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!

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Quirk: Friendly Rivalries

Well, a very exciting run is over. The UVa men's basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament over the weekend. We all stayed up way too late on Friday night, so Charlottesville was pretty quiet on Saturday morning. Side note: I know students are used to staying up late, but a 10:15 PM tip off is brutal! They were still playing at midnight!

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little story to tell you about how tight the UVa family is. When the NCAA tournament started, I sat CavDog next to the logo of the team's first opponent to see if he would do anything funny for my camera. He just looked bored. I could work with that.

 For the next game, I gave CavDog a stuffed toy that resembled the other team's mascot. He loved it. He loved it so much he destroyed it quickly and efficiently.

The poor tiger toy was in pieces by the tip off of that game.

The last opponent we had was from pretty far away. I had a couple days to find something for CavDog to play with in videos and pictures to represent our opponent (and at this point, people were asking what I was going to do next, so I felt some pressure!). Desperate, I put out the word on social media that I needed someone in the state of our opponent to help me.

Three UVa graduates volunteered. I can't tell you how much running around they did, but one went to at least five different stores to track down some sort of toy for CavDog. He struck out. Another graduate explained that they take their in-state rivalries much, much more seriously than we do in Virginia, so her area (where our opponent's in-state rival was located) wouldn't have anything for CavDog. She literally had not seen anything in her town with the other school's logo on it.

I found the temperature of the rivalry in that state kind of interesting. At most of the stores in Charlottesville (excluding the ones on the UVa Corner), you can find items with the Virginia Tech logo right alongside the UVA items. This is true at the little boutiques and the big chains. These flags are not uncommon around here:

While we talk about having a rivalry with our sister schools in the Commonwealth, it really only exists in the sporting arena. Most UVa students have high school friends at the other state schools, so while we obviously hope we win the "big game," we don't hate our peers. What's more, if they ever needed us, we'd be there for them.

Oh, in the end, one of the UVa graduates came through with a football that sang our opponent's fight song. CavDog was so, so pleased.

Some teasing is fun on game day, but remember that in the end, we are all part of a the amazing network of public schools in the Commonwealth. I've found that some of the people who make the rivalry out to be bigger than it is are people who didn't actually go to the schools involved.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Days on the Lawn #2 - Rain Plan in Effect!

There's a strong chance of rain tomorrow, so we are moving all Days on the Lawn events to their rain locations. Admission officers and student volunteers will be around to point you in the right direction, but just in case you find you way to Grounds without us, we'll be starting the day in Old Cabell Hall instead of outside at the Rotunda. Old Cabell is on the opposite end of the Lawn from the Rotunda.

The DOTL website has parking information, but I thought I'd revisit the parking situation for these events. We have rented the entire Emmet & Ivy Garage for DOTL. This is the garage behind the Cavalier Inn at the intersection of Emmet Street (aka Route 29) and Ivy Road. If you've been to UVa before, you've probably seen the playing field and tennis courts at this intersection. We have shuttle buses to take you from the garage to the Lawn.

If you visited UVa in the past, you probably parked in the Central Grounds Parking garage. That garage isn't big enough to accommodate everyone coming for Days on the Lawn.

Any questions about DOTL?

By the way, CavDog stays home when we move to the rain plan. Old Cabell Hall isn't pet friendly.

Not a fan of the rain plan.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Waiting List, in Depth

A lot of the comments on the waiting list post from decision day ask questions that are addressed on the waiting list FAQ page, which was linked in your letter and in that post. I'm going to share some of the same information here and add my own notes. There is a lot of information to share. Here we go...

How many people are on the waiting list? 

I think the biggest thing that students skim over is the part where we say that you have to accept or decline the offer of a spot on the waiting list. The waiting list doesn't really exist until people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, covers the numbers.
From the 2012-2013 Common Data Set:
Do you have a policy of placing students on a waiting list? Yes
Number of qualified applicants offered a place on the waiting list: 4,393
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,540
On May 1, the waiting list will be big. There's no way around that. While we don't have a ranking, you can think of the list as having ten sections. The sections are for Virginia and non-Virginia residents for each for the five schools/programs that take first year students.

