William and Mary
Admission Committee
Admit It!

True Confessions from W&M's Admission Officers

About  Posts

Overheard in Transfer Committee — Preparation for Majors

April 21, 2014 by

Admit It! Transfers.  You’ve been patiently waiting for your turn to be in the spotlight.  Well your time has come.  Transfer Committee commenced and our discussions are well underway.  As with our freshman process, we are enjoying reviewing your applications and the discussions that ensue.

Overheard in Transfer Committee: Looks like he’s taken great courses for a bio/pre-med major

As is the case with freshman applicants, we do not admit students into a particular major or school.  That being said, freshmen enter with all four years ahead of them; they’re an academic blank slate that can be guided from the get go.  Transfer students however come to W&M with a more truncated timeline.  They’ve already started their academic path.  In the case of those hoping to transfer in as juniors, half of their college career is hopefully behind them.  The last thing most transfers want to do is double back to basic introductory courses or pre-reqs needed to pursue their major which can then lead to extra time spent earning their diploma.

Today we were reviewing a student who indicated an interest in biology/pre-med.  To his credit, he had taken great foundation courses (intro bio courses, intro chem and physics courses, calculus and statistics).  Biology/pre-med is a pretty lock-step major which requires several courses across the math/science spectrum.  Given that this particular applicant is finishing his sophomore year, he is likely fairly sure of his major, and we were glad that he’d taken the necessary foundation courses so that once at W&M, he could continue his studies without having to work backwards to fill-in pre-requisite courses.

We often have a similar discussion about those who indicate an interest in entering our Mason School of Business.  That program requires six pre-requisite courses to even apply.  How many of those courses has a transfer applicant completed?  How many semesters have they completed already?  Students applying to transfer during their freshman year still have time to complete some of these courses at W&M; students applying during their sophomore year have little if no time, unless they want to delay their entrance into their major and possibly spend extra semesters in college.

The point of this blog is not to compel transfer applicants to take every single pre-req for their intended major before arriving at W&M.  In many cases that’s not even possible.  Plus we recognize many transfer applicants come to W&M for a specific academic program and look forward to taking the bulk of their major courses at W&M.  We also know that even transfers can still change their mind about a particular major.  But we do want to ensure, especially with transfers, that we’re admitting students who can complete their academic pursuits in a reasonable amount of time.

Stay tuned transfers.  More on your application process to come.

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

A Personal Argument for William & Mary

April 11, 2014 by

We Admit It! We love it when a plan comes together.  With Dean Livingston out on maternity leave while our admitted students look for guidance to help them make their decision about where to enroll next fall, Dean Broaddus himself put together a blog entry for us in the form of a slideshow to offer his personal answer to the question “Why William & Mary?”

 

 

 

Decisions, Decisions — 2014 Regular Decision Edition

March 26, 2014 by

We Admit It!  The time has come.  Decision emails are being sent at this very moment.  The long wait is finally over.  Below is all of the information you need to know regarding how we release decisions.  Additionally, we put out three additional blogs; one for each type of decision (accept, waitlist and deny).  We ask that you read your decision email and the blogs carefully as they should answer most questions you might have.

How Decisions Are Released

  • All students who applied Regular Decision who had a completed application and all Early Decision deferred students will receive their decision via email, regardless of decision.
  • Emails are sent to the email address you provided in your Common Application.
  • Decisions are emailed to the student only.  Parents will not receive a copy.
  • We are in the process of queuing up and sending over 13,000 individual emails.  This takes several hours.  We cannot predict exactly when your email will land in your inbox.  Please be patient as this process plays out.
  • The sender of the email will be “College of William & Mary.”
  • The subject will be “Good Things” Or “William & Mary Admission Decision.”
  • Those admitted will also receive an admission package in the mail.  Those who are waitlisted and denied will only receive an email.

What to Do if You Do Not Receive a Decision

  • DO NOT PANIC.  Not receiving an email does not imply anything about your decision.
  • Please first check your spam and junk folders as some email clients may send our emails there.
  • Contact our office during business hours via phone (757-221-4223) or email (admission@wm.edu).  We will investigate further.  We will follow up with you if there’s a reason we did not release a decision (maybe your application remains incomplete) or we will try to resend the email using a different email tool.  All emails we resend get sent after 5:00pm each weekday evening.  We will also send a hard copy of your decision via mail in case for whatever reason you cannot receive our email.

Students Who Applied to the Joint Degree Programme

  • For the most part, decisions for both applications will come in the same email.
  • If the email you get tonight does not mention your decision regarding the Joint Degree Programme, you will receive another email with that decision later this week (those who applied ED and to the Joint Degree Programme will receive a decision via email later this week for the Joint Degree Programme).

