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 29, 2012

What's Next for the Waiting List

The basic details about the waiting list are covered on the waiting list FAQ page on our website.  Your decision letter had a link to that page.  I also covered some of the same information in my first waiting list post

I think it's important to talk about the time line for the waiting list process.  First of all, the list will take share between now and May 1st, as students accept or decline the wait.  If you hit the accept button today, but things change later, you can always go back and hit the decline button.  This is why the buttons remain on SIS after you hit the accept button.

In the first week of May, we'll assess where there is room in the class.  There are 10 different components in the class.  There are in-state and out-of-state students in each of the five schools/colleges/programs that take first year students.  It's hard to predict where there will be room in the class. 

When we are ready to move to the waiting list, we generally work in teams to review the applications for the groups that we need to fill. Once we select some students for offers, we call them to let them know that their status is going to change in SIS (it's often a pretty exciting phone call for both parties!).  Some, who have forgotten to remove themselves from the list, tell us that they aren't interested and that allows us to offer to another student.  Because of this, filling the class can be slow. 

I'll post updates in May as we move through the process.  Sometimes, I'm able to report that a segment of the class is full and that a portion of the waiting list is gong to be released.

So now starts the hard part.  There won't be much to tell you about the waiting list between now and early May.

An Update from Financial Aid

Student Financial Services was able to post financial aid packages on SIS yesterday for all students who had their aid paperwork submitted and complete.

If you are missing some paperwork (there is a separate "to do" list in SIS for financial aid), you have until April 30th to get everything submitted.  After April 30th, some kinds of aid (including UVa grants...the kind of award you don't pay back) will not be part of your package.

If you have questions, you can contact the financial aid office.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Happens Next for Admitted Students?

I trust that most of you have had a chance to share your feelings on the three decision entries by now. I will continue to keep an eye out for questions that are posted in them. It seems like many of you answer questions for each other in those comments, often before I can get to the blog. Thank you for that!

I thought I'd cover some of the typical questions that come up when students are wondering what happens next.

Welcome Packets
A welcome mailing was sent out on Friday afternoon to all admitted first year students.  Obviously, you saw your decision letter on SIS (and most seem to prefer the speed of online notification over waiting for the mail to arrive like I did when I was in high school), but there is some more information coming beyond that. A blog comments on Monday reported that one of those packets was received, so I imagine the USPS is ferrying them to you very quickly.

For now, you might be interested in checking out our admitted student page.  If you decide to join the class, at some point between paying your deposit (deposits are due May 1st) and June 1st, you'll want to go through the items on the Summer Orientation website.  In past years, that page has updated around April 1st, so the information that's on there currently is probably for last year's incoming class.

If you're really excited to do more, you could flip through last year's Welcome Book online.  The 2012 book, with new dates, should be up soon. You can also take a look at the virtual tours of the residence halls.

Admitted Student Visits
Days on The Lawn (DOTL) are the admitted student events. If the DOTL dates don't work for you, you can plan your own visit, which might include staying overnight with a member of The Monroe Society or attending some open classes.

Days on the Lawn are totally optional events.  We created DOTL to help students "kick the tires" before they commit to the University. You'll be walking around the Grounds just like our current students do. Dress as you do for school (unless, of course, you wear a uniform to school).  We want you to be comfortable.

I'm more than happy to answer questions about directions, parking, and lodging if the DOTL page doesn't cover your concerns.

Financial Aid
I should have a financial aid update later this week.  They aim to post packages around decision time, but we were obviously a bit earlier than expected with our decision release this year.   I'm not sure if all packages will show up at once, like your admission decisions did, or if they will come up over a period of time. It takes time to ensure that all admitted students who have applied for financial aid have been properly awarded, so please be patient with them.

If you have any other questions about next steps, feel free to post them in the comments!

