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, September 24, 2019

Will Early Decision be the Easier Route to UVA?

My last post about seeking out primary sources for admission information might be a good post to read before this one.

One of the most common assumptions we have encountered since the announcement was made that UVA was adding an Early Decision (ED) process this year was that ED must be the easiest path to getting an admission offer. It's natural to strategize around this since some school are a little more lenient during their Early Decision round. That being said, I need to remind you of what Greg Roberts, the Dean of Admission, said about ED being an easier way to be admitted to UVA:

“We will review applicants in the same manner and will hold students to the same admission standards regardless of which application plan they chose.”

You can also read the article about Early Decision in UVA Today for more information. Just to drive the point home, there's also this bit from an interview with our local newspaper, The Daily Progress:

If necessary to maintain a socioeconomically diverse class, he said, UVa might limit the number of spots it offers early decision students. All applications, though, will still be evaluated by the same criteria, regardless of when a student applies. “It we took half our class through ED, that would be counter to the argument I just made [about students’ needs,]” he said. “We plan to make all of our decisions the exact same way.”

Between my posts about admission statistics, mid-year reports, and primary sources, I hope you feel confident about making a decision about the best time to submit your application.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Primary Sources for UVA Admission Advice

If you've written a research paper or thesis, you probably know the difference between a primary and secondary source. A primary source is the most direct source you can have. It's a first-hand account of an event or topic or an original written piece about that subject. Secondary sources are people writing/talking about that subject. They're at a distance. They weren't in the room where it happens, to borrow a line from Hamilton.

There are lots of primary sources for admission advice and social media makes it pretty easy to find them. Admission officers give interviews, write blogs, tweet, and post on Instagram. We reply to questions via email, DM, and some of us do q&a sessions on Instagram stories. Our Institutional Assessment office provides a huge variety of admission data that you can manipulate for your needs using Tableau. Getting admission information from a primary source, an admission officer, is easier than ever before at most schools. 

There are so many secondary sources for UVA admission advice, but I hope you'll remember that primary sources are the best sources. I see being accessible and clear with information as part of our mission to serve the common good.  If a secondary source isn't clear or is increasing your anxiety about this process, please reach out to us. Here's how you can get in touch with us:

Phone - There is an admission officer on call each workday to answer questions during business hours. Our front desk team also has the answers to all the typical questions (and atypical ones...they've heard it all!). Our number is 434-982-3200.

Email - There are a couple staff members who answer questions recieved via emails to When needed, they forward emails along to admission officers.

Blog Comments - You can ask questions right here on the blog. You can be anonymous - just make up a name.

Social Media - Feel free to message or DM us on Twitter or Instagram. There are two of us on those platforms. I'm @UVADeanJ on Twitter and IG. My colleague Rachel Schlachter is @UVAAdmission on Twitter and IG. Keep an eye out for those q&a sessions on Instagram, too!

Facebook isn't super popular for us, but we're still there. I'm doing a Facebook Live q&a Next month on the main UVA page and I hope you’ll be able to watch.

In Person - We hold information sessions and tours almost every weekday and on many weekends. You might also find us in your area holding an information session. You can see all the opportunities to meet us in person on the Visit page of our website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Biggest Factor in the Decision to Apply Early or Regular at UVA

I've previously written about how the strength of the applicant pool isn't conveyed in the statistics that are published for Early Action and Regular Decision (we have no stats about Early least ones that are from the last decade). A lot of people want to use admission rates or testing data to determine when they'll submit their application, but they aren't considering what I think should be the biggest factor in that decision.

The Mid-Year Report

Let me explain. For some students, the mid-year report will be a huge boost to their application. Senior year is traditionally when you'd be taking on the most advanced coursework of your high school career. Showing excellent grades at the midpoint of the year could be hugely beneficial to some students.

Instead of thinking about admission rates when deciding between early and regular, think about what your application will look like in the fall and what it might look like in the winter. Find your final report card from each year of high school and line them up (or get an unofficial copy of your transcript, if that's an easy task at your school). Does your program build nicely across your core subjects? Are your grades consistent? If you can answer "yes" to those questions and you have time to put together a solid application, one of the early options might be for you. If there's a dip in your grades or you haven't had an opportunity to take advanced courses (whatever your school offers) until senior year, the regular round might make more since since your mid-year report will be part of the review.

Submit when you can present your strongest application to UVA. For some students, one more semester of work on the transcript will put them in that position.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Why Early Admission Statistics Shouldn't Determine When You Apply to UVA

Note: This isn't a post about Early Action and Early Decision. That's coming!

I'm often asked for admission rates for our early and regular rounds of admission by students and parents trying to decide which application option is most advantageous. While I have shared Early Action admission statistics for years on this blog (here's the post from last year), I am always hesitant to cite them without an explanation of why, at UVA, the admission rate of the early group shouldn't drive the decision to submit an application in the fall versus the winter.

Admission rates for the different rounds of review don't tell you much about the strength of the applicant pool. Historically, the Early Action pool at UVA has a higher admission rate than the overall pool, especially for Virginia residents. Someone may see a 43% offer rate for VA residents during Early Action, compare that with the post that shows an overall VA resident admission rate of 36% and assume that we were a little more lenient in our review during the early around. What's missing is information about the strength of the applicant pool.

A lot of people look to test scores to tell them about the competitiveness of the admission process (I've written so many posts about testing over the years that helps explain why that's not the best idea, but another one is coming), but our early and regular pools have pretty similar testing. What can't be conveyed in statistics: strength, consistency, and breadth of work in core subjects, recommendations, and essays.

Here's what I'm trying to say: Don't use admission rates to determine when you're going to submit your application to UVA. Those rates alone don't tell you about the pool. I can tell you that the early pool is traditionally quite strong. Only put your application in when it's in it's strongest position.