Regardless of the decision you receive, we appreciate the time and effort each of you put into your applications.  All of you have accomplished so much and should be so proud of yourselves.  Whether your college search ends in Williamsburg or elsewhere, we wish all of you the best as this process comes to a close.

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

Decisions, Decisions — #wm2018 (also known as the Admitted Edition)

March 26, 2014 by

We Admit It!  You all blow us away.  You are smart, talented, accomplished, interesting individuals.  Out of the over 14,500 applications, you stood out.  We couldn’t be more excited for what awaits the Class of 2018.  Yes, “Good Things” means what you think it means.  Congratulations!  You’re in.

We encourage you to visit the welcome website linked in your “Good Things” email.  There you’ll find tons of info about how to visit campus as an admitted student (Day for Admitted Students, April 12, is the bomb if we do say so ourselves), a timeline of what’s to come, all of our Class of 2018 social media outlets and so much more about what we hope is your future alma mater.  There’s even a welcome video we made in your honor (and we Admit It!, it brought some of us to tears – in a happy way of course).

In the coming days you’ll receive more information in the mail.  Your admission package includes much of the information on the welcome website, but also additional information about tuition and financial aid notifications (those who applied for aid will receive an email notification in the next week or so and will be able to view their package online), enrollment deposit information, an admission letter signed by Dean Broaddus and a little W&M swag just for you.

In the meantime, scream, shout, pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance.  You’ve earned it.  Oh, and post your reactions on social media using #wm2018.  Tribe Pride is a powerful thing.  The #wm2018 hashtag is just one example.

Congratulations again from all of us in the Admission Office.  We hope to see you on campus in the fall.

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

Decisions, Decisions — 2014 Waitlist Edition

March 26, 2014 by

Admit It!  This is not the decision you hoped for.  We totally get that.  We know that you had hoped for an answer, something final…and a waitlist isn’t that.  Please understand that the small size of W&M is what attracts so many great students to apply.  That leaves us with so many outstanding students worthy of admission and some tough decisions to make.  Those students who we waitlist are very, very qualified.  You are students who we’d love to have here on our campus if we just had a little more room in the entering class.  You didn’t do anything wrong, or to put it another way, there’s nothing you could have done differently or better.  You are competitive for admission, and if we are able to admit students from the waitlist, we will consider your application again.

So what do you do now?  Well, first consider the options that you do have, and make sure you submit an enrollment deposit to one of them so you ensure yourself a space in the entering class next fall.  Then consider whether or not you wish to attend W&M if given the chance.  You don’t have to make that decision right away.  Give yourself a few days or even a few weeks.  If you do still seriously wish to be considered, then submit your waitlist response via the link in your decision email.

Waitlisted students do not need to submit any additional materials to us.  However, if you wish to submit final grades when they become available, please do.  Furthermore, you can submit a statement of continued interest to us (either via your regional dean or via our office in general).

After that, it’s truly a waiting game, for both you and for us.  We will closely monitor our enrollment in the freshman class between now and early to mid-May.  This blog will provide updates in May if there are updates to share (sometimes, as we wait, the update is that there is no update).  There is no way to predict whether or not we will go to the waitlist.  Linked in your decision email is a waitlist FAQ.  Review it when you can; it answers most questions about this process.  If we are able to admit additional students we have to then review those students on the waitlist, convene the Committee and decide who among those students is the most competitive for admission.  This process takes some time.  We do promise to send an update via email to all students remaining on the waitlist by mid-June.

Until then, we wish you all the best as your college search concludes.

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

Decisions, Decisions — 2014 Deny Edition

March 26, 2014 by

You can Admit It!  You’re likely sad.  Maybe angry.  Maybe deflated.  Likely confused.  You may be none too pleased with us at the moment.  All of those feelings and more are absolutely valid.  We honestly don’t equate a deny with a rejection, but we know that comparison is made; and regardless of semantics this decision is not an easy one to make or to receive.  Understand that we never vote to reject or deny applicants; we simply vote to admit others.

This year our applicant pool was the largest ever – over 14,500 applications.  From that group we’re admitting only 1/3 of those who apply (the admission rate is even lower for out-of-state students).  Statistically, the odds are simply against any student who applies.  That’s the truly unfortunate part of selective admission – we have to send out more bad news than good.  Being denied does not mean you’re unqualified or unaccomplished.  The students we deny are smart, talented, social, interesting and successful.  In an applicant pool such as ours, the majority of applicants are smart, talented, social, interesting and successful individuals.  Most of the students we deny are more than capable of being successful students at W&M.  This decision is not a reflection of you; it’s a reflection of how competitive our applicant pool is.

