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Dean J
Updated: 53 min 21 sec ago

A 2016 Waiting List Update

May 3, 2016
It's waiting list season! I can't help but be excited about this part of the process because we get to make admission offers to some of the students we really wanted to take, but couldn't fit into the class back during the RD review. We like to move quickly, so let me explain what is happening around here...

When we finished the transfer review, we moved right into re-reading the applications of our students on the waiting list. Remember that about half the people who are offered a spot on the list opt to take one and they fall into ten areas - Virginia and out-of-state (OOS) students for each of the five academic areas that take first year students (Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Nursing, and Kinesiology). I don't know how much space there is in the class at this point. The admitted students had until midnight to accept their offers and some of their deposits may still be processing.

How Do Offers Come?
When we make an offer to someone on the waiting list, they get a new decision letter in SIS. We always call students to give them a heads up that their status is going to change and explain what to do next. You'll have a few days to think things over and submit a deposit if you get an offer.

Obviously, some tell us they aren't interested anymore when we call and that's totally fine. We realize that students on the waiting list have deposited elsewhere and may have gotten excited about another school since accepting their spot on UVA's waiting list.

When Will Offers Come?
We try to call the number on the application between the end of the school day and 5 PM, when our office closes.

It could take several weeks for this to play out. We'll make a few offers, give those students a couple days to deposit, make a few more offers, give those students a few days...this repeats until the class is complete. We usually finish things up in June. Looking back at my "the class is full" blog posts, we finished the waiting list process on June 22, June 6, June 3, and June 11 in past years.

What Do Applicants on the Waiting List Do Next?
Keep focusing on school work and your other commitments while hoping for the best.

The accept/decline buttons remain visible in SIS so you have the option of removing yourself from the waiting list at any point. If you have anything to add to your file, send it to right away.

Having done this for a while, I know there are questions coming that I can not answer. Please understand that there are times when I can't talk about everything that is happening in our office. Rest assured we move as quickly as possible. We are eager to see the Class of 2020 complete!

Picking the Right College by May 1st

April 29, 2016
Many of us have been on the road in recent weeks to help high schools with case study programs. During a case study program, students are put into groups and told to evaluate a handful of deliberately strong applications as if they are an admission committee. School counselors often ask admission officers to facilitate the discussions.

Before one case study program a couple week ago, a counselor friend said that her students had a few days to read the applications and many thought there was a "right" answer to each case. There were obviously three possible outcomes (admit, waiting list, deny), but each committee was bound to have different results for the hypothetical applicants. There were no right answers because all of the hypothetical students were awesome. That's the point of the exercise.

You can't make a bad decision when all the options are wonderful!
The notion of a "right" decision has been a theme this week as well, even though I'm back in the office. With May 1st around the corner, we're getting calls and visits from some who seem more anxious than ever about this choice.We can imagine the spreadsheets being developed when people ask about double majors or studying abroad, or how much the laundry costs (yes, that was a question the other day).

So here's my pep talk for everyone who is worrying about making a final decision in their college search:

You vetted these options back in the fall when you put them on your list of schools to which you would apply. All of these schools have great professors. All of these schools have exciting opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. All of these schools have happy students. If you are still debating your options, relax and remember that you can't make a bad decision.

There is no "right" decision, there is a "best" one. If you pick the school that is best for you, you'll take advantage of all those exciting opportunities. You'll be fostering your growth as a scholar and as a person. 

Whether your next stop is here or another school, best wishes for a great end to your high school career and an exciting next step on your journey.

If you're joining #UVA20, I hope to see your photo from the "College Signing Day" photobooth on Instagram or Twitter!

When the Trophy Generation Applies to College

April 20, 2016
I'm used to fielding calls about admission to UVA from friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. At this time of year, most of the conversations are with parents and are about the waiting list, but one exchange rattled me a bit. The woman on the other end of the line told me she was having trouble eating and sleeping because of her son's admission results. At one point, the conversation went like this:

Me: What other options are on the table?
Her: No good ones. We've had no good news.
Me: None of the schools on his list admitted him?
Her: Well, no elite ones.

