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Admit It!

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So What Happens Next?

January 17, 2014 by

We Admit It!  Reading season is in full swing.  We know we’ve been talking mostly about receiving and processing applications of late but what happens once we do receive and complete an application?  This blog answers that all important, what’s next question.

Once an application is completed it will be read at least twice from cover to cover.  The first of those reads will be what we call a random read meaning the application will be read by someone other than the student’s regional dean.  All complete applications are simply placed into file cabinet and pulled by our staff at random.  It’s not done alphabetically or by completion date or by school, we just go to the drawer, grab our daily reading load, and go.  We do these “random” reads so that each of us can get a more complete sense of the applicant pool and to familiarize ourselves with schools, states and countries outside of our region.  This helps to make us more informed readers.

After that first read, the application will get its second read from the student’s regional dean.  Each of us, for the most part, has geographic regions that we manage (regions are assigned based on where your school is located, not your home address).  This ensures that all students from the same high school will have one of their reads come from the same dean.  This allows us to give school and regional context to our application review.

After those two initial reads, some decisions become fairly clear based on the strengths or weaknesses of an individual applicant.  There is often a third and final read for those applicants that appear incredibly strong.  Oftentimes, the decision is less clear (because so many of our applicants present incredibly strong records).  In those cases, the regional dean will elect to reserve the application for a Committee discussion in March.  This process unfolds over a course of several months as we continue to read more and more applications and get a better sense of applicant pool.

While there are some complex ins and outs that come into the process outlined above, the purpose of this blog is to help our readers understand the thoroughness of our process.  Each of us prides ourselves on the incredibly detailed and fair process that we implement in order to select our incoming class.  Every application, regardless of SAT or GPA or any other component, goes through an identical process to ensure that we do in fact preserve a holistic review.  We are incredibly proud of the work that we do and the time we take to review individual applications and craft a class.  We know that, in general, the admission process is one shrouded in secrecy.  We hope this sheds some light on how our process plays itself out during the proverbial reading season.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission


  • Shelly says:

    I really appreciate the fact that you all check through our applications so thoroughly, I am proud of my essay and other components of my application and it means a lot to know that that I am not being chosen/rejected solely based on numbers. Looking forward to hearing back, just know that all of us applicants really do appreciate everything you all do! :)

  • Admit It! says:

    @Shelly, it’s our pleasure. We really like our review process too. Numbers are an important part of what we do and we certainly review those but if all we did was review those that would get pretty mundane. All of the components we review together is what makes our applicants three-dimensional.

  • Julia says:

    Thank you so much for being so thorough! Considering how many applications your Admission Office must receive it’s incredible how much attention you give each one. The anxiety the applicants feel during the wait is nothing in comparison to the diligence everyone there pours into the process. Thank you for explaining the whole process and everything else you do. I hope that my application is one of the one’s receiving a third and final read and to join you next year!

  • Admit It! says:

    @Julia, it is a lot of work but it’s work we really believe in and it’s why we do what we do. We enjoy immersing ourselves in each story throughout the reading season!

  • Corinne K. says:

    I appreciate your holistic approach towards reviewing applications. Just looking at test scores and numbers could yield a very boring cohort! This waiting process is tough though, but I am hopeful and trust the process at W & M.

  • Admit It! says:

    @Corinne, we know the wait feels like a lot but that time allows us to complete the thorough review that is the basis of our process. April will be here before we all know it.

  • Shrivats Modi says:

    Thank you so much for having such a thorough and holistic review. We applicants really appreciate it. There was one question that was tickling my mind since a few days though. Are students having interests in different majors (say one in business management at the Mason School and the other in Economics at the School of Arts and Sciences) compared to each other? Thank you again. :)

  • Admit It! says:

    We actually don’t take intended major into account when making an admission decision so yes, all students are compared to each other regardless of which major they indicate. Since all students are admitted simply to W&M and not a particular school or major that’s not a factor in our review.

  • Joan says:

    Knowing that you will only admit 1/3 OOS, how do work that into your process?

  • Admit It! says:

    @Joan, we actually only admit about 25% of the out-of-state students who apply. We admit 1/3 of all applicants who apply. We know that we have to be more selective for out-of-state given the spots for them are more limited and we work that into each read of an application. We also know, on the whole, what our in-state and out-of-state pools look like so as to properly assess students within their appropriate context.

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