Saturday, August 25, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
That being said, I guess I have to write about UVa's ranking...tomorrow. I can't believe I had to do this, but the rankings are "embargoed" and aren't supposed to be released, though someone at another school sent them to me before the numbers sent to UVa directly made it to my inbox.
With UVa's hiring of some very prominent researchers, we might see our ranking shift in the coming years because the methodology used by US News puts a high value on faculty resources.
UVa has crept up one spot on the national list to #23 (tied with
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Some statistics from our Office of Institutional Research just came my way and they point to UVa being a bit more left than some people believe it to be. 28% of UVa students designate themselves as conservatives, 35% are liberals, and 37% say they're "middle of the road".
Do those numbers surprise anyone?
Friday, July 20, 2007
Profile 1: 4.0 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2000 SAT
Profile 2: 3.9 GPA, top curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 3: 3.9 GPA, weak curriculum, top 5% of the class, 2400 SAT
Profile 4: 3.8 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2200 SAT
Profile 5: 3.7 GPA, good curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2300 SAT
Profile 6: 3.6 GPA, top curriculum, top 10% of the class, 2100 SAT
Profile 7: 3.2 GPA, okay curriculum, top 20% of the class, 1700 SAT
The results: UVA didn't come up for a match for ANY of the profiles. One of the "top 5%" students specified their location as Virginia and still didn't get UVa as a match. She then got more specific and said she lived right here in Charlottesville and didn't get UVa as a match. At the same time, some very random, unknown schools came up time and again as "match" schools. The only changes that allowed UVa to show up on a list where designating ethnicity or an interest in sports.
The whole exercise has me wondering about whether the "Counselor-o-matic" is a marketing tool (schools are offered the opportunity to pay for "increased visibility" on that website). What's more, it has me worried that some students are going through the survey once or twice and think the resulting lists are reliable.
I think The Princeton Review has some explaining to do.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The chain seemed to break in September. That’s when the University of Virginia said it planned to end its binding early decision program – an announcement that followed just weeks after similar pledges at Harvard and Princeton Universities. The move was followed by months of quiet, until now.They're keeping their November deadline and will notify students of admission decisions in mid-February. I actually like the timing...notification is early enough that students wouldn't be forced to apply for aid at other schools if Florida was their first choice college. I think they're on to something.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Oddly, the RIAA expects the schools to help them deliver paperwork to the students on their list and so far, a number of schools have told the RIAA that they don't have time to take on the extra administrative work.
The RIAA list
The MPAA list
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I'm surprised (in a good way) to see that the ACT is doing this. To mean, it shows a student-centered philosophy and that they're in touch with real students. Nice touch!
Monday, March 26, 2007
There's a new company, started by brothers from BYU, that is attempting to break into the pipeline. It's called Zinch and somehow, they're getting the word out to students, though only 451 have created profiles on the site. The problem, though, is that they haven't marketed this "service" to college admission officers in any way. A mention in The Chronicle this morning is the first I've seen outside of a student post on a message board.
Maybe they're waiting until they have the 20,000 students they want to have by the end of May, but I imagine that if students creating profiles report no response from the colleges, they won't get to that target.
I'm waiting for the pitch. What I've seen on their website isn't particularly enticing. None of the information on the site seems verified and they seem to require interaction to take place in their environment. The idea is interesting, but requires colleges to abandon their traditional marketing plans that Student Search syncs with.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I mentioned the site to a reporter at The Washington Post about a month ago when she was responding to an article pitch. I actually told her to stay away from it, that she wouldn't find anything interesting there. I guess I was wrong. Another reporter at the newspaper has written a story about comments on the message board haunting people long after they've left school.
We usually think of the "mean girls" as being in high school, but I guess they can be 20-something men in grad school as well.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
It seems that some schools are developing marketing plans to cater to the new "me" generation. Wilkes University in PA is taking out ad space (billboards, kiosks) in public places targeting specific students. Not specific groups of students, but one student. The New York Times business section has an article about this. Interesting that it didn't show up in the education section. I imagine that marketing firms will jump on the bandwagon, proposing this strategy to clients, but from the education side, I'm a little disturbed by it. Will students see things like this as evidence that a school "wants" them more? What are those of us at schools with modest admission budgets to do?
An ad on Facebook:
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
On the last day of the conference, a representative from the College Board came to give us a presentation about the SAT and how great it was at predicting academic excellence in college. I don't think she counted on the crowd getting a little feisty.
One of my new friends, who was starting off at a private, liberal arts school in New England, raised her hand during the presentation and asked what the representative had to say about recent research that said the test had a cultural bias. The room erupted in applause. The CB rep was flustered. After all, admission officers for years had held the SAT in high regard. Suddenly, a new generation of admission officers was questioning the exam. The rest of that conference session was pretty fun.
Anyway, The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a story today about a similar conference session happening at a regional NACAC meeting. I hope that we actually see some changes now that more and more admission and guidance officers are voicing their discontent with the format and administration of the SAT.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Consider these two points made by Emily Nussbaum, the author:
Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion.
So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naive...
I read the article after hearing about two cases of what I would call internet overexposure: an American Idol contestant's racy pictures being all over the internet and six University of Colorado football players being dismissed from their team for photos they posted on Facebook.
My reaction after reading the first story was of shock. Why would a college student (the Idol contestant goes to Catholic University) with aspirations to be in the public spotlight allow what I assume are compromising photos (I haven't seen them yet) to be taken? Now, I realize that the young woman involved might not consider the photos "compromising".
As for the football players, if Nussbaum is right, they see nothing wrong with the photos they posted and are completely blindsided by getting kicked off their team.
If we're witnessing the evolution of the way we use the internet, I wonder what's next?
