And the letters are gone…..

UVM Admissions Office

UVM Admissions Office

Yesterday, this yellow house was a busy place. Final admissions decisions were being made, phone calls from anxious students and parents were being answered and our amazing staff was busy carefully stuffing decision letters.




Decision letters waiting for pickup

Decision letters waiting for pickup


And then, around 3 p.m., it became quiet. That quiet quickly grew to celebration when the announcement came that the letters are gone! More than 13,500 students heard a decision from us yesterday. We were so excited to share good news with many of our applicants – what a great group of students who applied to UVM! We agonized over those who we had to defer or to whom we had to say no. These are never easy decisions.



What’s more rewarding in this process than our team completing this part of the decision process is to see the Tweets, the Facebook posts, the emails from excited students and parents. Even after 31 years of doing this and watching my two children to through the process, I always can remember the impact of the admissions decision. For those who hear good news, especially when it is a first college acceptance, it is a moment that students don’t forget.

What do the decisions mean? Here is a brief description of what students heard from us:

Admit – Congratulations! When we admit a student, we believe that the student is both qualified to do the academic work at UVM but also because their record was competitive in our applicant pool. This year, on average, admitted students have a A-/B+ average with grades that put them in the top third of their graduating class. Average SAT scores for this group admitted totaled 1860. Our admitted students have until May 1 to make a decision. But we had five students pay their acceptance fee last night after seeing that they were admitted!

Defer – When we defer a student, it means that we want to wait and consider the application in the regular admission pool. Often it means that a student’s application was not as competitive because of a downturn in grades, because a student has applied to a very competitive major (such as athletic training, exercise and movement science or nursing), or because a student is currently taking courses that are minimum requirements for a particular academic program and it is important to see performance in those courses. Last year we admitted 42% of students who were deferred so we do offer admission to a significant number of deferred students. If UVM remains among a student’s top choice, students are encouraged to send semester grades when available as well as let us know of their interest in UVM.

Deny – These decisions are so difficult. Being an group of counselors that always work hard to say yes, having to tell a student no is a decision that we don’t make without thorough review and discussion. We try to send the message that students can make UVM possible in the future. We often see students who are not competitive for admission explore enrolling in our Guaranteed Admissions Program where students can take courses at UVM, live on campus, and complete a contract of eighteen hours. If a student earns a 3.0 gpa in those 18 hours, a student can gain admission. We also see many students who take college courses for a year elsewhere, perform well, and then apply as a transfer student.

We celebrate today with the students who are admitted to UVM. We hope to welcome many students admitted yesterday and earlier this fall to campus in the Class of 2018!


We love to read!

One quality an admissions counselor possesses is that we love to read! It’s a good thing….right now we read very little other than high school student essays, letters of recommendations and high school transcripts. Our staff has spent many nights and weekends since mid-November reviewing the applications of more than 14,000 students who have applied as Early Action applicants. 

What does this process look like from our side? I often get that question from parents and school counselors mostly who are curious what happens after a student clicks submit on their Common Application. We receive applications everyday electronically from the Common Application. In addition, we receive copies of the supporting documents submitted through the Common Application or through Naviance. These documents in the form of a pdf are loaded into our student data base. Applications are matched with transcripts. In addition, we bring in test scores from the College Board and ACT several times a week as they are made available to us. One recommendation for a student who is a sophomore or junior and thinking about taking the SAT or ACT for the first time….be sure to register for these tests using the same name that you will use in the application process. Having these match identically minimize duplication and issues with matching test scores with other application materials.

Once materials are received and applications are matched with the supporting documents, the academic records are processed. This step means that our staff will review the grade point average in the context of the school to ensure that our records accurately reflect the student’s academic record. When all the information is checked and all the pieces are received, then it is passed along to the reader to review.

The application review consists of reading all parts of the application. I typically begin with the application itself – I review the background of the student, review the activities, and then read the essay and any additional information shared by the student. Next, I move to the transcript. On the transcript, I read to understand the nature of the school if it is one with which I am not familiar, I read the school counselor recommendation if provided, and then I review the transcript. On the transcript, I am interested in learning if the student has met or exceeded our minimum entrance requirements for the major to which the student is applying, I look at grade trends – what is the pattern of performance in the courses the student is taking. I consider the student’s cumulative grade point average and what that gpa means within their school. The calibre of the courses a student is taking is also a factor, including the strength of the senior year schedule. Has the student challenged him/herself in the context of the courses offered? Has the student completed honors/AP/IB courses if appropriate? To complete the review, I read the letters of recommendation provided which with either confirm what I’ve seen in the application, or they provide a new insight into the student.

One of the most challenging parts of the admissions process that is difficult to describe to others who have not seen our entire applicant pool is the idea of an applicant being competitive. We have many students who apply who are qualified – they meet a minimum level of performance that allows the student to be successful in college. However, when UVM and other selective universities make admissions decision, decision are made by selecting those students who are the most competitive – those who possess the collection of factors that appear to be the best fit for UVM and for the program to which they have applied. I often use the example of the most selective universities in the country – they say no to some of the best high school students in the country. They certainly are qualified, however, in the group of students that they choose to admit, they are not the most competitive. For UVM, we are saying yes to more than half of the students that apply for admission so we are able to identify a broad range of students who are competitive. 

In our review process, we have one reader make the decision on the applications that are the most clearly competitive. We use additional readers for applications that may be more borderline. Therefore, when we defer an early action application or not offer admission to an applicant, it is done after several reviews of the application.

We continue to roll out the decisions for the students we offered a rolling admissions decision. The majority of the decisions will be released on December 17. Students and parents are encouraged to check in with our admissions counselors if any questions exist about the admissions process at UVM.

Today I will spend the day reading applications, learning about some very accomplished and interesting young people who are have expressed interest in attending UVM by applying for admission. I’ll read lots of great letters from school counselors who are very enthusiastic and supportive of their students. It is uplifting and exciting to say yes to these students. And this is why we love to read!