Here’s the best way we know how to provide some perspective on how competitive our pool is.  Say you’re in the top 10% of your class.  In your high school, you’re performing at a level that’s better than 90% of your peers.  What you’re doing is exceptional in your environment.  In selective applicant pools like W&M, being in the top 10% of your class is commonplace.  That doesn’t diminish how impressive that achievement is, it just provides some perspective on the students we’re evaluating.  It’s not the spectrum from 0-100 that’s applying; it’s just those in the 90-100 bracket from high schools across the nation and the world.  And that’s true across the board.  It’s that 90-100 bracket for grades, for standardized test scores, for extracurricular involvement, for leadership, and so on.  So you’re competing with the best of the best for a limited number of spaces.

We recognize that no matter what perspective we provide, no matter what we say, it likely doesn’t lessen the sting of this decision.  You are an amazing person and not admitting you is our loss.  As we’ve said in previous deny edition blogs, it’s not you, it’s us.  We are truly sorry the outcome couldn’t be more positive.  We know however that our loss is another college’s gain.  We wish you nothing but happiness and success at whatever school you choose.

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

The Most Asked Question

March 19, 2014 by

We Admit It!  We are getting close to wrapping up the freshman Regular Decision process.  The last files are being reviewed, Committee discussions are winding down, the printer is going full speed printing out acceptance letters and Dean Broaddus’ green pen is at the ready – prepared to sign thousands of offers of admission.  These are just a handful of the literally scores of steps that we must go through in order to release decisions.

At this time, we are often flooded with questions about when we will release decisions.  All we know for certain is that they will be released by April 1, but we cannot be more precise beyond that.  Each of the dozens of steps that must be completed in order to release decisions is dependent on each of the other steps being completed in turn.  And then there are those things that are beyond our control.  Last year, an unexpected snowfall closed the College and set us back a day.

We appreciate that applicants are on pins and needles awaiting their decisions; we appreciate that.  We are just as eager to get you your decision as you are to receive it.  But right now we need to focus on completing our process.  Last year we received over 200 comments on one blog asking when decisions would be released.  While we are more than happy to respond to any question (be it on the phone, via email, a comment on this blog or on our social media channels), the time we take to respond to this question when it’s asked over and over, takes us away from finishing the process and getting you those decisions.

Remember, when we push the proverbial button and release decision emails, we will post that information on our website, social media and our “Decisions, Decisions” blog will go up.

Until then, we appreciate your continued patience.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It won’t be too much longer now.

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

Overheard in Committee — Estimating Class Rank

March 14, 2014 by

We Admit It!  Committee is a long, drawn-out, painstaking process.  But it’s also an exciting, fun, rewarding process.  It’s what helps us round out the incoming class and reminds us why we do what we do.  This week we press on.  Each day we dig deeper into applications and we learn about new students.  So without further ado, here’s what was overheard in committee today.

“Does the school give us any indication of where the student falls in the class?”

You can hear this question in committee multiple times each day.  It’s part and parcel of that all-important school context we’ve talked about numerous times in our Overheard in Committee blog series (as well as numerous other blogs about our process).  Fewer than 40% of the students who apply to W&M report a specific class rank.  And that’s fine.  We understand why schools choose not to rank, and we don’t disadvantage students who don’t have a specific rank.  But when we can estimate rank it’s helpful to us in assessing the student’s academic record.

Many schools will provide us some contextual information based on your GPA.  For example, the Common Application’s Secondary School Report allows counselors to indicate a decile (the student is in the first decile/top 10% or second decile/top 20%) or an estimated rank (approximately top 15%).  It also allows them to provide the high GPA for your class.  Or counselors may in their recommendations say this student “is near the top of her class.”  Or school profiles may provide a GPA distribution via quartile or quartile ranges or they might plot GPAs on a graph.

We’re not beholden to an exact number or even an estimated rank.  Again, it just provides context to your transcript so that we can get a sense of how well you are performing within your school environment.  A 4.2 GPA doesn’t mean much without that context.  If the high GPA for the class is a 4.3 that tells us the student is at the top of their class.  Or if on the secondary school report, the counselor estimates that rank to be about the top 25% of the class, well that gives us context also.  And this context doesn’t exist within a vacuum.  We then consider that information within the greater context of your schools (its courses/programs, competitiveness, grading scale, etc.).

As we review applications we try to collect all of the information we can glean from what’s submitted on a student’s behalf before making a decision.  Knowledge is power right?  The more we know the more informed our decision on your application can be.

And with that, we press on.