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The folks at Darden, our graduate school of business, used an anonymous gift as an opportunity to teach students about risk taking. A random process selected one Darden first year to participate in a "Deal or No Deal" exercise of sorts. The student would be presented with two suitcases: one with $17,500 in it (tuition) and one with nothing in it. The student could select a suitcase or opt to get a pay off of sorts from "a banker", but the amount of that pay off would be unknown.
You can watch the early rounds of the selection process on the Darden website. I couldn't tune in for the live webcast this morning, so I don't know what happened in the end! I've checked the one Darden blog I know (even the one written in Japanese), but there's no mention of the result yet.
Update: The local paper has the result. He went for the suitcases and he picked the empty one.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I imagine there are plenty of Carters out there, fantasizing about the challenges that await them in college. I'm pleased to report that the Web Communications Office has developed a website just for kids who are thinking about their future (or maybe just doing a report on UVA or Thomas Jefferson). The site isn't official yet, but a preview can be seen on the staging website now.
I have to say that I like this idea. I get nervous for students who show up for info sessions prior to their sophomore year (even that used to be considered early). The UVA kids' page seems to be a way to get younger students excited about the idea of college and UVA, but doesn't include stress inducing information about admission rates and standardized testing. Best of all, there's a page that lists the different camps and programs for kids that happen at The University.
The University's new website will go live shortly, along with this one.
UPDATE: The new UVA website is up and running. As promised, the redesign includes a UVA Kids page and links to the various summer programs for younger students. The parents' page has more useful information about enrichment programs for the little ones.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
My colleague replied that Faulkner had borrowed the line from Shakespeare. I guess those who said Faulkner were correct, but those who said Shakespeare were "more correct".
I'll come back to this...
I spent last night doing what I do every night in January (and February and part of March): reading applications. I came across an essay that almost identical in style to one I read last year; one I read out loud at almost every evening program I gave during the fall travel season during my "you can write an awesome essay" pep talk. I checked the applicant's address and it was in a town where I had given a program.
At first, I seethed. The style and theme were so specific that it'd be silly to assume no one would notice. After a little while, I was more disappointed than annoyed. I remember the frustration of application essay writing. I know that the pressure has increased exponentially since I was applying to schools. Perhaps this poor kid had been desperate to get our attention and forgot where she heard the quirky essay she adapted. I set the folder aside and moved on.
In the morning, I googled a line from the essay and was shocked...both essay styles matched an example given on an application essay advice website. I went down the hall to my colleague and presented the facts. Was this a case of "Sound and Fury"? Were these students just adapting a catchy idea to work for them? Or, was this a case of plagiarism? Should these essays be considered stolen because the starting line and overall theme matched the essay on the internet?
Each time I decide the essays were copied (I go back and forth on this), I think of something I heard years ago during an interview with Billy Joel. He said that there are a finite number of melodies possible and that while that number is high, that someday all "new" music will inevitably be like something that's already been composed. Are we getting to that point with college essays? Even the ones that seem quirky and different are recycled?
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
This year, I made the smart decision to sit at the end of our conference room table closest to the Parke Muth, who is oversees the international admission process. Most people shy away from opening the envelopes from DHL (that obviously hold international applications), but those people don't realize that the most interesting supplements arrive in those envelopes. Surprisingly popular, especially in China: "introduction" books that look surprisingly like the viewbooks we send out. They appear to be professionally produced, with book binding, action shots of the applicant at school, work, and play, and copy talking about the applicant in the third person. They're pretty amazing.
Let me take a "time out" and say that by no means am I advocating submission of elaborate supplements with applications. An art supplement is the only real "extra" we want to see. Anything that arrives in a binder or special folder is immediately yanked out and stapled along with the rest of the credentials. The person who reads the application won't see how the documents were presented.Seeing all those introduction books had me thinking back to the fall, when juniors were stuffing resumes in my hands at college fairs and high school visits. When I quizzed Parke about the source of the books, he surmised that there was a website somewhere telling students that this was how they should apply to schools in America. Apparently, this is as big a business in China as in the Unites States. One Chinese student wrote a book about getting in to Harvard and made millions. Another person wrote some sort of instruction book for visa interviews and likewise, made millions (by the way, the advice was bad and many had their visa requests turned down).
I'm frustrated by the number of "experts" out there who post information on the internet as if it were gospel. I imagine that some of these people make money, but I wonder if others derive satisfaction at being regarded as "all knowing". The internet "experts" are here to stay. I just hope students and parents don't start paying more attention to them than to the colleges!
Friday, December 08, 2006
It came to my attention today that two schools, Saint Joseph College in Connecticut and University of Alabama, are offering students free iTunes downloads in exchange for either adding their names to the school mailing list or applying for admission. UofA supposedly offered extra downloads to those willing to give their friends' email addresses as well. Alabama's law school is offering downloads to applicants, too.
In my Google searching about this, I came across more than one article from the business media praising this innovative marketing strategy. Now, I don't fault those groups, as they have a corporate mindset and probably don't understand our environment. But I can't understand how admission officers at those schools reconcile what they're doing.
Those of us in admission roll our eyes when we see the armed forces recruiters at college fairs giving out all sorts of gadgets and nick knacks. Giving out these sorts of things is expressly forbidden by our professional organization, NACAC. I usually console myself by thinking that the students gathered round the recruiter wouldn't have been interested in my school anyway. Of course, these iTunes downloads aren't being given out at college fairs, but they are being used for the same purpose.
It's amazing to me that some schools are resorting to a bribe, of sorts, in order to get students to sign up for a mailing list. The investment seems a bit foolish because (I imagine) students wouldn't really be impressed by the offer. If anything, it might devalue the schools reputation, as evidenced by this message board conversation about Alabama Law's offer.
