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!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Important Reminders for Early Action and Early Decision Applicants to #UVA

The Early Decision and Early Action deadline is around the corner and I thought I'd address some important points for applicants...

 1. Read the application instructions and FAQs.

Enough said on that!


2. The deadline is November 1st at 11:59 PM.

If you are someone who is inspired by the last minute, you have all day on November 1st to submit your application. Keep in mind that there may be a lot of people using the Common App website on deadline day, so it might slow down. In addition, the help desk might be fielding more requests for assistance than usual. 

3. Colleges don't control the Common App website.

If you have an issue with the Common App website, hit the question mark that is on every page to get help. In my experience, the support from the Common App team is excellent.

4. Teachers and Counselors get a grace period to submit documents.

Get your application in by the deadline. The supporting documents from your teachers and counselors don't have to be in by the deadline. We understand that they are working with multiple students who may be applying to several schools!

5. Updates are sent via the applicant portal.

This is covered in the instructions, but you'll get login credentials for our applicant portal once Common App transfers your application to us. Use the portal to send updates. Don't send updates by email to admission officers.


6. We really mean it when we say we don't use interest!

The application is proof that you are interested in UVA. You don't have to send us emails or supplements to tell us you like UVA. Desire is not a factor in our review. 

Do you have any last minute questions? Feel free to put them in the comments!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Scattergrams and GPA Data

I just finished my first week of high school visits in Fairfax County, Virginia. This is one of our most densely populated areas in Virginia and we have a lot of students at UVA from the many high school in the area.

The GPA attempts to summarize your academics, but it's not a very reliable number in my world. GPA methodologies vary a lot (and this is fine with us...each school/district uses the method that works for their students). The GPA doesn't tell us the full academic story, though. We need to see four years of course selection and grades to understand that. Trends are also important and aren't conveyed in the GPA.  Resist the urge to fixate on GPA alone. GPAs just don't provide the details we need to make a decision in a selective admission process.

Some may suggest that high school-specific GPA data is more reliable and use scattergrams to estimate admission chances. The scattergram is a feature of a student information system that many high schools use. Scattergrams plot past admission decisions on a chart using GPA and testing as the variables.

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

If you have access to them, remember that scattergrams are plotting the results of an elaborate application review process on a chart with just two factors, one of which is no longer required in our process. They show how our decisions correlate to those pieces of data, but they don't tell you how admission officers made their decisions. 

Keep in mind that there are some issues with scattergrams. Schools often rely on students to report their admission decisions to make the scattergrams. There may be missing or incorrect data for your school. In addition, testing is optional for applicants to UVA and about 40% of our pool didn't submit them last year.

There are times when someone may have a high GPA, but have some holes in their program (remember, we want to see classes taken in each core subject all four years of high school), a lopsided program, or a grade trend that is of concern. The details matter in this process!