Peabody is the building, Jack is the dog, and I'm Dean J (she/her, btw).

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Friday, March 05, 2021

Observations about the #UVA Admission Process this Year

Some students on reddit asked the few admission officers who are in the Applying to College subforum to share some observations from this year. The number of up-votes my reply got made me think I should post some of what I wrote here.

  • More students are reaching out with very basic questions, which could be because many don't have as much access to their school counselors this year.

  • Some people obviously thought that test-optional would make selective admission less selective. This also might be due to less access to school counselors. Colleges were always more concerned with transcripts than test scores (we've always said this). Getting admitted didn't get easier at the selective schools. Applying got easier.

  • Regarding the app increase: We always pulled ridiculous hours during the reading season (November-March), but this year is definitely different. Some people ask why we don't just hire more people to help us read the files. It takes weeks to get new positions approved/posted, weeks to interview candidates, weeks to get them formally hired, and then weeks to train new readers. Diverting staff from reading to conduct a hiring and training process would put us even more behind. We just couldn't add to the team after a surprise increase in applications.

  • Those of us who are working from home do gain time back from not having to get ready for work and commute to an office. Our office also has a tradition of every available staff member greeting the tours as they return to the office. No visitors means more time for file review.

  • Yield season (when we have admitted student events) used to be the reward for all this cloistered work. I always looked forward to it. Moving to a virtual format last year was a novelty. The 50 or so programs we held online were exhausting, but exciting and different.

Now, the prospect of all those events being virtual again is tough. Everyone has spent hours on Zoom this year. This field tends to attract social people who love working with students. Many of us haven't visited a high school since Fall 2019 (I live for school visits and group travel), haven't given an in-person info session in a 11 months, and haven't gone to any industry events since the October 2019 NACAC Conference or our spring/summer 2019 regional events. It's a strange existence.

  • I'm reading more COVID statements than I thought I would. The majority cover things of which we're already aware - virtual classes, cancelled activities, etc. I haven't come across any student who got sick, but I have read about family members getting seriously ill and passing away. Those are obviously heartbreaking.


There are my personal thoughts about this application season, not based on any data. As always, I will post statistics about the application process around decision release days. Regular Decision results will be ready by April 1st.