According to an article in Bama's student newspaper, Mary Spiegel, the Director of Undergraduate Admission said this was an attempt to use methods that high school students "associate with". Associate with what? An instant win game in a candy wrapper? A prize code under the lid of a soft drink? The student paper also points out that the recruitment website
is written with young people in mind. After prospective students give their information, the site asks them to tell friends about the offer, "Because that playa, is just how you roll."
I love quirky marketing, but isn't the goal is to be humorous and clever?
The email from Alabama Law (sent last spring and again in November):
Admit it! You are an outstanding student. For a select number of students like you, The University of Alabama School of Law is still accepting applications.
Your special application deadline is April 15, 2006.
To encourage you to consider Alabama as your law school, we’re making two special offers:
1. We'll waive your application fee, and
2. We’ll present you with 5 free music downloads on iTunes® if you apply now!
To receive your iTunes codes, you must apply online at http://www.law.ua.edu/apply/.
No purchase is necessary. If you apply by April 15, your music downloads on iTunes will be available until March 17, 2007. (Info about the school follows)
Friday, December 01, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
A few years ago, an absolutely brilliant engineering student at one of my former institutions came to see me. He nervously clutched a spindle of blank CD-Rs and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. I couldn't imagine what was making him so anxious. He softly asked "Dean J...could you teach shins to me?"
I was almost in shock. "Shins" is how a certain type of file extension (.shn) is pronounced by those who use it. Along with FLACs (.flac files), they are used by tapers and traders of live music. Trading live music, encouraged by a whole range of bands, changed from mail based to Internet based in the late 90s. I assumed that all teenagers were familiar with .shn and .flac files and converting them to audio (.wav) or MP3s. The fact that my extremely savvy engineering student didn't know about these simple files or how to get them through Bit Torrent (which, unfortunately, has since become popular with sharing copyright protected music and movies) was pretty shocking.
That little incident made me realize that while students are more "plugged in" than ever, many are only familiar with technology that's packaged in easily digested bits. It used to be that social interaction on the web was done by newsgroup and IRC (Internet Relay Chat). I believe listserves came along next, making messages come to the user instead of requiring the user to go to the messages. Then Prodigy and AOL came along and created "environments" that sat on the web, but didn't require users to actually go to the web. Around that time, I remember seeing a lot of students writing down their email addresses without an "@domain.com" because they only interacted within AOL, where that wasn't required.
I could go on and on with the time line, but as I stated earlier, what we arrive at is a time when the majority of students are online, but the minority of students are truly savvy about the web. Ask a student to personalize their MySpace page and they can put together a page full of bells and whistles. Ask them to create a website and many would need explicit instructions for registering a domain name.
Students, for a while, were the teachers when it came to the web. Perhaps we're approaching a reversal of that.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Last year, months after the first widespread administration of the "new" SAT (the new format included a writing section), ETS announced that a large number of test results were flawed. The problem: the score sheets had been exposed to extreme humidity which made the machine that read the sheets unable to scan them correctly. ETS notified us of about 70 scores that were higher than previously reported after they found their error. However, they decided it wouldn't be fair to correct scores that had been higher before the error was found. Hm.
So, a year later, I feel the need to tell every student who asks about our SAT score averages about the data possibly being bad. They all seem surprised, which makes me think very few, if any, schools are saying the same. Bad data = bad statistics.
Now, on top of that, I've been keeping any eye on the scores for the essay in the new section of the exam. The essay is scored by two readers, who rate it on a 1-6 scale. The two scores are added, so the highest score possible is a 12. In a year of reading essays (and some of the essays I see are beautifully done), I saw one 12, a few 10s and 11s, and a slew of scores from 6 to 8. I also saw a few 4s. What does this tell me? That most students can throw enough on paper for 25 minutes to get an average score, but that few students can put together a brilliant essay in that amount of time. This makes it hard to spend much more than a second or two glancing at that score.
Cut to present day. We're hearing that there are many, many problems being reported with the October administration of the SAT. Colleagues from the high school side are saying their students are seeing scores cancelled or reports that they ordered sent to colleges not being sent, and some complaints about the actual testing environment at a few schools.
For the first time in my career, I had ETS call me to ask if they sent us some scores! When I questioned the person who called me about what prompted the call, she danced around the fact that they had complaints about schools not receiving scores that were sent.
This post is deliberately disjointed. It seems as there are problems in almost every area of operation at ETS. What is going on? How can a company with so much money and so many resources make so many errors?
Friday, November 10, 2006
When most people think about affirmative action in education, they think about race being considered in admission decisions. What they often miss is that there are programs aimed to affect all sorts of students that are also included in affirmative action.
A few months ago, I came across a very interesting study put together by the Center for the Education for Women at University of Michigan about proposition 209, which ended affirmative action in California, and the potential effects on Michigan once a similar measure goes through. Those who want the Readers' Digest version can see a summary of the report.
In a nutshell, a slew of special programs are on the chopping block right now. Camps aimed to get kids interested in math & science, special programs that provide college prep for inner city kids, shadowing initiatives meant to give students of color mentors in business and industry...all at risk, according to the report.
While special consideration for race has been removed from the admission process, considerations for athletes, legacies, and development cases hasn't been touched.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
C-Span's been doing a good number of programs about college admission and tuition. Yesterday, they showed a program about college rankings and one of the panelists was from US News & World Report. Oh how I wish I could have watched that! Today, a UVA student will be one of the panelists during a discussion about tuition and financial aid. I hope the program will be repeated when I'm back in Charlottesville so I can see it.
If anyone watched, please post a comment about anything noteworthy that was said!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Imagine my surprise when UVA got mentioned on the Sunday morning edition of Today. Imagine my further surprise at hearing that UVA was part of the reason that American teens are more comfortable than ever with cheating.
