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!

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!