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!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Five Tips for #UVA20 Regular Decision Applicants

The Regular Decision deadline is around the corner and from the tone of the calls I've gotten today, some of you are freaking out. Here are my final notes for all of you who are putting the finishing touches on applications right now:

1. Read the application instructions. There's a whole section about "Accessing the Student Information System" and so many of the questions I get on the blog are covered there.

2. Get YOUR part of the application submitted by 11:59 PM on January 1st. Your teachers and counselors have a grace period for submitting their parts of the application.

3.  You don't have to "rush" your SAT scores. As long as you have submitted your request to ACT or SAT, we can work with you. In an ideal world, you'd have submitted those requests earlier in the month, but we'll have plenty of things to work on if the scores aren't here on deadline day.

4. I know I mentioned this the other day, but make sure you submit your Common App. Paying the fee doesn't submit your application. Every year, there are people who submit a payment, but don't submit their actual application.

5. If you have any trouble, hit the "Instructions and Help" link that is on every page of the Common App website. They have support team members staying up into the wee hours to help students. That isn't permission to procrastinate. Can you imagine how many help tickets get submitted on the night of a big deadline?

That's all I have! Feel free to tweet at me (@UVaDeanJ) or post in the comments if you have a last minute question. Good luck!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Last Minute Notes for #UVA20 Regular Decision Applicants

January 1st is around the corner and it's time to remind Regular Decision applicants of a few things. Early Action applicants, you're going to recognize a lot of the information here. 

Deadline Night

This comes up every year. The deadline is January 1st. It is still January 1st up until 11:59 PM that evening. Don't wait until the last minute to submit just in case there is a technical glitch and you need assistance. The Common App team stays up all night to help students, but you can probably imagine that there are tons of support tickets being submitted on deadline night. Don't procrastinate!

Paying the Fee Doesn't Submit Your Application

Make sure you follow the submission procedures in Common App. Paying the fee won't make your application come to use. You still have to submit the application. We spend a few weeks following up with people after deadlines because they neglected to submit an application, but sent us a fee!

After Submitting, You'll Monitor Your Application Status in SIS

This is explained in our application instructions. A few days after your file is pulled into our system, UVA's Student Information System will send an email with login information to the email account you used on your Common App. On the main screen, you'll see a "to do" list of items that need to be checked into your file.

The first time you log in, you might see items that are in our system, but just haven't been matched up to your file yet. Please be patient. It takes a few weeks for our staff to match all those transcripts and teacher recommendations to newly submitted applications.We only log required documents due to volume.

Mid-Year Reports will be sent by your counselors once first semester grades are available.

SAT and ACT Score Aren't Sent Instantly

Despite the testing agencies having this on their websites, many people don't know that it takes the SAT and ACT folks a few weeks to transmit scores to us. Even if you sent your scores a week ago, you might see them on your "to do" list in SIS for a while. Don't delay. Send your scores NOW.

Sending Resumes, Papers, and Other Supplements

We do not accept resumes, papers, and supplements that fall outside the lines of art supplements (for the arts, architecture, and marching band). Your activities should be listed in the activity section of the Common App. Be concise and brief. If we have any questions about your activity list, we'll email you. Recommendations should come from your counselor and a teacher of your choice. The feature for submitting "other" recommendations is turned off in Common App.

If you are a Virginia resident, please be sure to fill out the residency section of the Common App. Only send extra documentation to the Office of Virginia status if they contact you with a request for supporting information.

Submitting unnecessary documents slows the process down for everyone. The Common App is a robust application that provides us with plenty of excellent information. Don't complicate the application process with extras!

Jack loves the Common App...scarf.

Monday, December 21, 2015

View Decision Status in SIS for #UVA20

It seems some students have started to encounter some of the wonderful quirks (ha) of the UVA Student Information System (SIS). They are seeing "View Decision" at the bottom of their SIS status pages and are assuming their decisions are ready. Decisions are not ready.

Applications move around in our reading system. They go from incomplete, to complete and ready to read, and then they start getting passed around by the different counselors and deans who are reviewing them. We are in that third phase, the part of the reading season that takes the most time. When you see "View Decision" on your page, it means your files has reached that third stage and we're reviewing it.

On notification day, clicking on "View Decision" will take you to a decision letter instead of the message you see now about checking back on January 31st.

Waiting is so hard!

About Notification Day

January 31st is the official notification day. If you log into SIS on that day, you will be able to see your status by hitting "View Decision." That being said, we have always been able to finish a little early and post decisions before January 31st. When we are done, we release the decisions. If there are updates, I will announce them here, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Class of 2020 Facebook Group

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 2020 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!

Who Is in the Facebook Group?

Obviously, the group will be for students who hope they'll be members of the Class of 2020 at this point. Membership will evolve as decisions are released and students start committing to colleges. After decisions come out, the students in these groups often create questionnaires to facilitate roommate matches. I'm told that the questionnaires the students create are more detailed than any being used by a housing office or roommate matching service. Student self-governance works again!

Who Is Moderating the Facebook Group?

