Peabody is the building, Jack is the dog, and I'm Dean J (she/her, btw).

There are 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 every year!

References to emailing updates to your application are from the years when we didn't have the current applicant portal. Please follow the instructions in your portal to submit all updates.

Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

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.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The 2012-2013 Common App is Live!

Around 8 PM last night, the 2012-2013 Common Application launched.  Though I posted the questions that would be on the UVa Supplement to the Common App back in June, but you can now start to work on your official application to UVa if you are a rising senior or planning to transfer in the coming year.

The Common App folks have a video that walks you through the process, but I thought I'd give you a few quick suggestions related to your applications.

1.  You're a first-year, even if you have college credit.
If you attend a high school right now, you are applying to be a first-year student at UVa.  Even if you are dual enrolled or have taken community college courses on the side, you are a first-year.  Even if you believe you will have an Associates when you earn your high school diploma, you are a first-year. 

Transfers are people who have done a certain amount of college credit after completing a high school diploma.  If you're a transfer student, head over to the transfer blog.

 2. The Future Plans page is really, really important.
The Future Plans page is where you'll indicate whether you are applying for Early Action or Regular Decision at UVa.  

If you select Regular Decision, but submit your application in October, we won't be reading it until we finish the Early Action process.  It's fine to submit early (see below), but you might want to revisit this page before submission to make sure you've selected the correct radio button.

BTW, see that note "This institution has chosen not to receive the following information from your Common App"?  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.

3.  It's too early to submit an application.
Every year, there's some eager student who submits their application soon after the Common App launch.  While I think it's fine to poke around the Common App website and fill out the forms, I don't think you should submit anything right now. 

Fill out the forms.  If you're one of those students who worked on essays over the summer, that's great.  Put those essays away for a few weeks and look at them with fresh eyes just a little bit closer to the deadline.  You may find that a little distance will help with the editing process.

4.  Use the Help Button
There's a maroon circle with a yellow question mark inside it on every page of the website.  Sometimes it's in more than one place.  Click that icon and you'll be able to search common help topics.  Usually, there's already an answer to your question.  If you can't find an answer, you can submit a help ticket to the support team.  They're super fast. 

The colleges can't fix things on the Common App website.  If you call an admission office with Common App questions, they will often suggest that you contact Common App Support.

Good luck!
Don't rush.  You have plenty of time.

Early Action Deadline: November 1
Regular Decision Deadline: January 1