Mid-Year Reports Rolling In!

www.ariperez83.com – We ask that counselors submit mid-year reports to us by February 15th so we can review fall grades during the regular decision process. Receipt of these reports also allows us to review the files of students who were deferred to the Regular Decision pool after applying during the Early Action phase.

Around deadlines, we have thousands of documents arriving in our office via the Common App’s transfer and traditional mail. It will take a few weeks to get thousands of documents filed, so you might not see the mid-year report disappear from your SIS account for a little while.

When things are on your to-do list, don’t panic. Sometimes, documents are en route or they are here, but haven’t been checked in. If you know an item was sent to us, sit tight until I post that we are caught up on filing. We’ll be in touch if we need anything from you. Remember, colleges want to review complete applications. We always reach out via email (we give you the two email addresses we use in the application instructions) to get missing documents for incomplete files.

 Mailed documents waiting to be scanned into application files

In the meantime, keep an eye on your financial aid to-do list. Our offices are separate, but we know they sometimes add items to the to-do list if they need extra documentation while building your aid package.

Ready to cheer for the Hoos tonight!

The First Years are Introduced to ‘Hardcore’ Typography


The Typographer Royal (with full regalia) dispenses words of wisdom to Lucie and Rachel (both 21)

It’s that time of year when The University of Cumbria’s very own Typographer Royal, H.R.H. Rhiannon Robinson, spends a lot of quality time with our first year students.

Rhiannon was crowned Typographer Royal by our very own queen, H.R.H Elizabeth II, in an elaborate ceremony, held in Typographers Hall (City of London) in June 1990. The position ofTypographer Royal is not to be underestimated and Rhiannon takes her official duties very seriously.Her role behooves her to undertake the following:

  1. Banish poor letter spacing, leading and tracking from all four corners of the kingdom
  2. Seek out and destroy all ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’ in documents near and far
  3. Challenge all developers of Microsoft Word Art to single, mortal combat
  4. Round-up, imprison in Newgate and finally hang by the neck until dead, all look-alike, generic fonts and that evil malefactor, known to the wider population as ‘Comic Sans’
  5. Teach kick-arse typography skills to students of The University of Cumbria

Quality time with H.R.H.T.T.R.

We design on paper first and then make it look sexy on the Mac.

Check back in a week or so to see the finished work…

Iowa Republicans Threaten the Living Conditions of Graduate Student Workers


As you may recall, a bill to eliminate tenure was recently introduced into the Iowa State Senate. After a good deal of pushback it appears to have stalled.  But that doesn’t mean that the state’s Republicans are done trying to attack the rights of Iowa’s public workers.  In their latest salvo, they are proposing to severely restrict the range of public employee collective bargaining (with the exception of police and firefighters) and also to make it more difficult to establish and maintain union representation. Although this is a widespread attack on all public employees, the proposed legislation will strike hard at the state’s graduate student employees.

At the core of the proposed legislation are two important issues.  The first is to make it illegal to negotiate things like benefits or supplemental income or retirement.  In effect, the aim is to make it possible only to negotiate on wages and leave workers to the whims of their employers (or the Governor) as to issues such as health care.  Although University of Iowa officials have indicated that they would continue to maintain graduate student employees’ health care, one never knows what would happen in the face of a gubernatorial decision to reduce benefits or in the case of funding cuts to the University.

The second and equally serious threat is posed in a change to the system for certifying unions.  The legislation would make it necessary for a union to get the vote of a majority of workers within a collective bargaining unit for the right to represent, as opposed to getting a majority of those casting a ballot.  This is a high hurdle for any union or any candidate: under these rules, the current Iowa Governor would not have been elected since he only received 59% of an electorate that was approximately 50% of the state’s eligible voters.  It is especially burdensome to graduate student workers whose eligible unit members are so often in flux.  Moreover, the bill would force re-certification elections every two years.

In taking these steps, Iowa Republicans are seeking to undo a long-standing system of collective bargaining for public employees.  Since 1974 Iowa public employees have operated within a system that forbade strikes (and there haven’t been any) in exchange for a system that recognized their right to bargain collectively over a wide set of issues.  Iowa’s Republicans are now seeking to destroy that system and hamstring public employee unions.  Given the material constraints that graduate student workers (and graduate students more generally) live within, the most likely result is a reduction in Iowa graduate students’ total compensation and quality of life.

