities 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?

All the while, your teachers are piling on the work. You find yourself thinking that maybe you can relax just a little bit and they'll understand.  You start to daydream about the spring...prom, a new sports season, all seems just around the corner and it's far more fun to think about those things than to keep you head in the books.


You have work to get through in the next few months and it's going to prepare you for the next step, which isn't going to be any easier.  Besides that, worrying about an application that is already submitted isn't going to affect the outcome and it's apt to take you away from those pressing academic 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 several more weeks 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")

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Rumor Mill

I started this blog because of rumors.

There is no shortage of "experts" who have plenty to say about how the admission process works.  There is some good information out there, but there is a whole lot really bad information being shared by people who have no experience working in our office. 

There was a time when I would get exasperated when I heard rumors.  I'd fly to this blog and dash out a post to address what I heard.  The next year, the same rumor would float around and, well, lather, rinse, repeat. You get the idea.  It's such a common occurance that I now find it almost humorous when I hear about the silly "rules" that people cook up.  I remember this happening when I was in high school.  We were convinced that because Dream U admitted two girls who happened to belong to the same club, that Dream U had a preference for said club.  We didn't consider that the people reading the applications at Dream U might have a slightly more complex process to arrive at those decisions.

I thought I'd post some of the most common rumors about how admission works at UVa and invite you to share some that you've heard in the comments.  I'll reply to confirm or give you the real story.  Sound interesting?

Rumor: It's harder to get in from __(insert your geographic location here)__.
Reality: Yes and no.
Since I spend much of my travel season in Northern Virginia, I most often hear this from students or parents up there.  I assure you that students in other areas think they are at some sort of disadvantage in the application process.  For those who live outside of Virginia, this one is true.   Within Virginia, it's not harder to be admitted from region to region.  People in densely populated areas tend to worry about this the most.  Schools in those areas tend to have fantastic program options and we see large numbers of students who have the academic preparation that will make them successful here. 

The Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that 2/3 of the students at UVa be domiciled in Virginia.  Out of state students tend to make up about 2/3 of our applicant pool, which results in a lopsided offer rate.  Last year, we admitted about 45% of the Virginia residents and about 26% of the out-of-state applicants. 

Rumor: You need __(arbitrary number)__ AP courses to be admitted to UVa.
Reality: False
What we expect of you depends on what is offered to you at your school.  There are so many different sorts of curricula out there that it wouldn't make sense to set a bar for the number of AP courses someone must have to be admitted.  There are schools that offer every AP under the sun, schools that only offer a few, IB schools, Cambridge Program schools, schools that offer duel enrollment courses, schools that just have advanced/honors courses, and schools that don't have tracks at all.  We start with the school profile, we we can read about the options available to the applicant and what restrictions are placed on students at the school.  Only after we understand the curriculum in place can we judge the strength of a student's program.

Rumor: If you don't have _(community service, leadership, athletics)_ on your resume, don't apply.
Reality: False
I love this rumor because it's been around for decades.  When I was in high school, we were convinced that there was some sort of extracurricular checklist used in admission offices.  You had to have service, athletics, something creative, leadership, and something academic on your resume.  I'm happy to report that with 715 student organizations on the books at UVa, we have no specific preferences when it comes to activities.  We have mainstream groups that probably mirror the ones you have at your high school and we have fringe-y ones that you probably never dreamed of before.

In recent years, the Common App has cut down on the number of lines in the activity section of the application and I fully support that.  The length of your list is of no importance.  We're interested in knowing about the activities in which you are deeply involved.

In addition, we don't know which clubs have value and prestige in your high school's culture. Don't join an activity because it is valued at your school if you don't enjoy it.

Rumor: You need to tailor your high school program to your intended major.
Reality: False for most.
When people ask us about course selection, they sometimes have interesting reasoning.  For example, someone who thinks they want to student business in college is told to take a course or two in the business disciplines in high school.  That's fine if you have elective time and want to do that, but I don't think you should sacrifice your core subjects for such work.

High school is your foundation.  Your foundation needs to be strong in your core subjects (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language).  Dropping a core course is not going to make you more attractive to us.

Now, if you plan on going into specialized school like Engineering, Architecture, Nursing, or the Kinesiology program, you can probably imagine that we'll be looking pretty hard at certain parts of your academic preparation. 

What rumors have you heard this year?

CavDog swoops in to stop the spread of rumors                            

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Class of 2016 logo

Every year, the Alumni Association gives a little gift to the incoming class...they have a logo designed for the class to use throughout their years at the University.  I'm happy to present (drum roll, please) the Class of 2016 logo:

Pretty cool, huh?

I just updated the Class of 2016 Facebook group icon with the new logo.  Administration of the group is being turned over to students by the end of the week.  I've enjoyed answering your questions there, but I think it's time to hand things off.  We are big on student self-governance, after all. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Last call for missing credentials!

We sent out an email earlier this week to anyone with an incomplete application and told them that they had until today to get missing credentials to us (that does not include midyear reports, though those should be trickling in, too).  We are still knee deep in the regular decision review and will likely be at it for quite some time.

Amazingly, no one has asked me complained about the wait for their decision yet (last year, I think the first comment came in on February 1st), so I thank you all for understanding that this process takes time.  Though February is a short month, it often feels like the longest because there is little news to share on the blog. Hang in there, everyone.  We're working long hours to make sure every file gets a thorough review, so I might not have as many updates this month as in the past.

Here's a little dose of CavDog for you.  A local photographer snapped this picture of CavDog while we were at a pre-Puppy Bowl brunch.  CavDog was pretty excited for the big game.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Moving on with regular decision

Happy February!  We are knee deep in the regular decision review, but I wanted to give you two updates.

1.  This Friday at 5 PM, all the Early Action applicants who were deferred will be switched over in our system to regular decision status.  This is behind-the-scenes stuff that allows us to get your file back into the "ready to read" pipeline once your midyear grades arrive.  If you log into SIS, you'll get a note about decisions coming out on April 1st if you hit the "view decision" link since you're back in the pool.

2.  About 25 students who were deferred still haven't seen their decisions.  We're emailing them one more time to give them a chance to check.

3.  Regardless of how you applied, your counselor will probably be sending us your midyear grades in the next week or so.  Many of the regular decision applications I'm reading this week already have fall semester grades in them, which is great.

If your school is on a trimester system, we want second trimester grades in your midyear report.  We realize that your schools' reports might come in a tad later than those from schools on a semester calendar.