The story in question was in response to the Josephson Institute on Ethic's study "A Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth". While 98% of high school students surveyed agreed with the statement "It's important for me to be a person with good character", 60% reported cheating on an exam in the last year and 33% admitted to copying information on the internet (presumably for a school assignment).
The Today Show did a short spot about the survey and then turned to their in-studio guests, one of whom was a student at McLean High School in Northern Virginia. When asked why he thought his peers seemed more comfortable with cheating than those in years past, the first thing out of his mouth was that schools like UVA "are telling people that if they don't have a 3.9 GPA, they shouldn't bother applying." The student then went on to talk about Turnitin.com, which didn't exactly seem on topic. Of course, I couldn't really follow the rest of the piece. I thought I had just heard someone partially blame UVA (and colleges like it) for cheating among high school students.
I understand that the college application process is extremely stressful. I'm not so old that I don't remember the uncertainty and anxiety of the process. I don't, however, remember cheating as being part of the process. With an honor code as prominent as UVA's, the message is clear: cheating is not acceptable.
As for the 3.9 GPA comment, just last week, I spent 45 minutes at McLean High School describing UVA's holistic review process and the use of the school profile as a filter through which we look at transcripts. My response to a question about the average GPA of the admitted class was quite long, explaining that GPA scales vary so much that it's hard to put much faith in such a statistic.
Maybe my words are falling on deaf ears.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Over the last two weeks, I've hosted a number of evening programs and sat on a few panels at college information nights. After most of these events, I've had a few students approach me and ask if I'd take resumes. A little baffled and taken a little off guard, I've been accepting them, but I'm starting to wonder if other students are copying this because the numbers keep increasing. Who started this and why? The only place these resumes are going is into the "misciellaneous credentials" files, where they'll sit until an application shows up from the student. I haven't even glanced at the pile that is sitting in the folder usually reserved for driving directions and hotel confirmations.
A colleague of mine thinks private counselors are planting this strategy in students' heads, thinking that every little bit of interaction will curry favor with admission officers. If that's the case, they're forgetting to tell students that we remember those with whom we have significant interaction. That isn't happening in most of these cases.
These same students are depleting my business card stash at an alarming rate. I wonder how many will actually call, email or IM me, as I tell them to or how many will forget about me after they file my card in a UVA folder, next to the brochures and postcards we mailed out a few months ago.
*Curious about that wonderful man I mentioned? Download one of his presentations here ("Using Humor Seriously"). There's a short survey to fill out before the download will go through, but it's worth it!
Friday, September 29, 2006
Some critics of Harvard, Princeton, UVA and Delaware's move to do away with early admission say that one of the reasons (lessening stress) is foolish. They say that the college search is stressful anyway and that doing away with early admission just pushes the stress back two months. They seem to be ignoring the stress of the order of the process.
The traditional college search can be seen as a number of steps.
1. A large list of potential schools is drawn up using guide books, internet searches, and meetings with counselors.
2. Mom, Dad and the student embark on a whirl wind college tour, visiting so many campuses in one week that schools are recalled by parking situation: the one that had the parking garage, the one that had the parking lot, and the one that had no parking.
3. Applications are organized, spreadsheets made, essays written, transcripts requested, etc. Packages are carefully handed over to the post office clerk who unceremoniously tosses it into a bin. Images of crinkled pages make Mom cringe. The wait begins.
4. Decision letters arrive from colleges. Letter carriers are stalked, online applications accounts are checked compulsively.
5. The student lays all the decision letters out on the kitchen table and mulls over choices.
6. A deposit is mailed to one lucky college.
Early admission moves the 5th step of the process up to #3. So, as students are starting the hardest academic year of their career, ascending to the leadership positions in their clubs and activities, and navigating the application process, they are also forced to make a decision that will affect the next four years of life (and the rest of life, if you think about it). This seems like a horrible time to be making such a decision, especially without knowing all the options available.
The same woman who called me talked about her son, a UVa alum, who applied early to another school, which had been his top choice. He was deferred and while hoping for an acceptance from that school, submitted regular decision applications elsewhere (including Virginia).
When decision letters came, he went for a second round of visits to schools. During those trips, he realized that UVa was the right place for him and sent his deposit in. Five months isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, but the difference between October and April is significant in the senior year of high school.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Stay tuned for an update.
Update: The press release is out, so it's official: Early Decision will not exist in the UVA admission process next year!
The media has arrived...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
So, why the change? Read the news articles about the move and the quotes are about righting the wrongs of the process. If that is the intention, then I think this is a wonderful move and I hope that it takes hold elsewhere.
But, there's a tiny, cynical voice in my head that can't help but look at this as a PR/marketing move.
One week ago, Daniel Golden's book came out. Harvard was blasted repeatedly. Story after story talked about admission practices that gave preference to the rich. One admission professional estimated that only 40% of space in the incoming freshman class was open to students without "connections".
So last week, news agencies picked up on the hype. Golden's former employer, Wall Street Journal, has a story front and center about "silver spoon admission". All the major cable news networks had articles. The buzz was good and I'm sure Golden's publisher was elated.
But then the Harvard story came out. All of a sudden, the news cycle was hijacked. Golden's book was last week's news and Harvard was the big story. Brilliant work on the media/public relations office if my cynical voice is correct. Announce a year early to allow others to follow along, do what so many wish would be done, and bury a story that was unfavorable.
Regardless of why Harvard did what it did, I'm thrilled that a step has been made in the right direction. I can't wait to see what comes next!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Instead, I walked around the "New Releases" and "New Non-Fiction" tables without seeing any sign of the book or an empty space where it could have sat prior to my arrival, when hordes must have snatched every copy. The information desk staffer was quick to take me to the children's section where one copy was shelved, spine out (not display style) next to The Chosen and The Gatekeepers.
