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!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Days on the Lawn Travel Notes

I have a few travel notes for those of you who are making plans to visit us this month for Days on the Lawn. Two days before the DOTL date for which you registered, you'll be getting an email with this information and more in it. Make sure to share it with your parent(s) if they'll be coming with you.

If you've visited UVa before, you probably parked in the hourly Central Grounds Parking Garage. For DOTL, you'll be parking in the garage at the intersection of Emmet and Ivy Roads. The UVa tennis courts and the Cavalier Inn are at this intersection.You can access this garage from either road.

There will signs and staff members to get you onto the shuttles to the amphitheater.

We'll be starting the day in the UVa amphitheater with the welcome addresses at 9 AM. You can check in any time after 8:15 AM and get a schedule for the day. If we have to use the rain plan, we'll have people in place to direct you to Old Cabell Hall. If you arrive after the welcome address, you can register in Peabody Hall.

Any student in an orange Days on the Lawn shirt is here to answer any questions you have. Don't hesitate to ask them anything at all! There will be faculty and staff members from different departments and offices at the various sessions to answer your questions as well. If you need anything else, come see us in Peabody Hall.

If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Last-Minute Trip to the FIRST Regional!

Though DOTL days are the most exciting ones of the spring, I'm thrilled to be making a quick trip to NOVA to go to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) regional this weekend. FIRST stands for For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and they sponsor programs for children as young as 6 (they work with legos) to students in high school.

The FRC has a different theme or game each year and the teams have to build robots to score points during the games. Teams work in groups of three (called an alliance) during each "heat" as points are earned.

This year's game is called Recycle Rush. Here's the intro:

And here's a video of some teams from a different region in action:

It might look a little confusing now, but when you're at the competition, it's hard not to get totally obsessed with the game. There are 16 teams from Virginia in the regional and 13 of them are from my I might lose my voice cheering for all of my favorites!

If you're on a FIRST team, good luck at your competitions! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What to Expect at Days on the Lawn

I can't believe the first Days on the Lawn is coming on Monday! We are at capacity for the first two days, so we should have nice sized crowds.

The happiest greeter!

What is Days on the Lawn?
By now, you probably know this, but Days on the Lawn (DOTL) are open house days for admitted students. You don't have to attend, but many undecided students find it helpful to spend a full day on Grounds since they might not have visited before or their last visit was before they applied.

What happens at Days on the Lawn?
 The first think you need to know is that while there is a full schedule of events for each DOTL, you decide what you want to do.

The opening session is at 9 AM in the amphitheater. There will be signs and volunteers to direct you after you park. After a welcome 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). 

In the afternoon, you can go on residence hall tours, an activity showcase, and various panel discussions. The formal part of the day ends with a student social. Of course, you are welcome to stay longer if you wish!

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.

If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The #UVA19 Waiting List

If you were offered a spot on the waiting list at UVa, you had a link to the Waiting List FAQs in your decision letter. I'm going to go over the parts that come up in questions and add some more information. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

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 2014-2015 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: 5,543

Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 3,456
We did not make as many waiting list offers this year. 5,000+ is too many. Still, the waiting list will be big on May 1st because we need to ensure there are students to fit all ten sections of the first year class (Virginia and out-of-state for each of the five schools/programs that take first years.

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 2019. The class is supposed to be 3,675 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:  
2014- 42
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. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we started making offers in early May and were done by June 6th. In 2013, 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.

Because we want to give students a few days to think about the offer (and because the Financial Aid folks need a day or two to post a package for the newly-admitted student), the process takes a while. I can't give constant updates on the blog. Just be prepared for some silence in May. I will always tell you when the Dean says the class is full (see the posts I linked to above).

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!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unofficial #UVA19 Admission Statistics

As usual, I am sharing some unofficial statistics this application season. These numbers weren't targets (meaning, we don't read to "hit" a certain test statistic), they are the result of our review process. Please keep in mind that the Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVa. They will determine the final statistics for the class, which can be found in the data digest part of their website

Here are some unofficial numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of 3/22/2015. 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: 30,853
Total number of VA apps: 9,147
Total number of OOS apps: 21,706
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Overall offers: 8,786
Total VA offers: 3,800 (41.5% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 4,986 (23% offer rate)
Enrollment goal:

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): 1970-2250
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 30-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.

93.2% 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 more on Days on the Lawn later this week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's Talk About #UVA19 Decisions: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. If you didn't see the link in your letter, here's the welcome site created just for you! This is just the start of different offices reaching out to welcome you to UVa. Get ready. There's a whole lotta UVa love coming your way!

I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2019 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 #UVA2019.We might even compile a post of our favorite next week.

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 #UVA19 Decisions: The Waiting List

Students offered a spot on the waiting list can use this entry to talk.

This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school. At UVa, the waiting list tends to be large 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. After looking at trends from recent years, we decided to cut the waiting list down. We did not extend this option to as many students as in the past.

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).

Still, the numbers can change dramatically from year-to-year. We took 60 students off the waiting list in 2008 and 288 students the next year. Last year, we offered admission to 42 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 #UVA19 Decisions: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know it's hard to know that UVa is not going to be an option when you make your final decision. I hope you all can look at your other schools and get excited about the opportunities in front of you. 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.