Thank goodness we were talking on the phone because I winced. I pointed out that the schools on her son's list were probably all places he imagined attending back when he was working on the applications. His personal ranking system for schools might make them elite in his mind (I tweeted about this a while ago).

By the time we were done with our conversation, I think she was feeling better.

Being a high school student right now must be so confusing. This is a generation of students who have gotten tremendous support from adults throughout their lives. This is a good thing. From getting participation trophies to seeing 112 people named valedictorian at their school, they've experienced a lot of validation. But when some of these students get to this point in their senior year, it seems like the script gets flipped on them and only certain options are valued. Why did the support evaporate? Why was that mom losing sleep and not eating despite her son having multiple offers of admission at schools he probably liked? We gave them trophies for a job well done before, but why not now?

As we approach May 1st, let's all try to congratulate students on their success and encourage them to attend the best school for them. That's the school where they are most likely to be happy and engaged both inside and outside of the classroom.

As always, if you have lingering questions about UVA, we are here to help. There's a dean on call during business hours and a team answering emails to our general email account. I'm also happy to answer questions in the comments below.

We're here to help, too!

The #UVA20 Waiting List

April 4, 2016
If you were offered a spot on the waiting list at UVA, you had a link to the Waiting List FAQs in your decision letter. I'm going to go over the parts that come up the most and add some more information. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

How many people are on the waiting list?  We won't know this until May 1st. The waiting list forms as people hit the "accept" buttons under their letters in SIS. The Common Data Set, something every school fills out, covers the numbers. Every school publishes a Common Data Set, so you should be able to google and find these numbers for every institution.
From the 2015-2016 Common Data Set:
Do you have a policy of placing students on a waiting list? Yes
Number of qualified applicants offered a place on the waiting list: 4,547
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 2,081
Number of wait-listed students admitted: 402 The waiting list will be big on May 1st because we need to ensure there are students to fit all ten sections of the first year class (Virginia and out-of-state students for each of the five schools/programs that take first years).

I accepted. Why are the buttons still there? If you hit the "accept" button, you can always come back and pull yourself off the list. That is why the buttons remain after you opt in. There is no going back once you decline, though. If you decline the spot, the buttons disappear.

How many people will come off the waiting list?Even though I've been doing this for years, I can't predict this one. May 1st is when all of the admitted students need to have deposits submitted to reserve a place in the Class of 2020. The class is supposed to be about 3,675 students. If we don't have that number of admitted students accepting a spot, we move to the waiting list.

It's hard to cite trends with certainty. One year, we might have room for in-state Nursing students and the next year, that group could be full on May 1. We're all waiting to see how this works out right now.  

How many people got offers to come off the waiting list in the past?Here's a decade of data, which should show you how unpredictable this part can be.  

2015- 402
2014- 42
2013 - 185
2012 - 284
2011 - 117
2010 - 240
2009 - 288
2008 - 60
2007 - 159
2006 - 145
2005 - 83  

How do I improve my chances of getting an offer?There is a lot of conflicting information out there about this. Emailing a letter of interest to is appropriate. Mailing a package is not. Updating us with significant news is okay. Bombarding every admission officer with an email each day is not. Please don't email one (or several) admission officers directly. We're just going to forward your email to and it will take an extra day for the email to get filed. Save time and use the general account.

By the way, showing up in Peabody Hall will have no affect. I can't tell you how many students drive here and then sit on the sofa and ask the questions covered in the FAQs. This is not a good use of your time (or gas money!).

When/How do you make wait-list offers?We start making waiting list offers as soon as we know we have space in the class. We move quickly because no one wants to drag this out. We aim to have everything wrapped up by the end of June. Last year, we completed the class on June 22nd. In 2014, we were done by June 6th. In 2013, we finished on June 3rd and the year before that, we were done on June 11th.  