Of course, I immediately looked UVA up in the index. The results aren't too surprising: one mention of alumni children, one of recruited athletes and one (oddly) of our initiative to give full scholarships to low income students (what we call AccessUVA).
Though I haven't gotten too deep into the book yet, I'm fairly certain that I know what Golden will say about two of the three issues above (what he finds problematic about scholarships for low income students is a mystery at the moment). My ability to predict his comments isn't a function of working in the industry. I believe these "juicy" bits of information are common knowledge (comments will support or refute that). I doubt anyone is ignorant to the fact that certain people get into college because of factors other than their GPA, rank, and SAT score.
So far, my reaction has been a "so what". Unless he proposes some sort of action, he's turned his Wall Street Journal articles into a 300 page book.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I'm currently working on the layout of this blog. A new look for a new year, I guess. In addition to the look, I'll be adding links to two companion blogs for those who read hoping to learn more about student live at UVA. One blog will be written by the parent of a first year student and the other will be written by a current student who is studying abroad in China this semester. I won't be previewing their entries, so I hope that these will give readers some good, honest information about what it means to be part of the University community.
It seems that "admission sponsored" blogs are a hot topic in the blogsphere these days. As I've written before, I'm not a big fan of "newletter" style blogs and blogs that look like diaries fall into that genre for me. I'm hoping that our parent blogger will talk about what their child is experiencing at school, but also reflect on the college search. I don't expect that blog to be "rainbows and unicorns". Likewise, the student studying abroad is apt to experience some culture shock and homesickness and I don't expect him to gloss over that at all.
I think blogging for the Office of Admission can be honest and interesting if writers don't feel pressure to say that everything is perfect. Prosepctive students are looking for real information about what college life is like and I don't think they expect to see the same cheerful comments day after day.
Links to follow...
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
We're getting ready to hit the road for school visits and college fairs, which means application season is right around the corner. I'll be in California, the mid-west and parts of Virginia this year...a schedule is coming soon.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
To coincide with this extremely important event (sarcasm), media outlets are full of stories about college rankings and admission. There's the "Who Needs Harvard?" article in August 13th's issue of Time, which, in a nutshell, says what so many already know: the college search is about fit. Just this weekend, UVA and 24 others were deemed the "new ivies" by Newsweek and Kaplan (hmm...Kaplan in the college ranking business). Interesting, since the term "public ivy" has been used for years to describe this place. The same publication came up with the top 100 universities in the entire world (UVA is #80).
The merits of US News' methodology are examined in many, many places on the web, so I won't bother explaining my reluctance to put much weight on the number they assign us (#24 this year). Out of curiosity, though, I looked at the method used to determine Newsweek/Kaplan's world ranking and found it pretty interesting.
Fifty percent of the score came from equal parts of: the number of highly-cited researchers in various academic fields, the number of articles published in Nature and Science, and the number of articles listed in the ISI Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities indicesThere's no mention of student satisfaction, resources/support services for students (especially international students), study abroad programs, popularity of foreign language or cultural study, or placement in graduate/professional school. Maybe it's silly of me to expect more student info than a faculty:student ratio in ranking methodologies.
40 percent of the score came from equal parts of: the percentage of international faculty, the percentage of international students, citations per faculty member (using ISI data), and the ratio of faculty to students.
The final 10 percent came from library holdings (number of volumes).
Among all the articles, one jumped out at me as putting things in perspective. Looking at the colleges where the CEOs of the Fortune 50 companies went to school, the message is clear. Success is not a function of your alma mater.
I know better than to hope people will ignore the rankings. I hope, though, that people will put things in perspective. When I was 18, you could have put me in a Harvard classroom (oh wait...I was in one for a high school program), but I wouldn't have learned. It didn't feel right. In a similar (but newer) chair, not too many miles away, I was happy, engaged and learning.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Office of Admission just launched a brand new website! Some of the content is the same, but there are plenty of new features to explore. Unfortunately, as with almost any new website, there are some blips to be worked out. We just noticed that the essay questions posted are from last year and the visit calendar doesn't go past June.
Fixes are on the way. For now, the essay questions for the 2007 application are:
(1) Please answer the question that corresponds to the school you selected on Part I of your application in half a page, or roughly 250 words.
College of Arts and Sciences: What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised or unsettled or challenged you, and in what way?
School of Engineering: Discuss experiences that led you to choose an engineering education at U.Va. and the role that scientific curiosity plays in your life.
School of Architecture: What led you to apply to the School of Architecture?
School of Nursing: Discuss experiences that led you to choose the School of Nursing.
(2) Answer one of the following questions. Limit your response to half a page, or approximately 250 words.
a. What is your favorite word, and why?
b. Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.
c. "Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light. " (Franz Kafka) Do you have a belief that is like a guillotine? In what way?
d. What kind of diversity will you bring to U.Va.?
e. "We might say that we were looking for global schemas, symmetries, universal and unchanging laws - and what we have discovered is the mutable, the ephemeral, the complex." Support or challenge Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine's assertion.
f. According to J.H Plumb, "History is now strictly organized, powerfully disciplined, but it possesses only a modest educational value and even less conscious social purpose." According to George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Discuss your point of view.
(3) Please write on a topic of your choice.
If an essay question for another college piqued your interest, feel free to to submit your response to that question. Please limit your submission to one page, or approximately 500 words.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
A colleague of mine put together a comprehensive list of all the scholarships we have at UVA and I thought I'd profile some of them. We're working on getting them all on our website (we're launching a new Office of Admission website this summer), but until then, I thought this might be a good place to post that information.
The Jefferson Scholarship
A full tuition scholarship sponsored by the Alumni Association.
Criteria: Excellence in leadership, scholarship and citizenship
Selection Process: Candidates are nominated by participating schools (see website for more info) and interviewed locally by alumni panels. Finalists attend a selection weekend in Charlottesville in early spring and notified of awards around May 1st.
-The Office of Admission may nominate "at large" candidates who do not go to nominating schools.
-International students are eligible and have been awarded this scholarship.
The University Achievement Award
About 50 full tuition scholarships awarded to exceptional students from Virginia who will add to the diversity of the student population.
Criteria: Virginia residency, academic merit, leadership, need and citizenship. A student must also satisfy at least two of the following conditions: (1) have a history of overcoming disadvantage; (2) be a first generation college student; (3) be a member of an underrepresented minority or ethnic group; (4) be a member of a low income family; (5) reside in a rural or inner-city location; (6) have been raised in a single parent household.
Selection Process: A committee reviews all applicants from Virginia for possible awards. Award notifications are sent in early April.
Faculty/Staff Undergraduate Scholarship
Need-based scholarship for children of full-time faculty or staff. The average award is $3,000. Open to first year and transfer students.
Criteria: Parent must be employed by the University full-time for at least one year; student must be in good academic standing.
Selection Process: Student must complete all Financial Aid paperwork by March 1st and submit a separate application for the scholarship (link opens a PDF).
The Holland Scholarship
Administered by the Holland Alumni Board and Ron Brown Foundation. Provides a $10,000 (Virginian) or $20,000 (out of state student) scholarship annually to outstanding African American students.
Criteria: Demonstrated love of learning, academic achievement, involvement and leadership.
Selection Process: All African American applicants are reviewed by a committee. Finalists attend a selection weekend in Charlottesville. Award notifications are sent in late March/early April.
The Ridley Scholarship
Awards for African American students administered by The Black Alumni Association. Renewable for four years.
Criteria: African Americans demonstrating financial need, academic performance, leadership, and community service. Must maintain full-time enrollment, 2.0 GPA and be involved in university organizations.
Selection process: All African American applicants are sent application information between December and March. Applicants must submit their responses by March 30th. A selection committee reviews applicants and makes award notifications in mid-April.
Special Notes: The Ridley Board administers a number of other scholarships as part of The Ridley Scholarship. The pages linked below include information about specific funds, some with stories about the students for whom the funds are named.
The Gregory Raven Batipps Memorial Fund
The Ravenell Ricky Keller III Scholarship
The Meikel Andrade Memorial Scholarship
Annetta Thomapson Fund
Richmond/Ridley Endowed Scholarship
The Guinee Family Endowed Scholarship Fund
Virginia Engineering Scholarship
Scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for outstanding minority applicants to the engineering school. Administered by the Director of Minority Programs* in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Criteria: Strong performance in the sciences, leadership potential, involvement, and research interests.
Selection Process: All minority applicants to the engineering school are reviewed. Award notifications are sent in early May.
*This might be from old documentation. SEAS now has a Center for Diversity in Engineering that may oversee this award.
Berkley and Susan Fontaine Minor Foundation Scholarship
Scholarship awarding $4,000 annually to two outstanding students from West Virginia.
Criteria: West Virginia residency, superior academic achievement, involvement and leadership
Selection Process: All applicants from West Virginia are reviewed by the Office of Admission for possible award. Finalists are recommended to the Minor Foundation. The Foundation notifies award winners in April.
H. Kruger Kaprielian Scholarship
Need-based scholarship awarded to a student of Armenian descent.
Criteria: US citizen or permanent resident with Armenian ancestry.
Selection Process: Candidates must submit a letter to the Office of Financial Services to be considered.
Charles F. Wonson Scholarship
A need-based award given to a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, VA.
Criteria: Attendance at Robert E. Lee High School, good academic standing.
Selection Process: Admitted applicants from Robert E. Lee High School are automatically awarded this scholarship in their financial aid packages.
Award given every four years to one student, worth approximately $6660. Next award year: 2007.
Criteria: Attendance at Lynchburg, VA area high schools, good academic standing.
Selection Process: A local alumni committee oversees selection process. Area high schools are sent application information.
V. Thomas Foreland, Jr. Scholarship
A merit and/or need based scholarship of approximately $3,000 awarded to two students from Chesapeake, VA who attended Oscar F. Smith High School, Norfolk Academy, or Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.
Criteria: Attendance at one of the above schools, good academic standing.
Selection Process: Office of Financial Aid reviews all applicants from the geographic area for possible award. Notification sent in April.
George E. Hamovit Memorial Scholarship
Need based award of $1,500 to $3,000, renewable each year, given to a student from Petersburg, VA who attended Petersburg High School.
Criteria: Petersburg, VA residency, strong academic standing, demonstrated need.
Selection Process: Office of Financial Aid reviews all applicants from Petersburg for possible award.
A $2,000 award for students of Rockingham County/Harrisburg/Staunton, VA, renewable each year. Three students are typically selected for the award.
Criteria: Residency in areas listed above, good academic standing, financial need.
Selection Process: Office of Financial Aid and the Alumni Association consider all applicants from eligible area. Top candidates given to the local alumni chapter for review.
A need-based award of approximately $7,500 given to an African American student from Mississippi. Next award will be made in 2009.
Criteria: Mississippi residency, good academic standing
Selection Process: All African American applicants from Mississippi are considered. Award notifications made in early April.
A one-time $2,000 award given to a non-traditional student attempting to complete a degree. Often given to transfer students.
Criteria: Non-traditional student in good academic standing
Selection Process: All non-traditional students are automatically reviewed by the transfer admission dean. Nominations sent to the Alumni Association and notification is made in May.
Bailey Tiffany Scholarship
A grant for residents of Accomack or Northampton County, VA. Award typically covers tuition and fees.
Criteria: Residency in Accomack or Northampton County, VA.
Selection Process: Automatically awarded as part of the Financial Aid package.
Margaret E. Phillips Scholarship
Awarded to students striving to become Ministers in the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. Amount varies.
Criteria: Interest in religious studies with intention to become and Episcopal minister.
Selection Process: Candidates must submit a letter to the Office of Financial Services to be considered.
Special Note: Rarely applied for.
Warwick High School Class of 1952 Scholarship
A $100 award to students from Warwick High School (VA).
Criteria: Attendance at Warwick High School, good academic standing
Selection Process: All students offered admission from Warwick High School are invited to apply. Award is deposited directly into the winner's account in the University Bursar's office.
Los Angeles Alumni Club Scholarship
Award for LA area residents administered by the Alumni Association chapter.
Criteria: Residency in the Los Angeles area, good academic standing
Selection Process: A local alumni panel reviews all applicants from LA for the award.
Special Notes: Need considered, but not strictly a need-based award.
Other places to look for UVA scholarships:
UVA Alumni Association's comprehensive list of AA funded scholarships
Center for Undergraduate Excellence scholarship page
Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards ($3.000 for current students interested in research)
Computer Science Wiki (engineering school)
SEAS Career Development scholarship page
Curry School of Education's scholarship page (many, many awards for ed students!)
UVA Financial Services scholarship page
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I'm thoroughly entertained by the referral and exit pages I see on the tracker for this blog. I always wonder about the route readers took to get here or where they'll go when they move on.
A team of scientists have thought about this on a much larger scale: what can we learn from blogs about human behavior? There's a fascinating article in The Chronicle about work being done at a few universities. Some are literally trying to map the blogsphere.
Make sure to follow the link on the right hand side of that page...it's pretty interesting!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
They polled 231 colleges about recruitment practices, focusing on the use of "cutting edge" tools like IM, blogs, chat rooms, online applications, etc. UVA wasn't included in the survey and from what I can tell, we would have stacked up pretty well because we've tried to communicate in ways our students do.
It'd be great if the same group would follow up with a broad sample of students to see how this is being received. I find myself wondering if students like our methods. We send email, but only once a month during application season in hopes that students won't feel bombarded. I have my IM address on my business cards and encourage students to contact me that was (some seem to prefer IM to the phone). We have chat sessions with current students, professors and admission officers as well. While this blog isn't specifically for students, I hope those who read find it interesting.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their first job. But now, college career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.Despite anecdotal evidence that companies are checking up on student applicants, some college career center directors don't think the practice is widespread. While students have always thought Facebook was "private" because it requires a .edu email address to join, some companies are using student interns or employees who have .edu email addresses provided by their Alumni affiliation with a school to access that site.
I've commented before that we aren't looking students up during the admission process (and still get the question routinely), but that shouldn't make students feel secure in posting evidence of bad behavior online. I think every student needs to err on the side of caution and edit the information they are including in their online profiles.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Back when I first created my MySpace and Facebook accounts, I did some browsing and found some pretty surprising info among the "Groups". Students were openly praising drugs like Adderall for helping them study.
Back when I was in school, our only chemical study aids seemed to be Jolt and No Doze (no link...maybe they're out of business?). No Doze was seen as dangerous enough to warrant a "very special episode" of Saved By the Bell about Jesse getting addicted to caffeine pills (a classic episode that lives on, here and here, in YouTube land). In my Residence Life years, we heard rumbles about Ritalin abuse, but my RA staff didn't feel it was widespread on our campus. Those who were using prescription drugs weren't talking about it.
Somehow, attitudes have shifted and students are open about using pharmaceuticals. The Washington Post finally gave the issue the front cover (though of the Style section) yesterday. The students quoted in the article are pretty candid. One UVA graduate said they showed up here in the last two years. A student at University of Delaware said he was shocked by a survey he did for a class project.
The pressure to succeed and gain admission to a top grad school is mentioned over and over again, as is ignorance about the prevalence of these drugs.
"With rising competition for admissions and classes becoming harder and harder by the day, a hypothesis was made that at least half of students at the university have at one point used/experienced such 'smart drugs,' " Salantrie writes in his report. He found his hunch easy to confirm."What was a surprise, though, was the alarming rate of senior business majors who have used" the drugs, he writes. Almost 90 percent reported at least occasional use of "smart pills" at crunch times such as final exams, including Adderall, Ritalin, Strattera and others. Of those, three-quarters did not have a legitimate prescription, obtaining the pills from friends.
I hope three things:
First, obviously, that people come to their senses and stay away from this stuff.
Second, that high schoolers aren't getting in on this. The side effects are bad enough for adults (liver failure!?!), I can't imagine how bad they'd be on bodies that are still developing.
Third, that students who don't pop pills will be seen as having the real smarts and those who use "Smart Pills" will be seen as having artificial smarts. I see a difference between an A that results from planning ahead and studying hard verses one gotten because of a drug-assisted cram session.
Another sort of addiction is taking hold of students: online gambling. The Sunday New York Times published and article about this disturbing trend.
What I found most surprising is that some colleges are allowing tournaments to take place on campus.
Some schools have allowed sites to establish a physical on-campus presence by sponsoring live cash tournaments; the sites partner with fraternities and sports teams, even give away a semester's tuition, all as inducements to convert the casual dorm-lounge poker player to a steady online customer. An unregulated network of offshore businesses has been given unfettered access to students, and the students have been given every possible accommodation to bet and lose to their hearts' content. Never before have the means to lose so much been so available to so many at such a young age.The gist of the article is that students are losing thousands to these online sites and spending most of their waking hours (even ones in class, thanks to wireless internet) gambling.
Friday, June 02, 2006
I'm not posting the duplicates and the terms below (especially the essay questions) have often showed up multiple times.
teacher admission blog
college admission stats
uva 2006 admission scores
law school, admission, waitlist
uva admission sat scores
UVA transfer SATs
community colleges, UVA, accepting top third
UVA Admission Blog (smart cookie there!)
UVA admission gpa
TJ Gpa UVA
uva class start
"every generation needs a new revolution"
how to view a facebook UVa
get a facebook uva
music admission blogs
When does the Case Western Reserve Law School waitlist start to move? (huh?)
sat score needed to get into uva out of state
out of state admission stats UVA
uva athletics admissions problems
behind door admission UVA
admission to UVA sample transcript
uva honor video
accepted UVA african american sat gpa
FOOD OF THE PEOPLE IN DELEWARE USA IN PRECIS (a French child's school project?)
UVa early decision contract
vccs transfer architecture uva
college admissions process at UVA
uva admissions good bad risky essay
average GPA needed to get into UVA (we don't really have an average because schools compute GPA so differently these days)
uva accepted 2010 class
cryptology major (by the way, the new Computer Science major in the Arts & Sciences school is another way to head towards cryptology work)
UVA 2007 Essay questions
college fair northern virginia october 10th uva
uva national merit
how to get into UVA (simple...I like it)
policy lsats average take highest uva
matt.mitblogs.com (I link to Matt's blog, but why would someone do a search when they know the address?)
polyprep average SAT scores (PolyPrep's in Brooklyn!)
"We might say that we were looking for global schemas, symmetries, universal and unchanging laws - and what we have discovered is the mutable, the ephemeral, the complex." (that's a lot ot Google, but clearly, someone is looking for help on one of our application essays)
"History is now strictly organized, powerfully disciplined but it possesses only a modest educational value and even less conscious social purpose." J.H. Plumb (essay question)
"Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light" (essay question)
uva essay topic santayana plumb (yet another person researching one of our application essay questions)
"What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised or unsettled or challenged you, and in what way?" (yet another essay question)
taking no- doze while on adderall (wow...I'm speechless)
I remember plenty of times when standardized tests were started late. I distinctly remember hearing students in other classrooms taking breaks or leaving when my classroom was still in test-taking mode.
A lot of people in the east (where the ACT hasn't always been popular) have been talking about the ACT as a great alternative after some of the problems the SAT has had in the last few years. Looks like neither exam is exempt from issues.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.I think admission is long overdue for some changes. The first two Deans with whom I worked were anti-early action and decision and I agreed. To have applications done by November 1st, most students will have to get applications completed while they're still adjusting to a new set of teachers and possibly a heavier workload if they're carrying a full load of AP/IB courses in the senior year. It seems like a horrible time to expect students to take some time to write brilliant essays and to expect teachers to write amazing recommendations.
When I came to UVA, I changed my stance a bit. Early decision seemed like a great way for students who were absolutely in love with the place to possibly get a positive admission decision early and not have to fill out appications to other schools. However, at every gathering of prospective students come comments that make me revert back to my earlier opinion of the early process.
"I heard out of state students have to apply early."
"I heard to get into Architecture, you need to apply early."
"I heard early decision applicants must have a GPA over 4.0."
"I heard that Echols/Rodman Scholars are always chosen from the early decision pool."
"I heard that Jefferson Scholars are always early decision applicants."
It really goes on and on. No matter how many times I refute the rumors, people still think they "have" to apply early. Maybe the staff at Univesity of Deleware had the same conflict. They've just abondoned the early action/decision program completely (The Chronicle wrote about this last week).
Is this move a sign of things to come? I'm not sure. We've talked about the future of ED here and I think it will stay in place for the time being.
I wonder if students see ED as a positive thing (get accepted early, less applications to fill out) or as placing more pressure on them at a time when there is a considerable amount already on them.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
Our publications list our accomplishments on these lists, even if The Princeton review rank us 2nd in ability to take a bus to the airport (no, that's not a category, but there are some odd ones on that list). Each year, we brainstorm ways to improve our rankings and secretly hope that those above us on the lists don't maintain their positions.
I admit that I get caught up in this. I'd love to believe that people analyze school websites and course catalogues before deciding that one school is "better" than another. I have to face facts, though. The guidebooks and ranking issues affect the perception of quality.
But, I want to know why. Why do YOU care about the rankings? If you comment, I'd love to know if you're a student, parent, colleague, etc.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I did some Googling and came up with the short list on the sidebar of this page. I was very surprised by the lack of "issues" oriented blogs. Most are newsletter style, telling students information that they can find elsewhere (Our deadline is coming up!). We aren't exactly lacking in "hot button" topics in this field. Perhaps people just don't want to take a side for fear that their opinion will reflect poorly on their institution. Or, perhaps, many of us think we're too busy or not savvy enough to write in a blog.
If you know of a good admission blog, please share it via the comment function. If you want help starting a blog, contact me (leave your email address in the comment box) and I'll walk you through it. There should be other admission officers blogging out there!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Anyway, scrolling through my Headline News this morning (a daily email about UVA in the news), one of the stories jumped out at me:
U.VA. ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS COMPETE TO REBUILD NEW ORLEANS
Of course I had to check it out.
The students competed with professionals and were recognized for their talents from the 275 entries. The judges selected two winners, three commended projects and about 20 others for exhibition.
Projects by finalists are currently on display at New Orleans’s Ogden Museum of Art and will be exhibited at the American Institute of Architects convention in Los Angeles in June. Winning designs will be published in the June issue of Architectural Record magazine with selected designed posted on the McGraw-Hill Construction Web sites.I'll definitely be picking up Archtectural Record (okay, maybe reading it in the aisle at Barnes & Noble) when the next issue comes out.
I know I usually focus on "issues" on this blog and stay away from being a newsletter, but this was such a great story that I had to post about it.