Jan 30, 2015

UVa increases early admission offers to 4856 for the Class of 2019

Early applicants to the University of Virginia’s Class of 2019 received decisions late last week—well ahead of the January 31st published release date. 

And the continued increase in early action (EA) applicants provides impressive proof that admission to the Commonwealth’s flagship university remains a highly sought-after prize among high school students—both from within the state and across the country.

Make no mistake, the competition for admission under UVa’s four-year old EA program continues to be intense, as the overall number of applications grew to 16,092—about an 8.6% increase over numbers reported the same time last year.

Predictably, most of the early applicants, 11,743 (or 73%) came from out of state.  The balance—4,349 applicants—came from within Virginia.

Out of this year's EA pool, 4856 students were admitted—about six percent more than for the Class of 2018, which unexpectedly experienced a 20% jump in EA admits from the year before. Of those admitted, 2044 were from Virginia (47% offer rate—down four percentage points), and 2812 were from out of state.

Typically, more offers are made to nonresidents because the “yield” among students faced with out-of-state tuition is significantly lower.   But it’s worth noting that offers made to out-of-state students increased by 11 percent, suggesting that UVa is trying to recoup some of the tuition dollars lost by enrolling an additional 2% Virginians in last fall's freshman class.

According to assistant admissions dean Jeannine Lalonde (Dean J), those offered early admission bids were very well qualified. The middle range of SAT scores of this year's admitted students fell between 2010 and 2270.  And 95 percent of the offers went to students in the top ten percent of their high school classes (this number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank).

Although over 7270 students were denied admission during the first round of consideration, another 3963 were thrown a lifeline by being deferred to the regular decision pool.  These applicants will receive decisions before April 1 and are being encouraged to send new test scores and midyear grades as soon as possible.

All students will have until May 1 to make up their minds.  And those who were lucky enough to be admitted to UVa’s Class of 2019 can expect to receive significant encouragement to commit as soon as possible.

Jan 29, 2015

Limited time offer: FREE SAT© grammar guide

Students struggling to master grammar for the SAT or anyone with a particular interest in improving English grammar skills might want to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to download Bob Gilvey’s The SAT© Writing Test—Let’s Learn Grammar [Kindle edition]—for FREE.

New to the market, the grammar guide is available as a download through Amazon Digital Services.  And you don’t even need a Kindle to take advantage of the deal.  In fact, anyone can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the Kindle “app” for smartphones, tablets and computers.  

It’s no secret that young devotees to electronic forms of communication including Instant Messaging and Twitter are losing their “ears” for basic English language.  Grammar drills and sentence diagramming are so last century as to practically put English language teachers out of business.  And yet, a consistent complaint from anyone who reads college admissions essays or who grades freshman English papers is that these kids simply cannot write.

Targeted to a specific test, Let’s Learn Grammar teaches every grammar concept tested by the College Board in a fun, engaging format involving clever split screens linking real SAT questions with SAT grammar lessons.

According to Gilvey, one of the most important features of SAT grammar is the predictability of the content and structure of the questions:  “Specific grammar principles are always tested in specific ways….”

To introduce basic concepts, Gilvey simplifies all of English grammar down to all of 15 possible language errors.  His categories include everything from subject-verb agreement and parallel structures to double negatives and redundancy.  

And here’s an important secret:  these lessons may be applied far beyond the SAT.  Anyone who takes the time to work through Gilvey’s guide can benefit by improving English language skills for all forms of communication—written and verbal.

Between now and Sunday, Let’s Learn Grammar will be offered free-of-charge on Amazon.  Whether you’re a high school student studying for the SAT or someone who appreciates the value of excellent communication skills, you may want to check out Gilvey’s approach and download his book—the first in a series of SAT guides he intends to publish.

Jan 28, 2015

The 2015 National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium is looking for outstanding high school researchers

One of a handful of really prestigious national science competitions, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is once again offering unique opportunities for students to present original research to panels of expert judges and potentially win thousands of dollars in scholarships.
And over the next few weeks, regional program directors for the Symposium will be putting out calls for outstanding high school research papers in seven previously-determined STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) categories.

Unlike more familiar competitions sponsored by Intel and Siemens, JSHS departs from a traditional science fair format and employs a process more similar to that used for scientific or academic conferences and publications. Students are asked to submit abstracts for consideration at a regional level. If accepted, the research is then presented at a conference or symposium.

JSHS regional and national symposia are held during the academic year and typically reach over 10,000 high school students throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Schools of Europe and the Pacific Rim. Each of 48 university-held regional symposia invites participation from secondary schools within their region.