If you are going to get an offer, we'll call you at the number you put on your Common Application. The call is a heads up that your status is about to change in SIS. Of course, it's fine if you tell us "no thanks" and that's the end of it. We hope that people who are no longer interested in UVA use the "decline" button to remove their name from the list, but some people forget. 

Anyway, the usual response is screaming or "OH MY GOSH!" When SIS updates, a new letter is viewable along with the buttons needed to accept the offer and pay a deposit.

Because we want to give students a few days to think about the offer (and because the Financial Aid folks need a day or two to post a package for the newly-admitted student), this process takes a while. I can't give constant updates on the blog. I can usually check in once or twice in May. I will always tell you when the Dean says the class is full. 

What about aid?If you applied for aid by March 1st and got all of your documentation in, Student Financial Services will put a financial aid package together. Once that's posted, you'll have a couple days to accept the offer and pay your deposit.
What now?Look at your other options. Get excited about one of them and pay a deposit to guarantee yourself a spot in a freshman class somewhere.

By the way, calling a student and telling them that they are getting an offer of admission is probably the most exciting thing admission officers experience. We can't wait to make them and everyone has a story or two about favorite calls. I promise you that when it's time, we'll be working very quickly so we can deliver some happy news!

Unofficial Admission Statistics for #UVA20

March 29, 2016
As usual, I am sharing some unofficial statistics this application season. These numbers weren't targets (meaning, we don't read to "hit" a certain test statistic), they are the result of the committee's process. Please keep in mind that the Office of Institutional Assessment is the source of all official statistics about UVA. They will determine the final statistics for the class, which can be found in the data digest part of their website.

Here are some unofficial numbers about this year's process. These numbers are up to date as of 3/28/2016. If you are a reporter reading this, please be sure to get in touch with the Media Relations team in the Office of University Communications for all of your reporterly needs. :)

If you want to look at numbers from past years, head to the Office of Institutional Assessment site (link above) or click on the "statistics" tag at the end of this post, which will take you to older posts of this nature. Remember that my numbers are unofficial and old posts were not updated when the census was taken.

Total number of applications: 32,426
Total number of VA apps: 9,653
Total number of OOS apps:22,773
We use completed application numbers in our statistics. There are schools that include incomplete applications in their stats.

Overall offers: 9,416
Total VA offers: 4,019 (41.6% offer rate)
Total OOS offers: 5,397 (23.7% offer rate)
Enrollment goal: 3,675
Schools admit more students than the enrollment goal with yield in mind.Yield is how many students accept an offer of admission. We do not try to figure out an individual student's likelihood of enrolling (demonstrated interest), but overall yield influences the offer rate. Check out yield from past years, broken down by residency.

Middle 50% SAT score (offers only): 1970-2250
Middle 50% ACT composite (offers only): 30-34
We use scores from each section in our review, but the reports I'm using generate totals.

92.8% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class
This number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank.

Defers and the Waiting List
Overall offer rate for the defer group: 21.4%
Students offered spots on the waiting list: 15%
Remember that the waiting list forms as students opt into it via SIS and many will decline. The waiting list will have ten different segments (in-state and OOS for each of the five academic areas that take first-year students).

Please understand that I do not have additional statistics. It's Days on the Lawn season and spring break at many high schools, so we are inundated with visitors. We have also moved into the transfer review process (reading season doesn't end with the first year release!).

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Decisions: The Offer

March 25, 2016
Admitted students can use this entry to talk. I imagine you might also want to join the UVa Class of 2020 Facebook group to chat with your future classmates. That group is just for students. Parents, you can check out the UVA Parents Page and the UVA Parents Facebook page.

I'll have posts about admission statistics and Days on the Lawn (our admitted student open houses) in the coming days. Just for reference, below your letter are buttons to accept or decline your offer. If you accept, you will see a button to let you pay your tuition deposit online*. I believe orientation registration will open after April 1st, but you'll get more information about that in the future.

You have until May 1st to decide whether you'll be joining us in Charlottesville. If you decide to go elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, I hope you'll decline the offer immediately via your self-service page.