There are two current students who run the group. They are not paid to promote a business or product. They are students who know the ins and outs of UVA and have offered to field questions without an agenda. You'll notice that we don't really sell UVA. We present UVA to you and let you decide if the University has the things you need to be engaged and challenged. Their answers to your questions will be honest and straightforward.

What Happens to the Group in the Future?

When your class elects officers, the current admins will hand the group over to your chosen leaders. We've been doing this for about six years and it works beautifully. For now, the admins are fine with answering questions, but they usually sit back and let you chat.  Nothing in these groups will be saved or connected to your applications.

Is Facebook Activity Used for Admission Purposes?

I am not in the Facebook group. I have absolutely no interest in tracking you or looking at your profiles.  If you have questions and want to ask them on Facebook, you can use the Office of Admission page.

Can Parents Join?

No. if you are looking to check in with parents of UVa students, check out the UVa Parents page. Every so often, I hear about a parent requesting to join the student group. Please let them have their space to talk.

Why Does UVA Create the Group?

We didn't always create a Facebook group for the classes. I used to talk about how Facebook was the students' domain (it was back when you had to have a .edu email address to get an account!) and groups should grow organically. I changed my mind in 2008 when a company started creating groups with school names on them. They've modified their model over time, but they are still at it.

Content in the group we created won't include advertisements from third parties and your information won't be mined.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Tune in to #UVA's Lighting of the Lawn 2015!

I love being asked about favorite UVA traditions and it happens pretty regularly. Most of the students with whom I interact already know the basics about UVA. They want to know some of the things that don't get written done or what doesn't come across in college guides and websites. I always wind up talking about student self-governance, the Hoo Crew and Marching Bands, the club fair, and the event that is happening tonight, the Lighting of the Lawn.

The Lighting of the Lawn started in 2001 as a way to bring the University together after a solemn fall semester. The tradition has continued and it marks our transition into reading days and final exams. Over the years, the event has become more elaborate, with students, faculty, facilities, and administration collaborating to make LOTL a special memory for all of us.

The Lighting of the Lawn starts around 7 PM with performances by several (dozens?) different choral and a capella groups. After the reading of a poem that greets each class and recaps the past year, there is a countdown to the "flipping of the switch." For the first time ever, you can watch the LOTL from home via a life stream. Check out the Lighting of the Lawn website for the link.

With scaffolding on the Rotunda due to a restoration project, the committee has been pretty creative in recent years. Some people didn't even think they'd get lights on the physical building.

2013 (here's a video from the students' perspective if you want to hear their reactions)

2014 (from the students' perspective)

I can't wait to see what the LOTL committee has planned for this year! 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Timing of SAT Score Reports

I've written about the timing of SAT score reporting in the past and it seems like a good time to revisit the topic. First of all it is worth mentioning that the UVA Application Instructions page has a link to a page all about standardized testing.

There are going to be three parts to this post.
  1.  How we (and many colleges) receive your SAT scores.
  2. The timing of SAT score reporting.
  3. What happens if you send scores after the deadlines.
This is going to be a long post, but I think understanding the logistics of score reporting will answer a lot of the questions we are getting right now.

1. How UVA Receives SAT Scores

We get a lot of email from people who ask if we will "accept" scores sent way before or way after a deadline. If you understand how scores get here, you'll know the answer.

Most colleges (UVA included) receive scores electronically. We do not accept or reject the scores, they arrive automatically. At slow times, the reports come once each day. Around deadlines, the reports come more often. I get an email every time there's an electronic transfer, regardless of whether the delivery is of one person's scores or of a massive group of scores from a popular test date.

2. The Timing of SAT Score Reporting

Now, let's talk about timing. The good news is that ETS has improved a lot over the years when it comes to how long it takes them to deliver scores.

If you have UVA listed as a school that should get your scores up front, the scores arrive pretty quickly.

However, if you wait to see your scores and then submit a request that UVA get them, it will take much longer. As a result, we do not recommend waiting to see scores before sending a report. ETS isn't totally consistent in the dates that they say they'll deliver scores. There's one spot where they say it'll take five weeks for colleges to get scores.

Screen shot taken here, 12/1/2015

However, the SAT folks assured me via Twitter last year that the five week wait is for international schools and most scores are sent to colleges one to two weeks of a request being made. If you are applying for Regular Decision and are reading this, send your scores well in advance of the deadline.

3. Sending Scores After Deadlines

In the first part of this post, you saw that we don't accept or reject score reports that come to us from ETS. So let's talk about what happens if you send scores after the deadline.

In our application instructions, we say that the last recommended test date is October for Early Action students and December for Regular Decision students.

If you take tests on those dates and designate in advance that UVA should get your scores, we know your scores will be here when we start to review your file. This doesn't mean you aren't allowed to send scores from tests taken after the deadline. It just means that there is a chance that we will have already started to review your file before those scores arrive.

You should still send those scores. After all, our review takes a few months and there's a possibility we'll be looking at your file several times after the scores arrive. Make sure there are SAT or ACT scores in your file by the deadline, but it is perfectly fine to send updated or new scores later.

Feel free to ask questions about testing in the comments!

Jack isn't stressed about testing at all.