Tomorrow on the blog: What Comes Next for the Waiting List

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unofficial Admission Statistics for the Class of 2016

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 our office is 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 Institutional Assessment's 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: 28,272 (up from 23,971 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 8,788
Total number of OOS apps: 19,484

Overall offers: 7,758 total offers (7,844 last year, including waiting list offers)
Total VA offers: 3,403 offers (38.7%)
Total OOS offers: 4,355 offers (22.4%)

*Keep in mind that YIELD is LOWER for the OOS pool and we do not practice yield protection.*

Enrollment goal: 3360 (same as last year)

Mean SAT score for CR + M (offers only): 1395 (we're concerned with each section, not the total, when we read applications)
% in the top 10% of their high school class (from schools that report rank): 95.7

Offer rates by school/program (VA/OOS combined):
College of Arts & Sciences: 28%
School of Engineering: 34%
School of Architecture: 28%
School of Nursing: 17%
Kinesiology: 11%

Offers for scholars:
Echols: 987
Rodman: 159
College Science Scholars: 116
Jefferson Scholarship: 45 (this program is not run by the Office of Admission)

By the way, most schools have an office like our Office of Institutional Assessment.  They often publish historical data broken down in many different ways.  Most of these offices as "institutional research" or "assessment" in their titles.  Public schools tend to make much more data available than private schools.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blog Comment Lag

My decision day tradition usually has me stepping away from the blog for a day to let students chat.  It also gives me a day off after being in application mode since November.  I usually return to the blog on Sunday to start responding to questions that have been posted by students while I was away.

Just like I've done in past years, I spent much of yesterday responding to comments that came into the blog on Friday and Saturday.  Unbeknownst to me, the comment platform I use, Disqus, has a bug and wasn't posting my replies.

I spent the morning cutting and pasting comments back into the blog and I *think* I have gotten back to everyone who had a question.  If I did not respond to your question over the weekend, please know that it was not intentional. 

Obviously, I'm now a day behind on providing updates.  I'll have some statistics ready for you tomorrow.  Sorry for the wait.

 The blog had an owie.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scholars Notifications Released

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars invitations were emailed last night.  The email came from or

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

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 2016 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates.

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*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but I will verify that and post about it next week.

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

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 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 and the one program that take first year students) and we don't know where there will be openings in the class.

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 117 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.

Remember that this decision is probably about our numbers. We had over 28,000 applications this year for a first year class of about 3,400. 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

Notification Update

I saw something yesterday that made me think we were close to an update about regular decision notifications.  It was just a glimpse, but I was pretty sure about what I saw.

It was a technician in the printer room.  It might seem like a small thing to you, but it's a sign of something big to us.  You see, when the operations staff brings in a technician to give our printers a check up, I know it's time to put welcome packets together.  That means decisions are probably close to being finalized.

This is serious stuff, so I wanted to be sure.

  Well, there's good news.  Really, really, really good news.

We're ready early!  The Dean has given the green light!  We're going to release decisions.

Decisions will be ready Friday, March 23, 2012 at 5 PM Eastern!
(Yes, that's today.)

Now, this part is important: during the Early Action release, the system was hammered.  It never crashed, but all those sessions slowed it down considerably.  The SIS people are dedicating every bit of the servers to this release, but just be aware that you might experience an extremely slow SIS at exactly 5 PM.

I'm going to very quickly throw together entries for each kind of decision so applicants can chat in the comments.  I'll post admission statistics on Monday and answer as many questions as possible then.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Response to Comments about Notification

CavDog's opinion of application reading season

While building the new class is exciting, we are itching to be done with this process.  We know that on the other side of this is the fun part...meeting you all at Days on the Lawn!  Having an early Days on the Lawn was kind of a tease.  We got a taste of the fun stuff, but there's still a little work to be done. 

