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, February 27, 2014

Over Specialization in High School

I want to share a little trend I've noticed in recent years that seems to be gaining momentum. It seems as though students are trying to show a specialty through their high school work. I'm not talking about magnet programs. In my experience, magnet programs allow for deep work in certain disciplines without sacrificing work in other core subjects. I'm talking about students who are dropping core subjects to double and triple up in others.

High school is the time to build a great foundation. College is where you solidify that foundation and then leap into specialization. We don't need students interested in Commerce to take scores of business classes in high school. We need them to have a great platform from which to dive into the more advanced work they'll do here.

Dropping core classes in high school to get electives in an area of interest isn't necessarily going to "look good" to admission officers.

Instead of being impressed that you were able to take Business Development and a slew of marketing courses, we're going to wonder why you haven't taken a foreign language since 10th grade or why there is no science on your transcript for senior year.

At UVa, most students don't declare a major until they've been here for a little while. In the College of Arts and Sciences, you have until the end of the 2nd year to declare. If you think you know what you want right now, be aware that you might change your mind. It's really common!

For now, focus on getting a solid foundation in high school. We consider your core high school subjects to be English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Languages. Electives are interesting, but your core foundation is what's most important to us as we're analyzing your transcript.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Quirky Essay Question

UVa Dining often hosts special theme nights on Grounds. I don't usually pay much attention to them since I'm a creature of habit and tend to stick to the same selections over and over again. Someone told me about a recent Pokemon dinner and insisted that this would be a "super cool" item for my blog. I don't really go off-topic very often here, so I originally stuck a link on the Facebook page that's connected to this blog and thought that'd be the end of it.

After I started flipping through the photos from the dinner, I started to think that UVa Dining's events are the quirky things we don't really talk about in our formal info sessions. 

Confession time: I wrote the "quirk" essay question that appeared on the application this year. I wrote some other questions, but I'm really proud of how "Quirk" worked. I've enjoyed what those who chose to answer the question have done with it. 

I've decided that I'm going to start a "Quirk" series on the blog where I'll step away from the admission talk for a little while and share some of the things that don't make it into our talks and brochures.

For now, enjoy some of my favorite photos from UVa Dining's Pokemon Dinner. If you know a little bit about UVa's culture already, feel free to make suggestions about subjects for future "Quirk" posts. I'll definitely cover our lingo and some of our big traditions.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Addressing Anomalies

It's always interesting when an anomaly jumps out at you while reading a file and you can't find any explanation of it anywhere. There's an "additional information" section in the Common App where students can share something that didn't fit in the other parts of the application that is perfect for this kind of thing. We get notes about scheduling conflicts, health problems, and family situations in this section. These notes help provide context.

The times when the oddities aren't addressed are kind of frustrating. A common example is when there is a really weak semester of work on an otherwise strong transcript. We flip back and forth through the file after we've read it to see if we missed something. Someone addressed the stumble, right? Someone will assure us that there is a spectacular rebound in the works...right? On your side, I guess you hope that if you stay really quiet about the anomaly, we'll pay more attention to the other stuff.

I see you, but you can't see me, right?

The fact is that the anomaly sticks out like a sore thumb (like seeing a golden retriever on an admission blog!). Someone needs to address this stuff. What happened? Why is that thing there?

So, if there's something on your mid-year transcript that is going to look odd or out of place, it might be a good idea to ask your counselor to address it on their report. If you make us guess, we might assume you have fallen victim to Senioritis.

By the way, have you been watching the Men's basketball team lately? I don't usually cover sports on this blog, but this has been such an exciting season!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Missing Credentials Emails on the Way!

Okay, Regular Decision applicants, it's time to look at your status pages. We sent emails to everyone who is missing an item that was supposed to be here already to give you one last chance to complete your application. Don't make us chase you!

If you're missing something, we hope you'll quickly get things squared away so we can move forward with your application.

No complete application = No reading your application.

This isn't about mid-year reports. Those have started to come in, but they will continue to arrive through the middle of the month.