But this is more than just an Iowa issue.  Iowa has long been a right-to-work state and its hostility to unions is clear.  But just as with Wisconsin, Iowa Republicans are part of a larger drive to attack unions and worker’s collective rights across the country.  One Iowa Representative (along with one from South Carolina) has recently introduced a national right to work bill in the House of Representatives. These initiatives are not simply of local interest.  They threaten to roll back the recent gains that graduate students have obtained through the NLRB and the ability of academic workers everywhere to unionize and defend their interests through collective bargaining.   The result will be to worsen the working conditions and autonomy of academic professionals in general and further subject education itself to the dictates of politicians and managers.

Getting satisfaction: look for universities that require good A level grades

www.ariperez83.com – If you are applying to a British university and you are concerned not with personal transformation, changing your life or social justice activism but with simple things like enjoying your  course and finishing it and getting a job what would you look for? Performance in global rankings? Staff salaries? Spending? Staff student ratios?

Starting with student satisfaction, here are a few basic correlations between scores for overall student satisfaction on the Guardian UK rankings and a number of variables from the Guardian rankings, the Times Higher Education TEF simulation (THE), the Hefce survey of educational qualifications, and theTHE survey of vice-chancellor’s pay.

Average Entry Tariff (Guardian)   .479**
Staff student ratio (Guardian) .451**
Research Excellence Framework score (via THE)  .379**
Spending per student (Guardian)  .220 *
Vice chancellor salary (via THE) .167
Average salary (via THE) .031
Total staff (via THE) .099
Total students (via THE) .065
Teaching qualifications (Hefce)  -161 (English universities only)

If there is one single thing that best predicts how satisfied you will be it is average entry tariff (A level grades). The number of staff compared to students, REF score, and spending per student also correlate significantly with student satisfaction.

None of the following are of any use in predicting student satisfaction: vice chancellor salary, average staff salary,  total staff,  total students or percentage of faculty with teaching qualifications.


UVA Admission’s Holistic Review and GPA

I’m spending the week on the road to attend evening programs for juniors and their parents at a few high schools. The counselors at the programs go over all the incredible sources of data that students can access these days when doing research about colleges. Many of my schools use a system called Family Connections, created by a company called Hobsons, to assist with career discernment and the college search (among other things…it’s a robust system, from that I’ve seen). One of the tools in the system is the college scattergram.

A scattergram I found online. This is NOT for UVA.

Scattergrams plot admission decisions from a college on two axis: GAP and test score. I always have to caution people to remember that scattergrams are plotting the results of a much more elaborate process using just two factors. They show the user correlation, not causation. An admitted student on a scattergram wasn’t admitted because of their GPA and test score, but because their entire application was compelling.

How Do We Use GPAs?

The way I see it, the GPA is the schools’ way of summarizing the work that’s on the transcript. GPA methodologies vary from county to county in Virginia (and this is fine with us…each district uses the method that works for their students). The GPA doesn’t tell you the full story, though. You may have classmates with identical GPAs who have very different coursework and grades on their transcripts. Resists the urge to fixate on GPA and instead think about how we read your transcript.

The transcript is where we learn about your academic progress. We know that most first years in high school are told much of what they are going to do, but most schools give students more options as they gain seniority. We’re looking to see that you challenge yourself with an interesting program that includes advanced options (whatever your school has – AP, IB, DE, etc) in a way that’s appropriate to you.

“In a way that’s appropriate to you” means we want you to stretch and challenge yourself when it comes to course selection, but we also want to see strong grades. Hopefully, your counselor and parents have helped you think about the right mix of courses for you.

What Does Holistic Mean?

Holistic admission means we look at the entire application before we render a decision. There are no “cut offs” (remember GPA is not standardized, so that doesn’t make senses in Virginia). We read every file, front to back, before we make our recommendations. We read and double check our files multiple times. You can read more about the holistic review here.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments.

#UVA21 Early Action decisions come out tonight!

www.ariperez83.com – We’re done with Early Action and we are releasing decisions tonight! Please keep reading. There’s a lot of important info to go over.


1. At some point tonight (this is handled by the tech people these days and I don’t control the exact time), the “View Decision” link at the bottom of your SIS page will go to a decision letter. If you can’t find your login info for the SIS, review the “After You Submit” section of the application instructions. A welcome mailing with info about next steps will come later for those who are admitted. Please do not open multiple windows or constantly hit refresh. Students have slowed SIS down to a crawl in the past by doing it. Use one window. Set a time tonight when you’ll check and do something offline until then.

Our counselor friends want you checking your decision at home, where you won’t have an audience of classmates and a parent can be standing by to give you a big hug regardless of your decision. That’s more likely to happen in the evening (we’ve actually consulted a lot of counselors about this).

