Nov 7, 2012

UVa Adjusts Policy on “Rush” Scores

University of Virginia

If you have an extra $42 and move quickly, you can ensure that the University of Virginia will consider your scores from both the October and November SAT’s as part of your Early Action (EA) application.

But if you don’t happen to be a reader of Jeannine (Dean J) Lalonde’s Notes from Peabody blog, you might not be aware of the change in a long-standing UVa recommendation against rushing scores as costly, slow, and most importantly, paper-producing sources of admissions clutter.

In fact, if you attended presentations over the past several years, you might be laboring under the assumption that not only does UVa frown on students who rush scores but they might not even consider them.

“We used to say we didn't take rushed scores because the rush reports came by mail while regularly reported scores came electronically,” reported Ms. Lalonde on her blog.  “By the time the rushed scores got here and were scanned into the system, there wasn't that much time saved.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, the rush reporting service is yet another revenue source for the College Board.  Anyone who has taken the SAT or SAT Subject Tests, may request that their scores be rushed.  For a base price of $31 plus $11 additional per report, scores are sent within 2 business days (not counting holidays and weekends).  Schools accepting scores electronically will receive them in 2 days; colleges receiving them by disc or paper will receive them a little later.

The College Board is quick to warn that not every school accepts rushed scores (they don’t keep a list) and suggests that some colleges may not review scores until “their next scheduled processing date.”  In other words, you can pay the money and still not ensure that your scores will receive timely consideration.

While the change in UVa policy is welcome news, the problem is that Ms. Lalonde’s announcement came on November 2—past the original application due date and too late for students to contact the College Board to change their scores to “rush” in order to have them there by the extended November 4 deadline.

In addition, it came in a forum not every applicant or counselor takes note of and not on the UVa website, which makes no mention of the rush reporting service.

There is no problem with the October scores if you ordered them at the time you took the test.  But if you were like many UVa applicants and wanted to take advantage of the “Score Choice” opportunity to review your scores before sending, you had better spend the $42 to have them rushed especially since the admissions office isn’t clear whether or not scores must be requested or received by the deadline.

And there are no waivers here, you pay the outrageous fee or risk having the College Board take weeks to report your scores, which as Ms. Lalonde ominously suggests in her blog, should “…have you thinking about sending scores well in advance!”

The question of November score reports is a little murkier. Ms. Lalonde advises that November scores should be received in time for early action consideration if ordered at the time of registration or during the grace period allowed by the College Board immediately following the test administration.

But in response to the question of whether or not November scores will definitely arrive in time for early action, Ms. Lalonde doesn’t exactly commit, “I can't guarantee that we won't have looked at your file between deadline and November 20th, when scores from the November 3rd SAT/SATII are going to arrive. However, the EA review goes into January, so I think you should still send your scores.”

So it’s more a matter of luck and not policy how these scores will be treated in the application review process.

UVa certainly isn’t alone in the inconsistent ways it communicates revisions in admissions policies.  Columbia University, for example, made a major change in its Score Choice rules by simply editing an admissions page.   

And for those who heard the endless lectures on how UVa doesn’t assign territories or track “demonstrated interest,” check out Dean Robert’s plan to implement a “customer relations management” system to "acquire, track and assess data about prospective students" for purposes of improving enrollment management. 

There are a number of reasons colleges choose not to make a big deal over new deadlines, policies or procedures.  Perhaps it’s because the applicant base is new each year so there’s no need to revisit the past. Or maybe it’s just becoming such a game that colleges just want to see who’s awake.

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