I have repeatedly assured you that as soon as I get the green light to post about a change in the notification date, I will fly to the keyboard to get an update to you.  There is no need to ask for an update.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Q&A With Dean J

This post was prompted by an exchange that one of my colleagues had with a visiting student during Days on the Lawn on Monday.  The student asked if the woman wearing the green jacket was "Dean J" at Days on the Lawn.  When my colleague confirmed that it was me, the student said he was too intimidated to come and say hello.

It seems that despite my pleas that you say hello, some of you are still a little nervous to approach a golden retriever who loves students and the human who holds his leash.  I realize that I talk about admission all the time and that might make you think I'm all about business.  I thought the constant stream of CavDog photos would put you at ease, but I guess it hasn't.

Would it be better if you knew more about me?  Feel free to ask whatever you'd like in the comments, whether about admission or about me. I'll do my best to answer.

You shouldn't be intimidated by the person who took photos like these.

Scenes from the School of Architecture

I happened to be in Campbell Hall, the home of UVa's School of Architecture, early one Saturday morning recently and decided to take a few pictures.  The school's website has lots of great photos (check out the Fabrication, History & Culture, and Environmentpages for some of my favorites), but it was fun to explore a little bit.

I'm not an architect and I don't have any training in the area, so I don't know exactly what we're looking at in the picture above.  I thought it had some praying mantis-like qualities.

Even though it was very early, there were a few students working on models at their stations in the big workshop...

Someone obviously moved their class outside one afternoon...this image below is of a wall that's outside in a little garden-type space.

If you're thinking of visiting Grounds while class is in session, you can sign up for a special tour of the School of Architecture via their tour request form.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some Clarification about Days on the Lawn Registration

The first Days on the Lawn is behind us and we had a wonderful day!  From the feedback we've gotten, those of you who attended enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.  CavDog was exhausted after a rough day of scratches, belly rubs, and posing for pictures with students.

A few Regular Decision applicants took a peek at Days on the Lawn registration and noticed that all dates appear to be full.  This realization prompted a few worried comments and tweets.

We only opened up a certain percentage of the Days on the Lawn spots to the group that was offered admission during the Early Action process.  There are plenty of spots left.  Once RD decisions are posted, we'll open registration up again.

Now, DOTL spaces go very, very quickly.  Each year, one date seems extra desirable and it fills up within a few hours of registration opening.  It's best not to have your heart set on visiting on just one of the dates provided as a result. As a reminder...

2012 Days on the Lawn:

Monday, April 2nd
Monday, April 9th
Saturday, April 14th
Monday, April 16th
Friday, April 20th

If you missed the last few posts about Days on the Lawn, you might be interested in reading a general entry about these open houses, an entry about some things to look for at DOTL, and this one about the ghost tours being offered the night before each DOTL.

Do you have any questions about Days on the Lawn?  If you attended on Monday, what did you like best?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's starting...

The nervous fidgeting has started.  You've been pretty calm and cool for the last month, but you're starting to think about the next phase of this process and you want it to come RIGHT NOW!  You're starting to hear about what schools send mailings or make phone calls or do whatever they do when they're through the bulk of their applications.  What if you get a missing credentials email? What if you don't? What if someone walks by you wearing a UVa hat and smiles? What does that mean?

Here's the thing.  We have a pretty small staff and we have this funny hang up about being super thorough in our review.  There's a common assumption that we sort files to determine which ones will be read and this is not the case.  Every file is read.  There is no rubric in our process, so while we do look at the statistics you schools send us, we don't base our decisions purely on numbers.  Program, your school's methodology (with respect to grading, GPAs, and rank), recommendations, essays, and involvement all factor in. 

So, a small staff, a lot of applications, and holistic style of review all combine to make this process slow, but comprehensive.  I personally feel good about this.  I know you don't feel good about the wait, but it will take a while longer to complete this process in a thorough way that is fair to each application file.

Try to hit the pause button when the "what ifs" start to take over.  Rest assured that I will let you know as soon as I'm given the green light that we're wrapping up the process.  With the application increase this year, it's hard for me to make too many predictions.