2. The release is always exciting, but some of you aren’t going to get the decision for which you hoped. I hope you’ll focus on the college options you have instead of the ones you don’t at the end of the day. I hope those of you who get offers will celebrate your success, but also be gracious around those who might not have gotten good news.

3. I will post blog entries where you can talk about the different decisions. I’ll be back to work through any questions that are asked in the comments tomorrow.  I trust you to be respectful of others in the comments. A lot of people on Grounds will be watching #UVA21 so they can welcome our newest Wahoos to the UVA community. We love seeing your reactions when we check that hashtag!

Keep an eye on the UVA Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. There might be some nice messages!

4. Please don’t post personal information in the comments (contact info, statistics, etc.). As we discussed this morning, school-specific statistics like GPA are subjective these days and don’t represent the applicant accurately. GPAs are meaningless without the high school profile’s explanation of the methodology used to calculate them. What’s more, there have been times when enough information about an applicant has been shared that their classmates could identify them.

5. Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars will be notified next week. Posts about deferral, Days on the Lawn (open houses for admitted students), an EA statistics will come next week. There is no lag time in our office, so we are now reading Regular Decision applications. Please understand if my responses to questions are a little delayed.

6. You don’t need to call us to verify this. It’s true. We are releasing decisions tonight. The receptionists can’t tell you an exact time or your decision.

THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented on the blog so far this season.

Regardless of what SIS shows you tonight, you are going to attend a great school. You’re going to learn from amazing, inspirational professors, administrators, and peers. You’re going to meet people with whom you will stay friends for the rest of your lives. You’re going to pull all-nighters studying. You’re going to pull all-nighters not studying. You’re going to have great successes and you’re going to fail miserably at some things. What’s going to make or break those experiences is your response and your openness to learning from them, not your location when they happen.

Remember that your decision is not a statement about your value. Most of our applicants are qualified. They are perfectly capable of doing the work at UVA. Our first-year class just isn’t large enough to accommodate everyone.

Best wishes to those who won’t be back to the blog after this (if you’re reading this by email, you can unsubscribe yourself at the bottom of the email). To the rest, I hope you’ll continue to comment and stay in touch.

It’s a big night and I’ll be thinking about you all. Good luck!

Let’s Talk about #UVA21 Early Action: The Deny

www.ariperez83.com – Denied students can use this entry to talk.

I know this is hard to handle and some of you might not have gotten a disappointing admission decision yet. I hope you all can look at your options and get excited about your other schools. If your immediate reaction is “I’ll transfer”, don’t let that plan keep you from getting involved in campus life at the school you choose. I think many students come to think of their next choice as “home” and can’t imagine leaving it after a little while. Give yourself time to explore your options.

Some students inquire about being moved to the defer group. Please understand that we do not have an appeal process.

Please be polite and respectful of others when posting.

BTW, if you signed yourself up to read the blog by email and don’t want the messages anymore, there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page. 

Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars Update

www.ariperez83.com – I’m popping in very quickly with an update about scholars notifications. Letters inviting a small number of students into the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars programs will be mailed tomorrow. There will be another round of invitations sent out at the end of the Regular Decision review. If you are not invited to join as an incoming student, you can self-nominate to join one you are here (see each program’s website for specific information).

Every applicant to the College of Arts and Sciences was automatically considered for the Echols and College Science Scholars program and every applicant to the School of Engineering was considered for Rodman. 

There is a fourth scholars program, Miller Arts Scholars. You can apply to be an Arts Scholar in your second semester. The selected group usually consists of students studying studio art, music, drama, and dance.

Back to reading…

Let’s Talk about #UVA21 Early Action: The Defer

www.ariperez83.com – Deferred students can use this post to talk.

Your application hasn’t finished it’s journey yet.

Once your mid-year grades arrive, your file will be reviewed again during the Regular Decision round. At this point, you should simply make sure your mid-year report is sent when the grades are ready. Most of your counselors will do this automatically.

We know the wait is tough, but we think your mid-year grades could help your case. Hang in there! You should see the link to the defer FAQ page in your letter, which answers the most common questions.

Jack hopes you can find a peaceful place to wait.

Scenes from the Life Room

www.ariperez83.comThe first year illustration students have just started twelve weeks of life drawing…

Last week we introduced them to measuring, sighting and simplifying the body into simple shapes. This week we started to consider tone – these are line and tone drawings.

 In semi-darkness we explored using tone in isolation (no line).

Followed by focusing on understanding (and simplifying) the head…

…and finally, the body.