I accepted. Why are the buttons still there?
If you hit the "accept" button, you can always come back and pull yourself off the list. That is why the buttons remain after you opt in. There is no going back once you decline, though. If you decline the spot, the buttons disappear.

How many people will come off the waiting list?  

No one will know this until May 1st. Even though I've been doing this for years, I can't predict this one. May 1st is when all of the admitted students need to have deposits submitted to reserve a place in the Class of 2018. The class is supposed to be 3,570 students. If we don't have that number of admitted students accepting a spot, we move to the waiting list.
It's hard to cite trends with certainty. One year, we might have room for in-state Nursing students and the next year, that group could be full on May 1. We're all waiting to see how this works out right now.   

How many people got offers to come off the waiting list in the past?  
Here are numbers from the last few years:
2013 - 185  
2012 - 284  
2011 - 117  
2010 - 240  
2009 - 288  
2008 - 60
2007 - 159  
2006 - 145  
2005 - 83

How do I improve my chances of getting an offer? 
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about this. Emailing a letter of interest is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us with significant news is okay. Bombarding us with an email each day is not.

By the way, showing up in Peabody Hall will have no affect. I can't tell you how many students drive here and then sit on the sofa and ask the questions covered in the FAQs. This is not a good use of your time (or gas money).

When/How do you make wait-list offers?  
We start making waiting list offers as soon as we know we have space in the class. We want to move quickly. No one wants to drag this out. Last year, we started on April 30th. In 2012, it was April 30th again (total coincidence). The year before, we started on May 4th. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we finished on June 3rd and the year before that, we were done on June 11th.
If you are going to get an offer, we'll call you at the number you put on your Common Application. The call is a heads up that your status is about to change in SIS. Of course, it's fine if you tell us "no thanks" and that's the end of it. We hope that people who are no longer interested in UVa use the "decline" button to remove their name from the list, but some people forget.
Anyway, the usual response is screaming or "OH MY GOSH!" When SIS updates, a new letter is viewable along with the buttons needed to accept the offer and pay a deposit. We'll give you a couple days to think about things.

What about aid?  
If you applied for aid by the March 1st and got all of your documentation in, Student Financial Services will put a financial aid package together. Once that's posted, you'll have a couple days to accept the over and pay your deposit.

What now? 
Look at your other options. Get excited about one of them and pay a deposit to guarantee yourself a spot in a freshman class somewhere. 

By the way, calling a student and telling them that they are getting an offer of admission is probably the most exciting thing admission officers experience. We can't wait to make them. Everyone has a story or two about favorite calls. I promise you that when it's time, we'll be working very quickly so we can deliver some happy news!

 Oh, look at that. He nodded off.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Unofficial 2013-2014 Admission Statistics

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

Here are some numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of 3/24/2014. 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. :)

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. Remember that my numbers are unofficial and old posts were not updated when the census was taken.

Total number of applications: 31,042
Total number of VA apps: 9,014
Total number of OOS apps: 22,028
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Overall offers: 8,972
Total VA offers: 3,903 (43.2% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 5,069 (23% offer rate)
Enrollment goal: 3,570

*Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.
Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. We do not try to figure out an individual student's likelihood of enrolling (demonstrated interest), but overall yield influences the offer rate. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency.

Middle 50% SAT score (offers only):1970-2240
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 30-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

92.5% 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. It's Days on the Lawn season and spring break at many high schools, so we are inundated with visitors. We have also moved into the transfer review process (reading season doesn't end with the first year release!). There will be a post about the waiting list tomorrow and next step later this week.

Friday, March 21, 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. We would love to see your celebratory pictures or videos! Tag them with #UVA2018 and #UVA. There will be loads of Hoos online tonight during the basketball game and I bet they'd love to welcome you to the UVa family!

Just below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, a pop-up box will appear so 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: 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 waiting list 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 185 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 in your decision letter, 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: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I'm sorry this sort of entry is needed. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. 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.

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.

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 is my eighth time writing this post. I often start with last year's note and edit it as I go along. Some things have changed a lot about this process and other things haven't changed at all.  Writing this note is my little tradition and I don't want that to change. So, here we go.

Thank you.