Hang in there!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

New for 2012: Days on the Lawn Ghost Tours

If you're coming to Charlottesville the night before Days on the Lawn, you might want to go on a ghost tour with our amazing tour guide group, the University Guide Service.  This is new for 2012 and I have to admit that I'm curious enough that I'll probably go on one myself!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Things to look for at Days on the Lawn

If you're coming to visit for Days on the Lawn on Monday, you need to be on the look out for a few things.  First of all, there are hundreds of students who have volunteered to be your guides on this big day.  They've been streaming into Peabody Hall all week long to sign up for their stations.

All of the Days on the Lawn student volunteers will be wearing the special t-shirt below (the leaders of the group will have on the same shirt, but the colors will be reversed).  They will all be happy answer your questions or point you in the right direction as you explore.

Admission officers wear gold name plates.  We are really looking forward to meeting the students behind the applications.  We've been couped up reading for months and Monday will be one of the first days when we've been able to break away. 

You should also look for these signs on dark brown stands around the Grounds (our word for campus).  You should start to see them when you leave the parking garage at the intersection of Emmet and Ivy Streets.

They will also be outside anywhere there's a panel or session throughout the day.  After you register at the Rotunda, the "Class List" table should be your next stop. 

Be sure to check the parking information!  If you have visited before, you probably didn't park in the garage where we are providing free parking. 

Please don't be shy! Say hello and ask questions! 

CavDog ADORES students! Please come say hello!

Safe travels! We can't wait to see you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Happens at Days on the Lawn?

Hello. Please register to your left.

The first of SIX Days on the Lawn is on Monday!  Obviously, the attendees will be Early Action applicants who are trying to get a jump start on making their final college decision.  This will be the smallest of the six events and we're looking forward to easing into the open house season.  I thought I'd tell you a little more about what will happen on Monday.

Keep in mind that coming to Days on the Lawn is by no means required, but it can be helpful for students who are weighing their options.

Admission officers and Days on the Lawn student volunteers will greet you at the Emmet & Ivy Parking Garage when you arrive and point you towards the Rotunda.  We'll have some light refreshments on the Rotunda steps until 9:00 AM.  After a quick hello from Dean Roberts, you'll hear from either President Teresa Sullivan.  A 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 from the parents to head to classes(*) at some point. 

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 in Newcomb as well (they are usually able to talk one-on-one with people after the give out some general information, 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 academic events of the day end with a student panel in Old Cabell Hall and Echols/Rodman/College Science Scholars panels (see the schedule for specific locations).  We usually have students from different graduation years and different academic programs on the panel, so a variety of student experiences are represented.

*About Attending a Class: After you submit your registration for DOTL, check out the list of open classes and pick a few that seem interesting to you.  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 arrive at the Rotunda on the morning of your visit, there will be a table where you can pick your classes.  One visitor is allowed per ten students in a class.  So, a small seminar that has ten students in it can have one visitor while a large lecture with 100 students in it can have ten visitors.  There will be students around to help you find the right building and they'll be happy to give you advice about classes as well.

Any questions about Days on the Lawn?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Engineering Open House - Saturday, March 17th

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.  I'll be giving two general admission talks during the day and exploring a little bit during the rest of the day.

If you've been meaning to come check out the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Saturday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day!) is a great day to visit.  You can register ahead of time, 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!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Likely Letter

We've had comments on the blog, emails, tweets, and calls about Likely Letters in the last few weeks.  I thought this practice was going to go away, but I recently found out that the Dean is sending some out again this year.

Before I go on, let me cover the basics...

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

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

How many Likely Letters do you send?
We don't have a target number and I am not permitted to release the number of letters we are printing, 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?
Congratulations! The letter means exactly what it says. In a nutshell: we like you! Keep in mind that this is not the formal 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?
Assume that you are not getting one. Manage your expectations and keep your eye on what's really important right now. 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
  • 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.