Our relationship does not end here. We are here to talk if you need more information about UVA to make your decision. Don't hesitate to call or reach out to us online if we can help.

Congratulations! We are so lucky to have you considering UVA!
Image by Sanjay Suchak

*We have an e-check system for deposits. You'll type in the numbers on the bottom of a check. The system will take certain kinds of credit cards, but it's primarily an e-check system. Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker when you go to pay the deposit!

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Decisions: The Waiting List

March 25, 2016
Students offered a spot on the waiting list can use this entry to talk.

This is probably the toughest decision to get from a school. At UVA, the waiting list tends to be large because there are so many different segments to the population here (VA and OOS groups for each of the four schools and the one program that take first year students). At this point, we don't know where there will be openings in the class.

We won't know how large the waiting list is until you all accept or decline your waiting list offers.  Right now, you've been offered a spot on the list. You aren't actually on it until you reply using the response buttons in SIS (you have until May 1st to do this).

Still, the numbers can change dramatically from year-to-year. We took 60 students off the waiting list in 2008 and 288 students the next year. We offered admission to 402 wait-listed students last year, but 42 the year before.

For now, you need to look at your other options and think about which one feels right to you. Some of you will want to hold on and see what happens with the waiting list and others will want to fully invest themselves in another school. Either way, you need to submit a deposit somewhere by May 1st to ensure yourself a spot in a freshman class. If you are offered a spot in our class and you decide to accept it, you'll have to write to that other school and withdraw your name from the class (you may lose your deposit at that school). Just remember that you can't "double deposit".

Feel free chat here. You should have already seen the link to the waiting list FAQ page in your decision letter, which answers the most common questions (is the list ranked, what do I do now, what's the time line, etc.).

We hope you find a peaceful place to think about your options

Let's Talk about #UVA20 Decisions: The Deny

March 25, 2016
Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. If your immediate reaction is "I'll transfer", don't let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as "home" and can't imagine leaving it after a little while. Give yourself time to explore your options.

Some students inquire about being moved to the defer group. We do not have an appeal process.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.

BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don't want the messages anymore, there's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page. 

Regular Decisions for #UVA20 Posting TONIGHT!

March 25, 2016
When Dean Roberts stops talking about applications and starts talking about basketball, that's a really good sign that decisions are final and he is ready to release them. I think our big game against Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament has inspired him.

WeAre Done
This is a long post with lots of important info, so keep reading!
The release is always exciting, but some of you aren't going to get the decision for which you hoped. I hope you'll focus on the college options you have instead of the ones you don't. Celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.
I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions at the end of the day. I'll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments over the weekend.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments.

Please don't post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). School-specific statistics like GPA and rank are subjective these days and don't represent the applicant accurately. Our review is far more elaborate that a simple GPA and test score review.

Keep an Eye on Social Media You may want to follow the UVA Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages! The Class of 2020 Facebook group is full of students who want to connect as well!

A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA and #UVA20 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community.

Now, let's go over what is going to happen tonight.

What Time is the Release?I don't have an exact time for you. Our IT folks handle the release, so I can't pinpoint a precise moment when they will appear in your SIS account. Back in the pre-SIS days, I just typed "-1" in the code a few times and it was done, but they have to run a few processes to make it all happen, so it's not instantaneous.

Where Will Decisions Appear?The "View Decision" link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter instead of that "April 1st" message that's there right now. If you can't find your login info for the SIS, use the links on the login page to generate a new password. Please do not open multiple windows or constantly hit refresh. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window. Set a time tonight when you'll check and do something offline until then.

Decisions do not come by email and they are not reflected in MyUVA. 

What about Scholars Programs? Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified by email on Saturday. A follow-up letter will be mailed.

How Many People were Admitted/Denied?I'll have a post full of unofficial statistics on Monday. For now, know that the applicant pool was a little larger this year, which resulted in us being slightly more selective. I wouldn't characterize the changes as dramatic. We've never felt pressure to drum up the numbers, so I'm happy about this.

