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!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Overlap Season Begins

The overlap season is when we are working with several different groups of students, all with different needs. I didn't remember that it was overlap time until yesterday, when I was the "on call" dean. Most of the phone calls I took were from transfer students. Their application deadline is March 1st. The walk-ins were mostly students who were admitted during Early Action. A snow storm gave lots of students a couple days off, so some apparently decided to take a ride to Charlottesville, which wasn't impacted too heavily. A few juniors were in the office, just starting the tour circuit. Remember those days, seniors?

After a day of meeting with visitors, I decided to catch up on my reading in the wee hours.

That was a bad idea because this was me as I was thinking about the super awesome blog post I should write for you all today:

 So...let's just make this an open thread. If you want to ask questions, go for it. If you just want to share something, that's fine, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Days on the Lawn 2014

Days on the Lawn are open houses for admitted students at UVa. At DOTL, undecided students and their parents get to tour Grounds, attend info sessions about each school, visit a resource fair, and tour the residence halls. Admitted students also get to sit in on classes and have lunch with current students while their parents are at a few sessions. 

Coming to a DOTL isn't required, but it's a great way to figure out if UVa is the right place for you if you haven't gotten "that feeling" yet. 

You'll also be able to meet this guy in person:

There are eight different Days on the Lawn sessions. The first two are obviously for those admitted through Early Action. The rest are for those admitted during both Early Action and Regular Decision.
2014 Days on the Lawn 
Monday, March 24
Friday, March 28
Friday, April 4
Monday, April 7
Wednesday, April 9
Monday, April 14
Wednesday, April 16
Friday, April 18 

If you are offered admission, you'll get an email about registration. The email to Early Action students went out on Tuesday. 

CavDog LOVES Days on the Lawn days

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholar Notifications

This evening, we'll be sending an email to all of the admitted Early Action students who are invited to join our three scholars programs that have first year students. Echols and College Science Scholars are in the College of Arts and Sciences. Rodman Scholars are in the School of Engineering. There are a few of you who are going to be invited into Echols and CSS, which means you will get two emails. If you applied to the College or School of Engineering, you were considered for these programs.

These are not honors colleges. A lot of state universities have honors programs which are often colleges within the universities that have separate curricula, faculty, and resources. We don't have any honors programs at UVa. The entire curriculum is challenging. We have scholars programs for students who are intensely interested in exploring the curriculum in a way that having area requirements (our term for core curriculum) wouldn't necessarily allow.

You can't appeal the fact that you weren't selected, but you can try again next year. Each program has a process for joining after you get to UVa. There will be around round of offers after the Regular Decision notification.

The emails should all land by 8 PM tonight. If you haven't already done so, put and in your address book so our emails to go to your junk folder.

Scholar or not, CavDog wants to play with you on the Lawn.

If you've been admitted to UVa, we hope you are very proud of yourself. If you also get invited into a scholars program, consider it a cherry on top of the sundae! Congratulations to all!

Financial Aid Deadline Reminder

We just sent an email to everyone admitted and deferred during Early Action and all Regular Decision applicants about the financial aid deadline. We also emailed all of their parents, if we have parent emails on file. Some people have the same email for student and parent, but that's another story...

Anyway, no matter where you are in the process, it's important to know that the strict deadline to apply for financial aid at UVa is March 1st. You know how admission offices are always flexible with applicants around deadline time? Financial aid officers aren't so flexible. You MUST have your documents submitted by the deadline or they won't package you.

UVa's Student Financial Services can answer all of your aid-related questions. Remember that aid and admission are totally separate at UVa. I have no access to your aid documents, so please direct any questions to the financial aid folks. SFS is also on Twitter, so you might want to follow them for updates.

Once your submit your aid documents, keep an eye on your SIS status page. You'll have a financial aid "to do" list just like your admission one. Sometimes, the aid officers ask for extra documentation.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Early Action 2014 Statistics (Unofficial)

First of all, I am not the source of official statistics. 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. You can see official admission data in the data digest part of their website.  Obviously, what happened in past years isn't going to predict the future, but some people have fun playing around with the different charts on their site. 