Remember that this decision is probably about our numbers. You didn't necessarily do anything "wrong" (a common question). 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. 

Thank You, #UVA19

After the 2009 season, I didn't think there could be a tougher year, but this one was harder. There were times when the energy and enthusiasm in your applications (and sometimes your nice tweets and comments) kept me going. It's been a long six months, but I think that the result is one of the most amazing classes we've ever assembled.

THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog this season. I feel lucky that I get to stay connected with our applicants throughout the reading season via social media.

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. 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'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 where you are 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 comment and maybe think about joining some of the groups that work with our office once you come here.

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

A #UVA19 Regular Decision Update

The Dean just came by with his jacket on. He's ready to watch the Hoos play in the first round of the NCAA. That means he's ready for you to find out if you are going to be a Hoo!

This is actually pretty accurate.

Please keep reading! I have notes...

1. Decisions will be posted in SIS tonight. Our tech folks handle the release, so I can't pinpoint a precise moment when they will be done (back in the pre-SIS days, I just typed "-1" in the code a few times and it was done, but it's more involved now).

The "View Decision" link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter instead of that "April 1st" message that's there right now. 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 for those who are admitted. Please do not open multiple windows or constantly hit refresh. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window. Set a time tonight when you'll check and do something offline until then.

2.  The release is always exciting, but some of you aren't going to get the decision for which you hoped. I hope you'll focus on the college options you have instead of the ones you don't at the end of the day. I hope those of you who get offers will celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.

3. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions at the end of the day. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments over the weekend.  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. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA19 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVa community. Some of you seem to be using that tag already!

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). As I posted this morning, school-specific statistics like GPA and rank are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. What's more, there have been times when enough information about an applicant has been shared that their classmates could identify them.

5. Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by email and mail on Monday. Posts about next steps, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), and statistics will come next week.

I am going to take a break now. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed. 

I Don't Care About Your GPA

Did that get your attention? Good. We need to talk about GPAs.

GPAs attempt to convey academic achievement. When you talk with your classmates about GPAs, you are speaking the same language. You can probably imagine the kind of work that went into making a cited GPA because you all understand the methodology being used at your school. What would happen if a student from a different school, maybe from a different region, joined that conversation? You'd probably have to do some translating so they could understand how things work.

Admission officers know that the way schools calculate a GPA varies dramatically. Many get around this by having a system that recalculates every GPA so the different methodologies are removed. We don't do that here (not saying it isn't a possibility one day). Instead, we look at the transcript to see the courses you took and the grades that you earned. The transcript tells the story of your process over the last four years. The transcript is far more compelling and informative than your GPA.

How do we know how to analyze your transcript?

The thing that helps us understand the context for your courses and grades is the high school profile. Your counselor sends a high school profile as part of their Common App form. The profile is often a 2-4 page document that explains how your school operates. It'll go over the grade scale, weighting, GPA methodology, and course options available to you. It'll also let us know if there are any restrictions on the courses you can take. Most of the time, the profile gives us all the information we need to assess your transcript.

Here are some snippets I grabbed from a couple profiles last year:

Click to enlarge

 So this is showing me the grading scale, has a statement about how courses are weighted when GPAs are calculated, and gives me a distribution of all students in the class at the end of the junior year.

Some profiles also give us grade distribution charts. This helps us understand how grading might vary from course to course in your school. Counselor sometimes clue us into this kind of thing, too.

Click to enlarge

Over the years, I've learned that there's a certain teacher who teaches a class at a school in my region (don't ask me to be specific) that gives very, very few As. I have read a lot of applications from the school and when I see a student with an A in that course, I am over the moon excited for the student. That A isn't going to get any special treatment when the school calculates GPAs.

What if the profile doesn't have enough information or we don't get one?

If we ever have questions, we call the counselor. It happens more than you probably think! Even though I've been covering some of my territories for 14 years, I call counselors routinely and learn new things. For example, this year, I learned that one of "my" districts had a policy that automatically lowered a grade for an online course if there was too big of a gap between the student's grade going into the final and their grade on the exam. The policy is gone now, but it was in place for some of this year's seniors.

You are so much more than your GPA. While it's a handy statistic to cite when you are chatting with your friends, we were looking at the courses and grades on your transcript to understand your academic preparation.

And because those graphics aren't too exciting, here's a CavDog picture for you.

Spring is in the air!

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Regular Decision Update

Where is everyone?

Comments over the weekend showed that some are eager for an update. I'm happy to say that most mid-year reports arrived and we have been able to move forward with our files. Aside from taking breaks to watch basketball games, we've been burning the midnight oil with the Regular Decision review.

Our official notification date is April 1st,  but if we are able to release decisions earlier, I'll let you all know.

By the way, I think I have to revisit the issue of demonstrated interest again. People hear us when we say that interest doesn't matter, but they think we secretly want you to show interest. This is not true.
We want your substantive updates (grade or course changes, for example) to go to If you have questions, feel free to post them here are ask on Facebook or Twitter. You can also email us or call our main number.There is a dean on call each day to answer questions by phone.