Now my application is complete, when will I hear a decision?

Thanksgiving weekend used to be the time when students completed applications. For about half of our applicant pool, that is still true. We anticipate receiving another 10,000 applications between now and the regular decision deadline of January 15. Now, Thanksgiving weekend is a time of waiting for answers back from the colleges and universities to which you have applied. For students who have chosen to apply early action to UVM, I want to share with you how the process will work between now and our EA notification in December.

Complete applications are undergoing a thorough review. Our team of 29 readers focuses our time reading applications, analyzing transcripts, and making admissions decisions. In that review, we look carefully at a student’s performance throughout high school, paying particular attention to the rigor in the curriculum, grade trends over the past 3 years, and individual grades in the five core academic courses. We develop a fuller picture of an applicant through standardized test scores, the essay, extracurricular activities, and recommendations. We look for students who will be contributing members of our community, both academically and socially. We review applications first by UVM college/school (i.e. students applying to the College of Arts and Science are reviewed by the same team of readers.) We also review students within the context of their high school.

Mariko reviewing applications

We spend a lot of time talking on the phone about our applicants.

For applications that are complete in December, we will post early action admissions decisions at 5 p.m. EST on December 14. Decision letters will follow before the winter break. We have begun to notify a portion of our applicant pool of their admission decision. These students were invited to apply because of some pre-screened academic credentials or because of early interest in UVM. Those decisions are made daily and we anticipate making those admissions decisions for complete applicants before the December 14 early action release. (This invitation was for selected out-of-state applicants; out of fairness to our Vermont students, we release all EA decisions at the same time!)

I hope this brief description of our review process is helpful to understand what goes on behind the scenes. Our staff will spend a great deal of time together over the next few weeks as we discuss applicants in committee, as we share stories about great students we’ve just reviewed, as we cry or laugh over outstanding essays. While it is very time consuming, application review is one of the most rewarding parts of our job because we get to know amazing individuals who have made an impact in their schools, on teachers, and in their communities.

Thanksgiving for me is about reading applications. I am thankful for students and parents who have found their homes at UVM. I am thankful for the educators who have helped mentor and nurture students to make it possible for them to consider great schools. I am thankful for the shouts of joy when a student sees that they have been admitted to the University of Vermont.

I’ll be enjoying some pumpkin pie as I read your application this weekend.

Is your application complete?

A sense of relief is felt when a student clicks ‘submit’ on a college application. The process then changes hands to the college or university to make a decision.  But wait, the application is still incomplete!  Sometimes a sense of panic sets in because deadlines can be strict, information has to come from a variety of sources, and the action is out of a student’s control.

I want to share a few insights about how the process works at UVM and some tips for completing an application (including when to wait and when to take action!)

How does information arrive in the admissions office?

Transcripts and other supporting material sent electronically through Common Application or other secure sources such as Naviance are uploaded each day. As soon as we download this information, it is connected to the application and a student can see that it has been received on our application status website. This process is also true for letters of recommendation that are sent through the Common Application or Naviance. Please note that we will not receive this information from the Common Application or Naviance unless an application (supplement and app fee or waiver) has been received. We receive calls regularly because a student thought an application was submitted when actually only the supplement and fee were submitted.

Transcripts and any other supporting information such as letters of recommendation sent in the mail go through a similar process but will take longer since the automatic connection can’t occur. Mail is opened and then scanned and saved as a pdf image. These transcripts are then connected with a student’s application as soon as our staff accesses each student’s record and “matches” the application and the transcript or letter of recommendation. Any non-required information (such as resumes) are also scanned and connected with a student’s application record so that this information can be included in the application review.

Test scores come to us electronically from the College Board and from ACT, and are loaded each day by connecting scores with a student’s application based on a matching process of things like name, address, and birthdate. The scores will show as being received on the application status website once loaded on a student’s record.

Around the early action deadline, we receive supporting documents, test scores, letters of recommendation, and resumes from nearly 11,000 students. As you can see from this description, the process moves smoothly. However, especially for information sent through the mail, it does take time, sometimes up to two weeks, for every transcript to be connected with the application. We work with information in date order. Currently we are working to match transcripts and other materials received through the mail last week.

When should a student follow up? If it has been two weeks since information was sent by the school, verify the date sent and then follow up with our office. We can help troubleshoot to determine if it was received or whether it needs to be sent again. We encourage schools not to fax credentials to us (they are not considered official.) Test scores can be sent regular delivery (no need to pay for rush processing.) Our staff is always available to assist with questions and problem solving – give us a call or send us an email!

When your application arrives….

One of the great mysteries of the college admissions process is what happens to the application when it arrives in the admissions office. I’d like to take you on a brief tour of that process at UVM.

Applications arrive electronically from the Common Application. They are loaded into our student information computer system every morning.  That process can take a couple of hours while we check to ensure all the information is loaded correctly.

Supporting information (transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes) arrive both electronically and by snail mail. These pictures show what our mail room looked like soon after the Nov. 1 deadline (in past years, we would have had significantly more piles and stacks. Now those stacks are virtual!) Any supporting information that is received on paper is scanned in order to be connected with the application.

Finally SAT and ACT scores arrive electronically from the testing agencies. Those scores are loaded frequently (whenever they release scores to us.)

The role of our staff is to electronically match these three sources of application information and check it for accuracy. It is a much faster process than when we were working with paper (imagine handling thousands of applications that arrive around the November 1 deadline, opening mail, creating an application folder, matching an application, supporting information and test scores, alphabetizing and filing.) Around the deadline, this process can take a week or more to work through the applications. They typically are handled in the order in which we received them.

Here is where the paper goes waiting to be processed

Once all the parts of the application have been received, the last step is to ensure it is ready to read. This last check includes ensuring that there is information for our readers to understand a student’s grade point average/class rank within the context of the school. We do not recalculate grade point averages. We do ensure that our readers have consistent information in order to understand a grade point average or class rank.

This week, we will receive our 11,000th application for this fall.  This means that we have received approximately one half of the applications that we will receive in this application cycle. Are there any surprises or questions about this process? Stay tuned for a description of what happens when an application is read.

Early Action Deadline Extended

New England has experienced another record-setting storm, this time an early season snow storm. While Burlington is typically seen as the place for winter weather, we were spared the effects of this latest storm.

Recognizing the challenges that students from New Jersey to New Hampshire are experiencing, we have decided to extend our early action deadline until Friday, November 4. Students may submit their application anytime through Friday and the application will still be considered on-time for early action. Supporting information, such as test scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation may be sent after the deadline.

Students and parents are encouraged to contact us with any questions. Best wishes as electricity is restored and life returns to normal!