Some of you will be moving on after tonight and so I think it's a good time to express my gratitude for having you spend a few moments from your busy days on the blog. My work in social media is successful because of you. When I'm bleary eyed from staring at forms and transcripts, your comments help me feel connected to the students who are behind the applications. I'm thankful for the opportunity to interact with you here, on Twitter, Instagram, the Facebook page, and the blog. I am not thankful for SnapChat yet. I'm not sure I ever will be.

For an admission officer, a dream moment would be to be able to see a student open their admission letter. During the EA release, students were tagging their happy pictures and videos with #UVA2018, so that dream came true for me. I love thinking about how happy some of you are going to be this evening. That excitement is tempered by the fact that we're going to make many of you sad or upset. 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 at a few things. 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. The vast majority of the applicant pool is 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! Go Hoos!

Seriously, use the #UVA2018 and #UVA hashtags tonight. 
Our entire community is so excited to welcome the new class!

Regular Decision Notification Update

The last two weeks of March, everyone is looking for signs that we are finished with the review process. I've had students tell me about my patterns on Twitter or the blog and how they relate to when we released decisions in past years. I've had people contact me almost every. single. day. to ask if this is the day they we'll be done.

Where did everyone go?

There are so many different pieces to this process. Besides the application review, we have to look at mid-year reports, early action students who were deferred to regular decision, the scholars programs, and we also have the rolling spring breaks that bring hundreds of students to the UVa Grounds every day.

I am so excited to tell you all that this afternoon, we finalized the last decisions and we are ready to let them go. We're going to post Regular Action decisions on your SIS accounts TONIGHT! Please keep reading!

 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.

I don't have a time for the release because it takes the IT folks a while to run the script that posts the letters. It's not a case of just flipping a switch.

Welcome mailings

I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I will step away from the blog this evening to give you time to chat (I'll be on Twitter during the basketball game because I like seeing UVa as a trending topic). 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 and don't represent the applicant accurately. GPAs are meaningless without the high school profile's explanation of the methodology used to calculate them. What's more, posting that you took 87 AP courses doesn't tell the story of your high school career.

5. I'll share statistics on Monday afternoon.

Good luck to you all!
Whoo Hoo! You made it to the finish line!

Engineering Open House Tomorrow!

One of my favorite days of the year is tomorrow! I'll be spending the morning on Engineering Way here at UVa, visiting with our engineering students who are holding an open house for the community. If you're a prospective student and want to come, you can register online for the event.

I'll be giving back-to-back admission talks with Dean Ed Berger in MEC 205 (Mechanical Engineering building) at 11 am and 12 pm. If you've already attended an information session, you've probably heard a lot of what I'm going to say, so don't feel obligated to come. You should DEFINITELY check out the other things going on in the MEC building, though.

Former astronaut and UVa faculty member Kathy Thornton is giving a talk right after our admission session and she always draws a crowd.

There's a full schedule and parking information on the open house website. The weather is supposed to be beautiful!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Happens at Days on the Lawn?

Two posts in one day! That doesn't happen too often around here.

A comment on this morning's post made me realize that I've been catering to Regular Decision applicants on the blog lately and there are a lot of admitted Early Action applicants who are making plans to visit. This post is also for the RD applicants, of course. Some of you will make plans to visit us for Days on the Lawn in April.

What is Days on the Lawn?
Days on the Lawn (DOTL) are open house days for admitted students. There are two DOTLs in March and six in April. The first one is this coming Monday.

Monday, March 24
Friday, March 28
Friday, April 4
Monday, April 7
Wednesday, April 9
Monday, April 14
Wednesday, April 16
Friday, April 18
 A link to registration, which is required, sent to every admitted student. DOTL is not required.

CavDog expects pets first and registration second.

What happens at Days on the Lawn?
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 opening session (on the Rotunda steps unless it rains).  We'll have some light refreshments until 9:00 AM.  After a quick hello from administrators, a student will offer some advice for incoming students.  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 and the Financial Aid staff will be around 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 in the afternoon.  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 panels.  We usually have students from different graduation years and different academic programs on the panel, so a variety of student experiences are represented.

There is no set schedule. You decide what you want to attend. 