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

Overheard in Committee: Testing Isn’t Everything

March 4, 2014 by

Admit It!  Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what goes on inside of Committee, you want more.  We know that those going through the admission process often feel like the whole thing is a toss-up, that the selection process is one shrouded in secrecy.  Our goal with the “Overheard in Committee” blog series is to provide some insight, to unshroud the process, to reveal some of its secrets.  So for those of you eager for more, here you go.

Overheard in Committee today: “The best thing about this application is the testing.”

We were reviewing an applicant whose SAT and ACT scores (they had taken both exams) were outstanding.  The student had a 1520 SAT (Critical Reading + Math) and a 33 ACT composite.  However, every other aspect of the application fell a bit flat.  The rigor of their coursework felt light, especially given the potential exhibited in their test scores.  The student took AP classes but fewer than we’d expect given the school’s offerings, and they had avoided some of the really challenging classes: they had opted to stop Spanish after the third level, they had never taken calculus despite taking pre-calculus in the 10th grade and scoring a 720 on the math portion of the SAT and they weren’t taking any science in their senior year.  With a mix of As and Bs they were barely in the top 10% of their class.  Their extracurricular activities were okay but lacked distinction.  Their recommendations and essays were satisfactory, but nothing above and beyond what we see in most applications we review.  In the end, the most and truly only compelling part of their application was their standardized test scores.

Clearly this student has some innate intelligence and academic aptitude as shown in their SAT and ACT results.  But that potential wasn’t replicated in other aspects of their application.  If it had been, they’d likely have been admitted, easily.  As it was, the Committee felt the student should be waitlisted.

We are in the process of building a class.  We want students who will contribute to all aspects of life at W&M (both in and out of class).  We want students who will challenge their peers, who will impact their classmates and hall mates, who will add perspective and energy to our campus.  With so many great students vying for a limited number of spaces, we just didn’t feel this applicant measured up.

There are some students who we admit because their academic merits are truly outstanding.  There are other students whose personal qualities compel us to admit them even though their academic merits aren’t quite as strong as others.  Then there are those students who are strong in both arenas and we admit some of them too.  It’s about bringing together the best of all aspects of our applicants.  Yes, great testing is a start.  But great testing doesn’t put you on the fast track to admit (likewise subpar testing doesn’t put you on the fast track to deny).  Testing, like every other application component, is one part of many.  It alone does not make or break an application.  We read every application twice and convene Committee so we can craft a class that reflects the best of the best across all academic and personal qualities.  In this applicant’s case strong testing but few other compelling qualities got them only so far.

More to come as we continue our deliberations.

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

Overheard in Committee: Interview Impact

February 24, 2014 by

We Admit It!  It’s that time of year again.  That time when we lock ourselves in our conference rooms, hunker down with a three-tiered cart full of snacks (and we won’t lie, most aren’t of the healthy variety) and complete the class.  That time when we make the really tough calls.  That time when we realize just how lucky we are to work where we do.  That time where we’re humbled by the accomplishments of those students we are admitting and those who we unfortunately are not.  We have a thousand and one discussions about what makes for a great application, a great addition to the class, a great fit for W&M.  So without further ado, we bring you the “Overheard in Committee” blogs for the freshman Regular Decision cohort.

Overheard in Committee today: The interview was really compelling.

The applicant was a student who was strong across the board but in ways that many of our applicants are.  She had been able to participate in our optional interview opportunity last summer and that was where she ended up distinguishing herself.  The written evaluation provided by her student interviewer helped us see the applicant’s personality and how she would contribute to the W&M community if admitted.  In this student’s case, the interviewer not only determined she’d be a great fit but she’d be the type of student who makes an impact on campus through her drive and passion both in and out of the classroom.  The personality and enthusiasm exhibited in the interview helped to tip the scales in the applicant’s favor.

This is why we offer interviews; to help students help themselves, to allow students the chance to showcase their personalities and thereby enhance their overall application.  Interviews to us are like teacher recommendations in many ways (they’re optional, they’re designed to give us a fuller picture of an individual student, they’re one component of many that go into an application) except that your teachers know you really well, but may not know W&M very well.  Our Interviewers don’t know you very well, but they know W&M.

For those of you fretting over not participating in an interview, don’t.  They are entirely optional.  Only 20% of our applicants interview so most students who apply (and by extension who are admitted) do so without an interview as part of their application.  We understand that many people cannot make it to campus when interviews are offered or try to interview but our appointments are full.  No applicant is looked down upon for not interviewing.  For those who do interview however, we wanted to provide some insight into that component and how it plays out through the application process.

Committee is a long-haul exercise.  So stay tuned, more to come (especially once we consume some of that sugary goodness).

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