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!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Curve Balls and the Tricky #UVA Application Instructions

I got forwarded an email the other day that contained an independent education consultant's advice for answering the school-specific writing prompt for UVA. It said that our College of Arts and Sciences prompt was actually asking the student to talk about why UVA was the school for them. The tone of the advice was that our essay prompts are tricky and students should approach them as curve balls that mean something other than what they say.

Plenty of schools use a "why us" prompt on their applications. If we wanted you to write that kind of essay, we'd ask for it. We do not want "why UVA" essays. Don't use the limited space you get for your responses to talk about UVA. After all, we know UVA is awesome - we're here! What we don't know yet is how awesome you are. We want to get to know you, not read about why you like us.

Now, let me address the larger point: We strive to be clear and helpful with our instructions and prompts. We WANT to get applications that fulfill our needs, which is why I constantly implore students to read the application instructions on our website before applying. If a third party tells you that we want things that aren't in our instructions, ignore them. If someone says they got into UVA because they submitted something we didn't ask for, they are wrong. They simply made the application more cumbersome for themselves (and for us). 

If you have questions about the application instructions, please reach out to us for clarification. We are happy to help you! When we get lots of questions about the same thing, that helps us update our instructions, too. 

We are here to help, not throw curve balls!