 DOTLs are CavDog's favorite days of the year!

What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can walk in. You'll be able to wander all over the Grounds and you don't want your attire to slow you down or make you not want to walk over to the residence halls or to the building of the department that interests you.

What if I can't come to a DOTL?
You can do a lot of the same things on another day, but you'll just have to do a little planning. Our "Plan a Visit" page has links to an open class list, the Monroe Society (overnight visit hosts), and other resources for visitors. If you scroll down on the tour page, you'll see that there are department tours offered in addition to the general tour.

Wahoo Love.

Feel free to post DOTL questions. One observation I can share is that one or two days always become the most sought after ones. If a date fills up, please pick a different date.

A Regular Decision Update

It started a week ago. Students started mentioning the results of this process in their comments and tweets. Everyone knows that we are usually able to release our decisions a few days before our stated notification date of April 1st.

I have to admit that I didn't see that tweet until I sat down for the basketball game on Friday afternoon and the answer was obviously "no."

For this one, I had to look back at the blog posts from last March to remember when we notified. Last year, we were able to release on March 21st. I guess you can read into the fact that I didn't know that off the top of my head. When we are done, we move to release the decisions. The date isn't determined by last year's process.

Some students have just made hints at notification...

So what are we doing right now? We are honestly still working on files. At this point, every file has been read multiple times, but "building a class" doesn't just happen after the first or second pass. We visit files over and over again to come to a final decision for them.

We are close, so it's time to stop sending updates for files (mail sent today won't get to us until next week and it can take a few days to get things into files).

I know the wait is tough! We are working as quickly as possible without sacrificing our thorough review. We know that on the other side of this is our favorite part of the year - soon we'll get to meet all of the admitted students at Days on the Lawn!

Hang in there!

CavDog doesn't like the wait, either.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Selection Sunday

I put the files aside a few times this weekend to watch the men's basketball team's progress through the ACC tournament games. In case you haven't been watching, the team just won the ACC championship! Social media is full of happy Hoos celebrating.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that CavDog hasn't been worried at all. He's been pretty positive that UVa would win.

I'm going to return to my file review now. We don't have much more time to build the Class of 2018! In the meantime, you might want to practice this:


Friday, March 07, 2014

The Balance Between Course Selection and Grades

It's course selection time in some districts, which is probably why my post about overspecialization generated some good conversation in the comments. Since juniors are obviously starting to read the blog, I thought I'd bring up the important topic of balance. Seniors, I think it would be great if you could chime in with some thoughts to help the juniors (and maybe the one or two sophomores who are reading) as they are thinking about picking next year's courses.

First, I want to tell a story. Read this while remembering that the number of advanced courses students are allowed to take varies from school to school. The high school profile that comes with every transcript explains the curriculum at the school and the limitations placed on students.

Several years ago, I started to chat with a family at the water cooler in our reception area. They were from Fairfax County, which is part of my region, and the prospective student attended a school with an AP curriculum (as opposed to IB, AICE, etc.). I love hearing about the rumors about the admission process that float around every year, so I asked what they were hearing. They said "we heard that you have to have 10 APs to get admitted." I remember the number because it seemed absurd. At the time, I didn't even know how you could schedule 10 APs in a high school program. Of course, times have changed and students do pack that many APs into their schedule at some schools (this might not be the case at your school, of course). These days, there are students taking 10, 11, even 12 AP courses. I also saw a stunning case where someone at an IB school was taking 5 HLs. I counted three times to be sure.

Some people obsess about the number of top courses they can get in their schedule, but may be forgetting about balance. The balance is different for every student (and as I mentioned before,scheduling works different at every school), which is why that 10 AP "requirement" that visiting family heard is ridiculous. How do you find the balance? You need to have a frank conversation with yourself, your counselor, and a trusted adviser or two about this. How many top courses can you take while still maintaining great grades?

Finding balance

You need to challenge yourself with a fabulous program, but the transcript has two sides. You don't want to do work that prompts this tweet that I wrote last week after being frustrated by some bad mid-year grade reports:

Seniors, it's your turn to impart some knowledge on the juniors. Who helped you find the balance? Were there times when you struggled? What did you do to make things work better for you?