For example, the DC area is covered by three separate regions and includes symposia held at
James Madison University, Georgetown University, and Morgan State University. It’s a complicated arrangement, but students have a fair amount of flexibility about where to submit abstracts and are not limited by residency.

Although the DC deadline for submission has passed for this year, Virginia and Maryland are still accepting abstracts. Students in local high schools not already participating at Georgetown  may still be eligible for consideration by Virginia or Maryland.

“We will be accepting applications until January 31, 2015,” said Dr. Thomas DeVore, the regional administrator for the Virginia JSHS. “Interested students can email me (
devoretc@jmu.edu) to request information or send an abstract.  A student is considered to have applied once I receive the abstract.”
The competition requires an original research project on a topic in one of the following general categories:
  • Environmental Science
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Chemistry
  • Life Sciences
  • Medicine and Health/Behavioral; Molecular/Cellular
  • Math and Computer Science, Computer Engineering
Work may be part of a class project, a summer research project, or a science fair entry.

And the prizes are huge. Regional finalists receive scholarships, expense-paid trips to the National JSHS, and opportunities to compete for additional scholarships up to $12,000. Seven big winners at the national event win expense-paid trips to the London International Youth Science Forum.

Originated in 1958 as part of a greater effort to focus attention on the sciences and scientific research, the JSHS Program is sponsored by the US Departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition to the financial incentives, students who participate get to interact with practicing researchers and potentially have their work published.

And many of these students go on to have amazing careers launched by their participation in science competitions like the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

“I wouldn't be where I am in my career today if it were not for JSHS,” said Cyrena-Marie Briede, who is a former Director of Summit Operations at the Mount Washington Observatory and one of the 2001 Virginia JSHS winners.  “My high school science projects became my life, my career. The hands on experience with the scientific process, as well as presenting your findings to others, really gives you an advantage in college and the real world.”

For more information and participation guidelines, visit the JSHS website. Links to regional competitions and application materials may be found on the contacts page.

Jan 26, 2015

2015 FAFSA deadlines are likely to come way sooner than you think

It’s fair to say that most every college and university in the United States has a clearly posted priority financial aid deadline by which the FAFSA should be filed for students to have the best possible chance of receiving both institutional and federal aid.
Because most of these deadlines are either on or before March 1st, students and their parents must act early in the New Year—often before tax returns are filed with the federal government—to ensure priority consideration for financial aid.
And it's important to try to meet these deadlines.  For example, the Howard University website specifically states, “If you apply for Financial Aid by the priority deadline, you may qualify for a greater amount of gift assistance.”

To underscore the importance of submitting the FAFSA sooner rather than later, even if it means estimating income and taxes to be paid, the following is a list of local priority financial aid deadlines:
You can research individual deadlines by simply going to a college or university website and entering “FAFSA” or “FAFSA deadline” in the search function. Only the most poorly constructed websites will fail to pop up a link to either an admissions or a financial aid web page clearly stating the priority deadline by which you should file your FAFSA. Some will even give you a few good reasons why this is so important.

Or you can use a nifty new tool created by a group of Intuit employees, on their own time, called InstaTuition.  While this site doesn’t (so far) give information on Early Decision or Early Action deadlines if they are different from Regular Decision, the search tool is quick and VERY easy to use.  Note there’s no requirement to provide personal information, even your email address, to search for deadlines.

And just to prove the point about how varied and early FAFSA deadlines can be, here are a few more:

Many states also have FAFSA deadlines that are entirely separate from but usually after institutional dates. A handy tool for researching individual state deadlines is provided on the FAFSA website. Locally, the State of Maryland has posted March 1st as its deadline, and the District of Columbia uses June 30th. Virginia is noncommittal and refers applicants to individual financial aid administrators (Hint: you may notice a pattern of March 1st as a deadline for the Virginia public colleges and universities listed above).

Filing the FAFSA by the priority deadlines and promptly responding to any requests for additional documentation helps ensure you’ll receive your financial aid letters at about the same time you receive admissions decisions. 

Note that it takes the FAFSA processor 1 to 2 weeks to get information to individual colleges and universities—if the FAFSA is filed electronically. If you use the paper application, the turnaround can take from 3 to 4 weeks. And delays could be longer if your application is randomly selected for a more in depth review.

Remember you do NOT have to be admitted to a college or university before submitting your FAFSA. You CAN file using last year’s tax return to estimate income and taxes—provided you remember to amend. If you have any questions or need additional assistance, contact the FAFSA on the Web Consumer Service either online or by calling 1-800-433-3243 (1-800-4-FED-AID).