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!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars Update

I'm popping in very quickly with an update about scholars notifications. Letters inviting a small number of students into the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs will be mailed tomorrow. There will be another round of invitations sent out at the end of the Regular Decision review. If you are not invited to join as an incoming student, you can self-nominate to join once you are here (see each program's website for specific information).

Every applicant to the College of Arts and Sciences was automatically considered for the Echols and College Science Scholars program and every applicant to the School of Engineering was considered for Rodman. 

There is a fourth scholars program, Miller Arts Scholars. You can apply to be an Arts Scholar in your second semester. The selected group usually consists of students studying studio art, music, drama, and dance.

Back to reading...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Deferred from #UVA21 Early Action? Read This.

Being deferred is tough. I still remember the feeling of limbo that I got when I was deferred in high school. The wait was so long and it suddenly got longer. Back then, we didn't have the internet and schools didn't provide you with much data beyond what was in the view book you got in the mail after taking the SAT. Today, I'm glad we can communicate with our students so they understand some of the reasons why we might defer a student.

There can be many reasons for deferring a student, but in my experience, two cases are most common:

1. The Big Senior Program

Many schools allow students to have more control over course selection as they advance. Senior year is often the year with the most freedom and many students go for the big finale. This is awesome! Senior year should be the finale to your high school career. Your transition to college is going to be smoother when the leap to college-level work isn't a huge one, so a strong senior program is smart.

When we see a student with a wonderful transcript and an ambitious senior program, we sometimes feel that seeing mid-year grades from these top courses can help us make a final decision.

2. The Upward Trend

We try to counsel students about waiting for Regular Decision if they are rebounding from some shaky grades earlier in the high school career. There are other voices pushing students to submit applications early because there is a belief that early rounds are easier. Some schools may have a different process for their early round, but we have the same review style no matter when you apply.

When we see someone who is rebounding from a weak year (whether that's about a grade or program), we often feel it's best to get one more semester of work in the file. If you are rebounding, know that we are rooting for you!

How Do You Respond?

There's a link in the decision letter you received that goes to a Defer FAQs page that covers what you are supposed to do next.

We get plenty of emails/comments that question our advice on that page. You do not need to start a defer campaign. I think there are people out there who insist that you must do this and that might influence the process at other schools. If you look back at the two scenarios I cited above, the issue isn't with supplements or recommendations (remember, we turned off the non-academic recommendation function in Common App). An academic update about how the first semester went will be most helpful.

If you are a senior, you have a lot on your plate. I can't tell you how many essays I've read about sleep deprivation and time management in the last few years. We are trying to help you be smart about how you spend your limited time. If a college tells you not to worry about doing something, don't do it. It's not going to move the needle. Use your energy elsewhere!

I know there are folks out there who will cite the student from another year who sent all sorts of extras. They may be convinced they were offered admission during Regular Decision because of those extras when the admission officers were really just looking for those mid-year grades. Keep it simple.

A Word About Statistics

People inevitably ask me for stats about the defer pool. I don't have data to cite a trend, but I can say that residency will still be a major factor, with more deferred students from Virginia getting offers in Regular Decision. School choice and the size of the pool are also factors.

I know this isn't the decision you wanted to see the other night, but I hope you realize that deferral is not the end of the road. It means we see things we like in your file and we want to see more. Hang in there.
Not loving this situation.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Unofficial #UVA21 Early Action Admission Statistics

The Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVA. They take a census 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 unofficial numbers about the early action process. These numbers are up to date as of yesterday, January 25, 2017. If you are a reporter, please contact the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for current, official information and all of your reporterly needs. :)

Early Action Applications

Total number of Early Action applications: 20,446 (16,768 last year)
Total number of VA apps: 5,278
Total number of OOS apps: 14,968
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Early Action Offers

Overall offers: 5,914
Total VA offers: 2,575 (47% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 3,339 (22% offer rate)
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: 5,458
Some applicants will withdraw, so these numbers will go down!

Early Action Testing/Rank (offers only)

Middle 50% OLD SAT score: 2020-2290
Middle 50% NEW SAT score: 1350-1500
Middle 50% ACT composite: 31-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports on averages generate totals.  

94.6% 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 already immersed in the Regular Decision review process. There will be a post about deferral tomorrow, but if you clicked the link in your letter and read the Defer FAQs, you know much of the content.

The Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs are sending invitations in the coming days. I will post an update when I know specifics. Welcome packets with information about next steps will be leaving our office soon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let's Talk about #UVA21 Early Action: The Offer

Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVA Class of 2021 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students. Parents, you can check out the UVA Parents Page and the UVA Parents Facebook page.

I'll have post about admission statistics and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days. Just for reference, 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*. Orientation registration will open after April 1st and you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to decide whether you'll be joining us in Charlottesville. 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!
Image by Jen Fariello Photography

*We have an e-check system for deposits. You'll type in the numbers on the bottom of a check. 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 #UVA21 Early Action: The Defer

Deferred students can use this post to talk.

Your application hasn't finished it's journey yet.

Once your mid-year grades arrive, your file will be reviewed again during the Regular Decision round. At this point, you should simply make sure your mid-year report is sent when the grades are ready. Most of your counselors will do this automatically.

We know the wait is tough, but we think your mid-year grades could help your case. Hang in there! You should see the link to the defer FAQ page in your letter, which answers the most common questions.

Jack hopes you can find a peaceful place to wait.

Let's Talk about #UVA21 Early Action: The Deny

Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. 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 your options.

Some students inquire about being moved to the defer group. Please understand that we do not have an appeal process.

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. 

#UVA21 Early Action decisions come out tonight!

We're done with Early Action and we are releasing decisions tonight! Please keep reading. There's a lot of important info to go over.


1. At some point tonight (this is handled by the tech people these days and I don't control the exact time), the "View Decision" link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter. If you can't find your login info for the SIS, review the "After You Submit" section of the application instructions. 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.

Our counselor friends want you checking your decision at home, where you won't have an audience of classmates and a parent can be standing by to give you a big hug regardless of your decision. That's more likely to happen in the evening (we've actually consulted a lot of counselors about this).

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. 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. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA21 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community. We love seeing your reactions when we check that hashtag!

Keep an eye on the UVA Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages!

4. Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). As we discussed this morning, school-specific statistics like GPA 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. 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 next week. Posts about deferral, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), an EA statistics will come next week. There is no lag time in our office, so we are now reading Regular Decision applications. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.

6. You don't need to call us to verify this. It's true. We are releasing decisions tonight. The receptionists can't tell you an exact time or your decision.

THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog so far this season.

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 at some things. What's going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not 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 comment and stay in touch.

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

UVA Admission's Holistic Review and GPA

I'm spending the week on the road to attend evening programs for juniors and their parents at a few high schools. The counselors at the programs go over all the incredible sources of data that students can access these days when doing research about colleges. Many of my schools use a system called Family Connections, created by a company called Hobsons, to assist with career discernment and the college search (among other's a robust system, from that I've seen). One of the tools in the system is the college scattergram.

A scattergram I found online. This is NOT for UVA.

Scattergrams plot admission decisions from a college on two axis: GAP and test score. I always have to caution people to remember that scattergrams are plotting the results of a much more elaborate process using just two factors. They show the user correlation, not causation. An admitted student on a scattergram wasn't admitted because of their GPA and test score, but because their entire application was compelling.

How Do We Use GPAs?

The way I see it, the GPA is the schools' way of summarizing the work that's on the transcript. GPA methodologies vary from county to county in Virginia (and this is fine with us...each district uses the method that works for their students). The GPA doesn't tell you the full story, though. You may have classmates with identical GPAs who have very different coursework and grades on their transcripts. Resists the urge to fixate on GPA and instead think about how we read your transcript.

The transcript is where we learn about your academic progress. We know that most first years in high school are told much of what they are going to do, but most schools give students more options as they gain seniority. We're looking to see that you challenge yourself with an interesting program that includes advanced options (whatever your school has - AP, IB, DE, etc) in a way that's appropriate to you.

"In a way that's appropriate to you" means we want you to stretch and challenge yourself when it comes to course selection, but we also want to see strong grades. Hopefully, your counselor and parents have helped you think about the right mix of courses for you.

What Does Holistic Mean?