Here are some numbers about the early action process. These numbers are up to date as of 1/20/2014. If you are a reporter reading this, please be sure to get in touch with the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for all of your reporterly needs. :)

We are still relatively new to Early Action. In a few years, we'll be able to cite trends. For now, if you want to look at numbers from past years, head to the Office of Institutional Assessment site (link above) or click on the "statistics" tag at the end of this post, which will take you to older posts of this nature.

Early Action Applications
Total number of Early Action applications: 14,819
Total number of VA apps: 4,027
Total number of OOS apps: 10,792
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Early Action Offers
Overall offers: 4,590
Total VA offers: 2,057 (51.1% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 2,533 (23.5% offer rate)
Enrollment goal: 3,570 
(between EA and RD)

*Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.
Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency (these numbers are for the entire applicant pool, not just early action). 

Early Action Defers
Overall defers: 3,771
Total VA defers: 920
Total OOS defers: 2,851
Some applicants will withdraw, so these numbers will go down.

Early Action Testing/Rank
Middle 50% SAT score (offers only): 2020-2260
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 31-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

95% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class 
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank.

Please understand that I do not have additional statistics. We are now immersed in the Regular Decision review process. There will be a post about scholars programs tomorrow and next step later this week.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Slight Delay...

I guess I forgot that our office is closed when I promised to post Early Action admission statistics on the blog today. I'll be sure to post those ASAP when I get back into the office.

In the meantime, did anyone see UVa alumna Sasheer Zamata make her debut on Saturday Night Live the other night? I have to admit that I don't stay up for SNL anymore, but I made sure to watch this episode. I think she was fabulous.

By the way, if you'd like to check out Martin Luther King Day activities at UVa (which actually span a few weeks), check out the University's MLK Celebration page.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Let's Talk About Decisions 2014: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk.  I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2018 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students.  Parents, you can check out the UVa Parents Committee and the UVa Families page.

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 you'll get more information about that soon via email.

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.

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 2014: The Defer

Students who were deferred can use this entry to talk.

There's no way around it.  This is probably the toughest decision (or maybe it's a "non-decision") to get from a school after applying under Early Action. In most cases, we have deferred students when we think senior grades are needed before making a final decision. At this point, you should simply make sure your mid-year report is sent when the grades from the first semester or second trimester are ready.  Most of your counselors will do this automatically.

Feel free chat here. You should have already seen the link to the defer FAQ page, which answers the most common questions.

CavDog hopes you find a peaceful place to wait

Let's Talk about Decisions 2014: The Deny

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 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. Give yourself time to explore you options.

I hope you'll read this post and remember that this decision is probably about our numbers. You didn't do anything "wrong" (a common question). I'll leave you until tomorrow, when I'll be back to answer questions.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.

BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don't want the messages anymore, there's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.

CavDog wishes he could make this easier on you

A Note of Thanks

This blog is almost 9 years old and writing this post on decision days has become my little tradition. Way back in 2005, I was truly anonymous. Almost no one had an admission blog and some people at UVa were afraid of what I was doing. CavDog wasn't even born yet, so I used a teddy bear from the bookstore for the entertaining pictures. Twitter and Instagram didn't exist and Facebook was still, primarily, the students' domain. A lot has changed, but writing my note of thanks is one thing that hasn't. So, here we go.

Thank you.

Some of you won't be visiting after today, so I feel that this is a good time to say thank you for being part of this blog. My work in social media is successful because of you. When I'm bleary eyed from staring at forms and transcripts, it's wonderful to look at comments online and be reminded of the students who are behind the applications. I'm thankful for the opportunity to interact with you.

Our office is buzzing with excitement because we know that we're going to make some of you very happy this evening. That excitement is tempered by the fact that we're going to make many of you sad or upset. One of the drawbacks to working at a selective school is that we have to say "no" more often than we get to say "yes". I console myself with the knowledge that you will all have other attractive offers, some from our 14 public sisters in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to be just fine.  You are going to attend a great school and you are going to grow tremendously while there. You're going to have "ah ha" moments like you've never had before. You're going to learn from amazing, inspirational professors, administrators, and peers. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all nighters studying. You're going to pull all nighters not studying. You are going to have highs and lows, you're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably sometimes. What's going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not necessarily your location when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVa. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.

Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you'll continue to chime in to help the next group of applicants.

It's a big night and I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck!

Early Action Notification Update

It seems as though everyone has analyzed the calendar and realized that if notification was coming early, it would most likely come today or next Friday.

At the request (or maybe behest is a better word) of our colleagues on the high school side, we wait until after school is over to let the cat (or CavDog?) out of the bag. We're going to post Early Action decisions on your SIS accounts TONIGHT! Please keep reading!

The happiest CavDog image I could find!

1. You have to log into your SIS account to see the decision. Some time tonight, that "View Decision" link at the bottom of the dashboard that goes to a dead end right now will go to a decision letter. If you can't find your login info for the SIS, use the links on the login page to generate a new password. A welcome mailing with info about next steps will come later. Please do not open multiple windows, hammering the system. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window.

2. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I will step away from the blog and social media this evening to give you time to chat. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments. Feel free to flag a comment if you need me to step in. That notification will go to my phone.

3. Notification Day brings a lot of joy, but there are going to be some hurt feelings as well. While I want you to be happy and celebrate your successes, I hope you'll be gracious around classmates who might not get good news. If you don't get the good news, I hope you'll be happy about the options you DO have.

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). This is not a private page. What's more, statistics like GPA and rank are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. GPAs are meaningless without the high school profile's explanation of the methodology used to calculate them.

5. I'll post one more time before the office closes today. Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by email next week. Posts about deferral, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), an EA statistics will come next week. We are moving into Regular Decision reading now and we have to do this all over again. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.

Good luck to you all!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Class of 2018 Facebook Group (for students only!)

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, Instagram, 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 2018 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 2018 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 2018 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. 

So why am I on Facebook?
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.

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 and the Washington Post covered it as well.

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 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).

There are two current students who run the Class of 2018 group. When your class elects officers, they will hand the group over to your chosen leaders. We've been doing this for about five years and it works beautifully. For now, 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?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why GPA is Meaningless Without Context

As I read my first few files this morning, decided to jot down the top GPA in each of the applicant's classes. I hope this puts somethings in perspective.


Many adults outside of academia are baffled by modern GPAs. They're used to a simple 4.0 scale that's unweighted, so when they hear about a student with a 4.2 GPA, they are totally blown away. What does a 4.2 GPA mean? It clearly means different things at different schools. This is why admission officers at UVa often decline to answer the question about what our "average GPA" is. First off, we don't have a GPA requirement here since our process is holistic. Second, any average calculation is incorporating numbers that weren't calculated with the same methodology. Our statisticians calculate an average every year, but I don't think it's something you can lean on in light of the different scales used.

The counselors at each school send us a high school profile that explains the methodology in place. These profiles help us understand the context of the data presented in the application.

Resist the urge to compare your numbers to students outside your school. I see students posting their GPAs online all the time and it just doesn't make sense.

 Don't compare yourself to students from other places. It doesn't make sense!

By the way, I also jotted down the number of Honors and AP courses offered at a few schools.


The two with the asterisks limit how many AP courses a student can take to 3 or 4 per year. I hope this helps you understand why there's no required number of APs for those of you who attend AP schools.We look at the coursework you selected based on what is available to you at your school. Would you consider a student's program strong if he took 4 AP courses out of the 6 offered at his school? Would you consider the program strong if he took 4 APs at a school that offered 21 with no restrictions? If you start thinking about everything in context, you're thinking like an admission officer.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Are We There Yet? A Note about Notification.

By the looks of blog comments, Twitter, and message boards, this is the week when restless Early Action applicants are wondering what is going on in Peabody Hall and how much longer they'll have to wait for decisions.

