I totally agree that the admission process is, and should be, holistic. However I don't understand why UVA puts A LOT MORE weight on GPA than on SATs. Afterall, SATs are standardized as you mentioned, and standardization makes it more comparable than high school GPAs, which can be arbitrary and inflated in one school vs. in another.
BTW, I'd like to know if a rumor I heard is true: UVA will deny/waitlist an applicant if s/he has an average GPA below 3.8 even if the applicant has high SATs (by high I mean 75 percentile or above)?
A VA Dad
The fact is that the SAT is not perfect. True, you can find stats that show those who score well on the SAT tend to do well in college, BUT you can't say that those who don't score well are destined to do poorly in college.
I have a fantastic story to illustrate this. Last fall, a 4th year at UVA (a senior) came by my office looking for advice about crafting a letter to law school admission officers. She was trying to draw a correlation between how she did on the SAT and her performance at UVA and her performance on the LSAT and her potential for performance in law school (here's a "retro" joke for those who took the SAT before the format change: SAT:UVA::LSAT:Dream Law School).
This young woman scored very poorly on the SAT. I won't post her score, but it was bad. She is #20 in her class of over 3000 at UVA. Reread that. She's TWENTIETH in a class of THREE THOUSAND.
Thank goodness the admission officers who read her application didn't weigh that SAT score more heavily than her performance in high school! Thank goodness we look at how each school calculates GPA and how grading works at each school (an A starts at 90 in some schools, 93 in others) when we read an application.
If that didn't convince you, consider this: The SAT is four hours long. The high school transcript shows us four years of work. I'd rather see a great transcript with nice teacher recommendations, sincere essays and evidence of some involvement than perfect SAT scores.
As for that rumor, it's exactly that. It seems there are dozens of rumors about the UVA admission process. I wish I knew the source of this stuff. A good rule of thumb: if you didn't hear it from a dean, don't believe it! UVA has no "cut off" when it comes to any component of the application. There are no quotas for Northern Virginia or Richmond or Tidewater. The only "rule" we have is that we maintain a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio of Virginians to non-Virginians in the student body.
Another quick story, this one about cut offs...
Back when I was in grad school, I "shadowed" an admission officer at a fairly competitive, large, private school. She showed me the ropes and then let me read a few folders while she looked over my shoulder (I wasn't going to make any decisions, it was more to show me how they went through applications). I paged through, noting good curriculum strength, nice teacher recs and an impressive resume. Before I even got to the essays, she told me to close the folder. I was bewildered, wondering if I had done something wrong. She told me that his 3.3 GPA didn't warrant a full review.
I was in shock. That's when I realized that on all my job interviews, I'd be asking for a run-through of the application reading process. I could never, ever work in a place like the one I saw on that shadowing day.