What’s Happening on Tuesday?

To me, an application deadline can feel like tax day….it is a highly anticipated, “here goes nothing” moment when a student presses ‘submit’ on the Common Application. At that instant, control over the process shifts from the student to the college or university. It is indeed a significant step to present nearly four years of work in about eight pages of an application.

Tuesday, November 1, is UVM’s early action deadline.  By the end of next week, we will most likely receive about 10,000 of the nearly 22,000 first year applications that we expect for fall 2012. Our EA deadline is an application deadline; supporting information can be sent soon after November 1. Remember that SAT or ACT scores must come directly from the testing agency. We take the highest score from each section of the test so students are encouraged to send all scores. UVM does not require students to submit SAT subject tests. One letter of recommendation will meet our requirement.

Between athletic events, theater productions, and Halloween activities, and homework, many students will be glued to their computers putting finishing touches on their applications. We have staff available on Monday and Tuesday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT to help with any additional questions. Feel free to call (802-656-3370) or email us (admissions@uvm.edu). You may also reach out to any of our admissions counselors via email– their contact information is listed on our website. (Of course, we’re here every weekday to assist you but we know that Monday and Tuesday will be filled with many application questions.)

Enjoy finishing your application – and don’t forget to click submit on Tuesday!

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Have you written it yet?

The “it” of course implies the essay, the dreaded topic of conversation for many high school seniors this time of year…“Have you written your college essay yet?”

Often the essay is the first part of the application started and the last finished. I’ve talked to a number of students this week who report their application to UVM is all done… except for the essay!

There is little I can say to take pressure off the process of writing. But it may help to know that the essay is probably the most enjoyable part of application review for me, and I believe most of my colleagues. It is a chance for each student to come alive in his or her own voice.

You can find many resources providing guidance on writing an effective college essay.  You might take a look at a wonderful piece written by Martha Merrill for The New York Times; and a succinct list of pointers on the College Board web site.  Here are few of my top tips for good essay writing, developed from reading thousands of throughout the years:

  • Ultimately, write about yourself and something that is important to you. You can take an direct or indirect approach to this – but at the end of the essay we should know something more about you, your views and your passions,
  • A good essay takes time to percolate.  Be sure to provide time to write, walk away, revisit and revise – several times.
  • Write something that represents your writing ability and writing style. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of editing and checking spelling.

The reality of a selective admissions process is that a fabulous essay will not make up for an academic record that falls below the competitiveness of an applicant pool. The more selective the institution, the more this is true. At an institution like UVM that admits more than half of our applicants, the essay does provide another important piece of information that helps illuminate a student’s background.

My final advice is to relax and write. You know yourself best and we simply want to know more about you in your own (grammatical) words. I look forward to reading your essay.

You Are Invited!

On Sunday, UVM hosted its first open house of this season for students and families – it was an exciting day! We welcomed more than 800 students and their families who spent a beautiful day in Burlington. Ira Allen Chapel was filled; the Davis Center was humming with conversation.

Ira Allen Chapel provides a beautiful and historic backdrop for the open house admissions presentation.

Our admissions staff members are great resources for students and parents. We love to answer questions!

The view of Mt. Mansfield from the Davis Center during the open house academic fair.

As I mentioned previously, the campus visit continues to be one of the most important elements of the college search. How can you make the most of that visit? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Make a reservation when that is an option. When we expect you, we can serve you better.
  2. Be sure you take part in the official visit – tour, information session, interview – whatever the school offers. It is important to hear the official message and learn information about the admissions process.
  3. Whenever possible, connect with current students from your area. It is a great way to get a perspective about a university from those who know where you are coming from.
  4. Take notes, take pictures, use your smart phone to record portions of the visit – as distinctive as we are, it is easy to mix up campuses after a few visits.
  5. Get the business card of someone from the admissions office of the schools you visit – being able to make that direct contact with questions is invaluable.
  6. Take part in student life – eat in the dining hall, visit the places where students hang out, attend a concert or sporting event – things that can be best done when classes are in session.

We’d love to see you on campus. Come and visit us! Make your reservation today.

Do You Read Rankings?

I have been working in admissions long enough to remember when US News first came out with their college rankings. This issue, an annual best seller, has, for better or worse, become a reality in the college selection process. A quick Google search will provide you with a plethora of articles and commentary about the validity and value of these rankings. Our own professional organization, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, recently made recommendations to US News intended to improve the ranking system. US News has elected not to make changes based on these recommendations, which bring to light that the ranking system does not take into account student fit and opportunity – elements that lead to success for both a student and a college when a good match is made.

 So is there value in these rankings? I recommend that students and families use rankings appropriately – as but one, very generalized source of information about a college or university.  Understand what constitutes any ranking system, particularly the factors that go into the ranking and the weight of what is counted.  A mistake that some students and parents can make is to arbitrarily limit their search based on a ranking – looking only at top 50 universities, for example. As I scan the list of national and regional universities, I know of satisfied students and successful alumni who have come from a wide spectrum of schools. Rankings have little to do with the fit and satisfaction that impacts a student’s ability to develop skills and amass experiences important for that first job or graduate school.

 I welcome your thoughts and experiences about rankings. At UVM, we have paid attention to these measures, recognizing they are part of the landscape of the college selection process. If you’d like, you can even learn more about national acclaim for UVM. Beyond the rankings, however, we continue to focus on attracting, retaining, and graduating highly talented students as well as those strong leaders who may not be at the very top of their class, but who contribute greatly to student engagement and to diversity of thought in and outside of the classroom. Our goals to be second to none in building a strong academic community that inspires the best in every student.