People deal with the uncertainty in different ways. Some just keep checking and hoping that there will be an update. They look at last year's blog posts and count days on the calendar. They look for signs in tweets and posts. Is it time?

And other people get a little irritated and impatient. They think we must be holding back and we should just hurry up and tell them the inevitable conclusion to this process.

So here's what's going on. We're still entrenched in the process. A holistic review, which means a decision is rendered after reading the entire application (not just the numbers), takes time. We are working as quickly as possible while not sacrificing a thorough and thoughtful review. We feel really strongly about this. We've been working weekends and over holidays in hopes of releasing early, but we aren't done yet.  In fact, I really should have my head in the files right now, so I won't go.

Hang in there, early action applicants.

Regular decision applicants, our processing staff is now working on completing your applications. Don't fixate on your status pages just yet because we are still filing supporting documents. I'll let you know when it's time to worry about those.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


We are still immersed in our Early Action review, but I have to take a moment to introduce you to someone who will probably be making an appearance on the blog in gif form in the future.

If you hadn't noticed, I love to sprinkle gifs into my posts these days. I started doing this last year, when we were moving to the waiting list. I was trying to covey how excited we were to make waiting list offers and my CavDog pictures weren't doing the trick. A gif from 30 Rock was perfect. Tina Fey became my "go to" gif subject since she's one of the smartest, funniest women around and she's a UVa graduate.

If someone would give me a few Katie Couric gifs to work with that go beyond blinking, I'd use them.

Yesterday afternoon, I learned that another funny, smart UVa alumna is joining the cast of Saturday Night Live. Sasheer Zamata, who graduated just three years ago, is the newest member of that show's cast. I expect the library of Sasheer gifs to grow as soon as her first show airs.

Wahoowa, Sasheer!

By the way, I see the comments, tweets, and posts on message boards about the timing of our process. We are still working. A thorough, thoughtful review takes time. Rest assured that as soon as we are done, I will post immediately.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Reminder Emails

In the next few hours, we will be emailing Regular Decision applicants who didn't submit all three parts of their application to give them one more chance to get it done. We've been emailing you for a few weeks about this. Thousands of you have everything submitted. A few hundred are leaving us hanging. 64 of you paid a fee, but never submitted anything else.

You might want to be proactive and log into your Common App account to make sure you submitted all three items (the application, writing supplement, and payment) for each of your schools. You don't want your application to be in limbo!


Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Day After Deadline

So that thing we knew would happen? It happened. That thing that happens almost every year when students apply to college? It happened (though the issue is bigger this year than in the past). That thing that happens every Saturday at 10 AM when tickets for some great concert go on sale? It happened.

A really popular website crashed at a time of peak use. It's totally foreseeable. Some people hoped they'd be lucky, though, and jumped in during that period of peak usage.

Look, while we wish you didn't wait until the last minute, we realize that you are juggling a lot and you might have really needed the final hours to put the finishing touches on your application.

That's why we are always flexible.

On top of that, application deadlines seem to coincide with bad weather, which sometimes results in internet outages or blakouts.

That's why we are always, always flexible.

If you encountered a problem with the Common App website last night, get your app in today. I can almost guarantee that no school cut their applications off at midnight last night. There is always a grace period. You're in it right now. Get those apps completed and submitted! Double and triple check that you submitted all three parts of the application (application, writing supplement, and payment).

It will be okay!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Regular Decision Deadline Tonight!

The Regular Decision deadline is tonight at 11:59 PM. I'm sure you've heard it before, but if you haven't hit submit, make sure you do it well before the deadline. There is apt to be a lot of traffic on the Common App's servers and if you need help, you'll probably one of many submitting a help ticket.

After you hit submit and ALL sections of the Common App (the application, writing section, and payment), Common App will send the application to us. Within five days of that, our computer system will send you login information. The system is called SIS and that is where you'll monitor your application and your financial aid documents (if you submit them).

The first time you log in, you will probably see several items missing from your file. Don't worry about that yet! Your teachers and counselors have a different deadline for submitting their documents.

 Good night, applicants!

Now, here are some links to posts about common questions that arise around deadline time: