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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Deadline Reminders for #UVA Early Action Applicants

It's the time of year when Early Action applicants are putting the finishing touches on their applications. There are some common questions and concerns at this point and I thought I'd go over a few of them. 

1. The deadline is November 1st, not October 31st.

You have until 11:59 PM on November 1st in your time zone to submit your application. Keep in mind that many schools share this deadline and while the Common App and Coalition App support teams will be around to help with issues (I know for a fact that the Common App team is up 24/7 around big deadlines), they are apt to be inundated with help requests in the hours before the deadline. Try to submit your applications early to avoid last minute issues.

2. Counselors and teachers aren't subject to your deadline.

You need to get all of YOUR parts of the application submitted by the deadline. Plenty of counselors and teachers have already submitted supporting credentials for students, but the system stays open for them. They get a grace period.

3. Double check that you've submitted on the application website.

Submitting an application isn't a one-click action. Make sure you follow the entire submission process. Log out and go back into the application you're using to make sure the submission went through. 

4. Your application will be incomplete the first time you log into the student portal.

A few days after your file is pulled into our system, we will send an email with login information for our student portal. 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.

5. We do not accept resumes, abstracts, research, or writing portfolios

We do not accept 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 even turned off in Common App to stop non-academic recommendations from coming in. Please respect our process and follow the application instructions on our website. 

6. Virginia residents must complete the residency questions to get in-state status.

If you are a Virginia resident, please be sure to fill out the residency section. The first section asks questions about you (you'll answer "no" to most of them). The next section asks about a parent. The parent section is where most of you demonstrate residency since most of you are dependents. 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. 

Good luck! I'll be watching the comments below for questions. Feel free to tweet at me or DM me on Instagram if you have questions after office hours. I'm @UVADeanJ on both.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Let's Talk about the Residency Questions on the #UVA Application

While filling out an application to UVA, you'll encounter a question asking if you believe you qualify for in-state tuition. Answering yes will lead to answering some more questions that will be used by the Office of Virginia Status to certify that you have Virginia domicile (that's the real term).

The first set of questions are about you, the applicant. Most students answer "yes' to the question about having a Virginia driver's license and "no" to the rest of the statements. Few students own real estate or are filing tax returns here. They're dependents on a parent or guardian and that means they get their domicile status through their parent.

The second set of questions ask about a parent or guardian. This is where most students provide the info that gets them in-state status. Don't omit the parent section!

The criteria for being considered a Virginia resident is dictated by Virginia law. The Office of Virginia Status at UVA is required to collect this information to make a residency determination. Every year, there are students who assume that being born in Virginia and attending a Virginia high school make their residency status obvious, but the government still requires the status office to verify residency by gathering some very specific information.

You still need to fill out the residency questions if you were born and raised in Virginia!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How to Decide Between Early Action and Regular Decision for #UVA

With the Early Action deadline looming, many students are feeling pressure to get some college applications submitted. Early Action isn't always the best route, though. Let's talk about how to decide between Early Action and Regular Decision at UVA.

Keep in mind:

1. We have the same review process during Early Action (EA) and Regular Decision (RD). The early process is not easier at UVA.
2. Interest isn't a factor (this is non-binding EA, after all), so an early application is not seen as a statement about your intent to enroll at UVA.
3. The results of an early application could be admission, denial, or deferral.

Successful Early Action applicants usually have transcripts that show consistently strong work across the core subjects. My suggestion is to look at your final report card from 9th, 10th, and 11th grades side-by-side. If you can say that your program builds nicely and your grades are consistent, Early Action might make sense for you. Of course, having time to write well-crafted essays is a consideration and you have to have given your counselor/teacher plenty of time to write wonderful recommendation letters! 

Regular decision would be best for a student who needs more time to complete a thoughtful application or for whom one fall semester grades would be very helpful. There are so many scenarios where RD makes more sense then EA - rebounding grades, school changes, and the list goes on. 

Early Action = transcript shows 9th-11th grade work and senior courses
Regular Decision = transcript shows 9th-11th grade work and fall grades in senior courses

This is an area where there is definitely some conflicting advice. I fear that students listen to the advice of people who have never worked in our office or who are confusing UVA with another school on this issue.  For UVA, you need to submit your application at a peak moment in your high school career.

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

Don't rush! Early might not be the best route!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Do Activities Need to Align with Intended Major?

After a few weeks on the road during travel season, certain themes emerge in the conversations we have with students. I'm used to people fixating on their activity lists, but things are a little different this year. People seem to think that activities lists need to be carefully crafted to align with a particular major. There are two issues with that.

First of all, the only students to arrive at UVA with a major are students studying Kinesiology. Last year, there were only 58 of them in a class of 3,788 students. The other 3,730 students were undeclared. If you have another major in mind, you have plenty of time to solidify that interest. If you don't have a major in mind yet, you are normal at UVA!

Second, extracurricular activities are, by definition, are not aligned with your curriculum. I definitely support exploring your current academic interests through's just not necessary. Participate in activities that you find rewarding in some way. If an activity is no longer rewarding, you have my permission to step back from it. 

Jack contemplates joining the Beach Volleyball Club

Want to read about how we look at your activity list overall? Check out this past from last fall.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

You Can Now Use the Coalition Application to Apply to UVA

I got word late yesterday that the Coalition Application is now live for UVA. After 10 years of being Common App exclusive, we have added the Coalition App as a second option for applicants. As is the norm, there will be no benefit for one application or the other during our review process. Use the app you feel most comfortable with.

Please remember that the schools can't provide technical support for the applications. Both Common App and Coalition App have links on every page for submitting a help ticket. What's more, it's helpful when you alert their teams of parts of the applications that aren't user-friendly, so don't hesitate to reach out to them if you have trouble.

If you plan on submitting one of the option art or architecture supplements with your application (remember to read the instructions for those!), you may find the Common App to be the easier system to use. The Common App seamlessly works with SlideRoom, the website where those supplements are submitted.