THANK YOU for hanging with me through a tough application season. Your comments and tweets have been bright spots throughout the process. Your energy, enthusiasm, and humor has been so uplifting!

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. You're going to learn from amazing professors, administrators, and peers. You're going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You're going to pull all-nighters studying. You're going to pull all-nighters not studying. You're going to have great successes and you're going to fail miserably at some things. What's going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not where you are when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVA. Our first-year class just isn't large enough to accommodate everyone.

Best wishes to those who won't be back to the blog after this (if you're reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you'll continue to comment and stay in touch!

It's a big night for you and for UVA. I'll be thinking about you all. Good luck and go hoos!

UVA is yours now!

You don't need to call us to verify this. It's true. We are releasing decisions tonight. The receptionists can't tell you an exact time or your decision.

Overlap Season Begins

March 24, 2016
It started a week ago, but I just actually had a moment to stop and think about what is going on. We're trying to wrap up the Regular Decision review, we're reading transfer applications (their deadline was March 1st), and the juniors have started to descend upon the UVA Grounds in huge numbers. It's overlap season.

Overlap Season. So tired. (outtake from CavDog filming this last summer)
I thought I'd share a little bit of advice for each of the groups with which we are working right now...

1. Regular Decision ApplicantsWe are seeing the news from our colleagues at other schools on Twitter, so we know you are starting to hear from the colleges on your list. Rest assured that we are working as quickly as possible to get decisions finalized and ready to release. If you read the blog, you know that while April 1 has always been the official notification date, we always post decisions as soon as they are done instead of waiting for that day. We're getting there! Hang in there a little while longer.

2. Transfer StudentsIf you are reading this blog and you are a transfer student, be sure to visit the UVA Transfer Admission Blog. My colleague who writes that blog is the expert on transfer admission in our office. Even though I've been at UVA for over a decade, I still find myself running down to her office to ask questions about courses or transfer credit. She is the best. Use her as a resource!

3. JuniorsWe are probably seeing over 1,000 visitors right now due to high school spring breaks. We are getting a lot of questions about GPA and course selection. I've addressed GPA fairly regularly on the blog, but please remember that it is not standardized. We are more concerned with courses and grades than with a number. Your GPA is an attempt to summarize that information, but remember that two students could have identical GPAs and very different coursework behind them.

When it comes to course selection, remember that high school is the time to create a solid foundation for the more advanced work you'll do in college. Pay attention to your cores subjects (English, Math, History, Foreign Language, and Science). Electives are wonderful, but you should not be doubling and tripling up in an elective area because you think it will "look good" while dropping a core subject.

Notes from the first #UVA20 Days on the Lawn

March 21, 2016

We interrupt this Regular Decision review process to bring you the first Days on the Lawn for #UVA20! This DOTL was for students admitted during the Early Action process. The day is winding down and families are heading out, so I thought I would share a few photos from the day.

 DOTL check-in is at Old Cabell Hall. Most people take one of the shuttle buses from the Emmet & Ivy Garage, which we take over for these days. We have some entertainment in the theater before the official welcome.
After the welcome session, some students head off to sit in on classes and others will go to sessions given by the different schools and colleges at UVA. We also have a resource fair, tours of the grounds, tours of the residence halls, and chances to relax and socialize. 

I think it's safe to say that our press conference photo booth was a hit. Since May 1st has been dubbed "College Signing Day," we thought we'd set up a faux press conference so students could take pictures to post on the big day. 

Jack even decided to crash (and steal a pom) at one point. Sorry for the photo bomb, Future Hoo.

Only a fraction of the 900+ organizations at UVA can fit in the resource fair, but we had a great variety represented.

How does the Cavalier Marching Band do it? They are always on the road, but they manage to play at DOTL and have a table at the fair. I can't wait to see them on Friday night. (Go Hoos!)

This was Jack's first DOTL and I think he had a fantastic day. Of course, he thought everyone was here to see him and posed for pictures like his brother did before him. He's still learning the ropes, so thanks to those who put up with his puppy energy! 

Jack, exhausted, around 4 PM.