Holistic admission means we look at the entire application before we render a decision. There are no "cut offs" (remember GPA is not standardized, so that doesn't make senses in Virginia). We read every file, front to back, before we make our recommendations. We read and double check our files multiple times. You can read more about the holistic review here.

As always, I'm happy to answer questions in the comments.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A #UVA21 Early Action Update

It's the time of year when Early Action students get a little punchy. They're obsessively checking SIS to see if it will give a sneak preview of decisions and every tweet or post that mentions UVA has them looking for hidden meaning.

We say notification will by "by the end of January" to give us the flexibility to ensure a thoughtful, careful review of every application, regardless of how many apply. The number of Early Action applications increased this year. I know Early Action applicants are eager to know admission decisions, but I hope you understand that you benefit from the fact that we will not sacrifice when it comes to giving every file a thorough review.

You will hear from us by the end of the month, but there is still work to be done.

golden retriever UVA grounds
No time to play! There's work to be done!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Showing Interest and Sending Supplements

We have this great page on our website with all of our email addresses on it. We put our photos on it to show that human beings read all of the applications. 

Side note: There was a dad at a college fair this year who could not believe that we read all the applications and nothing I said could convince him otherwise. I hope he saw my Instagram post on Thanksgiving! We do read the applications. It's hard work, but we enjoy it and believe it's important to review every file. 

Anyway, it's pretty awesome that people are using the Contact page. 

I fear that something is being missed, though. Before you get to our lovely pictures, there's some text. I underlined two points I want to explain on the blog today.

1. Demonstrated interest is not a factor during Early Action or Regular Decision.

I've gotten several emails from students in the last two weeks that contain declarations of love for UVA and even promises to enroll if we offer admission. I get that there are schools out there that are using interest right now, but we don't expect or desire students to tell us where UVA is on their list of colleges. Your application is enough demonstration of interest for us.

You're going to be making a big decision once decisions are out and we think every student should have until May 1 to thoroughly evaluate their options. 


2. The Common App is enough.

I wrote a post about this during Early Action, but it bears repeating. The Common App is lengthy and robust. It provides us with A LOT of information. Still, there are those who want to make the app even longer by sending supplements. We take two kinds of supplements: arts supplements and architecture supplements. You can read about them in the application instructions

We don't accept resumes, writing portfolios, research papers, research abstracts, outside recommendations, newspaper clippings, or certificates. I went over each of those in the post that went up during EA, so take a look if you are curious. 

The point is that you have a lot going on during senior year and getting your college applications submitted should feel like a huge accomplishment. Submitting shouldn't feel like the start of a campaign. 

I know waiting for decisions is hard. We are working quickly, but carefully, to make sure every file is reviewed in a thoughtful way. The release of decisions is exciting for us and we're eager to finish our review! There is still a lot of work to do, though. Hang in there.

May your wait not be as difficult as Jack's.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Post-Deadline Notes for UVA Regular Decision

Happy New Year! Peabody hall is back open and our administrative staff is processing Regular Decision applications while the admission officers continue to read Early Action files.

Most of the emails we're getting are from students worried about their application being incomplete. Let's back up and cover how we'll communication with you about your status and why it's too early to be worrying about a Regular Decision application status.

1. Add and to your safe senders list.

We send important application updates and requests for info from these two accounts. If you put them in your address book, that will hopefully make sure our emails don't go into your junk folder. I know a lot of people use email sporadically these days, but we use it a lot. You need to keep an eye on your inbox for messages from us.

2. Keep an eye out for a SIS Login email.

As I hope you read in the "After You Submit" part of the application instructions, a few days after we download your application and get it into our system, you'll get an email about logging into SIS. SIS is where you will monitor your application status for both admission and financial aid. On notification day, you'll also check your decision in SIS.

3. Your application will probably be incomplete when you log in.

At this point, most applications are incomplete. Please do not worry! As long as you submitted your application in time, everything will be okay.

It can take several weeks for us to match recommendations, test scores, and transcripts with Regular Decision applications. This is true even if you submitted days or weeks before the deadline since our Early Action applicants were the priority early on in the season.

As a reminder, here are posts about:
-sending supplements and resumes to UVA
-admission quotas
-the Class of 2021 Facebook group (students only)

As always, you can ask questions anonymously (but please pick a name!) in the comments.